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Cheryl Hunt
June 9, 2024 | Cheryl Hunt

June 2024 Wine Club Wines

Messina Hof Muscat Canelli – Texas High Plains (Gold)

Our friends at Messina Hof have crafted a wonderful wine from the Muscat Canelli grape, also known as Muscat á Petits Grains in France or South Africa’s Hanepoot (what a great name!). While you might automatically assume this is going to be a sugar bomb, it’s surprising how well-balanced it is in the glass, with floral aromas and prominent apricot, peach, and tangerine notes emerging well before the 9 g/L of residual sugar hits the palate. The fruit counteracts the sweetness, making this a thirst-quenching porch pounder. No other Texas winery grows more Muscat Canelli grapes than Messina Hof, and along with other Texas wineries we have featured, Messina Hof is a preeminent presence in pushing our state’s wine industry forward. Currently, Texas is in 11th position nationwide, just after Virginia, for wine production. Give it a little more time, and Texas will be way up there with California! Pour yourself a glass and savor it with a lovely seasonal salad from Greenhouse.

J. Bäumer Riesling – Rhein, GER (Gold)

The perfect food wine, especially when the cuisine is spicy or hot, Riesling is often an underappreciated variety. Germany’s signature grape, it was vastly popular in the 1850s, and it became almost as renowned (and expensive) as Champagne and Bordeaux. However, there was so much devastation to Germany’s vineyards during both world wars that Riesling fell out of favor. Always a favorite among connoisseurs and sommeliers due to its versatility, many now acknowledge Riesling’s primacy. A mid-to-late ripening grape, it can retain some (or a lot of) sugar, so it is the winemaker’s choice whether to cultivate it dry or keep some sweetness. The J. Bäumer Riesling has some observable residual sugar (RS) and would be described as “halbtrocken,” or off-dry. This wine’s naturally high acidity balances the RS, making it pleasant and not overwhelmingly saccharine, and  this Riesling conveys fruits like lime, apple, kumquat (a small citrusy fruit from China), and honeydew. It would be a shame to not pair this with your favorite dish from Thai Square.

Nals Margreid 'Galea' Schiava – Alto Adige, IT (Platinum)

Schiava is a grape that is home to the Alto Adige region, an area that borders Austria to its north and has some German influence (Schiava is also called Vernatsch locally and Trollinger in Germany). The clusters themselves are very large, pyramid-shaped bunches with large, dark blue grapes, and they are trellised using a pergola system, which protects the grapes from sunburn (!) and mild hail. An interesting fact about the Schiava grape is that the leaves turn bright yellow in autumn, which is very unusual for red grapes. The Nals Margreid ‘Galea’ is a light, chillable red that would please Pinot Noir and Gamay lovers alike. With extra strawberry on the nose, but surprisingly dry at just 1.7 g/L of residual sugar, a sip also conveys raspberry, pomegranate, some almond, and a kiss of spice from its time spent in wood. This wine would match so well with many foods, but treat yourself to a glass alongside a Falafel Vegan Wrap from Fatima’s Grill.

Palafox Pionero Tinto – Baja California, MEX (Platinum)

Eighty percent of the wine from Mexico is made in Baja California. Unlike the stringent rules of France, Italy, Spain, and even California, Mexico does not have aging requirements and grape percentages governing their viticulture. Thus, Mexican vintners are concocting the best combinations that convey ripeness of fruit, acidity, and body. An emerging star on the Mexican wine scene, Aldo Cesar Palafox founded his estate in 1997, in Valle de la Grulla, 25 miles south of the town of Ensenada. He uses only estate fruit and practices sustainable farming. Despite very warm days, the grapes at Palafox are encased by morning fogs and cool sea breezes, which slow down the ripening process, developing more complex flavors. This tinto, a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Merlot, is both juicy and well-structured and has little residual sugar. A fragrant nose gives way to blackberry and black cherry, plus subtle caramel, vanilla, black pepper, and tobacco. Order some beef fajitas from La Laguna Meat Market & Kitchen and pop open a bottle of the Palafox Pionero Tinto!

Château Courac Côtes du Rhône – Côtes du Rhône, FR (Platinum)

From the southern Rhône comes this delicious red blend consisting of 55% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 15% old vine Carignan. The Château Courac was partially sourced from the village of Laudun, which was promoted to Cru status in 2023. The viticultural legacy of the estate has been in place since 1941 when the Arnaud family settled in Tresques, which is on the right bank of the Rhône River. Right bank Rhônes are usually very concentrated and fruit-forward as there are cool nights, sandy soils, and longer hang times for the ripening grapes. Frédéric and Joséphine Arnaud have been the winemakers since 1995, and their style brings a masterful elegance to the wines. With violet on the nose, raspberry and red plum flavors transform into darker fruits and spice. At just 2 g/L of residual sugar, the wine is a balance of fruit and earthiness. Enjoy it with the Linda Lou, a chicken sandwich platter from Cartwright’s Ranch House.

Sadler’s Well Cabernet Sauvignon – Paso Robles, CA (Gold)

The name ‘Sadler’s Well’ is an allusion to Richard Sadler who, in 1683, opened a theater (then called a ‘Musick House’) in London. Two men, who were digging a garden on Sadler’s property, struck something that they mistook for buried treasure, but alas, it was a well. But this well was not ordinary; it had iron-rich mineral water that was believed to have health benefits, which Mr. Sadler then turned into his own treasure. He claimed that drinking from his well would heal a multitude of illnesses, and aristocrats and emissaries from around the country came to drink from Sadler’s well and go to his theater. Vintner partners Bill Leigon and Billy Spear were inspired by Sadler’s success and decided to name this Paso Cab in his honor. It will entice you with ripe blackberry, cassis, baking spices, toasty oak, and some tertiary leather notes. With a touch of residual sugar, it is well-balanced but juicy. It deserves a proper hamburger like the Double Trouble from RG Burgers and Grill.

Quivira Zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley, CA (Platinum)

Quivira Vineyards has produced a bit of a catch-22: winemaker Hugh Chappelle believes in ‘vin sauvage’ (wild wine) or doing little to influence the finished grape juice, in line with a brand that focuses on sustainable and organic farming. But on the other hand, there is this juicy, brambly Zinfandel with a touch of Petite Sirah, making it a luscious and almost sinful Zin. A combination of American, Hungarian, and French oak also contributes to the luxurious nature of the Quivira. With just a touch of residual sugar, raspberry, cherry, blackberry, and marionberry take over your senses, punched by some white pepper, nutmeg, and dried herbs. A wild boar on the label is an example of the unique ecosystem to this part of Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma Co., but is also a perfect food (sorry, not sorry!) with California Zinfandels. Relish a glass of the Quivira alongside a three-meat BBQ Plate (with some pork, of course) from Brisket Burger.

Cataclysm Red Blend – Columbia Valley, WA (Gold)

Born from the idea that cataclysmic events, like the ice age floods that blanketed and later carved out the valleys of the Pacific Northwest, Cataclysm Wine Company has embraced the idea “things don’t always go to plan” and that “great upheaval is an opportunity for a new beginning.” Brilliant in branding, this mostly Bordeaux blend of 40% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Syrah spotlights fruit first. Awarded a gold by the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, 90 points by James Suckling, and 89 points from Wine Enthusiast, this wine is certain to please. Furthermore, Cataclysm partners with the disaster relief organization “All Hands and Hearts,” and every bottle sold contributes to their cause. This red blend charms with chocolate and dark berries, gratifying the palate with stewed cherries, fig, cassis, blueberry, and vanilla. A well-rounded wine with no significant residual sugar, the Cataclysm will hold up to earthy foods and creamy cheeses, so the Stuffed Mushroom dish from Graffiti Pasta will be an awesome accompaniment. 

