February 16th 2023 Newsletter - The Grape Tray

February 16th 2023 Newsletter

Presidents’ Day Holiday
We will be closed at both locations (GT and VRW) on Monday, February 20th.


On deck for wine tasting next week at VRW:

2019 Sea Smoke Southing Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, Magnum

Winemaker Notes: Each year, our goal for Southing is to create the ideal marriage of complexity and elegance. The ever-changing nose of the Southing exhibits fresh strawberry, geranium, Montmorency cherry; and subtle baking spices. The fine tannins and minerality are enhanced by our estate vineyard’s characteristic cool climate acidity. 100% Pinot Noir. CA Market Price $298-$320/magnum

James Suckling 99 Points
2019 Ridge Montebello Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a very powerful Monte Bello with currants and blackberry, black licorice and smoked meat. Mint. Some sesame seed, too. It's full-bodied with incredible darkness and saltiness like volcanic salt. Umami. Grilled seaweed. Flavorful and captivating. It goes on for minutes. Best After 2025. 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc. CA Market Price $210-$324

Additional Scores: Decanter and Vinous 98 Points, Dunnuck and Spectator 95 Points


2020 Luli Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah

Winemaker Notes: Sporting richly hued shades of dark ruby and near purple, the 2020 Luli Syrah is a hidden gem crafted from a notoriously difficult vintage in this prestigious California appellation. Each swirl in the glass brings new life to this savory and spicy offering, with notes of freshly ground coffee, dark chocolate, new leather, and spiced plum filling setting the stage. As this deliciously pure Syrah coats the palate, waves of blackberry crumble, red cherry, and black pepper pair with hints of dried herbs de Provence and subtle meaty undertones to create a complex mélange of flavors. Approachable to its core, this wine still possesses structured tannin and remarkable acidity which suggests it will continue to age for years to come. $22 Our Price $18.99 (Back in stock GT)

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

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. $200/magnum. Our Price $179.99/magnum Limited

Wine Spectator 93 Points
Bouchard Father & Son Beaune Clos de la Mousse 2019

This red is silky in texture and intense, yet its black cherry and blueberry flavors are restrained. Harmonious and long, with toasted spice and mineral accents adding depth. Needs a few years. Best from 2023 through 2035. 150 boxes imported. $80 Our Price $74.99 (Arrives GT this afternoon)

Wine Enthusiast 97 Points
2020 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel

This seamless, polished but also firm and well-structured wine achieves power with grace. Wonderful black fig, black olive and plump blackberry flavors ride a full body backed by good, well-integrated tannins. This classic from Ridge's Sonoma County property consists of 79% Zinfandel plus 11% Petite Sirah and 10% Carignan. Best from 2025–2040. JG. $50 Our Price $44.99 (Back in stock GT and VRW)

Wine Advocate 97 Points
2019 Marchesi Antinori Bolgheri Superiore Guado al Tasso

I've been tracking the increasing percentage of Cabernet Franc in the blend of this iconic Tuscan wine. The 2019 Bolgheri Superiore Guado al Tasso is made with 25% Cabernet Franc, with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. That this heat-resistant grape now makes up a quarter of the blend speaks to how vintners are gearing up to counter climate change. These are intelligent choices, and you can count on this wine to maintain that level of extreme elegance and intensity that it is known for (even when Merlot was a bigger part of the blend). Indeed, this is a new and improved Guado al Tasso with focused aromas of pencil shaving, white pepper and crushed stone that frame a rich core of black fruit. A fluttering of dried mint gives lift and power to the bouquet. This is a beautifully linear and powerful red blend. $170 Our Price $139.99 (Available GT and VRW)

James Suckling 90 Points
Zenato Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2019

Vibrant nose with spiced cherries, plums, dried herbs, cloves and some bark. It's medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins and juicy cherries. Fruity and caressing mouth-feel, before a medium finish. Drink now. $18 Our Price $15.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Spectator 94
PURPLE HANDS Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Lone Oak Ranch 2021

Fragrant and gracefully multilayered, with expressive cherry and pomegranate flavors that mingle with black tea and orange peel accents. Ends with fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2031. —T.F. $30 (Arrives GT this afternoon) Limited

