The Grape Tray

January 14th 2022 Newsletter

Wine Spectator 92 Points * QUERCIABELLA Maremma Toscana Mongrana 2018

Ripe and polished, this red offers plum, black cherry, licorice and spice flavors. Vibrant and harmonious, with slightly chewy tannins gracing the lingering aftertaste. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2024. 9,166 cases made, 5,000 cases imported. — BS $22 Our Price $18.29 (Available VRW this afternoon)

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 92 Points * 2019 Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Cuvée

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Cuvée is a new entry-level wine in this range. The addition of Merlot works so well in softening some of the young Howell Mountain contours. Even so, there is plenty of energy underpinning the bright red cherry fruit. Mint, pine and floral accents resonate across the persistent finish. The 2019 is a jewel of a wine and a fabulous value. $50 Our Price $43.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 95 Points * 2018 Robert Craig Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Amentet Vineyard is a heady, explosive Mount Veeder wine. Iron, sweet red cherry, mint, dried flowers, licorice, mocha and rose petal all grace this wonderfully expressive, nuanced Cabernet. Best of all, the 2018 won't need more than a few years in bottle to be approachable. It's a gorgeous wine, that much is clear. The best is yet to come. $120 Our Price $94.99 (Available GT and VRW)

James Suckling 94 Points * 2018 SELVAPIANA PETROGNANO POMINO ROSSO

Lots of black cherries, violets and dark wood, such as mahogany on the nose. Full-bodied with firm, chewy tannins that show plenty of structure and power. Really polished. This can age wonderfully and needs at least three to four years to come together. $21 Our Price $18.49 (Available GT)

James Suckling 93 points
2020 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett

Effusive white-peach, honeysuckle and vanilla-bean aromas pour from the glass of this Kabinett. A very juicy wine with wonderful lightness and mineral freshness. An ideal partner for conversation. Drink or hold. Screw cap. $30 Our Price $25.99 (Available GT)

2016 Gambal Work Francesca
Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

Winemaker Notes: Francesca has what we call a “cool” profile that is dominated by a flinty nose followed by white flowers. Its attack is subtle but builds, fills the mouth and is linear in nature. The wine’s natural salinity awakens your taste buds and one can imagine this with hard cheeses or with a main dish such as seared scallops. The wine is delicious today, but we expect it will show its full potential in three to five years (2021-2023). $65 (Available GT and VRW)

2019 J. Lohr Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Notes: The 2019 J. Lohr Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon is exceptionally dark in color with aromas of blackberry, black currant, and toasted pastry crust. Dense and soft on the palate, with elegant layers of black and red currants leaving a bright finish. $35 Our Price $27.99 (Arrives GT this afternoon)

Wine Spectator 93 Points * HALL Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2018

This packs in some serious plum compote and cassis flavors, liberally wrapped in dark licorice and finishing with a swath of sweet toast and tobacco on the broad finish. Nice mineral underpinning keeps it honest. Fairly accessible despite its heft. Drink now through 2034. 55,000 cases made. — JM $65 Internet Price $49.95 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Spectator 94 Points * ALEXANA Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Revana Vineyard 2018

This vibrant red is coiled with tension, offering dynamic raspberry and blueberry flavors that gather notes of spiced cinnamon and orange oil, building toward medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2030. 1,858 cases made. — TF $55 (Available VRW this afternoon)

Tasting Panel 94 Points
2018 J. Lohr Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon, Half Bottle

The majority of grapes for this blend, which includes some Petit Verdot and Malbec, were sourced from the cooler El Pomar District, with an additional selection off a 1,700-foot-high site in the warmer Creston District. Scents of blackberry preserves, pepper, and tobacco are at the forefront. Polished tannins and a juicy mouthfeel meld with notes of tilled soil, black olive, and black currant. One of the deeper and darker vintages, it shows a maturity and more finesse than we have ever experienced from this wine, revealed in balanced acidity and fruit that’s bright and poignant—intense but not overbearing. $20/375ml. Our Price $15.99/375ml (Back in stock GT this afternoon)

James Suckling 94 Points
2017 Provenance Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Fresh and layered with currants, plums and juicy fruit. Full-bodied, soft and velvety, yet fresh and dry on the finish. Drink or hold. $40 Our Price $34.99 (Available GT)

Wine Spectator 92 Points
2018 QUINTA DO VALE MEÃO Douro Meandro

Nicely textured, with smooth tannins, this elegant, full-bodied red is packed with dark cherry, violet, red plum and anise notes that are harmonious and well-integrated. Details of mocha, wild herb and spice cascade onto the finish. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Alicante Bouschet. Drink now through 2028. 17,500 cases made, 2,000 cases imported. — GS $20 Our Price $17.95 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Spectator 93 Points
2015 Rocca di Frassinello Maremma Toscano