Time Posted: Jun 9, 2024 at 6:50 AM Permalink to June 2024 Wine Club Wines Permalink
Cheryl Hunt
May 13, 2024 | Cheryl Hunt

Our Wine List Based on Geography

We our proud of our robust wine list, and as it stands right now, we feature 20 different geographical locations with an assortment of wine styles and methods. Of course, our menu changes monthly with the addition of at least eight new wines, and it often gets updated weekly as we add on specialty wines (of which Steve will pour two in his blind tasting on Friday, May 17) or we say goodbye to wines we can no longer get (Sangue di Guida, we are still pining for you; it should come back in any day, as we have been told).

But if you have ever wondered exactly where our wine list stands, here is an up-to-date pie chart. If you do the math, yes, all these percentages add up to 103%--just know some of our locations only showcase one wine, like the delicious Serbian Pet Nat we have on our sparkling section right now or the yummy Saperavi from Georgia that was on the club a couple of months ago. Technically these account for less than 1% each, but the pie chart is the pie chart, and this is how it turned out!

If you have any questions or requests, let Cheryl or Steve know! 

Time Posted: May 13, 2024 at 5:20 AM Permalink to Our Wine List Based on Geography Permalink
Cheryl Hunt
May 2, 2024 | Cheryl Hunt

May 2024 Wine Club Wines

Bonny Doon ‘Le Cigare’ Orange – Central Coast, CA (Gold)

One of the original Rhône Rangers, Randall Grahm is a fascinating winemaker. Early on, he sought to propagate Burgundy varieties in the tiny hamlet of Boony Doon, CA, but to no avail; later, re realized that Rhône grapes would work much better, and he set out to create his own version of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Grahm is also a bit obsessed with aliens and spaceships (the cursor on the Bonny Doon website *is* an alien face!), and the label on ‘Le Cigare’ Orange depicts a spacecraft over a vineyard. Ask your server about the story because the other plot point to mention is that this is an orange wine! A similar process to making rosés, orange wines come from extended skin contact with white wine grapes. That contact results in a bit of tannin and structure, something usually absent in white wines. This orange, a blend of Grenache Blanc, Pinot Gris, Grenache Gris, Orange Muscat, and Chenin Blanc, is a perfect spring porch pounder. Aromas of tangerine blossom envelop the wine, evolving into peach, apricot, and other citrus notes. It pairs well with the Feta Cheese Appetizer from Yummy’s.

Lange ‘Classique’ Chardonnay – Willamette Valley, OR (Platinum)

Don and Wendy Lange left Santa Barbera and moved to Willamette Valley in 1987 after trying fantastic Oregon wines from both Dick Erath and Eyrie Vineyards; they were convinced that Oregon could be a top-notch producer (and it certainly is!). Similar to Randall Grahm, the Langes wanted to replicate Burgundy, specifically the Côte d’Or, in their Dundee Hills vineyards, and they actually have had great success. Their mission is about “focused wines that express nuanced fruit, structure, balance, and texture.” This ‘Classique’ Chardonnay is a beautiful expression of the grape, flaunting its yellow fruit and its steely nature. Aromas show lemon zest and apple, while the palate opens with Anjou pear and creamy melon, finishing with a flinty minerality. There is a subtle touch of oak on this wine from time spent in neutral French barrels. A fun, hedonistic pairing would be the elevated Elote dish from 940 Kitchen and Cocktails, their rendition of Mexican street corn.

Leda Truffle Hunter’ Barbera d’Asti – Piedmont, IT (Gold)

Wines that feature animals on their labels have become somewhat synonymous with mass produced brands, but not this one! Leda is so named after a family pet, a Lagotto Romagnolo, which is a canine species that hails from Romagna in Italy. Winemaker Luca Bosio grew up with Leda, a faithful companion to the family for 15 years and a champion truffle hunter. Her commemoration on this Barbera makes sense because it highlights everything that the Italian grape does well, with its easy-drinking nature and its fruity core. Mulberry, cherry, and raspberry emerge first when tasted, giving way to a hint of chocolate and spice. This wine would pair brilliantly with so many tomato-based dishes, but it would be exciting to pair it with something creamy as well, like the Loaded Crispy Potatoes from Picone.

Piñol ‘Ludovicus’ Garnacha – Terra Alta, SP (Platinum)

Terra Alta, in the larger Catalunya region of Spain, is southwest of Priorat, one of Spain’s two prestigious Denominacións de Origen Calificada (DOCa) and is about 45 miles west of Barcelona. Although Terra Alta was established as a DO in 1985, the ancient Romans most likely introduced viticulture to the area, planting vines along what would later be called the Roman Road, which meandered from the north of Spain all the way to the southwest. Thus, the name ‘Ludovicus’ was given to this wine, to honor the Roman impact on Terra Alta. ‘Ludovicus’ was also the name of several Holy Roman Emperors, and in the medieval times, the Knights Templar cultivated grapes there. While this wine may not be holy, it is both fun and powerful. This wine appeals with aromas of raspberry and cherry and some candied rose. The fruits are balanced by some pepper, spice, and a mineral finish. Garnacha, the primary red grape of both Priorat and Terra Alta, is celebrated in this glass, and a dish of Pulled Pork Nachos from Rooster’s Roadhouse will certainly be a nice accompaniment.

Woop Woop Shiraz – South Australia (Gold)

Woop Woop was established by two viticultural virtuosos, Ben Riggs and Tony Parkinson, who founded some of the most esteemed, high-end McLaren Vale wineries. Their objective with the Woop Woop line is to create top-quality wines with rigorous standards, low yields, and minimal intervention at prices that don’t break the bank. The term ‘woop woop’ is slang for “way out there,” and this offering is a celebration of how Australia took Shiraz to the next level. The style of this wine is primed for all-year-round consumption, made with just a small amount of oak aging. The outcome is a juicy concoction with lots of blackberry, cassis, and blueberry with additional notes of licorice and smoky undertones. You don’t have to go too far out to get an incredible BLT, a lovely partner for this wine; head to the Dive Bar and Restaurant, grab an order to go, and delight in the Woop Woop Shiraz!

Come and Drink It Red Blend – Texas (Gold)

This wine is so Texas, so big and bold, that there is a general attitude of refusing to be conventional (i.e., there is such minimal information on this brand or wine, we are just going to take it at face value)! The nod to the instantly recognizable “Come and Take It” slogan and cannon from the Battle of Gonzales lets you know that this is not a cerebral, frou-frou beverage. The winemaker characterizes this Red Blend as a wine that is ready to drink now with “lush fruits, balanced acidity, and a hint of oak.” Flavor profiles include black cherry, blackcurrant, vanilla, mocha, and baking spice. A proprietary blend, this is a wine that “drinks easy” and is best enjoyed “sitting around the fire with friends and enjoying some tunes.” So stop overanalyzing this uncomplicated wine, and pair it with ooey, gooey S’mores as you sit back in your camp chair and take in the vastness of the beautiful Texas sky.

