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Our domestic rose magnum this summer! Peter and Rebecca Work of Ampelos consistently produce some of the most delicious Pinot, Syrah, Viognier, and Grenache in Santa Barbara County. Farming and sustainability are central at Ampelos - they are Demeter certified biodynamic, SIP certified, and even their bottles are produced in California. Their 2016 rose is fresh and flavorful, combining 80% Syrah, farmed and harvested specifically for rose, 15% Grenache, and a 5% splash of Riesling from recently planted vines on their estate. Juicy watermelon and strawberry blossoms, with crunchy pomegranate, blood orange, and orange zest. Ariana Rolich
Baker Lane's "Colors" is bold, expressive Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir at an affordable price. Rich and ripe red fruit and wild berries and supple earth, with bright acid and impressive complexity in this price range. Highly recommended with seared duck breast, game birds, or vegetable stew.
Bedrock's 2014s are impressive in their freshness and balance across the board, but Evangelho is extra subtle and structured, with pink and purple floral aromas that carry onto the palate of crushed purple berries with tart, tannic skins, an abundance of blood orange and citrus oils that I associate with Evangelho, and fresh, gritty minerality. Evangelho is 40-foot-deep beach sand planted in the 1890s to Zinfandel, Carignane, Mourvedre, and more. The fine folks at Bedrock call it a "viticultural survivor- wedged betweem a PG and E plant, a Burger King, and a motel that rents rooms by the hour." Pretty and refreshingly acidic, this is a Zinfandel blend to unite diverse drinkers. Ariana Rolich
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.
The grapes from this vineyard (named after George Besson Sr. and Jr. whose families have lived and tended this vineyard since the 1930s) is fermented with native yeasts, using 15% whole cluster (with the rest destemmed), and racked into neutral barrels, unfined and and unfiltered. This wine envelops the palate with black cherry skin and fruit flavors, and violet, freshly rained earth, and menthol undertones. Despite the lightness and brightness of this Grenache, all the flavors resonate with an understatedly profound intensity. Pair with roast turkey with cranberry sauce or mushroom and herbed stuffing! Jonas Mendoza
The Antle Vineyard is perched at the edge of an extinct volcano, planted on granite and limestone soils at nearly 2,000' in the Chalone AVA. Several notable California winemakers have sourced fruit from this distinctive vineyard, including Enfield, Dirty & Rowdy, and the Scholium Project. Birichino's Pinot Noir from Antle Vineyard resonates with black cherry skin and tart black raspberry flavors with meaty, earthy, and herbal undertones, framed by firm and stern tannins. Jonas Mendoza
A Merlot that one doesn't have to look "Sideways" at. Ripe red plum and cherry compote flavors are underscored by vanilla and cloves notes and lifted red floral aromatics. Sourced from the famed Margarita Vineyard in Paso Robles. Jonas Mendoza
Clos Electrique is home base for Cameron winery, first planted in 1984 by John Paul and comprising 15 different clones of Pinot Noir, along with various clones of Chardonnay, and several Italian varieties. The vineyard is farmed organically, with only small amounts of elemental sulfur and copper used to prevent mildew and rot. Clover (for nitrogen), buckwheat (for phosphorus), and mustard (for drainage) are planted throughout. Geese, chickens, and goats roam the vineyards, and cover crops are used to nourish the soil and attract predatory insects to keep pests away. It’s truly a natural ecosystem at work, and is also the first certified Salmon-Safe vineyard in Oregon. Though situated on terroir of decomposing basalt (Jory soil) like Abbey Ridge, the Clos Electrique vineyard has a much higher iron and titanium content and it is of much younger origin, in terms of "when the lava flow occurred," says John Paul. The vineyard is also at only 300 feet elevation, and is one of the warmest spots in the Dundee Hills, so harvest is much earlier than at Abbey Ridge, and the fruit typically yields a more intense style of Pinot. It's hotter, but the soils give mineral depth, and the clonal variety provides level upon level of complexity, leading many to liken it's evolution in the glass to an "old world" wine. The fruits of the labor of the entire extended family at Cameron, and a wine that feels like the beautiful place it comes from, and has the warmth of the great people who tend the land. Eben Lillie
The Abbey Ridge vineyard was planted by Bill and Julia Wayne, who are partners at Cameron winery. It’s dry-farmed, with a rotating system of cover crops used to maintain moisture, and only organic treatments used in the vines. Originally planted by the Waynes in 1976, (with additional plots added in the 80s and 90s), Abbey Ridge is one of the oldest vineyards in Oregon. At around 600 feet elevation (up to 700 at its highest point), it’s also one of the highest vineyards in the Dundee Hills, which "makes a big difference on timing of bloom and when the fruit is harvested, " says John Paul. Grapes fully ripen here typically in October and are given the chance to develop high natural acidity, which in turn leads to wines with long aging potential. Everything is here! A beautiful Pinot Noir, perhaps with a Burgundian nod in the form of red fruit, rose petals, dry herbal notes, and bright acidity, but uniquely Oregonian in its own right. Though it would not be a shame to drink this in 1-3 years, it will definitely benefit from longer term aging. Eben Lillie
