The Grape Tray

December 14th 2021 Newsletter

VRW Hours This Week
Tuesday-Friday, 12 Noon-6:00 PM
Saturday, 12 Noon-4:00 PM

Taste 2018 Hess Collection Mt Veeder Cabernet and 2017 Taub Family Morisoli Borges Rutherford Cabernet this week at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15.

Available all day during operating hours Tuesday, 12/14 – Thursday, 12/16/21.

Wine Spectator 93 Points
THE HESS COLLECTION Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder 2018

Lush and deeply fruity, with crushed plum, mulled blackberry and açaí berry compote flavors that meld nicely together, while melted black licorice, black tea and mulling spice notes add range and detail. Features a lushness that makes this approachable now, but shows a strong underlying iron spine that will let this evolve with cellaring. Best from 2023 through 2036. —J.M. $75

Wine Spectator 93
TAUB FAMILY VINEYARDS Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Morisoli Borges Vineyard 2017

Another late-release 2017 that bucks the vintage profile but has a complete feel, with juicy blackberry and plum notes mixed with a sleeker cassis accent, all backed by dark loam and roasted cedar notes. Shows a solid graphite underpinning on the finish to support it all. A very solid example of the muscular style. Best from 2022 through 2036. 68 cases made. — JM $125

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Wine Advocate 93 Points
2019 Xavier Vignon Gigondas

Swirls of black raspberry ice cream and dark chocolate combine in Vignon's 2019 Gigondas, a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Mourvèdre from numerous small parcels dotted around the appellation. Matured in a large wooden vat, there's no apparent oak aromas or flavors, just the purity of old-vine fruit, creamy tannins, ample concentration and a bright, vibrant-and long-finish. With its combination of intensity and tension, it should drink well for a decade or more. $40 Our Price $35.49 (Available GT)

Wine Spectator 94 Points
HARTFORD COURT Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Land's Edge Vineyards 2018

A refined and minerally style, with lithe acidity supporting well-knit flavors of cherry and raspberry. The plush finish lingers with creamy accents and plenty of spicy and toasty notes. Drink now through 2026. —K.M. $50 Our Price $42.99 (Back in stock GT and VRW)

2018 Pont Neuf Pont Royal
 Russian River Chardonnay

Winemaker Notes: The 2018 Pont Royal reveals a brilliant clarity both in appearance and focused flavors. The vineyard character shows in the forward citrus, fresh peach, custard and honied beeswax which are consistent hallmarks of Pont Royal. The texture is crisp, but with a satisfying fullness and great persistence of flavors. French oak takes a back seat to the fruit, adding nuanced aromas of toasted brioche and fine structure to the wine. We employed 80% new oak from the Vosges forest, contributing the delicate toast and vanilla aromas and playing perfectly with bright citrus fruit. Barrel-fermented, aged on the lees and bottled un-fined and unfiltered, this natural fermentation showcases the vineyard and the vintage. 90 cases produced. $60 (Available GT and VRW)

James Suckling 94 Points
2018 Faust Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Very attractive aromas of blackcurrants, black olives and dark leather with some cedar. It’s full-bodied with firm, silky tannins and a refined, polished finish. Shows finesse and focus. Grows on the palate. Really delicious now, but will improve with age. Drink or hold. $55 Internet Price $44.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Advocate 95 Points
2019 Failla Chardonnay Platt Vineyard

The 2019 Chardonnay Platt Vineyard is laced with hints of jasmine, lemon confit, mint, orchard fruit and tangerine oil. Time in the glass brings out light tropical overtones that take on a Riesling-like feel that is hugely appealing. $55 (Arrives GT 12/15/21)

Domaine Jean Vesselle Brut Reserve Champagne-750ml and Mags

Producer Notes: Estate-owned vineyards are located in and around the village of Bouzy. Soils are the classic, chalky terroir of the Montagne de Reims. 15-30 year old vines and hand-harvested. Fermented on indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Aged for three years in bottle. Dosage less than 11 grams/L. TASTING IMPRESSIONS: Blond toast, red apples and wildflowers; silky and long. Red berries, minerals, a hint of white pepper. 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: As an aperitif; or with soft, creamy cheeses. $50 Our Price $39.99. Magnums $85.99

Wine Spectator 92 Points
LEMELSON Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Thea's Selection 2018

Refined and structured, offering pinpoint black cherry, savory spice and black tea flavors that build tension and tannins on the finish. Drink now through 2029. 9,700 cases made.—T.F. $34 Our Price $25.99 (Arrives GT 12/15/21)

Wine Advocate 93 Points
2013 Champagne André Robert Brut Terre du Mesnil

Disgorged in February 2021 with 5.2 grams per liter dosage, the 2013 Brut Terre du Mesnil is showing nicely, offering up a delicate bouquet of citrus oil, warm biscuits, crips yellow apple and marzipan. Medium to full-bodied, vinous and enveloping, it's a seamless, pillowy wine with a fleshy core of fruit built around a racy, vintage-typical spine of acidity. $96 (Available GT)

Wine Spectator 93 Points
WILLAKENZIE Pinot Noir
 Willamette Valley 2018

Captures the best of Willamette Valley, with a layered structure that’s crisp yet supple with plump raspberry, orange peel and Darjeeling accents that glide toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2029. 6,930 cases made. — TF $30 (Arrives GT 12/15/21)

