Summer Wine Special: Part 2

Rickshaw Pinot Noir

Parcels sourced from Sonoma Coast AVA with a bit of Mendocino as well. Open top fermentation. Some whole cluster. Aged in barrique, a small percentage of which is new. This is cool-climate Pinot with aromatics and structure.

This wine sings with unmistakable and pure Pinotosity! It has a compelling mix of raspberry, pomegranate and cherry notes combined with a stylishly integrated structure. All in all, pretty amazing Pinot Noir for its modest price.


San Giorgio Pinot Grigio

A straw-yellow wine with a characteristic nose reminiscent of acacia blossom. The flavor is dry and well-balanced. An excellent aperitif that can also be served with light hors d’oeuvres, consomm̩es and pasta, egg-based dishes, white meats and fish entr̩ee’s



Summer Wine Special

Three Amazing Wines, all with prices slashed.

Have you ever had a wine that you knew was “the one?” Something so good that you had to keep drinking it.  We have a lot of Sauvignon Blanc drinkers like that, and personally, I feel that way about Rickshaw Chardonnay.  Vernaccia is another phenomenal white from Italy that will definitely please anyone that loves a crisp refreshing white in the summertime. Reminiscent of Sauv Blanc, with fresh citrus notes, and refreshing acidity on the finish.


Italian Wine Travel: Nemi and Prosecco

One summer my wife and I were visiting Rome, spending the day with a close friend. After an hour or so of catching up he suggested we take a drive outside of Rome. As we approached this quaint village built around a beautiful lake, we took in the beautiful views which included bright red wild strawberries everywhere!nemi

The town is called Nemi, a picturesque Village, chock full of wild strawberries growing wild. Apparently Nemi has a micro climate and is built on the side of an ancient volcano which provides the perfect conditions for these delicious strawberries. Our friend said it was the season for wild berries in Nemi, the month of June, and we had to experience it since we were here. Fragola di bosco, wild strawberries, are allowed to be picked and eaten and every restaurant and cafe served everything strawberry during this period. We sat at an open air cafe overlooking the lake. My wife and I had a local favorite which was similar to strawberry shortcake, topped with strawberry ice cream and pana, or fresh unsweetened cream. All strawberries were freshly picked and had an amazing sweetness I have never tasted in any commercially farmed berry, before or since. Our friend suggested we try a Prosecco, which is a mild white wine, this one not too sweet so it complimented the sweet desert, with a slight effervescence. I had never had a Prosecco and have also never tasted one so delicious since, probably because of the atmosphere.
TrevisoThere are different types of Prosecco, some sweeter than others, so choose accordingly.


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2014 Mocali Rosso di Montalcino

We’re really excited about the 2014 Mocali Rosso di Montalcino this week for flash wine.  This beautiful wine drinks great now after decanting but has a phenomenal aging potential for the next five to ten years down the line.  Mocali Rosso

Colored and intense, ruby red with garnet reflections, the Rosso di Montalcino has a finely intense nose with fragrant aromas of small, fresh fruits.  On the palate it is delicately dry with aromatic, long-lasting flavors.

Sustainably farmed, the Mocali estate, acquired by the Ciacci family (distant relations to Ciacci Piccolomini) in the 1950s, is a setting of natural Tuscan beauty where vineyards and olive groves alternate with oak and pine forests,  This harmony of man and nature comes through in the delicious, ripe and balanced wines produced here, available at prices that are incredibly low when compared to those of the more established producers of Montalcino.

As over half of the estate is covered by a vegetation characteristic to the hill on which Montalcino stands, the vineyards and olive groves alternate with a landscape of woodland of ilex, oak and arbutus. The soil is rendered highly mineral; salt owing to the presence of marl and limestone. Not being overly large, the Mocali estate lies under family management.

Chateau Pascaud Bordeaux

Chateau PascaudChateau Pascaud Bordeaux Superieur

In continuing our series on the various wine regions of the world, especially those related to the wines we carry we wanted to include a quick segment on the classification of Bordeaux Superieur.

Bordeaux Superieur is a classification of certain wines made in the Bordeaux region.  Just like regular Bordeaux these are blends, with the reds being predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with smaller amounts of Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and even some Carmenere.  For the whites Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon are favored  with smaller amounts of Muscadelle, Ugni Blanc, and Sauvignon Gris.

Under the strict guidelines of French appellation law for a Bordeaux to be classified as Superieur it must come from a vineyard that is planted more densely.  There must be 4,500 plants per hectare with a distance of 2.2 meters between rows, compared to 4,000 plants per hectare with a distance of 2.5 meters between rows for regular Bordeaux.  This higher density makes it harder for the plants to survive creating stronger deeper roots, and healthier vines for the ones that do.

