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Ripe, juicy, and versatile as always, with a super-fresh kick of acidity, Ampelos' basic Pinot Noir is composed primarily of grapes from certified organic and biodynamic Ampelos vineyard and John Sebastiano vineyard with 14 months in French oak (23% new). The zesty nose of cranberry, cinnamon, cherries, and earth precedes bright red raspberry and tangy cherry-berry fruit flavors that combine with buoyant acidity, gentle tannins, soft hints of oak, sweet tobacco, black pepper and thyme. A truly delicious everyday Pinot Noir from an estate with integrity. Ariana Rolich
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 have Demeter Biodynamic and SIP (Sustainability in Practice) certification, 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 cool citrus zests. (Also available in magnum!) Ariana Rolich
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
Cameron and Marlen Porter are making some of the freshest, most fabulous and recognizably "natural" wines in America. And they don't show any signs of running out of inspiration: '"Pink Flag," our first ever Rosé was inspired equally by the band Wire, and the winery Clos Cibonne. From Wire, the wine takes its name (an homage to their first, groundbreaking album), but also its spirit: joyous, playful energy brushing up against an angular, spiky core. From Clos Cibonne, we take technique.' Pink Flag is 100% Counoise, partially raised under a thin flor of yeast (the aforementioned Clos Cibonne technique), which imparts creamy almond and buttery apple notes on the nose and taut, salty counterpoint to the silky palate of ripe, musky orchard fruit. A thought-provoking and textured rose, very delicious with fish stew (summer dreams of bouillabaise at Clos Cibonne!), grilled vegetable, cheeses, and poultry. Ariana Rolich
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 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
The Saint Georges Pinot is firm and bright with aromas of dried cranberries and blood orange; on the palate, macerated strawberry and salty red plum. The silky tannins frame the wine's distinctive freshness and vibrant texture. Alex Krause and John Locke sourced the grapes predominantly sourced from a warm, yet maritime-influenced vineyard on the the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains and blended other single vinyeard fruit. Jonas Mendoza
Winemaker Chris Brockway makes Brea Cabernet from Margarita Vineyard in Paso Robles, the same site behind the delicious and popular Broadside Cabernet. The 2013 is riper and more fruit-forward than the previous year's vintage, leaning more toward California than Bordeaux. Juicy black cherry, black currant, and ripe black plum flavors delicately interweave into dried thyme, sage, and compacted earth undertones. Jonas Mendoza
Fans of Broadside's delicious Margarita Vineyard Cabernet, take note! This 2013 Paso Robles bottling is one of the most graceful wines we've tasted in the under $20 price range, combining 50% Margarita fruit with two other sustainably farmed Paso Robles vineyards. It is substantial and refreshing, with full flavors of sweet purple plums, spicy citrus oil, brambly black and blue berry fruit, and balanced, grippy young tannins. A truly fantastic value! Ariana Rolich
The 2006 "Old Man's Reserve" Syrah (90% Syrah, 6% Roussanne, and 4% Petit Verdot) started alongside Clos Saron's Stone Soup Syrah of the same vintage, but was aged for four years in 1,200L oak oval foudre, and then aged in bottle for almost an additional 6 years prior to its release. Reminiscent of an older Barbaresco, the "Old Man's Reserve" has flavors of stewed morello cherry, carob, and dark chocolate on the initial attack, then glides seamlessly into secondary flavors of saddle leather, air-dried bresaola, and tar. One of my favorite Clos Saron bottlings, it's a wine that is drinking well now, but can age for an additional 10-20 years. Jonas Mendoza
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
Cathy Corison's winery is located on their home vineyard, Kronos, in Napa Valley's Rutherford AVA. The Cabernet vines are planted on gravelly loam soils and are some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the valley. Black cherry, cassis, and black currant flavors resonate on the palate framed by a prominent tannic structure. A quintessential example of power intersecting with elegance, and a wine that will reward cellaring for the next 8-10 years. Jonas Mendoza