Wine Advocate 97+
2019 Addax Chardonnay AK Cuvee

The 2019 Chardonnay AK Cuvee is winemaker Russell Bevan's barrel selection blend of roughly three barrels of Ritchie vineyard and two barrels of Rued vineyard. It prances out of the glass with showy notes of fresh apricots, nutmeg and mandarin peel, over a core of pear tart, shaved ginger and beeswax. The full-bodied, concentrated palate is full-on opulent, featuring layers of satin-textured stone fruit and baking spice flavors, finishing with epic length. So. Good. $125 (Available GT)

Decanter 95 Points
2017 Marengo Barolo La Morra

Marco Marengo manages little more than four hectares in La Morra. These grapes were sourced from Brunate, Bricco Viole, Pugnane and Fontanezza. It exhibits leafy lightness with orange peel and cocoa powder. The attack is firm, muscular yet ripe. Dense on the mid palate, it has bracing acidity combined with eminently savory orange fruit. The finish is chiseled, with a good length of fruits and licorice. $50 Our Price $43.99 (Arrives GT 12/15/21)

2019 Lewis Mason’s Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Notes: With high school behind him and college on the horizon it’s all sunshine and blue sky for Mason. His 2019 bottling is 100% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, seriously fruited with hi-tone boysenberry, cassis and café mocha. Plush and poised on the palate, the future is bright for this Mason’s Cabernet. $65 Our Price $58.99 (Arrives GT 12/15/21)

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Friday Wine Tasting, 12/17/21(Available all day during operating hours) $15 per person and must be 21 or older to attend.

2018 Ehlers Napa Estate Merlot

Winemaker Notes: The 2018 Ehlers Estate Merlot is a very soulful wine. The fruit for this wine comes from four different, small blocks picked at the right ripeness, but early enough to leave some of the natural acidity that is so lively in this varietal. Picking at the right time allows you to showcase the red fruit. 2018 was the perfect year for a longer hanging time, and our Merlot benefited from it. The wine shows a deep, vibrant purple color with aromas of cassis, raspberries, strawberry compote, and dry herbs. Oak notes of mocha, smoke, nutmeg and sweet spices accentuate the bouquet. This wine is full-bodied, with bright acidity and firm tannins. The finish is long and full of berries and licorice with a mineral finish. Enjoyable now, but will age well for 10-15 years more. $60

Wine Advocate 93 Points
2018 Cliff Lede Stag’s Leap Cabernet

Composed of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc, the deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District charges out of the gate with exuberant scents of boysenberries, blackcurrant cordial and warm black plums plus touches of bay leaves, damp soil, pencil shavings and sandalwood. The medium to full-bodied palate is bold, expressive and open for business with bags of juicy black fruit flavors and a velvety texture, finishing with an earthy kick and a burst of freshness. $80 Our Price $72.99

Wine Advocate 94+
2018 Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Estate

Composed of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate displays a deep garnet-purple color and fragrant notes of Black Forest cake, crème de cassis and wild blueberries with nuances of red roses, Chinese five spice, camphor and black olive plus a hint of charcoal. Full-bodied, the decadently rich fruit has impressive freshness lifting the palate along with firm, finely grained tannins, finishing long and fragrant. $160

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Saturday Wine Tasting, 12/18/21(Available all day during operating hours) $15 per person and must be 21 or older to attend.

Jeb Dunnuck 96+ Points
2016 Capanna Brunello di Montalcino

The 2016 Brunello spent 36 months in classic Slavonian oak. The lifted aromatics upon opening quickly blow off and give way to more subtle floral tones, of fresh raspberry, dried herbs, and dusty earth. The palate is crisp and linear, with fine but angular tannins, refreshing citrus-like acidity, and a long finish. The 2016 is layered and complex within its transparency. There is a lot to love with this wine for those who enjoy traditional Sangiovese with brightness and lift. Check in now and over the next 20 years. $70 Our Price $60.99

James Suckling 99 Points
Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino 2016

The complexity and beauty to this is really something with cherry, walnut, tobacco and cigar-box character. Sweet cherries. It’s full-bodied and deep with super intensity and power. Layered and beautiful. Really refined tannins. Some whole-berry fermentation gives this added character. Goes on for minutes. $65 Our Price $59.99

Wine Spectator 97 Points
BARICCI Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 2016

Fresh and vivid, this red features cherry, raspberry, plum, floral, black tea and mineral aromas and flavors. The well-defined fruit character is nicely balanced by earthy, savory elements, lively acidity and refined tannins. This is complete, with terrific finesse and complexity. Best from 2024 through 2048. 1,300 cases made, 275 cases imported. — BS $95 Our Price $83.99

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Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW)
1552 E. Champlain Drive, Ste 109 Fresno, CA 93720 Via Montana Center (NE Corner Shepherd and Champlain-Two doors south of Big 5) www.vintagereserve.biz 559-878-3953
Tuesday-Friday 12:00 Noon-6:00 PM
Saturday 12 Noon-4:00 PM


The Grape Tray (GT)
6023 N. Palm Avenue Fresno, CA 93704
Opus One Center (NW Corner Bullard and Palm)
www.grapetray.com 559-226-6828
Monday-Friday 10:30 AM-5:30 PM
Saturday 10:30 AM-4:00 PM


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