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JANUARY 6, 2020

1) Darioush Cabernet Franc 2016, Napa Valley:  $78 Opening with savory and lingering aromas of crushed boysenberries, blueberries and Kirsch accented by earthen notes of dry loam, lead pencil shavings, and cigar box. Steeped black tea, anise and underbrush create for a savory interplay on the taut, medium to full-bodied palate packed with black and blue fruits. Each sip is framed by firm, finely-grained tannins – a lively backbone to support its great length, depth, and age-worthiness.  75% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot.

2) Darioush Viognier 2018, Napa:  $55 The Darioush estate grown Viognier derives its unique style from a four-acre vineyard site in the Oak Knoll appellation. The cool micro-climate of the vineyard allows this temperamental varietal to slowly develop robust and concentrated floral and fruit characteristics. The fruit, and resulting wine, is minimally handled to express its pure and fragrant nature. Honeysuckle, jasmine and citrus fruit aromas leap from the glass, introducing a vibrant and succulent mouthfeel of juicy peach and cantaloupe balanced by the bright acidity of Fuji apple and lemon zest. The 2014 Viognier finishes with lingering notes of dried apricot, nutmeg and vanilla bean.

3) Lapostelle Rose 2018, Chile:  $14.99 James Suckling 92 pts.  A very subtle and steely rosé with strawberries and cream, nectarines and citrus. Medium-bodied with vibrant acidity, but there’s some real texture on the palate with creaminess. Delicious rosé. Drink now.

4) Do Ferreiro Albarino 2017, Rias Baixas:  $27.99 Complex aromas of salinity exotic fruits with wet earth/herbal tones. The palate is textured with excellent acidity.  The best Albarino that money can buy!

5) Burly Simpkins Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Coombsville, Napa:  $82Aromas of cassis and blackberries meld seamlessly with notes of chocolate, and anise. The rich, plush mouthfeel elegantly transforms into sweetness by supple tannins and lovely oak integration. A wonderful mineral note shines through the whole experience. Layered, complex, and lingering, a true wine drinking experience. Wonderful now, this wine will benefit from further bottle aging reaching its peak in 5 to 7 years but drinkable for 10 years.

6) Hugh Hamilton Jim Jim Shiraz 2017, South Australia:  $14.99 Great price! Jim-Jim the Down-Underdog is so named for the winery’s faithful dog, Jimmy, who passed away in 2010. This robust, dark and juicy Shiraz is not an underdog, but does have the same zest for life that Jim-Jim did. Ripe red berry, vanilla, cracked pepper and savory herb flavors on the palate — This Shiraz is a consistent crowd-pleaser.

7) Numanthia Termanthia 2011, Toro:  $208 James Suckling 96 pts. This is very sexy on the nose with ripe fruits such as plums and berries, and hints of walnuts and Spanish cedar. It’s full-bodied, with soft, silky tannins and a nutty, rich finish. A wine from vines of more than 120 years old.

8) Domaine de la Bergerie Les Pierres Girard Blanc 2017, Anjou:  $19 For anyone craving bone-dry whites stuffed with textured fruit and mineral savor, this organic Chenin Blanc from Loire’s fashionable Anjou is the winning elixir.  Expressive nose, aromas of apricot, peach, which evolves on notes of wax. 

9) Far Niente Chardonnay 2018, Napa:  $55 Great price! $70 online! Classic Far Niente style with aromas of grilled citrus, melon and honeysuckle with hints of white fig, gardenia and toasted hazelnuts, background of mild toasted oak that adds supportive warmth and richness. A silky entry builds on the palate with a rich texture that continues to evolve. Possessing great structure and length, a sweet core of melon and citrus is supported by white floral and toasted vanilla and baking spice notes. The broad mid palate comes back together with a long bright finish.

10)  Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Napa Valley:  $129.79 ($145 online)Aromas of boysenberry and dark cherry with bright floral accents and subtle toasted oak rise from the glass. Silky upon entry, lush boysenberry and cherry flavors fill the palate, along with hints of dusty earth, spice and oak. The tannins are smooth and refined, and the finish long and juicy.

11)  Simonsig Pinotage 2015, Stellenbosch:  $16.99 This vivacious Pinotage with its rhubarb red color showcases vibrant sweet cherry and strawberry compote on the nose. The palate further displays depth of fruit with layers of cherry and plum, followed by a light dust of cinnamon. Good concentration and structure is exquisitely finished with juicy, polished tannins.