This produces a lower yield, about 10 percent lower per hectare.  The grapes must also be picked riper at harvest with higher natural sugar levels resulting in 10 percent natural alcohol level compared to 9.5 percent for regular Bordeaux.

Bordeaux Superieur can be found anywhere in Bordeaux but is bias towards the area north of St. Emilon and Pomerol.  The result of the differences usually creates a superior wine with a richer and more complex flavor.   

Chateau Pascaud Bordeaux Superieur

2014 Banshee Mordecai

2014 Banshee Mordecai

California Red Blend

2014 Banshee Mordecai
In 2014, California was a little dry, but the reduced fruit yields produced very intense fruit, which was great for this wine.  The 2014 blend consist dominantly of Cabernet, Syrah, and Zinfandel which gives Mordecai its hallmark full-bodied weight and density. With less fruit available overall, we the headliners did most of the work, but the wine is rounded out by adding bits of chocolatey Merlot, tarry Carignan and spicy Cabernet Franc and Cinsault.

The 2014 Mordecai blend is reminiscent of some of our favorite hot and dry wine regions in Europe. Think ripe red and blue fruited Cotes du Rhones with their scents of dried herbs and blackberry liqueur from wines grown on the black slates of the Priorat. But the wine remains distinctly California, taking us home with its comfortingly familiar wild summer berry plushness. Home is where the shade of the oak tree is just enough respite from the dry summer heat.

Paul Hobbs Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (2013)

Tasting Notes

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The wine is dark garnet in color with brooding aromas of blackberry and cassis. A juicy palate reveals complex layers of black fruits and baking spice with mineral traces of pencil lead and slate. Youthful acidity backed with chewy, brambly tannins creates a well-balanced long finish.  Rated 93 points.


About Paul Hobbs Winery

If you are looking for Paul Hobbs, you will most likely find him in a vineyard. Growing up on a working farm in upstate New York, Paul experienced first-hand the influence of terroir on the character of fruit, when his father had him taste apples of the same variety grown in different orchards several miles apart from one another. The diversity of flavors and textures made an impression on him and would later influence his approach to winemaking.

As a winemaker, Paul is highly regarded for his ability to identify exceptional vineyards, and for his pioneering spirit in working innovatively with new and historical sites and regions. His success has inspired a wealth of nicknames among the press, from quiet trendsetter to prospector to truffle-hunting dog. Hired by Robert Mondavi for his advanced understanding of oak aging, he went on to become winemaker for Opus One and Simi wineries, and then consultant to Peter Michael, Fisher, Lewis, Catena and others. He founded Paul Hobbs Winery in 1991.

Paul knows that the essence of profound wines can be traced back to meticulous care and expertise in the vineyard. Meticulous vineyard management followed by minimally‐invasive winemaking techniques is his approach to producing wines that express their vineyard origins with utmost finesse, complexity, and authenticity; in other words, wines with a sense of place. Fermented with native yeasts and aged in French oak, all are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

This stately cabernet sauvignon derives great depth from the diverse terroirs of its pedigreed vineyards, including Beckstoffer Dr. Crane, Beckstoffer Las Piedras and Stagecoach.

• Hand-harvested, picked at night
• Hand-sorted while still cold from the field
• Fermented in small, closed top, stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts
• 5-day cold soak, 29 days total maceration
• Gentle pumpovers and delestage
• Aged 20 months in French Oak barrels; 57% new
• Coopers: Taransaud, Darnajou, Marcel Cadet, Radoux, Baron, Boutes, Marques, Sylvain
• Spontaneous malolactic fermentation in barrels
• Varietal Composition: 97% cabernet sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot
• Unfined and unfiltered

Six Great Wines for under $10

Wine for under $10

The Best Wine for a Budget

From California to Italy, here’s how to find the best for less

Finding a wine for under $10 is easy. Just walk into any wine shop and you will see at least 20 or more. Finding a great wine for under $10 is a bit of a more difficult task.  

One suggestion is to ask questions of your local wine retailer. What is their favorite?  Another suggestion is to find a brand you have never heard of before. When a wine becomes popular, the price goes up, and unfortunately, sometimes the quality goes down.

Look for wines from different regions around the world. Great values are found in South America, South Africa, and Spain, as well as other little-known wine regions.

Lastly, try a different varietal. Popular varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay tend to be pricier due to their demand. Here is a guide to my favorite six wines that you can buy for under $10.  

I mentioned South Africa, and one of my favorite whites is Teddy Hall’s Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch, South Africa. This is a perfect wine for the spring and summer, for it is light, crisp and refreshing. This small producer puts great care into the farming practices and the juice that’s in the bottle. This is a clean and zesty wine with great balance. Tropical salad and pineapple aromas complement the lively, fresh yet complex palate that finishes refreshingly with a lingering sensation of spice and wild honey.  

