The Grape Tray

December 17th 2021 Newsletter

Wine Advocate 95 Points

CLOS ST.-JEAN Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2019

Rich and seductive in style, featuring waves of warmed plum sauce and blackberry purée flavors laced with singed alder, licorice root and tobacco notes, with flashes of ganache and warm earth in the background. Everything stays well-defined through the finish, which offers a late echo of minerality. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Vaccarèse and Muscardin. Best from 2023 through 2038. —J.M. 900 cases made. $60 Internet Price $49.95 (Available GT and VRW this afternoon)

Wine Spectator 90 Points
VEUVE CLICQUOT Brut Champagne NV (reviewed 2021) Half Bottle

A crisp and lacy Champagne, with a hint of smoke underscoring flavors of poached apricot, pastry cream and pickled ginger. An overtone of Mandarin orange peel ties it all together. Drink now. — AN $40/375ml. Internet Price $33.99/375ml (Available GT and VRW)

2016 Red Stitch Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Notes: This vintage stays true to our Red Stitch style with a blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Malbec, aged 22 months in New French Oak barrels and over twelves months in bottle. Notes of fire toasted cocao, dark cherry, ripe anise, aged tobacco box, dark chocolate, smoky cedar ember, round, supple, beautifully balanced, soft mid palate, round ripe tannins, bright cherry with beautiful acidity on the mid with ripe vanilla bean on the finish. $110 (Available GT and VRW this afternoon)

Wine Spectator 96 Points * CLOS DU MONT-OLIVET Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Cuvée du Papet 2019

Dark in profile, but very seductive, with the cassis, crushed plum and cherry reduction notes carried by the substantial yet very silky structure. Light floral, incense, black tea and warm earth details score the finish. Tantalizing now for its mouthfeel and expressiveness, but there's no rush at all. Drink now through 2038. —J.M. 100 cases imported. Internet Price $85. GT and VRW email subscriber price $73.95 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Advocate 92
Pol Roger Brut Reserve

The latest rendition of Pol Roger's NV Brut Reserve is based on the 2013 vintage and incorporates 25% reserve wines from the 2012, 2011 and 2010 vintages. Disgorged six months ago, the wine wafts from the glass with an alluring bouquet of green apple, brioche, pastry cream and buttered toast. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, impressively layered and complete, with a crisp but fleshy core of fruit, a youthfully frothy mousse and bright acids, concluding with a delicately chalky finish. This is one of the very finest—as well as among the most consistent—non-vintage brut bottlings from any of the Grandes Marques, and this release comes very warmly recommended. While it will be drinkable on release, it will reward some bottle age too. $55 Our Price $46.95 (Available GT and VRW) 3 Liter $238.95

Connoisseurs Guide 95 Points
 RIDGE Geyserville Alexander Valley 2019

In the very first Issue of Connoisseurs’ Guide, back in November, 1974, Ridge Geyserville was among the most highly praised wines. And, now four decades and five years later, the very same wine sits at the top of the ratings table. But there is an interesting difference. This wine is among the most mannerly Geyservilles ever. Yes, it is it's usually deep and complex self with ripe berries both black and blue profoundly expressed all joined with the richness and flavor length that has been prominent in the very best vintages. And, yes, that expected stratum of solid tannins shows up in the finish and promises a long and rewarding aging curve. This is Geyserville, and it still makes our palates sing and puts a smile on our faces. Buy it. 71% Zinfandel; 19% Carignane; 7% Petite Sirah; 3% Alicante Bouschet. $45.00 Our Price $38.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Spectator 93 Points * ETUDE Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2017

Packed with juicy black currant, plum and blackberry compote flavors that pump along the graphite-edged grip and a dark tobacco backdrop. Frankly toasted on the finish, but with ample fruit for balance. A serious Cab. Best from 2022 through 2034. —J.M. $100 Internet Price $81.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Emilio Hidalgo Fino Sherry

Winemaker Notes: All Finos develop under the veil of flor and this is evident on the nose of this wine, showing its bready, yeasty character. Opening with typical notes of green olives, this refreshing fino gives way to delicate wildflowers on the nose.

Pairs perfectly with classic tapas but can also last the whole meal through with seafood and even sushi. This wine is meant to be served very-well chilled and can be used an aperitif as well as the most refreshing accompaniment to many classic, simple sea. $15 (Available GT)

Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points
2019 Ridge Lytton Springs

The 2019 Lytton Springs checks in as 73% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, and the rest Carignan and Mataro. Revealing a translucent ruby/plum hue as well as beautiful cassis and red plum fruits supported by lots of savory herbs, orange blossom, cigar, and spice-driven aromas and flavors, this beauty hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a seamless texture, moderate yet present tannins, and a great finish. While the Geyserville Cuvee has eclipsed the Lytton Spring in most vintages in the past decade, that's not the case in 2019. $45 Our Price $39.99 (Available GT and VRW this afternoon)

Wine Spectator 93

SNOWDEN Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley The Ranch 2018

Fresh and focused, with a well-built core of red currant, plum and black cherry preserves supported by a loamy spine, with tobacco and singed alder lining the finish. Best from 2022 through 2035. 1,203 cases made. — JM $55 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Advocate 99+ Points
2018 Hundred Acre Vineyard • Cabernet Sauvignon Ark Vineyard

Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Ark Vineyard delivers powerful scents of blackberry preserves, chocolate-covered cherries and stewed plums, giving way to red and black currant jelly, beef drippings and wild fungi. Full-bodied, tightly wound and shimmering with tension in the mouth, it has a solid frame of firm, grainy tannins supporting the reticent fruit, finishing savory and with lots of latent energy. All the signs say that this baby is holding back right now and has more to give with considerable cellaring. Tuck it away for at least 5-6 years and then enjoy it over the next 40 years+ $650 (Limited) Please email stan@grapetray.com

Wine Advocate 100 Points
2018 Hundred Acre Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Kayli Morgan Vineyard

Sporting an opaque garnet-purple color, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Kayli Morgan Vineyard needs a fair bit of coaxing to unlock fabulously evocative notions of pure cassis, ripe, juicy black plums and wild blueberries, plus suggestions of candied violets, cinnamon stick and fenugreek, with a touch of fallen leaves. The medium to full-bodied palate is packed with poise and sophistication, shimmering with energetic black and blue fruit layers and a perfectly plush texture, finishing with a dazzling display of minerals and floral fireworks. A hands-down, jaw-dropping beauty! $650 (Limited) Please email stan@grapetray.com

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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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