Waterkloof  ‘Circle of Life’ Red Blend – Stellenbosch, SA (Platinum)

In their own convoluted words, the ‘Circle of Life’ line “is an all-embracing description by taste of the estate’s defining sense of origin and nature’s ongoing cycle found in its amphitheatre of biodynamic vineyards.” Waterkloof stocks their vineyards with chickens, sheep, and workhorses to better practice sustainable farming, and instead of using chemicals, their soils are kept healthy through the use of plant extracts, fungi, and bacteria. The blends of ‘Circle of Life’ change from year to year, showcasing the varieties that performed the best in the various slopes and soils of the vineyard. This particular vintage consists of 39% Merlot, 31% Shiraz, and 30% Petit Verdot. Each grape contributes something unique to the overall product: juiciness from the Merlot, spiciness from the Shiraz, and fresh fruit from the Petit Verdot. Sour cherries and plum emerge first, followed by herbal notes and graphite, rounded out by a spicy finish. Meat-based dishes will pair nicely, but you should try this wine with the French Onion Soup at a newly opened French-American bistro, L’Amitié, open through lunch service.

Château Auguste Bordeaux Blend – Bordeaux, FR (Platinum)

Château Auguste is a 74-acre Bordeaux Superieur estate located on the Right Bank within the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation. The region is known for sandy and gravelly soils along with limestone, making it incredibly fertile for early-ripening varieties like Merlot. Almost 2000 years ago, Romans planted grapes in Bordeaux, and monks further developed the area during the Middle Ages. And one more historic note—you can see a glimpse of Napoleon on the label holding a glass of wine. Napoleon III instituted the Bordeaux Classification of 1855, a ranking system that designated Premier Cru vineyards and created extra-stringent guidelines. While not from a Premier Cru, this wine is pleasurable and quaffable; the estate practices organic farming it has been recorded that winemaker Damien Landouar plays music to the vines twice a day! Composed of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc, it sings with blackberry, blueberry, dark plum, blackcurrant, anise, and some cedar. Savor a glass with a Brisket Burger with Cheese from the Munchie’s Food Truck.

Time Posted: May 2, 2024 at 5:31 AM Permalink to May 2024 Wine Club Wines Permalink
Cheryl Hunt
April 19, 2024 | Cheryl Hunt

Ah, the Smell of It All!

April’s wine club focus is on the aromas that accompany wines. Beginners always ask if there is actually strawberry or green apple in a wine, and this makes sense—how aromas get in wine is a complicated process. Of course, science is the answer, and even more specifically, organic chemistry is why. There are volatile compounds, of which there are somewhere between 800 to over 1000, many of them resulting from the fermentation process. They can also occur during grape ripening or maturation as well as through aging of the wine, whether in a vessel like oak, concrete, or stainless steel and through bottle aging. A few volatile compounds account for the majority of aromas in wine. Terpenes result in rose or citrus smells, like in the Château Boisson Bordeaux Blanc or the Becker ‘Saigné’ Rosé we have on our April wine club. Vanillan, which is an aldehyde, derives from oak aging and can be noted in the Bodegas Muriel Rioja Reserva and the Mill Keeper Red, platinum wines on our April club. Ketones offer up floral notes in red wines, like the violet and hyacinth aromas of Viticcio ‘Ferraio’ Toscana Rosso, also on our April platinum club. Mercaptans can smell like passionfruit or gooseberry in Sauvignon Blancs or blackcurrant in red wines, like the Agramont Graciano (man, you really need to try all the wines on the club this month!). You have also heard of pyrazines, green bellpepper hints often seen in Cab and Cab Franc, and phenols which are derived from oak aging. To make all of this make a little more sense, be sure to request the aroma kits that can accompany your tasting this month (no chemical compounds discussed!). And after all this analytical nuance, be sure to grab yourself a glass or bottle the next time you are at Steve’s!

Time Posted: Apr 19, 2024 at 9:39 AM Permalink to Ah, the Smell of It All! Permalink
Cheryl Hunt
April 4, 2024 | Cheryl Hunt

April Wine Club Wines

Château Boisson Bordeaux Blanc – Cadillac, FR (Gold)

Sauvignon Blanc has become almost synonymous with New Zealand, but it certainly has its origins as an Old-World wine. This Bordeaux Blanc, a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sauvignon Gris, wakes you up and reminds you that France planted these grapes long before anyone else did. In fact, farmers found these vines growing wild like weeds, and thus the name ‘sauvage’ stuck. Simply called ‘Sauvignon’ on the label, the Château Boisson is a sensory experience in what both grapes do so well. Sauv Gris is a pink-skinned mutation of Sauv Blanc (yes, gris does mean gray, but the grapes are actually a lovely pink-blush hue), and together, they bring tangy, bright acidity and a bit of creaminess from lees aging. With a floral note, this wine also offers aromas and flavors of grapefruit, citrus, honeydew melon, and a hint of tropicality. Grab some oysters from Shuck Me and polish them down with a glass (or three) of this Château Boisson.

Becker Vineyards ‘Saigné’ Rosé – Texas (Gold)

Known for their lavender fields, as seen on the label, almost as much as their wine, Becker Vineyards is a gorgeous venue in the Texas Hill Country, especially in the spring. Having established the winery in 1992, Richard and Bunny Becker’s first harvest was in 1995; in 2024, they are a 100,000 case-per-year powerhouse. Ladybird Johnson was a huge fan of their Chardonnay, and the Beckers were the first in Texas to grow Viognier; however, they devote more acreage to red grapes. This particular wine was made using the saignée method, where part of the red grape juice is ‘bled off’ and earmarked for rosé. A fascinating blend of Counoise, Merlot, Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Barbera, and Syrah, it is dry and multi-layered. The rosé boasts aromatics of candied watermelon, strawberry, and citrus blossom, while red fruits, lemon peel and white pepper tingle your tastebuds. It would pair so nicely with a strawberry salad topped with some goat cheese (or whatever you fancy) from Salata.

Bodegas Agronavarra ‘Agramont’ Graciano – Navarra, SP (Gold)

The Spanish grape Graciano is normally used as a blending grape because it is notoriously difficult to cultivate. It succumbs to mildew in the vineyard, and it is a late-ripening variety that results in very low yields. However, when all the conditions are right for Graciano to thrive, it is a highly perfumed and black-skinned grape that offers up something different than other Spanish tintos. Grown throughout northern Spain, specifically in the Rioja region and Ribera del Duero, Graciano loves the heat. The ‘Agramont’ is from Rioja’s next-door neighbor, Murchante, in Navarra. Coming in at 97 points at the Decanter World Wine Awards, it is both a crowd-pleaser and a cerebral pour. Fragrantly herbal, with aromatics of mulberry, blackcurrant, and tobacco, the palate lingers long with a spice-filled finish. Sharp cheeses and spicy foods will shine with this wine, so a serving of Cheese and Salsa’s Wisconsin Cheese Curds would be an excellent accompaniment.

Viticcio ‘Ferraio’ Toscana Rosso – Tuscany, IT (Platinum) 

Picturesque and dreamy, the vines of Viticcio recline among the olive trees and rolling hills of Tuscany. With respect for the land, the winery has been totally organic since 2013 and also engages in biodynamic practices. The Viticcio brand offers their ‘Ferraio’ label, which is an homage to the artisanal craftsmanship of blacksmiths, who are indispensable on Tuscan farms. An obvious comparison can be made to the winemaker who frets and sweats to make the perfect concoction. In this case, it is a blend of 40% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. What has been forged is a lovely, sapid red that can be drunk now or cellared. Incredibly floral on the nose, this rosso also offers dark fruits like blackberry, blackcurrant, and plum. This wine would soar with the Lamb Curry from Sangham Indian Restaurant.

