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This wine is a collaboration between some serious wine heavyweights: Oregon wholesaler Don Heistuman, winemaker Steve Edmunds, and vineyard manager Ron Mansfield. They came together to make a juicy, elegant, easy-drinking wine whose referent was their favorite wines of the Loire and Beaujolais. Predominantly Cabernet Franc, with 4% Gamay thrown in, the grapes are sourced from the red granitic soils of the Barsotti Vineyard and the volcanic loam of the Camino Alto site. Spontaneous fermentation is half in open bin and half in tank, with manual punchdowns once or twice a day. Bright, light and fresh, with fantastic peppery Cabernet Franc varietal character roaring out of the glass. Cranberry, raspberry, and some nice strawberry fruit seethe within layers of fantastic minerality. Finely grained, grippy, granitic tannins make this wine tightly coiled, with bristling energy, but not too much weight. Drink by itself or with a wide range of stews, game birds, pork tenderloin, filet mignon, french onion soup, or tonkotsu ramen. Andrew Farquhar
55% Zinfandel blended with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera and a touch of whites for aromatics from old vine plantings (up to 100 years old) around Sonoma County, fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel and raised in a nice bit of French oak for a bold, bright-fruited, silky, and satisfying wine that is unbeatable at this price.
Broadside is a project of very talented winemaker Chris Brock. The Cabernet is fermented with wild yeasts and aged in barrels, 10% of which are new. The resultant wine is remarkably fresh and full bodied with an interesting spicy character and plenty of bright, tangy dark fruit.
This wine is from the Green Valley of Solano County, located just over the Vaca mountains from Napa. This wine comes from two vineyards, the Frei Vineyard and the Wirth Ranch Vineyard, both of which are dry-farmed and have average vine ages over 65 years. This style of wine was formerly known as Napa Gamay, and for good reason; the taste is reminiscent of Beaujolais with medium tannin and great energy, though more purple in color and with darker fruit. Vineyards are dry-farmed and have an average vine age of sixty years. Partial carbonic maceration gives the wine a light and lifted character. Pair with pork chops, veal, branzino, or carnitas tacos. Andrew Farquhar
From the folks who run Hobo Wine Co., here we have the delicious new vintage of one of our favorite inexpensive Cabernets from California! Tart blackberry and ripe cassis mix with herbal hints and wildflower on the nose while broadly gracing the firm, rich, powerfully tannic palate. Sourced from many lesser known but sustainably or organically farmed vineyards throughout Sonoma county. Aged for nine months in neutral oak barrels.
Notes from Claire Hill: "Eric has a few rows of Brézème Syrah (3 rows of Roussanne and I think like 13 rows of Syrah?). It's not the Ardèche clone you find directly across the river in Saint-Julien-en-Saint-Alban, but the wing structure of the the cluster makes it look like it's a Côte-Rôtie clone. I assume you know the story, limestone and all that jazz, but Brézème is considered this lost appellation of France. It was very well known in the 1400s-1800s, but then it fell off the map between Spanish flu/WWI/WW2, and by the 1960s there was only about 1 hectare [approx. 2.5 acres] left. The guy who owned that hectare is now in his 90s and named M. Pouchoulin. He's out of the grape game, and putters in his little vegetable garden. He sold part of the old vines to Eric and the rest to Domaine Lombard. I picked on the same day as Eric did, and did more pigeage/pumpovers on mine with an eye towards making a very age-worthy wine. It's very primary right now, but I think it will be phenomenal in 3-4 years."