After leaving Turley Wine Cellars in 2013, Ehren Jordan focused full-time on Failla, his winery centered around producing pure expressions of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah (not to mention an incubator for many talented young winemakers). Jordan has returned to his deep Zinfandel roots with Day. 2015 is the first vintage, from choice Zinfandel vineyards around Sonoma County, full and generous, with effusive, exotic aromas of incense and peppercorns, which infuse the gracious palate of floral wild berry fruit supported by layers of bramble, spice, and bright acidity. Ariana Rolich
Crisp and juicy, chaneling all the white wine energy that we love in summer's first fresh, cold roses, with the pretty red berry notes and nuance of our favorite French Gamay roses from the Loire and Beaujolais. Kate Norris and Tom Monroe pick their Yakima Valley (Washington) rose specifically for rose, capturing fresh cherry aromas and crisp, acidic and minerally palate of floral strawberry, orange peel, and tangy key limes. Ariana Rolich
What a delicious wine! This fresh and bright wine is 100% Gamay Noir, sourced from four organically farmed vineyards located in Willamette Valley. Kate Norris and Tom Monroe have great respect for this Burgundian grape and it shows. The vinification varies by vineyard to enable the best expression of the grape (carbonic maceration and traditional fermentation). Native yeasts are used and the wine is aged both in stainless steel tank and in French oak barrel.The wine is superb on the nose, reminiscent of classic floral Beaujolais wines. The first flavor that came to my mind was fresh and dried dark roses with slight baked rhubarb, spices and iron undertones. The bouquet of raspberries, strawberries and black cherries is full on the nose and mouth. The wine is beautifully structured with great acidity and minerality (volcanic clay soil with marine sedimentary overlay) with minimal tannin. This is a juicy, lean, fresh wine - perfect for the summer time served slightly chilled. Pair it with a chicken and goat cheese salad with strawberry vinaigrette. This will be a match made in heaven. Caroline Coursant
I cannot think of a California winemaker working today whom we admire and celebrate as enthusiastically as Steve Edmunds of Edmunds St. John. What greater pleasure can there be, then, to open this great big bottle of Rocks and Gravel from a great American winemaker? 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
Steve Edmunds has a way with Gamay, confirmed each year by the energy and depth of his red and rosé Bone Jolly wines. 2016 is light-bodied and fresh, taut and bright, with tingly acidity, tart cranberry, juicy sour cherry and citrus, and salty mineral earth. We look forward to every new vintage from Edmunds St. John. Let the adventure continue! Ariana Rolich
An invigorating wine made from apple, honey, and elderberry! All of the components are allowed to coferment naturally without the addition of lab yeasts or SO2 before a year-long elévage in neutral oak barrels. A gorgeous translucent ruby in the glass, it shows bright aromas of red apple skin, cranberry, pomegranate, and brown spice on the nose. Tangy is the word that comes to mind on the palate, with tart red apple, white pepper, juicy red raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, and lemon peel. There is a fair amount of grip, and the finish is long and citrusy. This would be an esoteric pairing with Asian dishes or burgers and is fantastic by itself. Tim Gagnon
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.
Ric Forman started his winemaking in the late 1960s at Sterling Vineyard, but was heavily influenced by a trip to Bordeaux while working at Newton Vineyard. He brought back several practices to Napa that were unheard of at the time: gentle handling of grapes at harvest through fermentation; small stainless steel fermenters for red wines and new Burgundy barrels for whites; deep caves to maintain a cool dark and humid environment in which to age red wine in new French oak barrels. This is a stern, yet elegant Merlot, with red plum and cherry flavors inflected with ferrous, brick and dried red floral undertones. Firmly structured, a Right Bank-leaning Merlot that rewards decanting. Jonas Mendoza
This is among my favorite wines to introduce people to the Santa Cruz appellation, and not coincidentally, to Kenny Likitprakong’s wines. The Pinot Noir is a blend of several Santa Cruz vineyards, which varies from year to year. This wine has black raspberry and cherry flavors, subtle hints of baking spice and red flowers, framed by a lithe, sinewy texture. Drink now or anytime within the next five years. Jonas Mendoza
John & Kerri Grochau's Commuter Pinot Noir is just as fun and zippy as its label suggests, and that's precisely what we love about this easy drinking wine. The grapes are hand picked from 8 different organically farmed vineyards within the Willamette Valley and spend over 7 months on the lees in a combination of oak and stainless steel.