Zorzal ‘Terroir Único’ Malbec – Mendoza, ARG (Gold)

While many Malbecs are made in Mendoza, what makes this wine even more special is that the vines are planted in Gualtallary, in the county of Tupungato, an area 4400 feet above sea level in the Uco Valley; this region is also impacted by the moderating influence of the Las Tunas River. Soils made up of the thousands-of-years-old shells and bones of sea creatures (scientifically known as calcareous soils) and the powerful Zonda wind all play a part in making this ‘Terrior Único’ Malbec. The two pillars that Zorzal holds steadfast when crafting delicious wines are (1) having maximum respect for the terroir and (2) displaying minimal intervention in winemaking, and this wine certainly is no exception. Zorzal uses native yeasts in the fermentation process, and this wine is aged in concrete to maintain Malbec’s fruity characteristics. Aromas of cherry and blueberry coalesce with delectable dark chocolate. The wine is rounded out by an earthiness along with a tinge of minerality and flint. Enjoy a glass with Argentina’s national dish, Carne Asada tacos, which you can have locally from El Taco H.

Bodegas Muriel Rioja Reserva – Rioja Alavesa, SP (Platinum)

Bodegas Muriel has been fashioning elegant and complex Rioja wines since 1982. Julián Murúa Entrena established the winery after learning all that he could from his father, the founder of Bodegas Murúa in 1926. The brand ‘Muriel’ comes from a combining of several names: Murúa, Rioja, and the town of Elciego (it made sense to them!). Rioja is only one of two Denominacións de Origen Calificada (DOCa) in Spain, and there are extremely stringent rules enforced on wine preparation and aging. As this is a Reserva wine, which can only be made in the most exceptional of years, it must undergo a minimum of three years of aging: at least one year in oak and the rest in the bottle. Entrena chose to use a mixture of French and American oak for a multi-layered flavor. Needless to say, the Muriel Rioja Reserva is robust and luxurious. Ripe red fruits, vanilla, baking spice, and coffee are evident on the nose, and a lengthy finish dances around the palate. A spicy dish can hold up to such a formidable wine, like Pork Bulgogi from The Taste, a small restaurant known for their Korean Barbecue.

The Mill Keeper Red Blend – California (Platinum)

The Mill Keeper brand is an offering from Tom Gamble, who has vineyards in all of Napa Valley’s best locations: Oakville, Yountville, Mt. Veeder, and Rutherford. What makes The Mill Keeper special is that it sponsors causes that Gamble believes in, like the National Park Conservation Association, and as seen on the Red Blend label, the Bale Grist Mill. He has dedicated The Mill Keeper in honor of the pioneers and visionaries of the 1800s who gave back to the land and built this country with their hands. A blend of 55% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Petit Verdot, this is a luscious wine from Gamble’s California farms. Dark fruits like blackberry, black cherry, and plum engage the olfactory senses, while cocoa, oak, and spice pleasingly remain on the palate. Cartwright’s Ranch House has what you need to match with this wine, the Classic Sizzle Burger.

Y. Rousseau ‘Son of a Butcher’ Red Blend – Clarksburg, CA (Platinum)

Yannick Rousseau hails from the southwest of France, where grapes like Tannat and Colombard, not as well known as other French international varieties, thrive. In his own words, Rousseau utilizes “his own alchemical process to create and elevate edge-bending wines.” He moved to Napa Valley and met his Texas-born wife, Susan, there. Together, they decided to found Y. Rousseau Wines to showcase their “discriminating artisanship.” Always considering his roots (or ‘racines’ in French), Rousseau used a photograph of his 10-year-old father standing in front of his grandfather’s butcher shop as the label for this wine. He calls himself an “SOB” (son of a butcher!) and has named several wines in honor of his family. This red blend, a complex assemblage of 30% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petite Sirah, is juicy and deep. At first whiff, this wine smells like backed blackberry pie wrapped up with anise, dried herbs, coffee, and sweet spices. The taste is just as pleasing. Grab some wet naps, order the rib plate from Clara’s Kitchen, and delight in a delicious glass of ‘Son of a Butcher.’

Bonus Pour: DaCosta 10-Year-Old Tawny Port – Porto, POR

This is not a wine to take home as part of your club (unless you want to purchase a bottle!), but it is an amazing way to end this scent-worthy tasting!

Time Posted: Apr 4, 2024 at 5:37 PM Permalink to April Wine Club Wines Permalink
Cheryl Hunt
February 29, 2024 | Cheryl Hunt

March 2024 Wine Club Wines

Lewis Wines Chenin Blanc – Texas High Plains (Platinum)

Co-owners and winemakers Doug Lewis and Duncan McNabb established Lewis Wines in 2010 after both working in the wine industry in the Hill Country. Lewis is a Texas winery through and through, sourcing 100% Texas grapes from their estate as well as the High Plains. They seek to “remain invisible in the cellar, producing age-worthy wines that showcase the vintage, vineyard, and farming.” For this wine, they partnered with the Philips Vineyard in the High Plains to craft a Chenin Blanc that allows the grape to sing without much winemaking wizardry. Fermented in stainless steel and aged on the lees for seven months, this style of Chenin Blanc, a medium yellow in the glass, is bone-dry and has aromas of pear and apple which evolve into ginger, honey, tangerine, and minerality on the palate. Enjoying the Lewis with your favorite seafood platter from Hoochie’s will make your day.

Bourgeois ‘Le Vert Galant’ Rosé – Coteaux du Vendômois – FR (Gold)

The ‘Le Vert Galant’ depicts a king on its label. That is Henri IV, who ruled France from 1589 to 1610. His nickname was the “Green Gallant,” due to his, umm, affection towards the fairer sex (in other words, he was a vigorous man). But he also fell in love with an indigenous grape to the Loire Valley, Pineau d’Aunis. During the battle for Vendômois, he drank a lot of it; thus, his Royal Greenness is honored on this rosé. Skin contact of 36 hours developed both the coppery-salmon hue and the multiple layers of this wine. Considered a “very terroir-sensitive grape,” Pineau d’Aunis reflects the Coteaux du Vendômois with its herby garrigue-like aromas and its red berry and tropical fruit flavors. A perfect wine to pair with sushi and sashimi, try it with your preferred dish from Koji Sushi (they also serve cooked food!).

Pike Road Pinot Noir – Willamette, OR (Platinum)

There really is a Pike Road, which runs adjacent to the Pike Road vineyards, meanders through lowland farms and deep into the Oregon Coast Range Mountains. From their website: “Our family's vineyards sit overlooking this captivating valley of hazelnut orchards and dairy farms, wheat fields and tree nurseries: Oregon’s bounty in the valleys.” The winemakers source fruit only from these local farms, including their own estate, living their mission of supporting small, family-owned businesses. Pike Road claims that Willamette Valley is the best place to grow New World Pinots, a result you can taste in your glass. Clear ruby in color, the wine offers cherry compote, strawberry, red plum, a touch of cola, and spice. Partaking a meal of the Stuffed Mushrooms from Graffiti Pasta alongside a glass of the Pike Road Pinot would be a glorious way to cap off your evening.

