This Week’s Wine Tasting

American Wines

Perfect for Spring



Ferrari-Carano– “The fact that the winery’s name incorporates the word “Vineyards” is a deliberate way to emphasize that grape source and terroir play important roles in the final product. From a small, 30-acre plot of grapes purchased in 1979, to today’s 19 estate vineyards in six different appellations totaling over 1,500 acres, Ferrari-Carano owns some of the finest wine growing properties in all of California.

Directed by Don Carano and orchestrated under the supervision of Steve Domenichelli, Director of Vineyard Operations, Ferrari-Carano’s vineyard practices are extremely labor intensive. Steve and his team implement irrigation and nutrient regimes, trellis system and canopy management, rootstock and clone combinations, and pruning and cane selection for each vineyard site and each block within a vineyard. Because of Sonoma, Napa/Carneros and Mendocino County’s diverse geological makeup, even within one vineyard parcel there may be several different types of soil with different degrees of nutrients for vines and water-holding capacity.

Steve and his team have long practiced sustainable farming techniques, such as recycling organic matter for use as mulch in the vineyards, planting cover crops and other plant species to avoid soil erosion and to add desirable nutrients back to the soil as well as attract desirable insects, and integrating animals to naturally enhance biodiversity and nutrient recycling.”

Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio 2013
Sonoma County, California. 100% Pinot Grigio. 100% stainless steel. “Grapes from select vineyard sites in Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys create this refreshing, aromatic wine. Overall, 2013 was a very good year with ideal weather conditions for the vines. Spring produced great set and average rainfall led to normal and above-normal yields. Consistently warm temperatures during the summer months without any drastic heat spikes or major rain events allowed for longer “hang time”, leading to fully ripe flavors. Individual lots of hand-harvested Pinot Grigio grapes are gently whole-cluster pressed to minimize any color or harsh tannin extraction, then racked to stainless steel tanks for a cold fermentation. This wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation in order to retain its bright flavors and crisp acidity. Depth and complexity are enhanced with weekly lees stirring until bottling.

With its delicate aromas and delicious flavors, our 2013 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio is a refreshing, light-bodied white wine that is perfect as an apéritif. This wine has aromas of nectarine, lime, melon and honeysuckle complemented by flavors of Meyer lemon, white peach and honeydew melon. Our Pinot Grigio has clean, refreshing acidity with a round mouthfeel and a crisp, lingering finish.” $13.99


Cline Cellars
“It began on a farm in Oakley, CA in the tumultuous days of the late 1960s when a young Fred Cline spent summers on his grandfather’s farm. While the rest of the country was in cultural upheaval, Valeriano Jacuzzi, one of the seven Jacuzzi brothers who pioneered American aviation and water pumps, taught his grandson the cherished old-world ways of teasing magic from the soil.

Fred never lost his love for the soil. With new bride Nancy Bunting, he embarked on a mission to bring Rhone-style wines to American dinner tables. Restoring vines that were decades old, some over 100 years, Fred and Nancy produced Mourvedre, Carignane, Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier. He also planted acres of what would become legendary Cline Cellars Zinfandel.

In 1993, Fred and Nancy moved the winery to a 350-acre ranch in the famed Carneros Valley in Sonoma County. There the Clines planted Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. They opened a tasting room in the 1853 farmhouse, and renovated the grounds to highlight the history and pastoral beauty of the property.”

Cline Cellars Chardonnay Estate Grown 2013
Sonoma Coast, California. 100% Chardonnay. Aged in oak barrels for 3 months. “This Chardonnay is from our Estate Sonoma Coast vineyard, the Lazy C, located in a region known as “The Petaluma Gap.” Cool Pacific fog rolls in most days during the growing season, making this vineyard prized for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. The cool air is ideal for slowly ripening Chardonnay and maintaining acidity.