Aromas and flavors of mineral, black cherry, blackberry and tar highlight this rich, vibrant red. The tannins are well-integrated. Extends nicely on the finish. Sangioveto, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Best from 2018 through 2025. $52 Internet Price $44.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Vinous 94 Points * Domaine de la Taille aux Loups 2019 Les Hauts de Husseau Montlouis Sur Loire, Loire Valley

It's not Mont Blanc, but Les Hauts de Husseau is the highest point in the Montlouis appellation (at 90 meters in altitude), and so the local limestone is close to the surface, which is palpable in the chalky texture and fine line of the 2019. It comes from a cold site that's picked around a week and a half later than the domaine's other sites, but boy, is it worth the wait. It’s a little closed compared with its stablemates, but this is an exciting wine with underlying power that goes on and on, offering excellent distance. While there are subtle custard apple and crème caramel characters (likely a result of fermentation in old oak and extended time on fine lees), this is a wine whose most intriguing aspect is its texture and structure. There’s no hurry to drink this one. 100% Chenin and certified organic. $40 Our Price $35.99 (Available GT)

Wine Advocate 94 Points * 2018 Barnett Vineyards Rattlesnake Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Rattlesnake opens a little broody with notes of crushed rocks, tar and tilled soil over a core over baked plums, warm cassis and mulberries. Medium to full-bodied, firm and grainy-textured, it delivers lovely freshness and an elegant, well-poised finish. $190 (Arrives GT 1/18/22)

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Friday Wine Tasting at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW), 1/14/22 (Available all day during operating hours) $15 per person and must be 21 or older to attend.

James Suckling 95 Points * 2019 Hudson Carneros Chardonnay

Aromas of white peaches, spiced apples, dried honeysuckle, lemon pith, cedar and cloves. It’s full-bodied with fresh acidity and a vibrant, tight and textured palate. Long and focused. Richer style and density. Drink now or hold. $65

Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points
2017 Wren Hop Dark Carnival Russian River Pinot Noir

The 2017 Pinot Noir Dark Carnival offers a medium to full-bodied, balanced, incredibly charming style that carries classic cherry and strawberry fruits as well as notes of forest floor and spice. Coming from the Wren Hop vineyard in the Russian River, destemmed and brought up in new oak, it has a rich, opulent texture, good freshness, and a great finish. It’s a classic, powerful Russian River Pinot Noir to enjoy over the coming 5-7 years. $80

Wine Advocate 94 Points * 2013 Eisele Vineyard Altagracia Cabernet Sauvignon

Both 2013s are clearly the finest Eisele wines made under the administration of François Pinault and his top lieutenant, Frédéric Engerer, who also runs the show at Château Latour. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Altagracia is a beauty. Dense, opaque purple, a big sweet kiss of blueberry and black raspberry fruit intermixed with forest floor and violets is followed by a lush, medium to full-bodied wine with terrific concentration, light tannin and an approachable style even for a 2013. It should drink well for 15 or more years. $130

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Saturday Wine Tasting at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW), 1/15/22 (Available all day during operating hours) $15 per person and must be 21 or older to attend.

2018 William Harrison CABERNET SAUVIGNON, RUTHERFORD ESTATE

Winemaker Notes: Marked by intense aromas of blackberry compote, with subtler notes of cocoa nib, blueberry and fennel seed. The palate is full-bodied, with dense boysenberry flavors, a hint of roast coffee and smooth, fine-grained tannins. Complementary flavors of nutmeg and tobacco are attributed to our unique barrel program. The texture is dense and youthful, with vibrant tannin structure and a lingering finish. $75

James Suckling 93 points
2018 O’Shaughnessy Howell Mt. Cabernet Sauvignon

Blue flowers and fruit on the nose, as well as licorice, tea leaf and dark chocolate. It’s medium-bodied with firm, tight tannins and fresh acidity. A distinct, saline streak cuts through the dark fruit. Try from 2023. $100

Wine Spectator 95 Points
SALVESTRIN Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena Dr. Crane Vineyard 2018

Bright and fresh, with lots of red currant, plum and black cherry fruit notes driving along nicely, while a subtle tug of iron runs underneath. Late floral and warm earth flashes on the finish add more range and contrast. Focused, detailed and really well built. To be released October 2021. Best from 2022 through 2035. 1,260 cases made. — JM $80

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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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