Kavaklidere ‘Yakut’ Red Blend – Ankara, TUR (Gold) 

Founded in 1929, Kavaklidere Wines Inc. is one of the oldest and largest wine producers in all of Turkey. This red blend uses indigenous grapes, the noble grapes of the high elevation Anatolia region, Öküzgözü and Boğazkere. Boğazkere has strong tannins and structure, while Öküzgözü creates bright, fruit-driven wines (sounds similar to the relationship between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). As a blend, these two grapes make a medium (plus)-bodied wine that is age-worthy. The wine benefits from some oak aging to help soften the tannins. Ruby-hued in the glass, it beguiles you with notes of cherry and raspberry which give way to anise and some vanilla on the back of the palate. Upon researching this wine, over and over the phrase “Yakut is the legendary wine of Turkey” would appear, so appreciate this legend with the Linguine Carbonara from Fera’s Pasta and Pizza.

El Capricho Tannat – Durazno – URU (Gold)

Tannat, the most planted grape in Uruguay, has roots in the southwest of France, near Madiran, close to the border of Spain.  It was brought to Uruguay by Basque immigrants in the 19th century. Considered one of the most heart-healthy varieties due to its high levels of antioxidants and resveratrol, Tannat is usually a lushly colored grape with extra-thick skins and more seeds than average (closer to 5 when most grapes have 2-3). Due to its thick skins, it is a low-maintenance grape to grow; generally, it is less likely to be infected by pests, mold, fungus, and even cold fluctuations and frost. This underrated grape deserves some of our love and attention! The El Capricho, with a crafty fox on the label and a ruby color with a pinkish rim, imparts a unique herby-citrus-floral aroma, and once tasted, it bestows cherry, fig, and black tea flavors. The El Capricho deserves a spicy dish, like the Jumping Beef entrée from Andaman.

Luchi Primitivo – Puglia, IT (Gold) 

Wine guru Jancis Robinson calls the story behind Primitivo a “romantic thriller, a mystery I have been following over the past 30 years.” The tale, known as the ‘Zinquest,’ is alluring because Zinfandel was the most planted California grape until the second half of the 20th century when Cabernet usurped it. It wasn’t until the 1990s when DNA profiling suggested it was identical to the Primitivo grape grown in Puglia. As we have come to learn, Italian immigrants brought Primitivo cuttings when they moved to the United States. During this genetic analysis, it was also proven that Primitivo/Zinfandel are the same as a near extinct ancient Croatian variety internationally known as Tribidrag (but locally called Crljenak Kaštelanski). All in all, the grape is as bold as it is fascinating. The Luchi, deep ruby with salmon glints, emanates notes of cherry, dark plum, chocolate, spice, and smoke. While barbecue is always a good match, let’s honor its Mediterranean heritage by pairing a glass of Luchi with the Beef Kebabs from Layalina.

Monte Zovo Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore – Veneto, IT (Platinum)

Valpolicella wines are nice, but by adding a little oomph, winemakers can make them transcendental. The Monte Zovo is just that: it incorporates ‘Superiore’ grapes, which means the winemaker had to follow more stringent rules than just the average wine. The Monte Zovo also uses the Ripasso technique; wines that use Ripasso (or second pass) are often called “Baby Amarones.” Such wines are made by adding the pressed grape skins from Amarone, a very robust, high-end wine, to Valpolicella juice, which then undergoes a second fermentation. The result is a more flavorful wine, with added body and structure. Intense red with garnet highlights, the Monte Zovo reveals violet and geranium notes on the nose. When tasted, black cherry and cassis pop and then meld into a luscious layer of dark fruits, vanilla, and cinnamon. Delight your senses by pairing this with the Arincini, which are fried risotto balls with fennel sausage, from Osteria Il Muro (if you can get in!).

Lyeth Estate Meritage – Sonoma County (Platinum)

Chip Lyeth was an adventurous person who turned his love of wine into his vocation. Following a trip to Bordeaux in 1972, he ditched his full-time job as a banker, studied viticulture at UC Davis, and bought land in Alexander Valley. His first Bordeaux-style blends were released in 1982 to critical acclaim. His near obsession with Bordeaux varietals won over several other amenable winemakers who also wanted to honor these prestigious grapes by founding the Meritage Association, whose mission became to create blends of at least two Bordeaux noble varieties, all grown in California. Furthermore, the Meritage signature denotes that only the highest quality grapes from a vintage will go into each bottle. This Lyeth Estate Meritage, brilliant garnet in the glass, blends Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot into this delectable offering. Layered ripe red and dark fruits on the palate transform into mocha, baking spice, and cedar on the finish. Relish this unique Sonoma County blend with Vitello Matrigiana, a breaded veal dish served with brandy pepper sauce and mushrooms, from Giuseppe’s Italian.


Time Posted: Feb 29, 2024 at 10:49 AM Permalink to March 2024 Wine Club Wines Permalink
Cheryl Hunt
February 2, 2024 | Cheryl Hunt

February Wine Club Wines

Seductive Grapes

The grapes this month make us fall in love with their names or their stories!

amo.te Vinho Verde – Minho, POR (Gold)

Vinho Verde has been exported from Portugal since at least the 17th century. Historically, bubbles occurred because producers rushed to bottle the young wine before it had finished its fermentation process, so the small amount of sugar left converted to fizz when opened. More commonly today, carbon dioxide is added to create that ‘frizzante’ style. And while this wine will be perfect for spring and summer, it’s delicious all-year round. The name, of course, means ‘I love you,’ and the brand is an homage to the winemaker’s wife who suffered from breast cancer; he wanted to create a daily reminder of his feelings for her. Crisp and fizzy, the amo.te Vinho Verde is a blend of indigenous grapes: Loureiro, Arinto, and Trajadura. Both floral and fruity on the nose, it offers up notes of orange blossom, citrus, green apple, and white peach. It would pair well with the Vegan Tacos from Seven Mile Café.

Chiara Pinot Noir – Pfalz – GER (Gold)

Germany is almost always associated with white wines, but the country is the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir. Traditionally called Spätburgunder, the grape does well in cooler climates because of its thinner skins and necessity to ripen for longer periods of time. German Pinots are usually lighter in hue and body as well as alcohol by volume. However, some viticulturalists in Germany are amping up the oak and tannic structure to be more in line with fuller-bodied versions that many people enjoy. The Chiara lies somewhere in the middle. With its illusive and unattainable lady as the brand (‘Chiara’ in Latin does mean bright and clear, a contrast to what we see on the label), you will fall in love with this different iteration of Pinot Noir. It does have traditional Pinot red fruit like cherry and raspberry along with vanilla and spice, but the Chiara attracts you with its luminescent individuality. Imbibe on a glass alongside the BBQ Chicken Pizza from Pizza Patrón.

Domaine des Gaudets Morgon – Beaujolais, FR (Platinum)

Morgon is one the largest and most prestigious of Beaujolais’ ten crus. At the heart of Morgon lies Côte du Py, a slope of old blue granite and schist, that produces age-worthy wines. In fact, the region’s soil is known (lovingly) as “rotten rock,” named for the decaying shale and igneous rock that gives Morgon wines its unique character. Because the terroir is so present when smelling and tasting Morgon wines, a new term has been added to the French winemaking vernacular: “morgon” used a verb. explains it the best: “Morgon wines age so distinctively and consistently that the region's name is often used as a verb to describe this: ‘il morgonne’ (‘it morgons’).” Made from 100% Gamay, the Domaine des Gaudets ‘morgons’ with aromas of cherry and stone fruit, adding plum and minerality to the finish. While lighter, nuttier cheeses would be a wonderful partner, try this alongside the Rotisserie Chicken from Cowboy Chicken.