I know I said to stay away from the popular varietals, but I stumbled across a great Chardonnay from Backstory a while back that breaks this rule, and breaking rules can be fun from time to time. The folks at O’Niell vintners and Crafted Brands set out to find great grapes throughout California to create this quality, varietally correct wine at a low price, and they nailed it. This is a ripe, round white wine with delicious aromas and juicy flavors of fresh apple, peach, pear and lemon. Balanced with creamy overtones and a slight touch of oak for a refreshing, memorable finish.

San Giorgio Pinot Grigio is a fantastic wine from the Friuli region of Italy. The way they are able to make such a great wine for under $10 is by using a co-operative farming method, allowing the winemakers at San Giorgio to select the best grapes from the region to create a great wine at lower cost. This straw yellow wine has hints of tree fruit, with a dry flavor and good balance. This wine is perfect for light summer dishes, especially fish.  

On the red side, we have another rule breaker in Veramonte, Pinot Noir. This exceptional wine is from the Casablanca Valley of Chile, and Veramonte is the pioneers of this great wine-growing region. The low cost of land at the time of their first plantings in the early 90s allow them to make a great product for a modest price. The quality of their wines come from consulting with world renowned winemaker Paul Hobbs. This wine has expressive aromas of raspberries, red cherries and red plum that reflect the true characteristics of their coastal vineyards. The wine is round with an elegant structure, fresh acidity, and red fruit flavors. The vibrant finish ends with a seamless balance of acidity and firm minerality.

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is a great inexpensive wine. My favorite producer is Vignetti del Sol. This wine comes to us from famed importer Michael Skurnik. With his great contacts in the Abruzzo region of Italy, he was able to make this fantastic wine with the people at Vignetti to share with all for under $7.  This juicy red display notes of cherry, strawberry, and sweet spice. Bright, mouthwatering acidity makes it especially food friendly and it will make the perfect dinner companion at your next pizza night.

Spain is home to some of the best value wines of the world at all price points, meaning that even the more expensive wines from this great wine country are perceived as drinking way above their cost. Flaco Tempranillo is on the outskirts of the capital of Spain, Madrid. Most Spaniards don’t even know about the rich winemaking history of this region. Flaco is produced by Compañía de Vinos del Atlántico using 100 percent organic practices, which makes it all that much more surprising that it costs under $8.  Flaco Tempranillo is well balanced, starting off with fresh red berry and spice on the nose. On the palate, the wine is silky and smooth with flavors of tangy raspberry and tart cherry. A lite floral quality followed by smooth tannins create a tight and focused finish.

Save some money this spring for the summer vacation that lies ahead without sacrificing that glass of wine you crave after a long workday. Follow these tips to pick out your own great wine for under $10 or choose one of the great ones in the list.




2006 Altare Barolo, Flash Wine Exclusive

2006 Altare Barolo

For some 10-years is a long time, but arguably not for a Barolo.  Our Flash Wine special this week is the 2006 Elio Altare Barolo.

This wine is ruby-red with garnet reflections. Intense aromas of cherry, plum, clove, and cinnamon emanate from the glass. Fresh and intense, the berry/cherry fruit is slightly offset be a slight hint of roasted citrus. Smooth tannic structure and great balance make this wine an early pleasure.


barolo 2 Elio Altare

Elio Altare is universally acknowledged to be one of the world’s greatest winemakers. Altare was a leader of the revolution in cellar and vineyard technique in the Barolo zone; among his many now-commonplace innovations were the use of rotary fermenters, a short maceration period, and the use of small barriques for aging. The resulting wines, from Dolcetto to Barbera to Barolo, are often considered to be the ultimate expressions of the soft, fragrant and lush qualities characteristic of the commune of La Morra, and today Altare is mentor to many of the younger generation of La Morra barolisti including Mauro Veglio, Mauro Molino, and the Revello brothers – his influence even extends to northern Ghemme where he lends advice to the Ioppa family.

The best of the local vineyards each comprise their own amphitheatre, south or south-east facing slopes at 280 metres above sea level on a sandy, tufaceous, marly soil. Elio Altare has vines in two of those,  50-plus-year-old vines in Arborina and a small parcel in Brunate which he started renting in 1995. The focus from Elio has always been to produce concentrated yields; he maintains, “You can’t make great wine without concentrated fruit.”


Organic Farming

Elio Altare defines himself as “much more organic than most certified producers”.

No chemical fertilizer or herbicide has been utilised for 30 years. He also bought two cows in order to have production of manure. Elio consults with Claude Bourguignon, a renowned French specialist in soil microbiology.  Above all, Mr. Bourguignon and Elio’s concern have been maintaining the health and vitality of the living environment.  barolo