The Grapevine Gazette

March 30 - May 3 , 2016

Here's an odd trivia fact - February celebrates St Valentine's Day, named after the martyr of the same name who was imprisoned and executed by the Romans. And its considered romantic? Then we have April, originally the second month of the Roman calendar. Since most of the Roman months were named in honor of divinities, it is presumed that "Aprilis" originated from the Greek name, Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Now that's romantic. Then again, it's also an emotional wrecking ball as taxes are due by mid-month. Thus, to celebrate the awakening of the senses and to damper the dour thoughts of monies possibly owed to Uncle Sam, we offer those particular libations below to rekindle your optimism for the future. And as always enjoy responsibly, and drink outside the box.

Snowden "The Brothers" Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $84.99 | Gazette Special $74.99

A classic Napa Valley Cabernet, this vibrant, mouth coating powerhouse is focused and powerful. It's brooding yet balanced mid palate offers up a bevy of licorice, blackcurrants, graphite and earth with a mineral, savory length. Ample sweet tannins are balanced by its dense, powerful finish. An exceptionally well-crafted Cabernet, pair this gem with your favorite cuts of beef, or enjoy it hedonistically on its own. 95 points Wine Advocate 2013

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Philip Togni Tanbark Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $74.99 | Gazette Special $49.99

Philip Togni planted his first vineyard at the top of Spring Mountain in 1981, but his love affair started long before that. The Englishman started his budding career after earning the Diplome Nation d'Oenologie at the University of Bordeaux under the renowned Emile Peynaud, while working as Assistant Director at Cht. Lascombes. He crossed the pond finding employ as the winemaker for the then famous Chalone Vineyard, and later moved on to Chappellet where he really found his passion for mountain fruit. After starting his own winery in the 80's, Philip Togni has set a new bar for California Cabernet. His Estate Cabernet has not only impressed the critics, with nearly 2/3 of them achieving 93 points or better, but in blind tastings, his wines routinely trounce the big 5 First Growth Chateaux in blind competition. So the 2013 vintage was pretty scarce, due to its 100 Point rating (Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media), but we managed to secure some of his young vines Tanbark Hill bottling from that same estate. Sadly, most wineries only wish they could garner a 94 Point rating (Antonio Galloni) for their "second wine". Again, all the pedigree is there, the hand harvested estate fruit, the dedication to the vineyard, the ethic that only allows the best fruit to be used under their own label. Now this is not the toned down, diluted wine that others might make, this is still a full throttle spicy, smoky, extracted superb beast. Copious amounts of restrained black fruits, cedar, camphor and leather are everything a top quality producer could ask, and for a pretty darned fair price. This sleeper could match any game or marinated meats, coffee rubbed ribeyes, herb rolled lamb or better yet, put some down and be a little patient.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Stags' Leap The Investor Napa Valley Proprietary Red

Reg $49.99 | Gazette Special $43.99

The Investor is a red wine that beautifully blends together Petite Sirah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon resulting in a powerful yet approachable wine that shows focused fruit in abundance. This one is a real crowd pleaser. The Merlot contributes fresh red berry aromas and a soft, velvety texture. Powerful Petite Sirah is thus tamed and adds concentration, tannins, spice and blueberry flavors. Rather than dominating, the Cabernet Sauvignon only increases the final blend's complexity and depth. New oak is kept in a reasonable balance. The result is mostly about fruit, elegance, and balance. Blackcurrant, plum and blackberry notes join savory, herbal flavors, a little vanilla bean, and sweet tobacco leaf. The tannins are firm, but velvety. This wine is very nice to drink right now. I had it with prime rib and the flavor match was perfect.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Lintori "Capichera" Vermentino de Sardegna

Reg $24.99 | Gazette Special $21.99

From the town of Gallura on the northern shore of the island of Sardenga comes this refreshing aperitif. Grown on an estate known for the quality of the grapes, this entry level Vermentino is fermented in stainless steel with a brief lees contact. It is vibrant with aromas of lemon blossoms and salty seaside air. Citrus carries through in the palate with some almond paste and lemon curd. Drink it chilled on a sunny afternoon or pair it with your favorite seafood.