Notes from Claire: "...from Del Barba vineyard in Oakley, California, on the Sacramento River Delta. The area was planted to mostly Zinfandel, Carignane, and Mourvedre in the 1880s-1890s by Italian and Portuguese immigrants to the area. A lot of the old vines have been ripped out for urban sprawl, and a lot of families have sold their vineyards for millions of dollars to developers. The Del Barba family has lived there for 5 generations now, and continue to farm the property. The Zinfandel from Martha Stoumen's Post Flirtation Red comes from this vineyard, and Bedrock gets the 130 year old Mourvedre (I get the 60 year old Mourvedre). It's all own rooted and head trained in pure sand...about 15% whole cluster with some pigeage, fermented in picking pins for 7 days. The fermentation was insanely healthy, and it kicked off on its own within 18 hours. I added a little sulfur to one of the 3 bins that had a funky smelling cap, but most sulfur additions were post malo/before bottling (total is <30ppm). Aged in 10 year old Littorai barrels for 14 months before bottling."
By now Beaujolais is no longer the sommelier's best kept secret, but what you might not have known yet is that Gamay also does really well in Oregon! "Les Petits Fers" is 100% Gamay sourced from a selection of vineyards in Umpqua and Eola-Amity Hills of the Willamette Valley. The cool coastal winds keep these grapes fresh and bright, and the volcanic clay soils adds depth to this wine. Each vineyard's fruit is fermented separately with most going through full or partial carbonic maceration and then aged partly in cement, puncheons, and stainless steel to create balance. The nose is blend of fresh and dried raspberry, rooibos tea, and violets, and the palate shows some savory notes of dried herbs, and red apple skins. This wine is great with a bit of a chill to enjoy on its own, or try it with lighter proteins and a fruit-based sauce. MD
50% Cabernet Sauvignong and 50% Merlot, this Bordeaux Blend tastes like anything but. From old vines planted on a thin loam over broken shale, this wine is brimming in electric acidity, with the stone fruit character on the nose becoming a pleasant surprise of tangerine and blood orange on the palate. It is rare to have a red wine with citric fruit character, but this is one. This wine is almost Italianate in style, and would pair excellently with red pasta sauces, but also has the oomph to stand up to lamb or a more delicate cut of beef. The Elizabeth Vineyard, sustainably farmed, is located on the east side of Seneca Lake. Andrew Farquhar
This refreshing and bright Pinot Noir from star California winemaker Kenny Likitprakong is sourced predominantly from the Arroyo Seco AVA, in other words, Steinbeck country. Native yeast fermentation and spontaneous malo are followed by nine months on the lees with occasional batonnage in used French oak barrels. Bright red fruit and elegant texture make for a fine, refreshing wine that lingers pleasantly on the palate. Andrew Farquhar
Natural fermentation from a new Gamay experiment winemaker Kenny Likitprakong is overseeing in the Arroyo Seco AVA, this is a beautiful, elegant, decidedly fresh red-fruited rosé. A very short maceration makes this light in tannin and color. Bottled in green glass, which is made from much higher levels of recycled product and has a considerably smaller carbon footprint. Andrew Farquhar
This Cabernet is sourced from a single block of the Bates Ranch Vineyard located above 1000 feet on the eastern flank of Mt. Madonna at the very southern extremity of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. Farmed exclusively by winemaker Kenny Likitprakong, this dry-farmed block was planted in 1973 by local wine legends Val and Dexter Ahlgren. As with much of the Cabernet from this region, the emphasis is on structural tension. Not quite as histrionically robust or extracted as Cabernet from other parts of California, this wine has some muted cassis scarved in layers of dusty tannin and spice. This is a style of Cabernet that would have been much easier to find in these hills back in the 1970s. 207 cases produced, with shorter extraction time, 10% whole cluster fermentation, and 25% new oak. Andrew Farquhar
This cuvée is meant to be an overview of what the Santa Cruz Mountains have to offer, and is sourced from three different vineyards: 40% Upper Block Amaya Ridge, 35% Aptos Creek, and 25% Smith Road. While the blend varies a little vintage to vintage, the wine shows consistency in its expression of classic Santa Cruz restraint. Fine cranberry fruit with a hint of some baking and savory spices, this Pinot is finely structured, with delicate tannins and a fine acid backbone. Open and inviting now, this wine will also benefit from a few years of cellaring. Excellent with roast chicken, lobster rolls, or miso-broth ramen, this will work just as well without food, as it is aromatic and mesmerizing as a standalone experience. 600 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
