2018 Black Ops’ Shiraz Saperavi, Australia

1st bottle red:
2018 Black Ops’ Shiraz Saperavi, Australia

For the wine snob
My hunch was that the most ancient grape on the planet, Saperavi, would make for a unique union with McLaren Vale’s prized Shiraz. The elixir was covertly blended and like other ‘black operations’ a Pandora’s box of flavour was opened. A wine for KGB, CIA and civilians.

For the rest of us:
What is absolutely excellent about this wine is that they have successfully toned down the biggest and boldest of varietals with a little blending to create a very relaxed and silky wine out of something that is usually an “in your face wine.”  Of course we know and love both styles.  This wine was and is a real treat, best served with grilled meats and/or robust tomato sauce and friends!

2018 Niner Wine Estates, Chardonnay, Jespersen Ranch, Edna Valley

1st bottle white:
2018 Niner Wine Estates, Chardonnay, Jespersen Ranch, Edna Valley

For the wine snob
Nestled into the rolling hills of the northwest corner of Edna Valley, Jespersen Ranch derives much of its personality from the coast. The growing season in Edna Valley is long and cool with early morning fog and mid-afternoon ocean breezes. The lower temperatures delayed ripening throughout the year and led to a long bloom season with some shatter, causing lower yields. A warm September and October helped accelerate the grapes into ripeness and we embraced that in Chardonnay, opting to hang the fruit longer to elicit ripe apple and tropical flavors.  We hand harvested our Chardonnay grapes and whole-cluster pressed them into a stainless steel tank. After the juice settled, we transferred it into French Oak barrels for primary fermentation. The wine was aged on the lees with frequent barrel stirrings.  It went through 100% malolactic fermentation (20% natively) and was aged 10 months before bottling.

For the rest of us:
The wines from Jespersen combine classic regional characteristics of delicate fruit and white pepper with hints of earth and consistently strong acid, characteristics unique to this property.  The aging occurred on the lees has built creamy texture on the palate.  This is a wine that we like to call neutral Chardonnay.  Not too creamy, not too oaky, but right in the middle and just right for those who like that.  Best served with creamy earthy cheese and fresh spring salads!

2017 Napa Valley Reserve – Cabernet Sauvignon

2nd bottle red:
2017 Napa Valley Reserve – Cabernet Sauvignon

For the wine snob
2017 began with plenty of rain that led to a mild spring. The summer was warm, leading to slightly earlier harvest than typical. On October 8, wildfires broke out and devastated the region with fire, smoke and accessibility to vineyards. Luckily all of our grapes were harvested, and the wines aren’t showing any smoke taint. We are showing exceptional quality across the board and are very happy with our results from a stressful year. Aviary exemplifies the craft of the winemaker and the art of blending. Each year we select the best wines from up to 7 different vineyard sites to create a blend that expresses both the uniqueness of each vintage and the elegant style of Aviary Reserve.

For the rest of us:
Layers of chocolate, strawberry, dried cherry, tobacco, and toasted oak balance with silky tannins and bright acidity to create a perfectly balanced Cabernet Sauvignon that can be enjoyed now or aged over time.  Yes please!  This is a Napa wine.  It’s beautiful, super friendly and as we say, you could take this wine anywhere and share it with anyone, if you were nice enough to share it!

Bodegas Zarate 2018 Albarino, Rias Baixas DO

2nd bottle white:
Bodegas Zarate 2018 Albarino, Rias Baixas DO

For the wine snob
The Zarate Albariño is sourced from various estate vineyard parcels. About 15% of the vineyards are ungrafted. The vines are pergola trained at a low density of about 1,200 plants/hectare. They average about 35 years.  Grapes are manually harvested and sorted in the vineyard.  Fermentation occurs naturally with native yeast in stainless steel tanks.  The wine spends 6 months on its fine lees. About 10-25% goes through malolactic fermentation. Malolactic (when it occurs) is spontaneous. The addition of sulphites is low.

For the rest of us:
This is a fantastic Albariño. A fresh sea salt nose blends with citrus and a hint of anise spice. It is quite lovely and balanced.  Light and bright.  This is a perfect spring or summer wine if we ever get to see those seasons!

2017 My Favorite Neighbor, Paso Robles

1st bottle reserve red:
2017 My Favorite Neighbor, Paso Robles

For the wine snob
An early bud break followed by warm weather and spring rains brought a rapid start to the 2016 growing season, which was a near perfect year with beautiful weather from bloom to harvest. This 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon combines fruit sourced from St. Helena, Rutherford, and Oakville.  The manually harvested grapes were cold soaked for several days to extract flavor and color prior to fermentation. Several lots underwent extended maceration to refine and soften the tannins. All lots were aged in a combination of French (79%) and American (21%) oak barrels for 19 months prior to blending.

For the rest of us:
This is a rich and satisfying Cabernet Sauvignon with warm flavors of blackberry compote, cassis, vanilla crème, and mocha. A hint of wild chaparral is noticeable after several sips along with notes of sweet oak and espresso. The warm tones and juicy tannins give an overall impression of softness, but the wine is backed with a refreshing acidity that promises aging well into the next decade.  This Cabernet would make a wonderful companion for rare-cooked meats, classic cheese fondue, rosemary-braised lamb shanks, or beef carpaccio with wild arugula.

La Ferme des Sept Lunes 2016 Saint-Joseph Blanc AOC

1st bottle reserve white:
La Ferme des Sept Lunes 2016 Saint-Joseph Blanc AOC

For the wine snob
The Roussanne and Marsanne grapes were manually harvested. Then they were vinified in stainless steel with indigenous yeast and aged separately for one year in old oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation occurred.  The result is an impressive Saint-Joseph Blanc. This is waxy, earthy, and saline with incredible freshness and tension.

For the rest of us:

This is a very unique wine.  This is the wine that you have to go back and sip to figure out because you don’t understand what you just tasted.  It has touch of citrus, minerality and dryness.  A vibrant and racy wine with really nice acidity.  Best served with a nice seafood pasta or encrusted white fish!

Davis Family Vineyards 2017 ‘Throne’ Rhone Blend, Russian River Valley

2nd bottle reserve red:
Davis Family Vineyards 2017 ‘Throne’ Rhone Blend, Russian River Valley

For the wine snob
Throne is inspired by Guy Davis’s time working harvest in the Rhône Valley. The connections he made while there were integral in sculpting his winemaking journey.  All three varieties are picked, sorted, fermented and barrel-aged separately in 100% French oak. The barrels are large 125-gallon puncheons. Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally. The wine is not fined or filtered. Minimal sulfites are added.

For the rest of us:
The Davis estate Syrah (co-fermented with 3% Viognier) and the Mourvedre add a richness of dark fruit, earthiness and spice, which complements the red fruit of the Grenache from Saralee’s Vineyard. This is much more Rhône stylistically than most of the heavier-bodied, Syrah dominant GSM blends coming from California.  They should add “magic” as an ingredient to this wine, because it is that good!