To make a Saignée, a small percentage of juice is "bled" off during fermentation of red wines, to balance the ratio of skins to juice, and give more boldness to the resulting wine. The run off juice is fermented separately and yields a rosé that has a considerable amount of color, compared to rosés made by direct press, or with very short maceration times. In one of his "rants " from a few years back about pink wine, John Paul writes that "one should be drawn to the wine by its color, captivated by its elegant aromas, and finally conquered by its texture and lingering flavors." The 2016 Saignée Rose delivers on all counts. It has a lovely rich pink hue, pretty strawberry aromatics, and a fascinating fleshy texture and long finish. A perfect rosé for the fall/winter months! I get the sense from John Paul that he might be getting out of the rosé game soon, as the market that was demanding rosé 4 years ago now seems to him to be saturated with them… so this may be the last time we get a chance to drink the Cameron Saignée. I'd suggest getting a bottle or two and drinking sometime in the next 1-3 years. Eben Lillie
Cooper Mountain Vineyards started in 1978 when Dr. Robert Gross and his wife, Corrine, planted the first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines in the unique soils of Cooper Mountain in the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Today, the estate has more than 100 acres dedicated to organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking. This Pinot Noir is refreshing and ripe, with brambly raspberry and cherry fruit, baking spice, and earthy flavors. Serve with a chill. Jonas Mendoza
Antle Vineyard sits on top of a rocky slope where the heat-loving Mourvèdre manages to grow on a block of decomposed granite and limestone at 1,700 feet in the Chalone AVA. 100% whole cluster, native fermentation, then aged in 5 to 8-year-old neutral French oak barrels and racked only at bottling, this is a thoughtful wine with deep character. Aromas of garrigue, iodine, and forest unfurl after a quick decant. Flavors of red currants, red berry fruit, bergamot, and savory spices round out the palate. Plenty of tannic structure to pair with red meat, but delicate enough that we ordered the red trout with mushrooms and it did not disappoint! Amanda Bowman
100% Mourvèdre sourced from organic vineyards in Amador, El Dorado, Monterey, and Santa Barbara counties (varies by vintage). 100% whole cluster fermentation with only native yeast used, this is a consistently generous and friendly wine with potential to evolve after a long decant. Fresh aromas of lush raspberries, tart cranberries, and mountain herbs deepen with black pepper, sandalwood, musk, and earth after a few hours. The palate offers some structure and crunchy acidity without being overly austere. We thoroughly enjoyed this with a slab of BBQ ribs. Amanda Bowman
100% Mourvèdre from El Dorado County. Fermented whole cluster with native yeasts, this vintage offers a beautiful bouquet redolent of sandalwood and baking spices, and ripe dark fruit flavors that continue to evolve over a couple of days. The aromatics are complex and bloom with crushed lavender, earth, and strawberry notes. The body is silky with an elegant dusting of tannins. Flavors of punchy pomegranate and red currant buoy the exotic spices and bitter cocoa powder notes on a persistent finish. Fantastic and lively on the second day – and certainly a re-buy. Amanda Bowman
Our love affair is going strong with Drovers Pinot Noir, a collaboration between our friends at Encore Wine Imports and Brad Ford of Illahe Vineyards. Consistently delicious, but always reflective of vintage, Drovers delivers freshness and depth and a terrific price point. In 2015 there is rich dark cherry, crushed berries, earth, cola, and spice, with more density than the 2014 and admirable balance. Ariana Rolich
I cannot think of a California winemaker working today whom we admire and celebrate as enthusiastically as Steve Edmunds of Edmunds St. John. Displaying a greater resemblance to L'Anglore Tavel than to the typical California GSM blend, 2015 Rocks and Gravel is juicy and generous with invigorating acidity and lots of life ahead. Perfumed and mouth-watering aromas of wild rose, black currant, tea leaves, and wild cherry with a terrifically spicy, bright and balanced palate of black raspberry, cherries and cherry skins, sweet tobacco, juicy young tannins and vibrant acidity. Medium bodied and crystal clear at 13.2% alcohol, this wine opens up beautifully and will reward cellaring. Ariana Rolich
This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
This is a fresh and delicious Pinot that we would be happy to drink every night (happily, at $21.99, we could also afford to!). Pure fruits of dark cherry, baked strawberry and raspberry, aromas of violets, along with ripe nuances of Madagascar vanilla bean. The different vineyard selections for this vintage include Arroyo Seco & Antle vineyards and offer a satisfyingly gamey, savory contrast to the silky palate and makes this a distinctive new world Pinot Noir well worth stocking up on.