A blend of Pinot Noirs from Campbell Ranch (50%), Baranoff Vineyard (25%), and an undisclosed vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Supple and silky, there is a preponderance of dark brambly fruit on the palate. Quite aromatic, macerated black cherry, kirsch, and violet aromas lead into black raspberry and cherry fruit flavors with hints of freshly rained upon earth. A juicy and elegant California Pinot that's still taut and structured. Jonas Mendoza
The grapes for this inaugural (and very tiny) vintage come from parcels surrounding the legendary Maresh Red Barn and farmed by 90-year old owner Jim Maresh Sr. The blocks are own-rooted Pommard clones planted in 1978. This wine has all the brambly black fruit of the regular Maresh Vineyard bottling, but with additional power, elegance, and structure. Tasting a bottle with Kelley Fox in front of the Red Barn, the rugged tannins frame a dark core of black raspberry and cherry fruit; after several hours, the wine unfurls with flavors of blackberry, mushroom, and freshly rained earth. A truly special bottling indeed! Jonas Mendoza
Matthiasson's 2016 rose is a familiar blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Counoise, with the surprising addition of a splash of Sauvignon Blanc to brighten and ripen up the flavors of this dry and nuanced rose, full of tart red berry fruit, with chewy cherry and raspberry skins and a refreshing bolt of orange and lime. Fermented and aged in stainless steel (malo was blocked to retain freshness) and landing at a cool 11.3% alcohol, this vintage of Matthiasson will have a seat at our patio table until it runs out! Ariana Rolich
The Stella Maris vineyard in Southern Oregon's Applegate Valley AVA has been a traditional source for Minimus' Sauvignon Blanc wines (SM1, SM2), but winemaker Chad Stock sourced Syrah here for his Experiment #15. Fermented whole-cluster and aged in acacia wood, the Syrah draws immediate references to Cote-Rotie, with black cherry skin and fruit, bresaola, and sage flavors. The acacia wood imparts delicate and perfumed floral notes to the wine that balance the brooding dark fruit notes and firm tannins. Jonas Mendoza
Last year's Minimus rose was juicy and succulent Gamay. This year's Minimus rose is a brainy, bone-dry Pinot Gris from a hot, high vineyard in Willamette Valley, starting tense and angular, opening into a supple mix of citrus piths, watermelon, rosewater, blood orange, and papaya. Winemaker Chad Stock delights us so consistently with his experimental bottlings that we might start declaring Minimus inherently delightful. 100 cases of this rose were produced. 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, 2013 is the deepest, most focused and delicious vintage yet for Pied a Terre. Rich ripe plum, tart black berries, with red raspberry and black pepper, deep, resinous herbs - thyme and oregano - with dark, smokey earth. There is great energy and elegance in this bottle, which will elevate your next meal of steaks and lamb burgers from the grill. Ariana Rolich
Zinfandel is perfect for summer grilling and the quintessential American wine, hence a mandatory component of 4th of July celebrations! Precedent's Evangelho bottling teaches even the Zin-averse to contemplate this fragrant, complex, and age-worthy grape anew. Aromas of creamy boysenberry and black cherry, with pink flowers, citrus, incense spice, and licorice; the palate exudes both perfect ripeness and fresh acidity, with juicy black and dark red fruits, licorice, bergamot, orange oils, sea brine, and a long minerally finish. Evangelho is a very special vineyard in Contra Costa county, composed of own-rooted Zinfandel with Carignan, Mourvedre, Palomino, Muscat, Chasselas, etc planted in 1890 on deep alluvial sands. 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
Rootdown is an exciting new label from Mike Lucia, who made wine at Copain Winery until the company was sold to Kendall Jackson last year. For Rootdown, he is making small quantities of organically-farmed Grenache Blanc, Trousseau, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, and more. The 2016 rosés are stunning, packed with personality, but light as can be. Mourvedre rosé from young vines in Amador County combines electric red berry fruit, hints of savory herbs, pink peppercorn, electric acidity, and low alcohol. Personally, I cannot stop reaching for this wine. Rootdown is one the most exciting new additions to the California shelf! Ariana Rolich
Planted to Pommard clones in 1988, this Pinot Noir is a bit less aromatic than their Branciaforte Ridge, but radiates with intense flavors of brambly black raspberry and dark chocolate. The tannins are firm yet supple; pair with a filet mignon or roast pork. Jonas Mendoza
Silver Oak makes very well balanced Cabernet Sauvignons and like the wines from Ridge, they are low in alcohol by California standards. This is a steakhouse standard and consistently delicious. -jbt
It's difficult to find a quality Oregon Pinot Noir under $25, let alone one that pairs remarkably with food. St. Innocent blends the fruit from their estate vineyard (Zenith) with that from several other sites within the northern Willamette Valley (Vitae Springs, Freedom Hill, Temperance Hill, and Momtazi). On the palate, very ripe and dark fruit flavors (morello cherry, black raspberry) are framed by a sweet and robust body. Pair with roasted pork and steak tenderloin. Jonas Mendoza