12)  Pascual Toso Barrancas Toso Red Wine 2015, Mendoza:  $17.99 James Suckling 92 pts. A very fine-textured red with berries, chocolate and spices. Medium body, polished tannins and a savory finish. Long and caressing. A blend of malbec and cabernet sauvignon.

13)  Nickel & Nickel DeCarle Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Rutherford:  $99.99 Special price! Suggested retail: $125! Brand new vineyard! Beautifully balanced dark red and blue fruit aromas accented by subtle mineral notes create immediate intrigue in this brand new Cabernet Sauvignon. Elegant Rutherford dust presents itself on the palate alongside juicy berry and black cherry fruits. Tannins are polished and supple and lead to a graceful finish.

14)  Prisoner Wine Company Unshackled Red Wine:  $23.99 Brand new! Opens with aromas of plum and blackberry with a hint of olive. Vibrant flavors of black stone fruit and dried herbs with solid tannin structure result in a flavor-forward red wine with balanced acidity. A delicious red wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Merlot, this wine combines grapes from the north and central coast of California and is aged in French and American oak casks for 11 months. Pair this flavorful cabernet sauvignon wine with pork meatballs in a tomato sauce or dark chocolate and raspberry layer cake. Serve this wine bottle just below room temperature by refrigerating for up to 30 minutes.

15)  Truchard Rousanne 2018, Carneros, Napa Valley:  $22 Great price! The 2018 vintage will be remembered as nearly perfect. A cold winter with average rainfall made for a late bud-break. Ideal spring weather allowed for a heavy set. Mild conditions throughout summer and fall allowed the large crop to slowly ripen and develop maximum flavor. The wines of 2018 are powerful but elegant; with firm acidity and beautiful balance. This could be the vintage of the decade!

16)  Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River Valley:  $45.99 Great price! This superb wine is the result of seven different Pinot lots blended together. Red ruby in color, this blend offers a pretty nose of cranberry, rhubarb, and cherry with hints of barrel toast and earth (that’s from the Leras Family Vineyards). The inviting qualities found on the nose are mirrored on the palate. There’s an elegant fusion of tart red fruit – cherry, pomegranate and rhubarb – with hints of earthy minerality, fine-grained tannins and gentle oak notes. Bright with frisky acidity, it begs for food. A nice piece of fatty salmon, duck or pork tenderloin with fall vegetables sounds mouthwatering and delicious.

17)  Brochelle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Calaveras County, Foothill Series:  $39.99 Suggested retail: $47 From its origin in the Sierra Foothills, the epicenter of California’s Gold Rush, comes a wine that is one of our most fragrant in our cellar.  This vintage displays a tender kiss of leather enveloped in warm vanilla notes, followed by intriguing aromas of cedar and eucalyptus that lead into an intensely flavorful, full-bodied Cabernet. Assertively fruit forward with ripe black cherry, cranberry, and cola bursting onto the palate.  26 months of patient aging on French oak gives this wine a purely satin texture that glides over the palate with tannins that are soft, ripe and linger long on the finish. 

18)  Brochelle Vineyards Reserve Syrah 2016, Paso Robles:  $39 Another stunning vintage, the 2016 Reserve Syrah is deeply colored, exquisitely perfumed and robustly flavored. Limited fruit selection and tannins softened by special barreling in 100% French oak delivers a wine that is refined, sophisticated and elegant. Scents of dark creamy chocolate and black Mission figs drift up from the glass. Mouthwatering boysenberry and dark ripe plum flavors layer with nuanced spiciness. Singularly harmonious and polished fluidity leave you begging for more of this exquisite vintage.  Drink now and until 2033. 75 cases produced.

19)  Thomas Fogarty Skyline Red Wine 2015, Lodi:  $16 Winemaker’s Notes: “A blend of Tempranillo 33%, Zinfandel 28%, Grenache 15%, Petit Sirah 13%, Carignan 11%.  Blended from selected lots of wine primarily from the sandy soils of Lodi. We look to create a wine with a generous fruit profile, soft tannins and ample spice. This blend pairs two traditional Spanish varieties, Tempranillo and Grenache, with Zinfandel and a touch of Petit Sirah & Carignan. The wines are fermented separately, raised in oak and then finished in stainless steel, highlighting their richness and preserving their focus. As is true with every vintage, intensive blending creates an Artisan wine crafted for immediate accessibility and enjoyment.”