Sean sources this fantastic, bright, easy-drinking Pinot Noir from vineyards throughout the Central Coast. Destemmed, with three days of cold soak in stainless steel before fermentation begins. Bright red fruit and soft tannins mix with fine acidity and a little vanilla from some oak to make a bright and juicy, lifted vinous experience! Drink with a slight chill. Andrew Farquhar
80% old vine Carignan from the Trimble vineyard in Mendocino and 20% Zinfandel from Porter Creek's own vineyards, this dry rose is one of my favorites of the summer. Crackling with acidity, bright fruit and a lovely seam of minerality on the nose, this wine is complex and hefty enough to pair with grilled meats and barbecue, while also having the snappy mouthwatering agility to be drunk as an aperitif. Winemaker Alex Porter always creates balanced wines, and this is no exception. All the fruit is dry-farmed, whole cluster pressed, and aged in neutral oak before bottling. Andrew Farquhar
The Horseshoe vineyard was planted in 2004 at an elevation ranging from 1,360 to 1,610 feet above sea level, with the blocks of Pinot Noir occupying the highest portions of the vineyard. There is a ridge that separates this vineyard from the coldest of the sea fog, though it is still affected by cooling maritime influence. The vineyard lies on the Monterey formation, a ridge of brittle, rust-mottled sedimentary shale (intermixed with limestone) that provides swift drainage and allows for low vigor. Interestingly, the warmest month at Horseshoe is September, mitigating the difficulties of the previous cool summer months with a final solar sear at the end of the season. This beautiful wine exhibits over the course of its multipartite structure the whole range of red fruit character: enticing handfuls of fresh black cherries on the nose become tenser, more austere cranberry on the palate before transforming into a beguiling strawberry character on the stately finish. Interspersed through these variations are other mineral and herbal notes: freshly felled white pine, bitter chocolate, dry pine straw, and a hint of sage ash. The tightly wound structure will take a few years to spin out and resolve itself into focus. This wine will take a few years of cellar training before attaining the mastery for which it was made. Drink 2020-2035. Andrew Farquhar
This is a perfect California wine for our store, as it is an homage to Julien Guillot's Burgundian field blend, Cuvee 910, which we have proudly carried for years. This wine is a co-ferment made from 2 tons of Pinot Noir and 1 ton of Chardonnay, both sourced from the extraordinary Coastview Vineyard perched high in the Gabilan Mountains, which separate the Monterey AVA from the Central Valley. Field blends like this were very common in the Middle Ages, when all available grapes were brought to the winery and crushed and fermented together, but the practice has become rare today. This wine makes that rarity seem strange. This is Pinot in the form of a lightning bolt, with the beautiful red fruit and elegance of Pinot Noir but an intensity and zippiness usually associated with white wine. These two varieties are co-fermented together on the skins for 55 days. This wine has loads of character, but still remains chimeric, with many different aspects that change and interact in the glass. As with all the Subject to Change wines, this is bottled unfined and unfiltered, and no sulfur is added anywhere in the winemaking process. This is a truly special wine from an incredible place made with tact and intelligence. 12.5% alcohol, and only 210 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
High above the hazy glow of Silicon Valley sits the historic Peter Martin Ray vineyard; where the quality of farming and extreme altitude have drawn some of California's most sought-after winemakers, including Arnot-Roberts and Birichino. Here in this remote and unforgiving site, Chardonnay struggles to find water deep in the hillsides during blazing summers. The mark of this tenacious battle is preserved by the Raytek's choice to pick earlier than most, and is expressed through a vivid oceanic salinity in the finished wines. The 2017 Peter Martin Ray Chardonnay maintains its reputation for purity, balance, and restraint. At the usual 13.3% abv., the only allusion to the scorching summer months is the texture of tangy citrus oil that coats the palate before being swept away by a deft and mineral-laden acidity on the long persistent finish. This is a beautiful and expressive wine with many years ahead in the cellar. Recently we paired this with lobster served on buttery, toasted rolls and it gave the Condrieu a run for its money. Amanda Bowman
