January 24th 2023 Newsletter - The Grape Tray

January 24th 2023 Newsletter

On Deck for wine tasting next week at VRW:

Jeb Dunnuck 91 Points
2019 Ballentine Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate

Lots of blue fruits, violets, tobacco, and a touch of chocolate define the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, an elegant, balanced, seamless Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that represents a great value. Drink it over the coming 10-12 years. $60

James Suckling 99 Points
2012 Taittinger Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne

This is a fantastic and refined Blanc de Blancs. So layered and complex, with lemon curd, chalk, hazelnuts, pastries, baked apples and almond croissants. Structured and tightly wound, with almost imperceptible bubbles. Delicious salty notes at the end. Beautiful. Drink or hold. $230

2020 Sans Liege The Offering GSM

Winemaker Notes: Within the refuge of the cottage a fire dances in the wood burning stove while outside a coastal storm rages. The windows show you redwoods and sassafras trees being assailed by rain. You pick up your book to settle in for the afternoon and take in a long breath. Scents of dark cherry, chocolate shavings, and baking spices linger in the air from the morning’s baking project and they meld with the more savory aromas of herbs de provence & white pepper from the kitchen. As you exhale you happily ease into quietude. 44% Grenache, 36% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre. $33


Taste 2019 Maybach Amoenus Napa Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Tuesday, January 24th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Jeb Dunnuck 99 Points
2019 Maybach Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Amoenus

First made in 2009 (the first vintage of Maybach was in 2004), the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Amoenus offers an incredible, full-bodied, pure, seamless style, and I suspect this is the finest vintage of this cuvée ever made. Gorgeous red and black fruits, toasted spice, brioche, violets, and flowers are just some of the nuances here, and it's one of those wines that brings massive richness and depth while staying pure, seamless, and as graceful as they come. Don't miss it! $190


Taste 2019 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, Pol Roger Brut Reserve and Vilmart Grand Cellier Brut at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Wednesday, January 25th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

2019 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs

Winemaker Notes: The 2019 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs opens with aromas of passion fruit, loquat, strawberry, pear, pineapple, and almost ripe peach, which harmonize with notes of ginger, vanilla, blanched almond, and nutmeg. The palate begins with a bright and juicy entry, that integrates dense and lively layers of zesty orange, nectarine, and tropical fruit. Its mouthwatering acidity and verve lead to a balanced, clean and crisp finish. Blend: 88% Pinot Noir, 12% Chardonnay. $45

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

Wine Spectator 94 Points
Vilmart Brut Champagne Grand Cellier NV (2022)

A mouthwatering Champagne that shows seamless integration of the plush and creamy mousse, rapierlike acidity and expressive range of peach, chopped nut, ripe green apple, star anise and honeysuckle aromas and flavors that persist on the long finish. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Disgorged January 2022. Drink now through 2027. $77


Taste 2021 My Favorite Neighbor Chardonnay, 2020 My Favorite Neighbor Cabernet and 2017 Booker Oublie Paso Robles GSM at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Thursday, January 26th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Wine Advocate 97 Points
2021 My Favorite Neighbor Chardonnay

The 2021 Chardonnay is very ripe in style with scents of banana chip, apple pie, jasmine, allspice and brown sugar. The full-bodied palate is packed with ripe, spicy fruits and plenty of refreshing acidity, and it finishes long with a satiny, mouth-coating texture. It's an old-school style reminiscent of Napa that fans of ripe, oaked Chardonnays will enjoy. $60

Wine Advocate 95 Points
2020 My Favorite Neighbor Cabernet

Deep ruby-purple, the 2020 MFN Harvey & Harriet Cabernet Sauvignon has pretty tones of green bell pepper, dried herbs, thyme, lavender and cedar over a core of red and black currant. The full-bodied palate is ultra juicy and packed with alluringly herbal fruit, and it boasts integrated oak, a soft, approachable frame and a long, perfumed finish. $50

Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points
2017 Booker Oublié Paso Robles GSM

The 2017 Oublié is a blockbuster, ranking with the finest wines in the vintage. Based on 56% Grenache, 22% Mourvèdre, 22% Syrah, brought up in 50% neutral barrels, its vivid purple color is followed by a full-bodied, powerful, yet elegant red that has a great nose of cassis, blackberries, white flowers, leafy herbs, and hints of pepper. It packs some muscle yet stays flawlessly balanced. $75


Jeb Dunnuck 92 Points
2019 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The base 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is certainly impressive, and since there are roughly 90,000 cases, it’s an incredible achievement. Classic darker currants, tobacco leaf, truffly earth, and spicy oak all define the bouquet, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with ripe tannins, terrific balance, and outstanding length. Based off 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec, buy a case and enjoy bottles over the coming 10-15 years. $50 Internet Price $39.99 (Back in stock GT and VRW 1/25/23)

*Back in stock - 20 cases available at GT and VRW*
WOW-75% OFF! Wine Enthusiast 90 Points
Chateau St Jean Sonoma Chardonnay

This is a well-made, well-priced white, with a bright entry of pear, apple and vanilla pudding. It develops layers of baking spice and toast as it goes, offering a modest richness and creamy texture. $16 Our Price $3.95 (Available GT and VRW) Outstanding Value!