20)  Pascual Toso Toso Brut:  $13.99 James Suckling 90 pts.  This sparkling chardonnay is bright and fresh and crisp with attractive lemon and dried-pear aromas and a rather juicy, very clean finish.

21)  Ironstone Pinot Noir 2018, Lodi:  $12.99 Our fourth release of Pinot Noir gives you seductive aromas of luscious black cherries mixed with cloves, spice and a touch of vanilla. These are followed by a well-rounded and supple cherry and plum flavor with a bit of earthiness. Soft tannins and a smoky and black tea-tobacco note finishes this full-flavored wine deliciously!

22)  Two Angels Petite Sirah 2016, Red Hills Lake County:  $22 WE 92 pts. Complex, compelling aromas of fig, mint and cocoa start this full-bodied wine off with a bang before rich, jammy blackberry and blueberry flavors flood the palate. The texture is quite tannic, but is balanced out by the richness and concentration of the fruit tones. It’s a big, boisterous wine that needs some equally big proteins to pair with. Best after 2020. 

23)  Ironstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Lodi:  $12.99 Rich and complex, but still easily approachable. Its dark cherry and toasted oak aromas tantalize the taste buds that will savor juicy black currant, raspberry and dark cherry flavors. This luscious, well-balanced, wine has a sweet middle palate that finishes with a lovely toasty oak component.

24)  Del Dotto Caves Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Napa Valley:  $69 Our Napa Valley Cabernet is a great example of a quintessential Napa Valley Cabernet at a great price point.  The bouquet is rich and dense, exuding dark chocolate, currants with hints of vanilla and caramel on the finish. The lush mid palate shows spicy notes with good minerality.  This medium bodied wine can be enjoyed now and for the next ten years.

25)  Coup de Foudre Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa Valley:  $92 Gives up super exuberant, ripe, expressive black and blue fruit with tons of Indian spices, earth and garrigue. The palate is full-bodied, rich and spicy with great vibrancy and grainy tannins, finishing long.

26)  Coup de Foudre Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma:  $92 Situated at the top of Kings Ridge Road along the Sonoma Coast, the Pinot Noir Vineyard overlooks the Pacific ocean and basks in ample sun and fog at a 2000 feet elevation. The coastal fog keeps it cool in the mornings, but the ridge exposure allows for ample ripening. Strawberry preserve, anise, and spicy notes leap out of the glass. While fresh red fruit and hints of cherry are enveloped by subtle warm toasty oak nuances. The firm acidity and smooth tannin profile are perfectly balanced. Only 8 barrels.

27)  Domaine Curry Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Napa Valley:  $95 “The elevated Petit Verdot in this blend really provides the dark inky structure and tannins to cellar this wine for a long time. Elements of fresh berries, custard filling, and vanilla nuance contribute to this complex wine. When this bottle settles down and opens up, watch out!”

28)  Amuse Bouche Red Wine 2015, Napa Valley:  $220 In 2002, Heidi partnered with longtime friend John Schwartz to create Amuse Bouche, a Pomerol-inspired Merlot from Napa Valley. Recognizing that the cult wine phenomenon has created an almost aspirational class structure among collectors, the partners decided to make this limited edition wine available to a much broader consumer base. Winemaker Heidi Barrett explains, “We have created Amuse Bouche, a limited edition, superb Pomerol style wine with the added value of limited edition art that is available to consumers through a variety of channels.”  This year’s blend is 88% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc from our vineyard on Rutherford’s eastern hillside. Decanter 96 pts. Youthful and charismatic winemaker, Heidi Barrett combines her 40 years of winemaking with entrepreneur John Schwartz to deliver Amuse Bouche’s Napa Valley Red Blend. This Pomerol inspired blend is crafted from Rutherford’s hillside vineyards and delivers a story of the source and Heidi’s winemaking skills. The 2015 delivers all the goods, with lifted aromatics of dried violets, bay leaf and thyme, and classic Merlot notes of cranberry with a sassy appeal. It has an acid-driven finish that’s full of stamina. Drinking Window 2019 – 2036