The Quaker Run Vineyard, planted in 1999, is located on the eastern flank of the Blue Ridge Mountains, nearly touching Shenandoah National Park. This Chardonnay's spontaneous fermentation lasted for nearly 11 months and then rested on the lees for an additional seven months. Big, round, and extraordinarily texturally dense, this wine has fine leesy, yeasty, bready character that is elegantly interpolated through the fine white peach and meyer lemon fruit core. This is a big classic Chardonnay, though it has fine acid structure that adds to a long, slightly funky, lingering finish. Andrew Farquhar
Eminence Road is one of the most consistent producers of high quality wines in the Finger Lakes. This Riesling is from vines planted in loam over shale and limestone, sourced from the eastern bank of Seneca Lake. This is big and structured with a crystalline brilliance on the palate that is breathtaking. A wine of precision, this will age gracefully for 5-10 years, and is designed to complement the offerings of the country table. Andrew uses very little sulfur in the converted hillside cow barn. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Andrew Farquhar
This dry Muscat is from the Suisun Valley, and it's the first year Folk Machine has bottled a Muscat. 100% Muscat Canelli (Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains), this was fermented in stainless steel. This dry wine has gorgeous floral, peachy, white grape juice aromas, but on the palate is a well-built, finely structured dry wine. There is a breadth of palate that makes it excellent for sipping cold in the sunshine.
Sterling Whitted proves again that he is a winemaker to watch with this sublime 2016 Vermentino from Applegate Valley, Oregon. Whitted sources grapes from 40-year-old vines planted in red volcanic soils at 1,600ft above sea level in the historical Layne Vineyard in southern Oregon. After the fruit is pressed it spends 18 months on its lees with no battonage and only minimal sulfur at bottling. The front label looks like a scene from a Bruce Brown documentary; which at first feels like slapping a Roxy decal on a Porsche, until the second sip floods the mind with images of athletic surfers gliding on Perfect Waves. The 2016 offers vivid coastal aromas of surf and salty seashells mixed with mountain herbs and anise. The palate is creamy from the extended time on the lees and shows ripe tropical fruit that surges over a long, stony finish. This bottle will pair beautifully with a number of delicious seafood dishes, recently it awed with a boiled lobster salad with fresh tomatoes and onions. Amanda Bowman
This is a Chardonnay containing great, lustrous depths. The color of yellow topaz, this wine displays incredible concentration of fruit and earth, with dense lemon and pear character surrounded by white flower, honeysuckle, and a dusty, riverbed quality that is truly remarkable. A touch of nuttiness can be found in the back palate, and the wine displays an extraordinarily long finish with a kaleidoscopic array of aftereffects. The dialogue between clear acid structure and dense weight feels iconic. Right now, this wine responds well to air, with an aroma that continues to bloom over the course of several hours, yet I feel that this wine is truly meant for the cellar, where it will continue to grow and change for the next twenty to thirty years. Andrew Farquhar
Ovum is an exciting, predominantly Riesling-based project from winemakers John and Ksenija House from Southern Oregon, based out of the Rogue Valley. The Rogue Valley is in fact made up of the valleys of three separate rivers which are, from West to East: the Illinois River, the Applegate River, and Bear Creek. The Bear Creek Valley is the warmest and driest place in the state of Oregon, whereas the Illinois River Valley, from which this Riesling is sourced, is the coolest and wettest region in the state. Grown in serpentine soils, very rare for viticulture due to its hardness and poor nutrient retention, this is a powerful Riesling with loads of electric acidity and an incredible funky floral character: lime flower, sap, and dense crystalline citric fruit meld together in an amazing, expressive wine. Andrew Farquhar