Nancie Hemminger Certified Specialist of Wine Manhattan Beach

Les Heretiers de Comte Lafon Macon Villages

Reg $23.99 | Gazette Special $20.99

Ever dream about tasting a wonderful white Burgundy (100% Chardonnay) from a classic Macon Villages estate but were afraid to ask. Well here's your chance. This wine is cultivated from two plots of clay and chalk terroir located in the towns of Uchizy and Chardonnay. The vineyard, now about twenty years old, is cultivated following organic and biodynamic methods The Macon Villages is aged in "vieux foudres" (aged wood barrels) and kept on yeasts ("sur lees") for seven or eight months before being racked and prepared for bottling. This delicious beauty offers a fruit-driven bouquet with plenty of fresh green apple and fresh pear aromas. The palate is nicely balanced, clean and fresh, with crisp stone-fruit notes and a mineral finish. Enjoy with seafood, shellfish and our stuffed poultry.

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Luretta Gutturnio

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

A tricky to recite but absolutely worth-while wine to seek out, Luretta Gutturnio hails from Colli Piacentini in the western hills of Emila Romagna, bordering Piedmonte. Gutturnio, named from Gutturnium, the amphora vessel the Romans served wine from, is crafted from Barbera and Bonarda. Both grapes are native to Piemonte, and both have potential to make terrific table wines. Bonarda is also known in these United States as Charbono, some useless trivia. Gutturnio is the primary red of the white grape dominant zone, and achieved DOC Status in 1967. The wine is alarmingly delicious and easy to understand, with terrific purity and an even handed personality. The supple fresh red fruits, mixed berries, refined spice and harmonious wood integration are seductive and alluring, and one glass demands a second. The vines are 20-50 years of age, they are grown with absolute minimal intervention and no fertilizers. A long cool fermentation preserves the fresh fruit character, and 100% small French barrels are utilized, only 30% new each harvest. The resulting wine is seamless and fruit driven, but delivers intensity to hold up to most game meats, charcuterie, roasts and aged cheeses.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Ancient Peaks Renegade Paso Robles Proprietary Red

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Both the Ancient Peaks Winery and Margarita Vineyard are owned by three longtime local winegrowing families - the Filipponis, Rossis and Wittstroms - who are actively involved in the daily operations of both. Ancient Peaks wines are crafted under the meticulous guidance of Mike Sinor, a local winemaking veteran and one of the highest-rated winemakers on the Central Coast. The unbelievable 2013 Renegade is an amazing value and floored me from the first sip. A blend of 93% Syrah, with Malbec and Petite Verdot rounding out the blend, it's jam packed with heady aromas of boysenberry, blueberry, violets, tobacco and roast coffee. On the palate luscious flavors of blackberry, cola and vanilla cream unfold with suggestions of savory smokiness and spice. A big, round, mouth-filling texture delivers plump, well-integrated tannins through the long, bold, lavish finish. This wine is screaming to be paired with barbecued pork spare ribs, a chargrilled ribeye or hearty, aged cheeses.

Fernando Damasco Wine Specialist Santa Monica

Bench Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Created by the very successful wine negociant, Brack Mountain Wine Company, this terrific Cabernet Sauvignon way over-delivers for what you're paying. It boasts gorgeous aromas of violets, huckleberry with a touch of vanilla spice. The palate is intensely elegant with sturdy tannins and a supple, velvety texture. The unctuous finish explodes with flavors of black currant, black raspberry and dark cocoa. The vineyard is located in Southern Alexander Valley, along the Western bench of the Mayacamas, which explains its dynamite intensity and mouth coating pleasures.