2021 Occidental Freestone Pinot Noir

Winemaker Notes: The 2021 Freestone-Occidental is a very bright, high toned, marine influenced wine that could only have come from their ridgetop vineyards. Crystalline, vivid, mouth watering, with a salty mineral finish, the 2021 Freestone-Occidental evokes juicy red/purple berries and a near perfect balance of finesse and energy with beautifully sculpted tannins. $65 (Arrives GT this afternoon)

James Suckling 97 Points * 2018 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz

A blend of 57% cabernet sauvignon and 43% shiraz, this has a very impressively complete feel, a hallmark of the 2018 vintage wines, and there's a myriad of characters with cabernet's cedary and gently herbal notes sitting atop a core of rich red-plum and dark-berry shiraz fruit aromas. So integrated. The palate has a very silky texture, so plush and polished with a wealth of rich and intense dark-plum, dark-berry and blackcurrant flavors. The oak is completely soaked with ripe, fresh fruit. This is a great Bin 389. Drink over the next two decades. $65 Our Price $53.95 (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)

Wine Enthusiast 94 Points
2020 Matthews Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

The aromas are thoroughly captivating, with notes of scorched earth, cocoa, black currant, graphite and bittersweet chocolate. Plush, polished, seamless fruit flavors follow. There's a sophistication and intensity to it all that is mesmerizing. $32 Internet Price $27.49 (Available GT and VRW)

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 Internet Price $29.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Spectator 95 Points
CLOS ST.-JEAN Châteauneuf-Du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2020

Leads with warm ganache and fig bread notes, followed quickly by raspberry reduction accents that take some time to unwind. Showcases plum pâte de fruit, sanguine and black licorice notes, with a flicker of Turkish coffee underscoring the finish and giving this a decidedly dark profile in the end. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Vaccarèse and Muscardin. Best from 2024 through 2038. 900 cases made, 670 cases imported. —James Molesworth. $65 Our Price $48.99 (Available GT and VRW)

2016 William Harrison Cabernet Franc

Winemaker Notes: The fruit gives off aromas of black currant and Bing cherry, accompanied by Rutherford “dust”. Mineral and spice qualities that distinguish Cabernet Franc from the other Bordeaux varieties are also present, such as sage, graphite and wet stone. A mild hint of anise is layered in the background, lending a nice complexity. The mouthfeel is full and structured, securing a long life for this wine. $75 (Available GT)


Winemaker Notes: Our 2017 ultra-premium Merlot from our own Mt. Veeder is structured and complex with a nose of black fruits, spice, and olive. It shows its earthy hillside terroir on the palate with hints of black cherries, roasted meats, and chocolate, and has a long, lingering finish. Drink between now and 2027. $80 (Available GT)


Taste 2020 Three Sticks Durell Chardonnay, 2017 Taub Rutherford Cabernet and 2018 Groth Oakville Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Friday, January 27th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Wine Spectator 93 Points
THREE STICKS Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Durell Vineyard 2020

A stunning, expressive wine, with perfectly ripe peach, melon and lemon curd flavors, plus notes of toasted, salted almond, a touch of toasted herbs and sleek, wonderfully refreshing acidity that gives freshness and length to the spicy finish. Drink now. —M.W. $70

Wine Spectator 92 Points
2017 Taub Family Rutherford Cabernet

Nicely compact, with a core of steeped red currant, plum and blackberry fruit that should unwind in the near future. Alder and licorice notes score the finish, with good latent energy. Best from 2022 through 2031. 1,500 cases made. — JM $75

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 94 Points
2018 Groth Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville) is fabulous. Moreover, it shows the important strides that have been made here in recent years. A wine of depth as well as energy, the Oakville Cabernet is both complete and absolutely delicious. Time brings out a whole range of leather, spice and chocolate notes to play off a core of intense, dark-fleshed fruit. I would prefer to cellar the 2018 for at least a few years. In a word: impressive. $70


Taste 2021 Liquid Farm Santa Barbara Pinot, 2019 Black Stallion Napa Cabernet and 2018 Merus Napa Cabernet at (VRW) for $15 per person.
Saturday, January 28th. Available 12:00 noon -3:45 PM

Wine Advocate 96 Points
2021 Liquid Farm Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

Pale ruby, the 2021 Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County offers detailed aromas of cranberries, blackberries, oolong tea leaves, potpourri, earth, orange peel and fernet. Medium-bodied, it floods the mouth with layer after layer of bitters-tinged fruits, boasting fine, dusty tannins, addicting freshness and a very long, detailed finish. This way overdelivers for its modest appellation-wide status! $55

James Suckling 92 Points
2019 Black Stallion Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

A fragrant nose of mulberries, plums, cedar, cloves and vanilla. Medium-to full-bodied with fine, firm tannins and vivid acidity. Structured, with fruity character and a creamy texture. Chewy finish. Try from 2023. $36

2018 Merus Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is a dense, full-throttle wine. A blast of inky dark fruit, chocolate, spice, new leather, lavender, graphite, and dried herbs makes a strong opening statement. There's not a ton of subtlety, but the 2019 is undeniably beautiful and vivid. It's unapologetically flamboyant though, and will be appreciated most by readers who enjoy this style. $155


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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