Secret Mistress Red Blend – Central Valley, CH (Gold) 

Just like the coy, mysterious lady on the label, this wine teases you. The blend, a proprietary red, has been bourbon-barrel-aged for 3 months, so a kiss of sweet and rich spice lingers on the palate. But this wine also surprises you, with its medium-bodied nature, but given its origins in the cool-climate region of the Central Valley in Chile, it makes sense that the Secret Mistress isn’t overly extracted or juicy. Bordeaux grapes are the most widely grown varieties in the Central Valley, so while we can’t guess all the secrets behind this wine, we can surmise there might be some Cabernet and Merlot in the bottle (Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Carmenère are also grown in this region, but who knows?!). This red blend is a series of contradictions, courting you with its affectations of cherry, blackberry, anise, and caramel. Get your carbs on with the Brisket-Loaded Baked Potato from the Chubz Spudz Food Truck.

Domaine de l'Ecu ‘Love and Grapes’ Nobis Syrah – Rhone Valley, FR (Platinum)

Domaine de l’Ecu achieved an organic certification in 1972, long before it was cool, and has championed biodynamic farming, becoming Demeter certified, in 1998. This is the primary reason for the ‘Love and Grapes’ label. The brand is meticulous about respecting the natural world and letting the fruit shine without a lot of winemaking modifications. Although Domaine de l’Ecu is based in the Loire Valley, viticulturist Fred Niger works on negociant side-projects where he buys grapes from other regions, creating fun wines like this Nobis Syrah (fun fact: ‘nobis’ in Latin means ‘us,’ so that name probably has something to do with interconnectedness – or the two lovers kissing on the label!). Perfect with a slight chill, the Nobis is both floral and rustic, culminating in black cherry, raspberry, black pepper, and those subtle meaty notes that Syrah can convey. This wine will be complemented with a Gyro from Feta’s Lone Star Greek food truck, parked outside Oak Street Drafthouse.

GOLD BIG DOG: Masciarelli Montepulciano (Magnum) – Abruzzo, IT (Gold) 

We offer you a magnum, for your pleasure (pun intended—the theme is, after all, about seduction). The Masciarelli uses 100% estate-grown Montepulciano fruit. Led by mother-daughter team Marina Cvetić and Miriam Lee Masciarelli, the winery is the only one in Abruzzo to own land in all four provinces, making the Masciarelli name a standard-bearer for the region. Montepulciano is a delightful, accessible everyday drinker with its medium body, alcohol level, and tannins—with, of course, higher acidity—this is an Italian red, after all! It will please you with its bright cherry and red plum flavors met with spice and smoke. And you get twice the amount in this super-sized bottle! Grab the spaghetti and meatballs from local Italian market Di Abruzzo, light some candles at your table, and enjoy this crowd-pleasing wine.

McPherson ‘Les Copains’ Red Blend – Texas High Plains (Platinum)

Clinton ‘Doc’ McPherson is a founding father of the Texas wine industry. “What started out as experimental vine planting in the 1960s­—at a time when there were virtually none in the entire state—evolved into an extraordinary framework that has since shaped the Texas High Plains landscape today” (from Son and current winemaker Kim McPherson went to UC Davis to study enology and viticulture in the 1970s, first working in Napa; later he returned to Texas to work at Llano Estacado with his father, and then he pioneered his own label in 2000. The ’Les Copains’ exudes what Texas wine royalty can lovingly craft—you will ‘befriend’ this juicy red, resplendent of Rhone varietals. Consisting of 37% Carignan, 30% Mourvèdre, 22% Syrah 6% Cinsault, and 5% Counoise, it offers up notes of black tea, wild strawberries, plum, and cracked black pepper. Consume the ‘Les Copains’ with Chestnut Tree’s pork loin Saltimbocca.

Bodegas Vatan ‘Tritón’ Tinto de Toro – Castilla y León – SP (Platinum)

Averaging 80-year-old ungrafted vines in the region, Bodegas Vatan has sourced concentrated berries from the most prestigious vineyards in Toro for the ‘Tritón.’ A grape with seemingly endless nicknames, ‘Tinto de Toro’ is the local name for Tempranillo, Spain’s most popular grape. The old vines in Toro have adapted to extreme drought conditions and even staved off the phylloxera outbreak in the 19th century. However, because Toro is not as glamorous of a region as the more well-known Rioja, Priorat, or Ribera del Duero, it is often overlooked by wine authorities for its contributions. To assist, luxury brand LVMH bought some of the Toro parcels to ensure the region gets the attention it deserves. And we should shower it with the love it deserves. The ‘Tritón’ is elegant and fulfilling. Aromas of blueberry jam coax you to take a sip, resulting in layers of plum, blackberry, cassis, anise, and cigar box. The oak is not overly present on the ‘Tritón,’ and the tannins are velvety. Enjoy it with something spicy, like Chile Rellenos from El Matador.

Time Posted: Feb 2, 2024 at 8:07 AM Permalink to February Wine Club Wines Permalink
Cheryl Hunt
January 4, 2024 | Cheryl Hunt

January Wine Club Wines

Franco Serra Gavi – Piedmont, IT (Gold) 

The most popular white grape of Piedmont, Cortese is the foundation of Gavi, which is technically a region (you know how Europe does things!) in the southeast. Cortese, an indigenous variety, is both aromatic and clean, a perfect ‘healthy’ wine with its lower alcohol and crisp flavor. Franco Serra is a five-generation-run winery owned by the Sperone family, who have planted grapes all over Italy. Their facility in Torino was actually destroyed by a bomb in WWII. But persevere with winemaking they have, and now sibling team Francesca and Antonion Sperone are at the helm. They seek to bring “thoughtfully crafted, distinctive wines” to the world, and this Gavi is exceedingly lovely. Evocative of almond blossom, it also offers citrus, gala apple, creamy melon, and a touch of minerality. While it’s perfect as an aperitif, it will go well alongside veggies and fish. Try it with the Chef Salad from Spiral Diner.

William Chris Mourvèdre – Texas High Plains (Platinum)

It’s been a while since we had a Texas Mourvèdre on the club, and according to the folks at William Chris, “Mourvèdre is a Texas wine grower’s best friend.” It does so well in the warmer climate and thrives despite risk of drought and frost. The variety can be full-bodied, used in blends (as previously seen), and generally boasts higher acidity and tannins. Expressions of the grape differ, of course, whether it originates from the Rhône Valley, Spain, or the United States, and Texas encapsulates the best parts of Mourvèdre: a ripe, jammy plumminess along with blackberry, black tea, cedar, and tobacco. Few Texas wine producers make a more delicious Mourvèdre than William Chris, and pairing it with the Pork Tenderloin from Barley and Board will enthrall you.

