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A Few of Our Favorite Fall Wines

September 16, 2017 News and OpinionUncategorized  No comments

ridge_geyservilleWith the change of seasons, we often find that our appetite will adapt in tandem. We attempt to phase out the lighter wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay (well, not completely - this IS California, after all, and we drink those year round - and especially with Thanksgiving!), and we start to incorporate deeper, more full-bodied  reds to suit the heartier dishes that we begin to crave with the colder weather.  Do you have any yearly favorites? We've certainly got a few, listed below - and we'll be featuring more in upcoming blogs as well.

2015 Ridge Zinfandel Geyserville 50th Vintage

One varietal we love during the holidays is Zinfandel - especially with anything we can throw on the outdoor grill with a nice spicy rub (Tri-tip, Chicken, Turkey, and anything else you can

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A Favorite Pinot Value – 2013 Talbott Kali Hart ($14.95)

January 15, 2016 Uncategorized  No comments

Talbott Kali Hart 2013 Pinot Noir LabelDuring a recent trip to the Monterey peninsula, I made it a point to stop by Talbott's Carmel Valley tasting room.  I've always admired their wines, especially their Kali Hart bottling which represents one of the very finest values in both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

We tasted through all of Talbott's bottlings, and though their higher-end pinot and chardonnay is excellent, the clear value is the Kali Hart.  This wine is 100% estate fruit from Talbott's highly regarded Sleepy Hollow Vineyard.  It's up-front and juicy yet has the depth to age for several years.

Talbott was recently sold to Gallo winery.  Hopefully they allow Talbott to continue the roll they've been on for the last decade.
Buy Here: 2013 Talbott Kali Hart Pinot Noir $14.95

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A Top Notch Tempranillo Blend from… California ($14.95)

October 6, 2015 Uncategorized  No comments

firefall_red_blend_LRGUntil a few years ago, I had only experienced good Tempranillo, make that any Tempranillo, from one place: Spain.  That was until I had Epoch's Tempranillo from Paso Robles.  That is a mind blowing wine that will make you wonder why more California growers aren't experimenting with this grape.

Luckily for those of us "in the know" (the readers of this blog), another winery is doing just that.  As the Sierra Foothills region of California is starting to make a name for itself with Rhone varietals, Firefall, from a single 2400 ft elevation vineyard called "Little Rattlesnake", blends Rhone grapes with 27% Tempranillo to create a delicious red wine.

This is a polished wine with big fruit and great length.  It's a true crowd pleaser and would make a fun wine to throw into a blind

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The Best Chardonnay Values Right Now (from $12.95)

July 22, 2015 Uncategorized  No comments

Summer is white wine season and the best Chardonnay values are coming from France - you know, the people who put Chardonnay on the map!  The Burgundy region of France produces some of the most collectible whites in the world, but if you know where to look, there are great values as well. Burgundy's Mâcon region and neighboring  Pouilly Fuissé are where I look for values and there are none better than two wines from Marie-Pierre Manciat.

The 2012 Les Morizottes is from a 25 year old vineyard and is one heck of a $13 wine.  It already has going on three years of age on it and has a crisp mouthfeel and great length.  It received 89 points from the Wine Advocate with the following rating:

"The 2012 Macon Morizottes is a little delight. The bouquet is very

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Another Winner from Ridge – 2013 Geyserville ($31.95, AG 92-94)

June 17, 2015 Uncategorized  No comments

Ridge GeyservilleAs I've mentioned several times on these pages, Ridge makes a couple of my favorite wines - Geyserville and Lytton Springs.  They are both Zinfandel-based blends, both age-worthy and both remarkably consistent.  They are also some of the best values in American wine.  These are truly top-notch reds in the low $30s.  Compare that to a Cabernet of the same heritage and we would be looking at 2-4x the cost.

