Featured Wines

Jomain Bourgogne Blanc

Jomain Bourgogne Blanc (Sustainable, following some Organic Practices - Lutte Raisonnée)

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If you're like me and love white Burgundy, you've been priced out of many of your favorites over the past years.  That $30 Puligny-Montrachet is now over $100, and the once bargain of St.Aubin  is now in the $50-60 range.  

A true family enterprise, brothers Philippe and Christophe Jomain, along with sister Catherine, launched this Chardonnay focused Cote de Beaune domaine in 1992 with vines inherited from their father, Marc. With precious parcels in four of Puligny’s premier crus and almost an acre of hallowed ground in the Grand Cru Batard Montrachet, Domaine Jomain consistently produces a line of classically elegant white Burgs.

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Fableist Albariño

 

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Fableist Albariño - Organic

Between Fableist, Wonderwall, Neverland, Fiction and Field Recordings, we carry more wines made by Andrew Jones than any other winemaker - over 20 SKUs and growing.  Why?  His wines are varietally correct, reflect a sense of place, follow sustainable or organic farming practices and punch well above their weight class in the value department.  The Fableist project is co-owned by Sans Liege and Groundwork owner winemaker  Curt Schalchlin.

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Pot de Vin

 

Situated in Malepère, the most westerly region of the Languedoc, Château Guilhem was built in 1791.

Then the property of the Marquis de Auberjon, it was bought by the Guilhem family in 1878. Bertrand is the fifth generation of his family to run the estate.   The 85 acres of vineyards are planted mainly to Bordeaux varieties— Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc— with some Chardonnay.

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Obsidian Ridge Cab

Obsidian Ridge Red Hills AVA Cabernet Sauvignon (Sustainable, Fish Safe, and following some Natural vinification practices)

We've been carrying wines from the Molnar family for over fifteen years now.  Arpad Molnar lives in Oakland, and his brother Peter lives in Berkeley.  The partriarch of the two brothers lives in Piedmont.   These guys are local. 

We particularly love their Lake County Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Coenobium

 

Coenobium  (Organic, Natural)

Coenobium

A Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Malvasia Bianco and Grechetto blend made by — get this — nuns, at a monastery just north of Rome.

Unfiltered and organic, this hazy, strawberry-blonde wine is part of a growing group of so-called orange or amber wines.  These wines are vinified essentially like red wine: left in much longer contact with the grape skins than is normally the case with white wines, so that the fermenting grape juice takes on a slightly tannic and dry, delicious, cider-like quality.  

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Jacky Blot Sparkling Montlouis

 

Domaine de Taille aux Loups (Jacky Blot)  Montlouis sur Loire Petillant ‘Triple Zero’ NV  (Organic)
Vinous:  "Jacky Blot has been instrumental in taking Montlouis out of Vouvray’s shadow and establishing for it a reputation of its own. Much of what he has done appears old hat today, but it was revolutionary at the time: organic viticulture, hand harvests, wild yeasts, barrel fermentations and no malolactic conversions

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Handley Pinot Noir

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Handley Cellars Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley (Organic)

Centuries ago, Pinot Noir earned a reputation among the winemaking monks of Burgundy for expressing terroir better than any other variety in the region. Today, wines from California’s remote Anderson Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) show that the grape does the same in their neighborhood.  The 15-mile-long valley sits just 10 miles from the cool, blustery Pacific Coast, and the appellation is dotted with great sites to grow Pinot Noir.Anderson Valley’s appeal to Pinot makers is its cool climate. It facilitates the sort of elegant, restrained Pinot more akin to Oregon’s Willamette Valley or Burgundy than sunnier climes to the south like Napa, Sonoma and Santa Ynez Valley, regions that tend to turn out bigger, riper, plumper wines.
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Chateau Tournefeuille Bordeaux

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Chateau Tournefeuille is an amazingly balanced and tasty Bordeaux.  Made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc from biodynamically farmed grapes, this classic wine hails from the AOC of Lalande-de-Pomerol, literally a stone's throw from the more famous Pomerol appellation, and more importantly, adjacent to Pomerol's most famous winery, Chateau Petrus.

I visited this winery a few years back, and was amazed at their quiet determination to produce a very high quality wine at am extremely reasonable price - $29.99 per bottle.

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Sparkling Wine Club

Sparkling Wine Club

Lately, I find that I am drinking way more bubbly wine; there's always a bottle ready to go in my refrigerator.   And there should be in yours as well. 

We tend to eat more stews and braises in the cooler months, and Champagne has a way of going with most foods, as its bright acidity cuts through fat like a laser beam; it cleans your palate and refreshes your spirits (and, if not, it's always a great way to start off the evening!). 

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Scribe Nouveau

1 nouveau 3 wideScribe Nouveau of Pinot Noir, Los Carneros

Like many other wine merchants, we've eschewed the Nouveau Beaujolais bandwagon for the past several years:  the idea of air-freighting cases of Nouveau Bojo to the West Coast in order to fit some 1970's French marketing scheme never seemed to be sound, and many years the wine wasn't that good anyways.

But, the idea of fresh, newly pressed and vinted wine, released soon after harvest is an age old tradition, in France and elsewhere - it's a celebration of the end of harvest, and the hopes of new beginnings.