Domaine Gassier Côtes du Rhône – Costières de Nîmes, FR (Gold) 

In the far southern Rhône, Costières de Nîmes has soil filled with rocky galets that make other Rhône regions like Chateauneuf-du-Pape famous. These sun-soaked stones release heat at night, creating conditions for optimal vine ripeness. Michel Gassier writes that winemaking requires observation, respect for the land, and patience, and thus the “terroir will give its very best for us and for future generations.” With the Mistral, a wind that haunts the Rhône, and the nearby Mediterranean, Costières de Nîmes is a complicated area, but it sure does make gorgeous wines. The Gassier Côtes du Rhône, a blend of 75% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah, is fruit-forward with velvety tannins and approachability. Its violet floral aromas give way to dark cherries, licorice, earth, and black pepper on the palate. An excellent accompaniment would be the Spicy Eggplant dish from Royal Yum Thai Restaurant.

Bodegas Señorio de Barahonda ‘Carro’ Tinto – Yecla, SP (Gold) 

Murcia, in Spain’s southeast, of which Yecla is a part, plants more Monastrell (Mourvèdre) than any other red grape. And the country treats red grapes with immense reverence, resulting in delectable single varietal and blended wines that are usually set in more affordable price structures than neighbors France and Italy. Bodegas Barahonda has crafted a ‘tinto’ of 50% Monastrell, 20% Syrah, and 25% Merlot, and this wine spotlights what happens when three grapes that don’t often end up together end up together! The winery favors organic farming and no oak treatment, and so what you taste is juicy, luscious fruit: blackberry, blueberry, and dark cherry along with some earthy undertones. The label, depicting a Spanish proverb, mentions that navigating the roads of life can be difficult. But with this ‘Carro,’ “el vino va tomanda vida” [“the wine comes to life”]. The Bayou chicken sandwich from Frilly’s Seafood Bayou Kitchen will be an interesting partner for the ‘Carro.’

Revelry Vintners Merlot – Columbia Valley, WA (Platinum)

When Jared Burns was 24, just two years out of college, he founded Revelry Vintners in 2005. He grew up loving Washington wines, and he wanted his peers to be able to afford what he was drinking. Burns was exposed to wine from a young age as his father owned a synthetic cork business in Walla Walla. He achieved his dream of making wine inviting to more than just the Millennial generation; he has expanded his vision by offering more luxurious and higher-end renditions that allow Washington fruit to shine. Now a major player, Revelry showcases what Merlot can do so well. Red and blue fruits entice you while toasty caramel, vanilla, and cocoa linger on the finish. The Cedar Planked Salmon from Hannah’s would take this wine to the next level.

Lubanzi Red Blend – Western Cape – SA (Gold)

Everyone loves a dog story, and this one is pretty unique. Young adventurers Charlie Brain (yep) and Walker Brown were backpacking through South Africa’s Wild Coast when a dog named Lubanzi followed them for 6 days and over 100 miles and then disappeared into the night. Through this experience, an idea was born for these two who seek to make the planet a better place. With a repertoire of good deeds, like becoming a member of the ‘1 % for the Planet’ business alliance and a Certified B Corporation (while also being carbon neutral and maintaining fair trade practice), the Lubanzi folks believe “in the power of business to change the world.” So, you too are making the world better when you consume this wine! The wine, a blend of 75% Shiraz, 18% Grenache and 7% Mourvedre, is floral and fruity, with an abundance of black currant and black plum rounded out with allspice and black pepper. Enjoy a glass with the Portabella Burger from RG Burgers and Grill.

Zurab Tsereteli Saperavi Qvevri – Kakheti, Georgia (Platinum)

The country of Georgia is known as the cradle of wine civilization. Researchers have analyzed grapes and grape seeds within winemaking vessels there, and the remains were found to be over 8000 years old. By the way, there is a pretty cool episode of 60 Minutes, from November 2023, on the history of Georgian winemaking if you want to know more! Georgian viticulturalists have revived the ancient method of qvevri, which involves storing the juice, stems, and seeds from wine grapes in a sealed clay vessel and burying the qvevri in the ground for a good six months (or more) before drinking. Generally, there was a beeswax coating on the inside of the vessel and a lime coating on the outside, which contributed to the oxygenation and earthy flavors of the wine inside. Focusing on this particular wine, the artwork of Zurab Tserteli, Georgian painter and sculptor, is featured on the label. Made from the Saperavi grape, the Zurab Tserteli is not just interesting, but it is a taste of history. There are black fruits mixed with clove, licorice, and vanilla. Choose your favorite meat-centric dish from Rooster’s Roadhouse and sip this Saperavi from Georgia!

De Bortoli ‘Woodfired’ Shiraz – Heathcote – AUS (Platinum)

The emigration story of Italians relocating in Australia is not new, and Vittorio De Bortoli was lucky enough to seize an opportunity when he planted Shiraz grapes there in 1928 (surrounding farmers would have allowed the grapes to rot if he hadn’t taken the Shiraz fruit from them). De Bortoli Wines was born that year, and the brand has innovated over time, purchasing land in various parts of Australia to show how terroir truly can affect the grape-growing process. Heathcote has red Cambrian soils mixed with limestone, and that earthy soil imparts a certain quality to the wines, highlighted in the ‘Woodfired’ line. Made from 100% Shiraz and, in winemaker Steve Webber’s words, the style is “deeply scented, rich, fruit driven, and great with chargrilled cooking.” Aromas of violet, red, blue, and black fruits display when swirled, and more savory notes, like olive, spice, and smoke, emerge on the palate. Cartwright’s Ranch House Ribeye would hold up to this powerful Shiraz.

Time Posted: Jan 4, 2024 at 8:11 AM Permalink to January Wine Club Wines Permalink
Cheryl Hunt
December 12, 2023 | Cheryl Hunt

King Cab

In December, we are offering three different takes on the Platinum Club of Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape, according to wine guru Jancis Robinson, “is the world's most famous red wine grape, and most planted of any colour.” A crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, Cab is a late-ripening variety that needs a warm, dry climate to thrive. Associated with blackcurrant and other dark fruits, it can take on notes of cedar, graphite, and/or cigar box depending on its oak aging regimen. Cabernet can also smell and taste of mint, eucalyptus, and other herbaceous notes if the grapes are crushed when not fully ripe. Cabernet can potentially be cellared from 7 to 10 years (depending on if you want to wait that long!), and Left-Bank Bordeaux wines, with their predominance of Cabernet in the blend, are known as ‘Vin de Garde’ (or wine for keeping), and often don’t hit their peak until 20 years, resulting in softer tannins and more pronounced tertiary flavors, like dried fruits, mushroom, earth, leather, and meat. The Cabernets to try right now are the Chono, from Maipo Valley, Chile, near Santiago; the DeLille Cellars ‘Metier,’ from Columbia Valley, Washington; and a real treat of a wine, the Château Cordet, from Margaux, in Bordeaux. The Chono engages you with red fruits like strawberry, cherry, and cassis, along with some dried herbs and dark chocolate. The ‘Metier’ conjures up darker fruits, like black cherry, in addition to savory notes like black olive. The Château Cordet, with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon rounded out with other Bordeaux varietals, entices upfront with floral notes, then evolves in the glass with blackcurrant and culminates in pepper and leather. All three of these wines have been aged a good amount of time in oak, which helps to marry Cab’s fruit and woodsy flavors. In addition, we also have several Cabs on our By-the-Glass menu, from the approachable Intermingle to fan favorite Opolo to higher-end Silver Ghost. Next time you are at Steve’s choose a Cabernet and enjoy this most noble of grapes!