Wine Advocate 97
2016 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Estate

Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate bursts out of the glass with beautiful black cherry compote, warm cassis and freshly crushed blackberries scents plus touches of chargrill, violets, dark chocolate and pencil shavings and a waft of English lavender. Full-bodied, the palate features great intensity combined with fantastic freshness, textured by soft, finely grained tannins and lifted by the most gorgeous floral perfume, finishing long and layered. Beautiful wine. $285 (Back in stock GT 2/17/23)


Taste 2019 Tether Napa Cabernet and 2018 Behrens Family Cemetery Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Thursday, February 16th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Jeb Dunnuck 92 Points
2019 Tether Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Another gem from winemaker Anna Monticelli, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is based on 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, and the rest Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc. Aged 21 months in 60% new French oak, it’s a medium to full-bodied, round, seamless effort with real class in its darker currant fruits as well as tobacco, violets, and toasted spice aromas and flavors. It will keep for a decade. $47

Wine Advocate 96 Points
2018 Behrens Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Cemetery

Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Cemetery rolls effortlessly out of the glass with open-knit scents of fresh black and red currants, ripe blackberries and black raspberries, giving way to nuances of red roses, cedar chest, pencil lead and clove oil. Full-bodied, the palate delivers tightly wound layers of black fruit preserves and baking spices, framed by firm, grainy tannins and tons of freshness, finishing long and with great purity. $175


Taste 2018 AXR Napa Chardonnay, 2019 Amici Napa Cabernet and 2016 Whitehall Lane Leonardini Estate Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Friday, February 17th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Jeb Dunnuck 92 Points
2018 AXR Winery Napa Chardonnay

Lots of stone fruits, brioche, and honeysuckle notes emerge from the 2018 Chardonnay, a solid, nicely balanced Chardonnay with a good mix of both richness and freshness. Opening up nicely with air, this rich, toasty, vibrant effort is ideal for drinking over the coming 2-4 years. $39

Jeb Dunnuck 92 Points
2019 Amici Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Made with the goal of great Napa Cabernet at $50 bucks, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley succeeds admirably, offering gorgeous cassis, violet, and chocolaty aromatics as well as medium to full-bodied richness, a balanced, layered mouthfeel, and silky tannins. It competes with wines at three times the cost. The blend is 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% each of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, aged 20 months in 75% new barrels. $50

Wine Advocate 93 Points
2016 Whitehall Lane Leonardini Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Composed of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Leonardini Estate was aged for 26 months in French oak, 65% new. Deep garnet-purple in color, warm cassis, blackberry pie and mulberries scents slowly unfurl, giving way to nuances of pencil lead, mossy tree bark and truffles with a waft of cardamom. Full-bodied, the palate is delivering mouth-filling black fruit and compelling tension with a plush texture and a long, savory finish. $85


Taste 2020 Sans Liege The Offering GSM, 2020 Thread Feathers Mt Veeder Cabernet and 2018 Silver Oak Napa Cabernet at (VRW) for $20 per person.
Saturday, February 18th. Available 12:00 noon -3:45 PM

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

2020 Thread Feathers Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Notes: Etched in aromas of sage, cedar and pencil shaving, this wine is robust and ripe, brawny and burly in style and approach, reflecting its Mt. Veeder source. The fruit is dark and broodingly rich. Thick layers of blackberry, black cherry, toffee and earthy tobacco framed within a foundation of firm, integrated tannin, and balanced power. Structured, age-worthy, and complex, the wine finishes on sustained savory notes of cardamon, clove, and freshly tilled earth. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec. $40

2018 Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Notes: The 2018 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is ruby in color with notes of strawberry, fresh carnation, black pepper and vanilla. is wine builds in strength and body across the mid-palate with a blackberry character on the ¬nish and bright cherry return.With integrated tannins, it’s expressive yet luxurious with an even, balanced ¬nish. Given proper cellaring conditions, this wine will continue to improve through 2043. The 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet is comprised of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15.2% Merlot, 5.1% Cabernet Franc, 3.2% Petit Verdot and 0.5% Malbec Internet Price $175


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 Sporting Goods) 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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