This is a 100% Chardonnay sourced from two different parcels of younger vines, one planted in sandy, stony soils, the other in red clay rich with iron. Spontaneous fermentation and aging in a combination of neutral barriques and demi-muid. This is an expressive cold-weather Chardonnay, which walks the line between tartness and richness. Subtle notes of creamy sweet spices with a dash of mint play with a touch of lemon and unripe pear on the nose, while the palate is broad and textured, though with a fine vein of acidity. On the palate, the minerality comes to the fore, making this a fantastic food wine. 390 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
Francois Morissette is one of the most creative and uncompromising producers making wine in Canada. His Irrévérence Blanc is a new cuvée exploring skin contact aromatic white grapes. 64% Riesling, 22% Chardonnay, and 14% Gewurztraminer, each of these grapes was fermented separately and using very different methods. The Riesling was fermented in stainless steel, the Chardonnay was fermented in concrete and spent 6 months in foudre, and the Gewurztraminer was fermented on the skins in qvevri for six months. After blending, another three months were spent in foudre before the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. The Gewurztraminer marks its territory with light, delicate tannins and a distinct but not overbearing floral aroma, and the Riesling gives fantastic citric energy and tension. The Chardonnay insinuates itself more subtly, lending a certain breadth of texture, a structural elegance, and ephemeral wisps of orchard fruits to the long finish. This is a perfect aperitif wine that is taking the wine bars of Toronto by storm. Andrew Farquhar
Sourced from estate fruit and organically farmed vineyards in the Green Valley sub-AVA of Russian River. Elegantly textured, with stylish apple and pear fruit mixing with a hint of salinity and crushed oyster shells, this is a perfect companion for heavier seafood dishes, particularly anything involving lobster. Whole cluster pressed and aged for 11 months in 25% new French barrique. What impresses me most about this Chardonnay is its reserve. Medium-bodied, the oak shows itself more in its textural integration than on the palate. 450 cases produced.
Precedent is the label of Nathan Kandler, longtime winegrower at Thomas Fogarty in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a renowned destination for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Precedent illustrates Kandler's versatility and curiosity and has introduced us to some truly unique California vineyard sites. Wirz Vineyard is home to 60+ year-old dry farmed, head-trained Riesling on decomposed granite over limestone in the Gabilan mountains. We usually have an off-dry Riesling on the table, but I'm happy to go in a drier direction in this case...concentrated, gleaming apricot, citrus rind, and tropical fruit is laced with gritty, long minerality and backed by supple texture and acidic tension. Terrific with herbed root vegetables and citrus glazed poultry or fish and anything peppery or spicy. Ariana Rolich
Revik Wine Co. is the passion project of two married couples who released their first vintage this past summer. This is a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc that positions itself at the forefront of a new wave of dynamic, elegantly structured, complex Sauvignon Blancs coming from the West Coast. Made with fruit sourced from the Saphi Vineyard in Coombsville (Revik winemaker Phil Holbrook's dry-farmed home vineyard), this wine was aged in both stainless steel and neutral oak, with 8 months on the lees. Unfined and unfiltered, and fermented with native yeast, this wine has great depth and a long linear texture, with subtle, muted citrus fruit wrapped in a chrysalis of finely spun woolen notes. Peach fuzz and melon rind absorb into zippy acidity. The subtle degrees of shading are spectacular and the finish feels like forever. Andrew Farquhar
The Horseshoe vineyard was planted in 2004 at an elevation ranging from 1,360 to 1,610 feet above sea level, with the blocks of Chardonnay occupying the lowest, most fog-ridden portions of the vineyard. The vineyard lies on the Monterey formation, a ridge of brittle, rust-mottled sedimentary shale (intermixed with limestone) that provides swift drainage and allows for low vigor. Interestingly, the warmest month at Horseshoe is September, mitigating the difficulties of the previous cool summer months with a final solar sear at the end of the season. On the nose this wine has notes of apple blossom and freshly baked bread, with some more delicate white peach notes. On the palate, this wine is still quite tightly wound, but with incredible dense notes of steely lemon, with great crackling acidity that is nonetheless exquisitely integrated throughout all aspects of the clear, precise structure from fore-palate to the long whiplash finish. Capable of improving for up to a decade in the cellar, though this wine would be fantastic with herb-roasted chicken or Point Reyes oysters. Andrew Farquhar