Though I haven't had a chance to try either wine this year, I popped a 2012 Geyserville in preparation for this post and only a little over a year after release, it's open for business.  Remarkably, this wine ages well, with some examples from the 70s still drinking well.  Not that it's likely to last that long in my cellar...
Buy Here: 2013 Ridge Geyserville $31.95


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Another Bigtime Rhone Value – 2011 Chateau de la Negly $16.95

October 27, 2014 Uncategorized  No comments


Here's another killer value from the up-and-coming Languedoc appellation in France's southern Rhone Valley.  I drank this last week with friends at Chicago's Bite Cafe and it was a big hit at the table.  It's a deeply concentrated blend of 50% Carignan, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah, which in addition to the concentration, features complex dark berry flavors and great length.

In addition to the complex flavors, this wine features a complex name: Chateau de la Negly Coteaux du Languedoc la Clape Cuvee de la Cot.  As I've said before, France, and especially Rhone, needs to take care of their naming conventions and they would sell tons more wine.  This one's naming convention is the name of the winery (Chateau de la Negly) the name of the

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A Top Notch Bubbly for Under $15

December 12, 2013 Uncategorized  No comments

Lucien Albrecht Cremant Brut RoseI wrote this French sparkler up over two years ago, and loved it at the time.  Sparkling wines like this and most Champagnes are made from multiple vintages in order to achieve consistency.  As such, I though it was time to revisit this favorite to see how the blend is in the current release.  But before we do, a quick note on non-vintage (another name for multi-vintage) sparkling wines.

To my palate, generic French sparkling wine, AKA "Crémant" usually beats those of Spain (Cava), Italy (Prosecco), and yes, the United States.  I realize that's a massive generalization, but if I'm at a wine shop looking for a sparkling wine value without any other information, I'll choose a Crémant every time.  French sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it's from the Champagne region and

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Paso’s Founder: Tablas Creek (Wines from $17-$50, RP 90-94)

November 19, 2013 Uncategorized  No comments

Tablas Creek Bottle Shots SmallWith much of the focus in Paso Robles going to Saxum's Justin Smith (justifiably), it's easy to forget that way back in 1989 the Perrin family, of Beaucastel fame, partnered with importer Robert Haas to create a Chateauneuf-du-Pape outpost of sorts on the far west side of Paso Robles.  After a three year stay in quarantine, they founded Tablas Creek Vineyards with vine cuttings from Beaucastel vineyard.  They still operate a nursery to this day and many of Paso's Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and other varietals are descendants of those originals from Beaucastel.  Yes, there were plenty of grapes being grown in Paso, but Tablas Creek, and their Esprit de Beaucastel bottling established it as a premium wine region.

Fast forward a couple of decades and starting with the 2011 vintage, Tablas

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Paso Report #1: Epoch and L’Aventure

October 22, 2013 Uncategorized  No comments

L'Aventure Limestone

I’ve written about L’Aventure several times on these pages, visited the winery several times and own more of their wines than any other producer.  Each one of their wines is absolutely top-notch, including the entry-level Optimus, which can be found for under $40 retail.  I own this wine back to the 2001 vintage and they all drink fabulously.  The highlight here is the Estate Cuvee, which is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet and Petit Verdot.   Like many Paso wines, it’s massive but balanced.  This is my favorite wine in the world to drink.
View Available L'Aventure Wines Here
Epoch Estate
Epoch Wine Lables

Pronounced “Epic” these wines truly fit their name.   Epoch owns two vineyards in Paso Robles, along with a new, yet to be planted

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90+ Bargains: Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva (RP93, $17.95)

October 1, 2013 Uncategorized  No comments

monsantochianticlassico_riserva08__19954__14906.1358534403.1280.1280Critics say the regulations that go along with the Italian DOCG designation squelches innovation and creativity, but there is a reason it is the most coveted (and strict) designation.  Wines with this designation have complied with a series of standards created to ensure top quality.   On top of that, the 38 month minimum in the barrel to achieve the Riserva label explains how this medium-bodied Chianti scored #31 on Wine Spectator’s top 100.

This wine gets off to a modest start but the black cherry notes take over and the long dry finish brings together this top notch Chianti.   Four scores of 92 points and higher pretty much sums up the consensus.

Seems like a pretty good $40 Chianti, right?  It is.  But it’s an insane $18 one.  And that’s what it sells for.
Buy Here: Castello di

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