The grapes were hand-picked and destemmed only. The rollers on the crusher-de-stemmer were pulled back so that the clusters fell directly into the destemmer barrel. This technique creates a smooth wine by minimizing tannin extraction. The grapes are then pumped directly to our tank-press and settling tanks, then racked to a stainless steel fermenter. The fermentation temperature is maintained at a low 50-55 degrees for maximum fruit preservation. Once the fermentation is done the wines are racked onto French oak for a period of only 3 months. They see 25% new oak which imparts a delicate vanilla and toast character. The wine does not go through a malolactic fermentation.

This is a dry, crisp, and delicious wine, with notes of pineapple, citrus, and a smooth oaky vanilla finish. We are very excited about releasing this new wine from Cline’s Sonoma Coast vineyards. It is a balanced and food-friendly wine.” $10.99

Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2013
Contra Costa County, California. “The wine is 90% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Sirah, 3% Carignane and 3% Sirah. Aged in oak barrels for 7 months. The 2013 Ancient Vines Zinfandel draws primarily from a wide selection of our oldest, most historic and shyest-bearing Zinfandel blocks in Contra Costa County which make up 92% of this blend. Grapes were planted by Italian and Portuguese immigrants in the sandy, phylloxera-resistant soils of Oakley, California more than 100 years ago. These ancient, dry-farmed vineyards consistently produce fruit of stunning concentration. The lots that we hand-selected are the result of sensitive farming practices, the singular Oakley terroir and a unique cooling band of air that flows from the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers. The remainder of the blend is selected from prized vineyards in Lodi County.

Individual lots of Zinfandel were harvested separately according to ripeness and balance of acidity. The grapes underwent near total de-stemming and a very gentle crushing to ensure a large percentage of whole berries in the must — contributing to the explosive fruit character of the wine. The grape juice, skins and seeds (called “must”) along with some added yeasts were fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks at the optimum temperature to extract rich flavors and provide excellent color. The wines were pressed off their skins at dryness and racked gently before being laid down to a complement of American oak cooperage for 7 months — approximately 35% new.

The 2013 Ancient Vines Zinfandel shows wonderful, fat strawberry, with coffee and chocolate characters. Ripe fruit and soft tannins make this a mouth-coating rich vintage. Aging in new and used wood has lent this wine a subtle vanilla quality that nicely complements the explosive fruit notes. Enjoy now or cellar for 5 to 7 years.” $14.99


Gruet Winery– “Gilbert Gruet founder of Gruet Winery was born in Bethon, France in 1931. He grew up in a poor family, and began working at a young age. In 1952, Gilbert Gruet, along with his wife Danielle, dreamt of producing fine quality Champagne. Gilbert followed his heart and in 1967 created the U.V.C.B. (Union Vinicole des Coteaux de Bethon), a co-op in the village of Bethon.

In 1983, the Gruet family was traveling through the Southwestern part of the United States, and while in New Mexico met a group of European winemakers who had successfully planted vineyards In Engle, near the town of Truth or Consequence, 170 miles south of Albuquerque. The land was inexpensive and the opportunity golden. In 1984, Gilbert Gruet, whose Champagne house, Gruet et Fils had produced fine Champagne in Bethon, France, since 1952, made the decision to plant an experimental vineyard, exclusively planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. His children, winemaker Laurent and daughter Nathalie, then relocated to the great state of New Mexico to begin their American wine making adventure.”

Gruet Brut Rose NV
New Mexico. 100% Pinot Noir. “This nearly garnet Rose, like all our non-vintage sparkling wines, is aged 24 months en tirage. It has a lovely, bright floral bouquet with hints of strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. On the palate, it is rich and fruity in a dry, Brut style. The flavor of berries continues on the palate, revealing more strawberry, raspberry, cherry. This sparkler is lots of fun and very festive, but production is limited to 5000 cases per year, so don’t miss out!” “Has a lovely, bright floral bouquet with hints of strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. 88 Points and Best Buy Wine Spectator.” $17.99


Black Stallion Winery– “Located on the grounds of a historic equestrian center, Black Stallion Estate Winery is the latest addition to the distinguished collection of wineries in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. Each of the varietals we produce is handcrafted and carefully blended from small vineyard lots. Each lot is fermented and aged separately in our cellar until just prior to bottling when we carefully blend these lots together to achieve wines of balance with layers of complex flavors. Black Stallion Estate Winery is dedicated to crafting high quality wines that are elegant and distinctive yet approachable.

