Featured Wines

2010 Sequoia Grove ‘Cambium’ Red Table Wine, Napa Valley

Cambium is an interesting word to name this wine. It refers to the actively growing layer of a plant or tree between the inner wood and the outer bark. Essentially, these are stem cells in plants — cells from which all other, more differentiated cells will arise. In other words, the building blocks of a grapevine. This is a proprietary blend of the best building blocks — er, barrels — of Bordeaux red varietals produced in a vintage at Sequoia Grove. The 2010 vintage’s opaque deep crimson hue lightly stains the glass. Its uplifted, floral nose (from a large dollop of Cabernet Franc) shows dark flowers, mocha, graphite, and minerality, all cloaking the tightly wound black and blue fruit. This is a wine that would benefit from mid-term cellar aging, allowing the fruit to bubble to the surface. Patience will be rewarded in a decade or so.
MSRP: $140 (February 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 94

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2011 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

In the glass, it shows an opaque, deep crimson color. The nose is already integrating the fruit and wood components, with a nice interplay between the polished leather, mocha, clove and cedar from the oak and the boisterous red cassis and raspberry fruit. The fruit carries through on the palate, showing all soft and velvety, before fine-grained tannins poke through near the finish. This wine is a delight to drink now, and should provide pleasure over the next eight to 10 years.
MSRP: $38 (February 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 91

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2013 Sequoia Grove Chardonnay, Napa Valley

Ah! Our noses and palates took a trip down memory lane with each sniff and sip of this wine. It is delightfully perfumed and aromatic, mixing together sweet, almost honeyed, impressions of tropical fruit and pear with notes of butter, brioche, and vanilla. Showing a nice balance in the mouth, these flavors carry through to the finish and persist. Think of this as a fine Burgundy, but with the plumpness of California fruit. A perfect foil for snow crab legs dipped in butter.
MSRP: $28 (February 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 92

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2011 Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, Small Block Reserve, Napa Valley

Opaque purple/black color. Who says you couldn’t make great Cabernet in the Napa Valley in the challenging 2011 vintage? This is an impressive effort. Aromas of roast coffee, polished leather, fresh cassis, boysenberry, black cherry, and licorice entice the nose and promise much. That promise is kept on the palate, where ample fleshy fruit has a velvety texture. After mid-palate, medium-grained tannins apply some youthful grip. There is enough going on here in the bottle to provide drinking pleasure over the next decade and beyond. For now, splash decant this wine for at least an hour prior to serving.
MSRP: $100 (March 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 92

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2012 Dry Creek Vineyard Malbec, Dry Creek Valley

Malbec’s “place in life” originally was as a minor blending grape of Bordeaux. But late in the 20th century, it gained star status in its adopted home of Argentina, specifically in that country’s Mendoza growing region. Dry Creek Vineyard likes to include Malbec in its Bordeaux-inspired blends, and also crafts a varietal bottling — for the 2012 vintage, a total of 247 cases. It’s 100% varietal and 100% delicious, a real savory wine with a char element and noticeable minerality, joined by blackberry, black cherry and a mélange of other dark fruit notes. This dark, dense wine needs to be accompanied by a thick steak in order to truly strut its stuff.

MSRP: $38 (February 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 90

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2012 Dry Creek Vineyard ‘The Mariner,’ Dry Creek Valley

Most red wines suggest four or, at best, five individual aroma or flavor impressions. More often than not, these impressions present themselves individually: first a whiff of mushrooms, then a note of charred wood, then some type of fruit, and perhaps a finish somewhat reminiscent of dark chocolate. But the 2012 vintage of “The Mariner” is more like an orchestra whose members have been playing together for years. There are plenty of aroma and flavor nuances — blackberry, black raspberry, black cherry, cassis, herbs, baking spices and, yes, dark chocolate — but they are seamlessly integrated. No extended solos in this vinous orchestra of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Franc; rather, a harmonious whole. This may be the best “Mariner” yet.

MSRP: $45 (February 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 91

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2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zinfandel, Sonoma County

The Dry Creek Valley is home to some of the best Zinfandels on the planet, and this bottling is a good primer on the seductiveness of the grape. In the glass, it has a nearly opaque crimson color. Classic aromas of Zinfandel waft from the glass – pectin, pepper-tinged black and blue berry fruit, fleshy fig, red cherry, and a note of volcanic ash minerality. It is sweet and lush in the mouth, with restrained tannins. Serve this to your friends who say they don’t like dry red wine, and watch the amazement on their faces. It may be the middle of winter as this is written, but what the heck! – break out the barbecue, slather up a slab of baby back ribs, and enjoy. Just be sure to leave some for the dinner table.
MSRP: $20 (February 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 91

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2011 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley

The 2011 vintage in Napa Valley was one of the most difficult ones in decades. Those that sourced from vineyards higher up seemed to fare better than others. That is good news for Mt. Brave, located on Mount Veeder over 1000 feet above the valley floor. Winemaker Chris Carpenter set out to make the best wine that he could, and the results are pleasing. This red is deeply hued, with a lightly glass-staining black/crimson color. The perfumed nose delivers dark flowers, high-toned woodspice from aging 19 months in 91% new oak, pencil shavings, and a smoked dark chocolate whiff, all wrapped around a core of concentrated black and blue berry fruits. The blue fruit takes center stage on the palate, while fine-grained, lightly drying tannins pop up at the finish. This is an excellent mountain-grown Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that shines through in the dicey 2011 vintage. Splash decant prior to serving, and enjoy over the next decade with grilled red meat entrées.
MSRP: $75 (February 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 90

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2011 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico “Bellezza” Gran Selezione

In 2014, the Chianti Classico region revamped its policies to create a brand-new top designation, known as “Gran Selezione.” According to the region, Gran Selezione accounts for 10% of Chianti Classico production; the label can only be applied to certified wines with the requested chemical and organoleptic characteristics, and only after a minimum 30-month maturation and bottle refinement. The region’s goal: to create wines stamped with a “Chianti” signature, and with considerable international export potential.

For Castello di Gabbiano’s first Gran Selezione bottling, winemaker Federico Cerelli applied his refined, worldly techniques to grapes from a uniquely situated estate vineyard known for its beautiful yields (thus the wine’s “Bellezza” moniker). The 100 percent Sangiovese wine has a gravitas and solidity on the palate that speaks to the quality of the Gran Selezione process. Black, ripe berries, star anise, cloves and kubeb pepper on a smooth, oak-nuanced finish. The soft tannins and velvety approach of the wine reveal Cerelli’s hand, transforming fruit into a serious beverage requiring contemplation and time to drink alone.

MSRP: $40
Wine Lines Rating: 90

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2013 Arrowood Chardonnay, Sonoma County

In the glass, it is a brilliant straw color. The nose is classic Arrowood – spicy oak, vanilla, and butter scents lead to ripe apple and plump tropical fruit, with just a touch of sweet citrus. It is expansive in the mouth, leaving a creamy impression that seems weightier than the 13.5% alcohol listed on the bottle. At the finish, the spicy oak and juicy buttered fruit continue to linger long after the last sip. You could pay twice as much for this level of drinking pleasure – but why would you?
MSRP: $25 (February 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 91

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