December 20th 2022 Newsletter - The Grape Tray

December 20th 2022 Newsletter

Holiday Hours

Grape Tray (GT)
Monday-Friday 10:30 AM- 5:30 PM
Saturday 10:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW)
Tuesday-Friday 12:00 noon – 6:00 PM
Saturday 12:00 noon – 4:00 PM


Taste 2020 Vins Auvigue Pouilly Fuisse Les Villages and 2019 Brane Cantenac Margaux at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Tuesday, December 20th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Wine Spectator 94 Points
Vins Auvigue Pouilly-Fuissé Les Villages 2020

Creamy in texture, this white evokes peach, floral and pastry aromas and flavors. Beautifully balanced, unfolding gracefully to a long citrus- and mineral-infused aftertaste. Very approachable now, but should develop over the next decade, too. Drink now through 2030. 1,100 cases made, 1,089 cases imported. $35

Wine Advocate 97 points * 19 Chateau Brane-Cantenac, Margaux

Derived exclusively from the château's holdings on the deep gravel soils of the plateau of Brane, the 2019 Brane-Cantenac has turned out brilliantly and merits a special effort to seek out. Wafting from the glass with aromas of wild berries, pencil shavings, violets, sweet loamy soil and cardamon, it's medium to full-bodied, layered and concentrated, with lively acids, ripe tannins and a beautifully seamless, perfumed profile. Retaining all the estate's signature elegance but with an extra dimension of depth and intensity, it's the finest Brane-Cantenac of the modern era and one of the great successes of the 2019 vintage. $89


Taste 2019 Paul Hobbs Russian River Chardonnay and 2019 Plumpjack Oakville Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Wednesday, December 21st. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points
2019 Paul Hobbs Russian River Chardonnay

Leading off the Chardonnay from Paul Hobbs, the 2019 Chardonnay Russian River Valley reveals a light gold hue as well as a classic, cleanly perfumed bouquet of honeyed citrus, crushed stone, white flowers, and brioche, with just a hint of toasted almond emerging with time in the glass. Medium-bodied, fresh, and lively on the palate, it gains more and more minerality as it sits in the glass. It’s flawlessly balanced, with an incredible mix of rich, ripe fruit and racy, bright acidity as well as outstanding length. This white is well worth searching out, and I would rank it with one of the top, base appellation blends in the vintage. $60

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 96 Points
2019 Plumpjack Oakville Cabernet

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is a sumptuous, heady wine. It possesses tremendous richness and pure power from the outset. Inky dark fruit, mocha, espresso, leather and licorice infuse the 2019 with notable character. This deep, potent Cabernet delivers the goods, big time. $168


Taste Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, Deutz Brut Classic and Piper Heidsieck Extra Brut Essentiel at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Thursday, December 22nd. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Wine Spectator 90 Points
Mumm Napa Brut Napa County Prestige NV (2022)

Delicate in style yet plush, with pretty cherry, lemon verbena and yeast roll flavors that linger on the supple, refreshing finish. Drink now. 220,000 cases made. $24

Wine Spectator 91 Points
Deutz Brut Champagne Classic NV (2022)

A harmonious version with a refined, creamy mousse, this layers delicate flavors of nectarine, white blossoms, star fruit and ground ginger with sleek acidity and a chalky base note. Firm finish. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Drink now. 18,000 cases made, 3,000 cases imported. $60

Wine Spectator 93 Points
Piper-Heidsieck Extra Brut Champagne Essentiel NV (2022)

Toasty on the nose, with hints of grilled nut, smoke and spices transitioning on the palate to accent flavors of baked nectarine, candied ginger and mandarin orange peel. Harmonious and expressive, with a fine, raw, silky mousse and pretty lime blossom and graphite accents on the finish. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Disgorged November 2021. Drink now. 1,347 cases imported. $70


Wine Spectator 92 Points
Schramsberg Brut Blanc de Blancs North Coast 2019

Crisp yet luxurious and creamy, with vibrant lemon tart, apple and toasted almond flavors that glide on a long, plush finish. Drink now. 39,513 cases made. $42 Our Price $34.99 (Back in stock GT and VRW)

2020 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Winemaker Notes: Showcasing the rich diversity of the Anderson Valley, this exuberant wine displays fresh, enticing aromas of juicy raspberry, summer strawberry, and red plum, as well as hints of bramble, black tea, anise, sweet saddle leather, and a touch of salinity. On the palate, bright acidity and firm, chewy tannins converge to create a supple texture that accentuates the Bing cherry and blackberry pie flavors, with sophisticated notes of nutmeg, cardamom, and savory umami emerging on the finish to create a sumptuous and cerebral drinking experience." $52 Our Price $44.99 (Arrives GT 12/21/22)

James Suckling 93 Points
2018 Giacomo Grimaldi Barolo

Pleasant red-berry and cherry character here, together with hints of roasted nuts and perfumed bark. Some bright rose perfume, too. Medium-bodied with well-integrated tannins and bright fruit tinged with bitter spice. Controlled finish with some length. Give it a year to mellow. Try from 2024. $70 Our Price $59.99 (Available GT)

Jeb Dunnuck 94-96 Points
2020 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape

The 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape was scheduled to be bottled the week after this tasting, and it's the usual blend of 35% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache, and the rest Syrah, Counoise, and other permitted varieties. While the estate compares this to their 2016, it reminds me slightly of their 1990 and has a wonderful perfume of red, blue, and black fruits, as well as sappy garrigue, saddle leather, and ground pepper. It's beautifully textured, medium to full-bodied, has a good sense of freshness, and fine tannins, as well as a tight, focused style on the palate that bodes well for longevity. It deserves 7-8 years of bottle age and should be long-lived. $105 Our Price $89.99 (Available GT and VRW)

2019 Staglin Family Salus Napa Cabernet

Winemaker Notes: Welcome to High Definition Cabernet – the 2019 Salus is a generous and deliciously detailed display of exuberant dark fruits dynamically supported by a range of floral, earthy and herbaceous characters. Lifted floral notes slide into resinous rosemary underlain by tilled earth and powdered porcini mushrooms complexed with a puff of gunpowder, graphite and criollo cigar wrapper. Bursting blackcurrant and ripe raspberry deepened by crushed cacao nibs and fresh licorice root envelop the palate before sliding silkily through a delightfully delineated and lengthy exit. The hint of grip and grit on the finish portends a rewarding and delicious life for this wine. $115 (Available GT and VRW)

2022 Wine Spectator Top 100 #10
Wine Spectator 98 Points
Louis Roederer Brut Champagne Cristal 2014

This vivid Champagne shows up-front and linear definition, thanks to rapierlike acidity, with finely meshed flavors of ripe black cherry and mandarin orange fruit, raw almond, anise and cardamom spice as well as a touch of honeycomb, which all unfurl and expand on the fine, creamy palate. Sleek acidity continues through to the finish, with additional racy character provided by a streak of minerally saline and chalk, which gains momentum through the midpalate and rings out on the well-cut, lasting finish. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Drink now through 2040. 9,181 cases imported. $359 Our Price $313.95 (Back in stock GT and VRW)

James Suckling 98 Points
2016 Chateau Le Gay Pomerol

Exotic aromas of blackberries, truffle, earth and cedar follow through to a full body, rich and layered tannins and a long, long finish. Shows so much here. Exotic. Give it at least three or four years of bottle age. Exuberant. Try from 2023. $155 (Back in stock GT and VRW this afternoon)

Wine Advocate 95 Points
2016 Chateau La Gravette de Certan Pomerol

Made up of 75% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2016 La Gravette de Certan has a deep garnet-purple color and features lovely redcurrants, black raspberries and black cherries notes with a beautiful floral background of lavender and rose hip tea plus suggestions of sandalwood, cinnamon stick and menthol. Medium-bodied, refreshing, elegant and beautifully seamless, it offers layers of perfumed red and black fruits with a satiny texture and very impressive length. (LPB) $90 (Back in stock GT and VRW this afternoon)


Taste 2021 Alma de Cattleya Sonoma Pinot Noir, 2019 Stag’s Leap Artemis Napa Cabernet and 2019 Rudd Oakville Crossroads Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Friday, December 23rd. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Wine Enthusiast 95 Points
2021 Alma de Cattleya Sonoma Pinot Noir

This appellation blend by Bibiana Gonzalez Rave is a tremendously complex and simply delicious wine for a fair price. Aromas of cinnamon, sumac and raspberry paste are juicy yet dark and serious on the nose. There's a firm grip to the sip that frames the rich black raspberry core, with flavors of thyme, sage and cracked pepper adding more nuance. $35

James Suckling 93 Points
2019 Stag’s Leap Artemis Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Cassis, dried blueberries, violets, ink, graphite, dried leaves and cigar box on the nose. Full-bodied with firm, polished tannins. Smooth and supple with excellent balance and length. Drink from 2023. $83

Wine Spectator 93 Points
Rudd Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Crossroads 2019

A solid, direct style, with red and black currant preserves that meld steadily into a backdrop of singed vanilla, cedar and warm earth. Features flashes of humus and menthol, too, which provide range. Drink now through 2032. 3,420 cases made. $80


Taste 2021 Cliff Lede Napa Sauvignon Blanc, 2020 Paul Hobbs Russian River Pinot Noir and 2018 Altamura Napa Cabernet Sauvignon at (VRW) for $15 per person.
Saturday, December 24th. Available 12:00 noon -3:45 PM

Wine Enthusiast 94 Points
2021 Cliff Lede Napa Sauvignon Blanc

This is an outstanding white blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc with 9% Sémillon and 1% Sauvignon Vert. Bright and fresh in peach and wet stone, it is nicely textured, with just enough weight and breadth to add complexity and structure. $34

Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points
2020 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Russian River

The quintessential 2020 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley is flush with cola spice, grenadine, and sappy forest floor, while the palate opens with generous ripe red fruits of cherry, beet root, and cinnamon. $70

2018 Altamura Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Notes: Our hillside and valley floor estate vineyards in Wooden Valley are at elevations of 700 to 1000 feet. Soil types on the ranch which are similar to the Rutherford Bench and the mountainous regions of Howell Mountain, Pritchard Hill and Mount Veeder called for several different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon on a number of different rootstocks upon planting in 1986. The vines are dry-farmed and vertically trellised. $135 Our Price $129.99 (Available GT)


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) 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) 559-226-6828
Monday-Friday 10:30 AM-5:30 PM
Saturday 10:30 AM-4:00 PM

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