Belle Farms Pinot Noir is a perennially stunning single vineyard bottling from Ghostwriter, from 1.5 acres at 500 feet elevation, planted in 1999 to Champagne clones, just outside of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA in the foothills of Mount Madonna. We recently learned from winemaker Kenny Likitprakong that Belle Farms was ripped out after the 2014 harvest and is currently planted with broccoli to enrich the soils before replanting (the vineyard had been struggling for years and ultimately failed). 2013 was a gorgeous vintage for these valiant vines, with aromas of dry earth, sweet cherry, birch bark, cardamom, and clove, which swirl onto the palate of crisp cranberry, rich cassis, black raspberry preserves, and spicy citrus oils, with a bold acidic core. This cuvée always needs some air, and flavors evolve on the second day open toward elegant, high-toned fruit with graceful florals and a fresh, salty, mineral layer. An aptly named vineyard! Please decant. Ariana Rolich
Reminiscent of old-school Cabernet from the 60’s and 70’s, the wine’s supple tannins and lustrous acidity frame sleek black cherry, plum, cassis, menthol, graphite, and licorice flavors. winemaker Kenny Likitprakong simply killed it with this inaugural vintage from Bates Ranch, which was planted in the 1970s at 2400 feet elevation in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Electric and bold, with 15% stem inclusion and 25% new oak (and many years ahead), this is a classic Cabernet to pair with grilled short ribs or a juicy steak for your 4th of July BBQ. Jonas Mendoza
We love Mike Roth's Lo Fi wines for their effortless balance, quality farming, and overall deliciousness. The 2016 rose is Cabernet Franc, farmed organically and fermented with native yeasts. Tart and refreshing, with chiseled flavors of red currant and oranges, racy acidity, and salty, mouthwatering minerality, this is a perfect first or last glass of wine of the day! Ariana Rolich
Kudos to our friend Richard Luftig for the phenomenal quality and price of Pied a Terre Cabernet! Always one of our best-selling American reds, 2014 is a deep, ripe, and focused vintage for Pied a Terre. There is great energy and balance in this bottle, which will elevate your wintry dinners and holiday gift lists alike! Ariana Rolich
Ridge Vineyards first made Merlot in 1974 on Monte Bello; after being initially blended into their famed Cabernet, the Merlot eventually showed enough structure and complexity to merit a separate bottling. Aged nearly 20 months in a combination of 40% new and 60% 4-5 year old American oak barrels, this Merlot displays clove, anise, and allspice aromatics. The high elevation of the Monte Bello vineyard (nearly 2600 feet!) shines through with red plum skin, tart red cherry, and fennel flavors, followed by a sinewy black olive finish. A Merlot to age for the next 5-10 years! Jonas Mendoza
Sky Vineyards has been producing estate-grown and estate-bottled Zinfandel since the late 1970s, but hasn't yet achieved the reputation of other Zinfandel producers like Ridge and Turley. This is a mistake in my not-so-humble opinion. The vineyard's volcanic soil and high altitude along with its warm days and fog-chilled nights produce Zinfandels with great finesse, elegance, poise, and length. There's a panoply of flavors that radiate on the palate: black cherry skin, brambly fruit, pomegrante, steeped tea, dried herbs, garrigue, and black pepper. This wine won't clobber you over the head, but it's quite lithe and sapid with generous dark fruit balanced by earthiness and savoriness. Jonas Mendoza
Skylark Wine Company is collaboration between wine directors John Lancaster and Robert Perkins from Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco, CA. The Cabernet comes from a heritage clone farmed organically in Rutherford on rocky and gravelly loam soils. With a sleek and lithe texture, the Alondra rests elegantly on the palate with black plum and maraschino cherry flavors with subtle hints of freshly rained earth and cracked black pepper. A lithe Napa Cabernet with bold flavor. Jonas Mendoza
This is an exciting Washington State Grenache from winemaker Joe Swick. Palest ruby in color, this wine has a sumptuous handful of fresh strawberries on the nose that mix with a touch of baking spice and a dark rumor of black tea. On the palate this wine is lush with red fruit, hinting at wild brambles, and shows great energy. Lighter in weight, its a perfect pairing for turkey, and a great companion for mashed potatoes, or roasted root vegetables. Use as a palate cleanser for anything covered in giblet gravy. Andrew Farquhar
A deep and brooding Washington Malbec from Joe Swick, this wine displays a subtle nose, with a bit of elegant dark fruit emerging from its gentlemanly reserve. Dark notes of spice and some husky minerality are clothed on the palate by a classic tannic grip. There is good structure but also fine integration of its various parts, which make it a wonderful complement for a wide range of foods. This is a great cold weather wine, that will be nice alongside rich cheeses, dark full-bodied sauces, and meats of various types, such as veal, game birds, poultry, and fine cuts of grass-fed beef. Andrew Farquhar
Under the Wire is the sparkling wine project of Morgan Twain Peterson and Chris Cottrell, whose ambition to make world-class California Champagne method bubbles is fed by truly excellent grape sources. This rose is Pinot Noir from David Hirsch's legendary vineyard on the true Sonoma Coast, just a mile from the San Andreas fault. The 2014 vintage was fermented with native yeasts in neutral barrels and disgorged in the spring of 2017 with 2g dosage. An American sparkler to celebrate!