Sourced from the oldest Riesling vines along the banks of Seneca Lake, planted in 1972 on the warmer eastern bank of the lake. Seneca is the deepest of the Finger Lakes, which allows it to moderate the temperature along its banks more than the other lakes. Cayuga, to its west, while having a larger surface area, is much shallower, and you can tell along its muggy banks during the summer. This is a beautiful textured Riesling with fine balance, great acidity, ripe citrus and apple fruit, and just a tiny hint of residual sugar. This is a steal for the price, and one of the best deals I've ever seen coming from New York State. While this will pair well with food, I think this is an ideal summer aperitif. Organic practice in the vineyard, awaiting certification, and low sulfur in the winery. Andrew Farquhar
Stolpman's Roussanne vineyards have an amazing advantage that makes us believe Roussanne from Santa Barbara will become a well-known style in the future. As many know, Santa Barbara is one of the coolest regions in California, though it is also the southernmost. After the break in the Coastal Range that lets in all the cold air from the Pacific, the Transverse Ranges funnel the fog in towards Ballard Canyon and it dissipates earlier in the day and the maritime influence is mitigated, yet still the air is cold. Being at 34 degrees latitude south allows the skin of the grapes to tan in the long hours of the sun, giving them the rust color, or 'Rousse', for which they have been named. In July, the vineyard team pulls leaves away from the bunches, and they rotate the grapes 180 degrees to give an even tan. This extra sun does not lower acidity too much, due to the cold nights and limestone soils. These aspects come together to produce a wine of massive structure, with a broad, intense palate and high acidity, that nonetheless gives us beautiful citric character and lush white fruits. This is a white wine for pairing with heavier dishes like lobster, pork loin, or even a beef braise. Andrew Farquhar
This Chardonnay is sourced from the Coastview Vineyard, which must be one of the most extraordinary vineyards to see anywhere, at the top of a peak in the Gabilan Mountains, situated 2,400 feet above sea level, on a dirt track it took seven years to cut. From this height, the ocean is visible over the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west. Thin topsoil here overlays decomposed limestone and granite. Father-son vineyard managers John and Parker use a huge herd of sheep instead of machine mowers in this rugged terrain, and winemaker Alex Pomerantz uses this fruit to make an incredible Chardonnay that isn't quite like anything I've tasted. Whole cluster pressed before being put into neutral barrel to ferment and age for five months before being racked and put in tank for another five months. Lean and aromatically expressive, this is a very pure and pretty wine, not without richness, but more angular in structure, which should allow it to benefit from some time in the cellar. 12.5% alcohol by volume, and bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no sulfur added. 294 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
For Nathan Kandler, winemaker at Thomas Fogarty, Portola Springs is the most extreme of their Santa Cruz Chardonnay vineyards, with its very steep slopes and cool marine air influence. The Chardonnay grapes ripen very slowly and yields are frustratingly low. Portola Springs has a characteristic lemon drop and verbena with flavors of lemon oil, sea spray, and dried thyme. Pair with roasted cauilflower or chicken. Jonas Mendoza
The original vineyard planted by Mr. Wiemer himself, this wine is from a parcel farmed biodynamically. Cold spontaneous fermentation takes place over the course of months. 65% of the grapes picked two weeks late allow for this wine's beautiful mellow sweetness. 20% fermented in 1000L Hungarian barrels. This is an extraordinarily pretty wine, with delicate, expressive acidic structure laid over with a number of layers of beautiful fruit. Notes of peach, Meyer lemon, and white flowers all mesh together in harmonious accord. Pair with Peking duck, fresh fruit, or blue cheese. Andrew Farquhar