In July 2007, Black Stallion  Estate Winery became the latest addition to the prestigious collection of wineries in the Napa Valley. Named for a historic equestrian center, the indoor track now houses winemaking production and remnants of the original 36 horse stalls are still visible today.

In May 2010, Black Stallion Estate Winery was purchased by the Indelicato Family, one of the leading family-owned wine producers in the country. The grape growing and wine making history of the Indelicato family has spanned three generations and more than 85 years. The family is very involved with all aspects of Black Stallion and their dedication is evident both in our wines and the “family feel” of the winery.”

Black Stallion Pinot Noir 2012
Los Carneros, California. Aged 9 months in French oak, 44% new barrels. “This elegant wine exhibits floral aromas as well as cola and black cherry. Flavors of lush plum intermingle with a nuance of spice. The wine has balanced acidity with velvety soft tannins and a long, smooth finish.”

“This is a voluptuous wine with rich, full flavors and silky, supple tannins. Aromas of black cherry, mocha and hints of toasty oak translate effortlessly to the palate where red fruit flavors of Bing cherry and strawberry are complemented by undertones of cool minerality and marked acidity.”

“Like the rest of the winery’s portfolio, the Pinot Noir is handcrafted and blended from small vineyard lots. It features rich flavors and silky, supple tannins.” $17.99


Sebastiani Vineards– “Sebastiani’s first century in Sonoma winemaking began when Samuele emigrated from the Tuscany region of Italy in 1895 and started Sebastiani nine years later. A stonemason by trade, he quarry-mined the Sonoma hills for cobblestones that were used to build the streets of San Francisco. He worked long hours and saved carefully to buy land in Sonoma County, from which he would make wine for the Sonoma community and San Francisco’s restaurants.

The winery was the only one in Sonoma County to continue operations through Prohibition, making a small amount of sacramental and medicinal wines. It has been joked, and perhaps with some grain of truth, that during this time there was a resurgence of people becoming very religious.”

“Bill Foley purchased Sebastiani in 2008 and immediately took a number of steps to enhance wine quality and raise the winery’s image. Working closely with winemaker Mark Lyon and the viticultural team, Bill lowered production, restricted yields, acquired more new barrels and winemaking equipment, revamped farming protocols and acquired additional vineyards to guarantee consistent and superior fruit sourcing. Today, the winery is making the finest wines in its long history with emphasis on single-vineyard and sub-appellation wines.”

“Sebastiani Vineyards has been an important part of the Sonoma County community for more than 100 years. We have been long-term practitioners of sustainable farming methods. Today we work with the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance to ensure all aspects of our business are sustainable and gentle on the environment.”

Sebastiani Vineyards Gravel Bed Red 2012
Sonoma County, California. 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 10% Zinfandel, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, and 2% Petite Sirah. “This pitch black colored red blend from Sebastiani is a tasty fruit bomb. It opens with a boysenberry and black cherry bouquet. On the palate, this wine is medium bodied, balanced and very approachable. The flavor profile is a very tasty blueberry with notes of black cherry, oak and a hint of black currant and blackberry. The finish is dry and its fruit flavors and well managed tannins are nicely prolonged.”

“As someone at the winery put it, Gravel Bed Red is a delicious confluence of geology and hedonism. I prefer to think of it as rich, lush and juicy! The Cabernet imparts blackberry, cassis and cedar to the nose and structure and weight to the palate. The Merlot adds black cherry and dried herbs. The Zinfandel brings spice and baked berry pie to the party. The oak is subtle, the alcohol is restrained and the tannins are soft. For a wine created for current consumption, it is a surprisingly deep and complex.” $19.99

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