Time Posted: Dec 12, 2023 at 5:01 AM Permalink to King Cab Permalink
Cheryl Hunt
December 6, 2023 | Cheryl Hunt

December Wine Club Wines

Reds Rule with a Splash of Sparkle

A Special Start with our Sparkling Wine of the day.

Wines are in order when tasting all 8 wines.

Único Zelo ‘Jungle Jungle’ Dolcetto – Clare Valley – AUS (Platinum)

With such a whimsical name and label, you might think that this wine is simply a breath of fresh air (which it is!), but the winemakers behind the brand, Brendan and Laura Carter, are serious about giving back to causes they deem significant. Único Zelo (which means “unique zeal”) is a certified B corporation, a rare designation given to businesses that have high standards in performance, accountability, and transparency. This wine is so called because they donate 1% of their revenue to jungle reforestation. This Dolcetto is fresh and fruity while maintaining high acidity. It offers up notes of bright plum and cherry, rhubarb and finishes with a tinge of pink peppercorn. While it would be a delightful start to almost any holiday meal, let’s put it with some pizza from the reimagined Tomato Food Truck, a staple in Denton.

Vespa ‘Il Bruno’ Primitivo Salento – Puglia, IT (Gold) 

Gorgeous beaches are abundant on the limestone peninsula that makes up Salento in Puglia, but there are also 11,000 hectares of vineyards that make up the area, including Vespa Winery, in western Puglia. Riccardo Cotarella, the winemaker known as the “mago”—or wizard—is so named because he was instrumental in the Italian wine renaissance during the 1990s and early 2000s. Traditionally, Primitivo has been used as a blending grape, but renewed interest occurred when it was discovered to be genetically identical to Zinfandel. The Primitivo grape thrives in Puglia, and it is often a softer version of what is found in New World styles. The ‘Il Bruno’ invites you with tart red fruits along with spicy pepper and a velvety mouthfeel. A charcuterie plate from our friends at Ten:One Artisan Cheese would be an enticing pairing.

Uggiano ‘Prestige’ Toscana Rosso – Tuscany – IT (Platinum)

Italy has more grape varieties than any other region, including about 2,000 indigenous grapes. From volcanic soils and limestone coasts to the rolling hills of Tuscany and the majestic Italian Alps, Italy boasts a myriad of microclimates that fosters numerous grapes. However, a few winemakers living in Tuscany began experimenting with international varieties as a way to buck the stringent system of aging and percentage requirements administered in the most prominent wine regions. While the first Super Tuscans were created in the 1950s and 60s, the Italian government didn’t approve the Toscana IGT until 1992 (we’ll call it red tape). The Uggiano Toscana is a well-balanced Super Tuscan blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Syrah. Robust fruits like strawberry and fig open up the palate, culminating in spice, cinnamon, and licorice. A fun accompaniment would be the delectable panzanella salad from The Chestnut Tree.

Chono Cabernet Sauvignon – Maipo Valley – CH (Gold) 

The name ‘Chono’ may ring a bell as we experienced the Chono Red Blend on the Club about 18 months ago. The name refers to the indigenous nomadic tribe who inhabited the archipelago in Chilean Patagonia. Charles Darwin described the Chono as ‘intrepid pioneers,’ and the Chono brand, in homage to the past, believes that their viticulturalists and winemakers exhibit similar qualities, searching Chile’s best vineyards to create the most promising wine offerings. Each of Chono’s wines are sourced from single vineyards, which conveys their dedication to planting the best grapes in the most optimal locations. The Chono is a robust and rustic expression of Cabernet, showcasing cherry, strawberry, cassis, mint, and dark chocolate. Your choice of kebabs from Green Zatar would comprise a most complementary culinary experience.

Trentadue Winery 'OPR' – California (Gold) 

Evelyn and Leo Trentadue moved to a farm in Alexander Valley that, over a hundred years prior, had cultivated fruit trees and vines. Apparently, one of the vineyard blocks had several different reds grapes that, when blended together, created a most delicious wine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, with time and age (and Prohibition), the exact recipe for this field blend, called ‘Old Patch Red’ was lost. So every vintage, the Trentadues seek to recreate that blend, playing with varieties and percentages to land upon the right red. The 2021 ‘OPR’ consists of 55% Zinfandel, 27% Petite Sirah, 17% Carignane, and the remaining 1% is Sangiovese. Floral on the nose and with flavors of raspberries, black cherries, as well as cherry cola, vanilla, smoke, and cocoa, it is a harmonious treat. Get your hands on some barbecue from The Juicy Pig, and go to town with a glass of ‘OPR’ by your side!

Calçada Estates ‘Lago’ Cerqueira Tinto – Douro Valley – POR (Gold)

The Douro River has fostered wine production for more than 2,000 years. In 2001, it was demarcated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. While the region is certainly beautiful, the primary reason for its UNESCO recognition is due to the positive human influence on the shaping of the landscape. Spectacular terraces are cut into the valley, and the crystal-clear water reflects the changing colors of the vines throughout each season. Of course, this area is world-renowned for Port, but those same grapes can be produced into a nonfortified wine like the ‘Lago.’ Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Franca, Tinta Barroca, and Touriga Nacional constitute this wine, an inky and vigorous red blend. The initial red and black fruits are met with rich notes of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and dried herbs. Burgers seem like a no-brainer coupling for this approachable wine, so order your favorite jumbo from Burger Time Machine and get after it!

DeLille Cellars ‘Metier’ Cabernet Sauvignon – Columbia Valley – WA (Platinum)

A top wine region for reds (and whites like Riesling), the Columbia Valley sees about 300 days of sunshine each year. It has a long growing season which allows the grapes to ripen beautifully despite getting only 6-8 inches of rain, which is equivalent to the rainfall in the Gobi Desert! The Columbia River and the snowmelt from the Cascade Mountains provide the necessary irrigation for the vines, and the loess soils, a combination of silt and sand, are great for drainage and increasing aromatics. DeLille Cellars uses all these factors to foster lovely Bordeaux-style wines. Their company motto is “always seeking,” and they strive for constant improvement and continuous discovery in viticulture. Further proof, Robert Parker recognized DeLille with a 5-star rating. Our second Cabernet in the lineup, this offering enlivens the senses with darker notes like black cherry, black currant, black olive, baking spice, and tobacco. The lamb meatloaf burger from Hannah’s would be exquisite with the ‘Metier.’

Château Cordet Margaux – Margaux – FR (Baby Big Dog)

We have had a number of Bordeaux blends on the Club, and they are all delicious. Most are from either Entres-deux-Mers, the area between the Left and Right Bank, or from the Right Bank proper. Both regions make amazing wine, but the grapes are usually a little more Merlot- or Cabernet-Franc heavy (and not dominated by the world’s most famous red, Cabernet Sauvignon). But not this time! We present a Left-Bank Bordeaux from Margaux, an appellation in the Haut-Médoc, which lies about 15 minutes north of the city of Bordeaux. Comprised of a majority of Cab, the wine also has 25% Merlot 6% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot. Yes, this is our third Cabernet-focused wine on the lineup, and yes, it is luscious and age-worthy. Its seductive floral aromas of lilac and acacia flower invite you to take a taste, and then flavors of dark cherry, black currant, pepper, and leather command your attention. Innumerable dishes can be paired with the Château Cordet, but the wood-fired sirloin from Green House sure sounds delightful.

Time Posted: Dec 6, 2023 at 5:44 AM Permalink to December Wine Club Wines Permalink