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Wine For Thanksgiving

Here's the deal: A boatload of friends, relatives and strangers are coming over for a simple meal of roasted turkey with all the trimmings: stuffing, squash soup, cranberry sauce, candied yams, mashed potatoes, green beans, Brussells sprouts, tossed salad, biscuits, a cheese course,  a pumpkin or pecan pie, and ice cream.  Oh, and before the meal,  there's nuts, Chex party mix, onion dip, and other 'appetizers.'

Yikes! Which wine or wines should you serve? How much wine should you buy? Red, white, sparkling, rosé or all of the above?

The answer is simple: turkey goes amazingly well with many red, white, rosé and sparkling wines. The key is to choose wines that will complement the meal, and which won't overwhelm the already hearty and disparate flavors of the day.

Look for higher acid, lower alcohol wines that are dry to off-dry, and avoid big, tannic, or overly oaked wines.

Steer toward Austria, France, Oregon, Washington, Germany, Italy and Spain.  Avoid extracted California wines. 

The best white wine matches are refreshing, tangy, fruity, medium-weight wines.

Experiment a bit — think Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer from California or France, a Soave, Pinot Bianco or Arneis from Italy, Torrontés from Argentina, Riesling from France, Austria, Germany or Australia, and Alsatian-style Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer. Some Sauvignon Blancs might work (think Sancerre), as will unoaked or very lightly oaked Chardonnays (Chablis, Mâcon or other white Burgundies).

But stay away from oaky, buttery chards. While they'll probably work with the turkey and buttery mashed potatoes, oak has a tendency to clash and dominate almost everything else on the plate. Also, avoid wines that are too light in stature (Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Grigio, Vernaccia, et cetera), as they tend to disappear behind the heavy flavors and textures of a hearty meal.

Rosé wine is almost the perfect match for Thanksgiving - it offers the flavors of a red wine, with the nimble-footed nature of a white.  Rosés are a perfect match with turkey – their bracing, mouth watering acidity match perfectly with white meat turkey, play off roasted flavors of crackly skin and blend in with the heavier dark meat flavors. Choose any dry rosé wine you can find.

Even the dreaded white Zinfandel works well with turkey and all the trimmings.

Red wine with poultry? Why not! For my money, the best reds that match with turkey are Cru Beaujolais, Cabernet Francs, Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots,  Pinot Noir, German, Italian and Loire Reds, and lighter, higher-acid Zinfandels.

Cru Beaujolais is a no-brainer match for Thanksgiving: fresh, fruity, lively— can there be a better way to celebrate than with this Gamay-based charmer?

The cherry/berry fruits of Pinot Noir match nicely to game and to cranberry, and the soft, lush tannins of a Cabernet Franc go well with big, roasty flavors. Low-alcohol style Cabernet Sauvignon (like Bordeaux); spicy, peppery Grenache or Syrah-based blends (from the Rhône Valley or Spain); lighter , old school Zinfandels, or a Tempranillo will also pair quite nicely with your Thanksgiving feast. Higher acid Italian reds like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Lagrein also work quite well.

Don't be afraid to experiment.

But avoid choosing big Cabernets, Syrahs or new school Zinfandels. They're too tannic and too high in alcohol to match well with turkey, and the sugars in the food will make the tannins in cabs taste bitter. Save those big boys for beef or pork.

Pairing a sparkling wine with the Thanksgiving meal works very well. The creaminess of a Brut Champagne, the tingly sweetness of an Italian spumante or prosecco, or the red fruity character of a dry Lambrusco, or rosé sparkler can all take the place of a still wine at your table. This might be an option you want to consider.

Are you serving ham or prime rib in addition to turkey? Mamma Mia! Don't panic, here are a few wine suggestions:

A glazed ham is both salty and sweet, so fresh white wines with good acidity, some residual sugar and a dry finish work best. Look for trocken (or dry) Riesling, Gewürztraminer or an Alsatian Pinot Gris. Rosés, Beaujolais and Pinots will also work well.

Typically, beef demands big Cabernets, Syrahs and Zins — wines packed with fruit, oak, tannins and sugars. But if you're serving beef along with the turkey, those wines will dominate our fine once-feathered friend (and everything else on the table). So, look for Rhone-style blends of Grenache or Syrah, a soft Cab or Merlot, or even a nice Mourvedre, with smokey and chocolately overtones that will match with both the prime rib and the big bird.

Finally, here's a few Thanksgiving wine rules to remember:

* Don't match heavy wines with a heavy meal. Go for lighter, mid-weight, fruitier wines without overwhelming oak or tannic components.

* With the myriad flavors at the average Thanksgiving table, there's not one single wine that will pair perfectly with every flavor on the table, so don't stress. Pour several different varietals so you and your guests can match them with the varied flavors and textures on your table. If your budget permits, have a sparkling wine, a white, a rosé and a red.

* Serve sparkling wine before the meal and dessert wine with the last course.

* How much wine to buy? Assume three to four glasses of wine per adult, and five glasses per bottle. Multiply the number of guests by three or four and divide by five to arrive at the number of bottles you will need. (The New York Times says to assume one bottle per adult, and that seems just about right to me).

* Assume two three-ounce pours of sparkling wine and one two-ounce pour of dessert wine per adult. Dessert wines should always be as sweet as or sweeter than the desserts that they accompany.

*Relax, and try to have fun at this often stressful event. Remember, you're among friends.