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Stolpman Ballard Canyon Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $19.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Tom Stolpman originally planted two acres of Sauvignon Blanc on his Ballard Canyon estate vineyard as an experiment. He wanted to see if the wine would show a "Loire- like" character with his limestone soil. He sold his first few crops to their friends at Fiddlehead Cellars (makers of great Sauvignon Blanc in the area) until the frost wiped out yields in 2008. They let Fiddlehead out of their contract and kept the fruit for themselves and as they say, "never looked back." Today they have a total of 7 acres of Sauvignon Blanc planted on the estate from which they indeed produce this'' Loire- like wine. This is a tasty and fun Sauvignon Blanc. It was fermented in stainless steel and thus has a fresh, bright character with nice notes of lemon citrus and crisp pear on its light to medium body. The finish is crisp, refreshing and dry with a friendly, lightly chalky note. Pair with seafood, poultry and pasta.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Maddalena Vineyards Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $13.99

In 1946, family matriarch Maddalena Riboli began her lifelong journey with San Antonio Winery. She founded one of the first tasting rooms in the state and a highly successful restaurant. Today, the third and fourth generations of the Riboli Family honor her passion and dedication with each bottle of her namesake wine. This Cabernet Sauvignon has intense flavors, plush mouthfeel, and deep ruby color. Blackberry and dark cherry flavors are complemented by spicy oak from barrel aging. Enjoy with grilled steaks, rich stews or hearty pastas.

Gabriella Tardos Wine Specialist Westwood

Maddalena Vineyards Monterey Riesling

Reg $12.99 | Gazette Special $10.99

Riesling is an underrated grape among American wines. When planted in areas with the right conditions it can achieve balance and complexity rivaling the great wines of Germany. The Monterey viticultural area traces the Salinas river valley 90 miles from the county line northwest to river's mouth at Monterey. The Salinas Valley acts like a funnel, drawing cool air inland from the coast. Riesling is planted in the cooler areas closer to the Pacific. The long growing season contributes to the intense varietal flavors. Irresistible aromas of wild flowers, apricots and honey wash over your senses as you swirl and sniff. Take a sip and friendly tree-fruit flavors take over. Mineral-laced acidity and sweetness are in an almost elegant balance. This wine can be enjoyed by itself on the patio, or with a wide variety of foods from fresh fruit to roasted chicken.

Rob Hill Wine Specialist Westchester

Stags Leap Winery Napa Valley Petite Sirah

Reg $36.99 | Gazette Special $31.99

Stags Leap is nestled in an intimate valley within Napa Valley on a property that dates back to the late 1800's. They have nearly mastered the Petite Sirah making process by co-fermenting with 1% Viognier then adding Syrah, Grenache, and Carignane in the final blend. With aromas of lavender, blueberries, and black raspberries on the nose. Full bodied and rich, with flavors of tobacco, black pepper, boysenberry, and vanilla, all with a slight trace of minerality from the viognier. Soft sweet tannins will allow you to keep this wine for many years to come.

Michael Contreras Wine Specialist Beverly Hills

Molino di Sant' Antimo Brunello di Montalcino

Reg $39.99 | Gazette Special $34.99

Arguably one of the most coveted and revered wines in Italy, Brunello di Montalcino is a wine crafted from 100% Brunello (a clone of Sangiovese) grown in the vineyards surrounding the small medieval town of Montalcino. Yields are strictly limited, allowing for only the most select fruit being harvested for Brunello. The grapes experience extended fermentation times to extract more color and flavor, and are subsequently aged in oak. The regimen varies by producer, some utilizing solely old large vats, some new French oak, and a great many use a combination of both. The wine must be held by law for 50 months after harvest, much of the time resting in oak. Infractions are met with severe fines, and potentially imprisonment. As they say, good things come to those who wait. Brunello is a noble wine, it was awarded DOCG status in 1980 although it was widely recognized for its quality in the early 1800's. The 2010 vintage was remarkable, one of the best in the last century, and critics were all aflutter. The Molino San'Antimo is one of those sleepers that pure expressions of Brunello, yet never received the adulation that it deserved. It is crisp, clean and focused with all the right stuff, dried cherry, currants, leather, licorice and spice, with a succinct earthy finish. One of the better buys on Brunello we have found, this is one delivers a terrific value. Pair with roasted meats, assorted mushrooms, and risotto.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits

Domaine de la Fouquette Provence Rose

Reg $18.99 | Gazette Special $15.99

This crisp, pale pink rose comes from Isabelle and Jean-Pierre Daziano's winery, nestled right in the Cotes de Provence appellation. Their thirty-five acres of vines are part of a farm that has been in Isabelle's family for three generations. Farmed organically, the grapes for this wine, a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Rolle (Vermentino,) are hand harvested in the early morning hours to capture the just the right essences of the terroir. Lovely Mandarin orange and red berry flavors combine with juicy watermelon notes to finish with a touch of spicy garrigue. It pairs wonderfully with quintessential Provencal foods such as Bouillabaisse, olive tapenades, or Salade Nicoise.

Judi Woods Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

The Paring Santa Barbara Syrah

Reg $24.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

Incredibly complex and compelling, the nose shows lifted peppermint, green peppercorn, blackberry and black licorice. Think grilled steak and mesquite. Violets. So primary on palate; a young wine full of power. A substantial and decadent wall of fine tannins rises on the finish. Young and tight immediately out of bottle, but full of black fruit after being open a day. A wine of fruit intensity and a chewy structure. It starts out like a steak in the glass, but moves to dark chocolate and notes of Luxardo cherries on the finish. Such fine grained, dusty tannins. Exceptional length. Beautiful ride across palate. Aged in French oak (35% new,65% neutral) for 22 months. Enjoy with pork, lamb, sausages.

Jose Cortes Wine Specialist South Pasadena

Frei Brothers Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $23.99 | Gazette Special $19.99

A blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Sirah, 1% Merlot. Frei Brothers Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon opens with aromas of earthy cigar box and ripe plum, framed by smoky undertones. On the palate, flavors of blackberry and tea leaf culminate in a complex finish with smooth velvety tannins. Try this tasty Cab with our dry aged New Yorks.

Brian Moore Wine Specialist Newport Beach

Starborough Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $12.99 | Gazette Special $10.99

Grown in the famed Marlborough region on the south island of New Zealand. Quintessential in its layers of citrus and goose berry, passionfruit and kiwi with bracing acidity and brightness that demands a refill. Perfect for the patio as an afternoon sipper, or try with marinated shrimp on the BBQ.

Bruce Davis Wine Specialist Palm Desert

Allan Scott Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

New Zealand is well known for their distinctive and un-oaked Sauvignon Blanc, and distinctive is definitely the word you can use to describe this offering by Allan Scott. The nose is an aromatic mix of green fruit tones with underlying ripe tropical aromas adding complexity. Flavorsome hints of pineapple, gooseberry and passion fruit with mild grassy herbaceous characters fill your mouth, along with an added note of minerality on the palate, giving this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc great foundation. It also has an enduring, structured and well balanced finish. Its bright acidity pairs beautifully with goat cheese and light fish and chicken dishes. Also highly-recommended as an aperitif.

Michael Pagh Wine Specialist Rolling Hills

Auguste Bessac Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Reg $29.99 | Gazette Special $23.99

A brief history about the village - Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhone Valley was named as such after the 'new' chateau, or castle, was built by the Popes as a summer residence in the 14th century. Its vineyards, first planted in Roman times and covered with large stones, are renowned for their rich, ripe, generous wines. Auguste Bessac was originally a Cooper (barrel maker) in the village, and then took a large leap of faith and started the winery itself in 1929. It still remains in the family today. The classic blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault offers up a powerful bouquet of fruits and spices with hints of vanilla and mocha. Distinctly fruity with smooth tannins and licorice hints, this is a charming, expressive wine with a strong character. And as Rhone wines go, this can be enjoyed with a myriad of food - game, casseroles, roast beef or garlic sausages. Vegetarian you say? Match its intense flavors with a vegetable lasagna or mushroom stroganoff.

Michael Cristillo Corporate Wine & Spirits Buyer

Beckman Cuvee Le Bec Rouge

Reg $18.99 | Gazette Special $16.99

Tom Beckman, the creative genius and founder of Roland keyboards, began a second career when he and wife retired to a vineyard in Los Olivos. With their son Steve as the winemaker, they have been producing some of the valleys finest Rhone varietals since 1994. Like musical notes, each clone of Syrah and Grenache are planted and harvested individually and the final composition is crafted in the winery. The Cuvee Le Bec is like the acoustic version, it's quaffable, it's the red wine you can drink on a warm sunny day. The dark fruit flavors and smoke from the Syrah are perfectly in tune with the lighter cherry/strawberry of the Grenache, and the small amounts of Counoise and Mourvedre add a bit of structure & intrigue.

Nancie Hemminger Certified Specialist of Wine Manhattan Beach

Zaca Mesa Santa Ynez Viognier

Reg $18.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

As April graces us with rain and sunshine, I am taking time out to grace my meals with some unique grape selections. The Santa Barbara County legendary winery Zaca Mesa has created a niche of greatness with their homage to the French style. Delightfully aromatic, Viognier is a very comparable white wine that pairs deliciously with most occasions as well as cheese! This local winery expresses clean mineral notes surrounded by fresh melon, nectarines, dry apricots and white peaches. Zaca Mesa has been producing wines for over 30 years and their craft is deliciously represented in all varietals, enjoy a real taste of one of Santa Barbara's best!

William Buford Wine Specialist Hollywood

Pichot Vouvray

Reg $16.99 | Gazette Special $14.99

Just when you thought you wanted another Moscato, we're doing our best to show you the extended world of off-dry wine that's been available on our shelves for years. Vouvray (like many French wines) is named for the region and not the grape. Consisting of 100% Chenin Blanc vines that are up to 60 years old and aged 80/20 in both steel vats and wooden foeders, this is one sophisticated effervescent porch sipper. Crisp and round with tart green apple, green fig, and quince notes, this is both a great food wine and a great non-boozy aperitif.

Teo Santocono Wine Specialist La Jolla

Castle Rock Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $8.99 | Gazette Special $6.99

The Castle Rock Sauvignon Blanc is produced from grapes grown in Northern California's beautiful Mendocino County, where vineyards were first planted in the early 1860's. The warm summers, cool springs, crisp falls and wet winters make ideal growing conditions for Sauvignon Blanc grapes. This elegant, medium-bodied wine is crisp and refreshing, with aromas of grapefruit and pineapple, and flavors of lemon and peach on the palate. It ends with a sweet, fruity finish, and makes an ideal accompaniment for seafood, chicken, salads and vegetarian dishes.

Gabriella Tardos Wine Specialist Westwood

Joseph Perrier Brut Cuvee Royale

Reg $59.99 | Gazette Special $34.99

Founded in 1825, the house of Joseph Perrier is now in the 5th generation of family ownership, and tradition is as strong and committed as the roots that dig deep in to the chalky hillsides. Continuing in this vein, the Cellar Master plays a critical role in assembling the final cuvees, Jerôme Dervin is the 3rd generation of his family, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. All the pieces, from the 21 acres of prime vineyards, to the hand harvesting, to the Gallo Roman caves turned ageing cellars, nothing is ordinary here. Production is based on quality and house style versus the cooperatives or factories that churn out in weeks what Joseph Perrier produces in a year. Extended ageing and constant taste evaluation signifies the true dedication to the craft. The blend for the delicious base level Cuvee Royale is almost equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier. Each adds its own flair to the cuvee. Bright citrus, green apple, subtle red fruits, brioche, lemon curd, all are zesty and clean, with a creamy almost baked pear note in the cleansing finish. Joseph is one of those reliable Champagnes that I really look forward to, and truly enjoy when the occasion presents. It is a stylistic wine that always brightens any occasion or meal. Pair with poached salmon, potato pancakes with caviar, roasted poultry or always a toast to a loved one.

Geoff Nicoll Director Beer, Wine & Spirits