March 7th 2023 Newsletter - The Grape Tray

March 7th 2023 Newsletter

On Deck for wine tasting next week at VRW:

Wine Advocate 98 Points
2020 L'Aventure Winery • Côte a Côte

The 2020 Côte a Côte is a beautiful blend of 45% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 25% Mourvèdre and one of the most successful wines I tasted from the challenging 2020 vintage. Deep ruby-purple, it offers pure aromas of blackcurrant, boysenberry, tar and pipe tobacco, continually unfolding with each return to the glass. The full-bodied palate offers wave after wave of perfumed fruit and tremendous spicy accents. It's powerful yet harmoniously structured with powdery tannins and seamless acidity, and it offers a very long, detailed finish. $105

Jeb Dunnuck 93-95 Points
2020 Saxum James Berry

The 2020 James Berry Vineyard offers up a more savory, complex, full-bodied style to go with both red and black fruits, notes of peppery herbs and loamy earth, a layered, opulent mouthfeel, and quality tannins. This was a challenging vintage, but this estate did a great job, and this classic Paso red should drink nicely right out of the gate as well as keep for 10-15 years. The blend is 49% Grenache, 21% Mourvèdre, 12% Syrah, 9% Graciano, 6% Grenache Blanc, and the rest Counoise. There were 1,470 cases produced. $165

Wine Advocate 99 Points
2020 L'Aventure Winery • Estate Cuvée

A blend of 45% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Petit Verdot, the 2020 Estate Cuvée is another outstanding wine from L'Aventure in the challenging 2020 vintage, offering singular concentration and elegance. Deep ruby-purple, it has a pure core of cassis and slowly unfolding accents of licorice, cured meats, tobacco leaves, cedar and truffle. Full-bodied, juicy and alluring, it floods the mouth with layers of blue fruit, floral perfume and spice. It is supported by powdery tannins and boasts a tremendously long, detailed finish. $120


Taste Chardonnay: 2020 Ramey Russian River and 2021 Aubert Eastside Russian River at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $20 per person.
Tuesday, March 7th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Wine Spectator 93 Points
RAMEY Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2020

Impressive for its intensity and purity, with juicy Honeycrisp apple, pear, peach and nectarine flavors that sing out on a fresh frame. Reveals details of lemon blossoms, dried ginger and a touch of salted melon on the long, expressive finish. Drink now through 2033. —M.W. $45

Wine Advocate 95-97 Points
2021 Aubert Chardonnay Eastside Russian River

From a somewhat warmer site on thin, volcanic soils overlooking the Russian River, Eastside—originally a collaboration between Ulises Valdez and Mark Aubert—features a Montrachet selection planted on riparia rootstock. Despite plenty of new French oak in the élevage, there's only a faintly fumé, crushed-stone character on the nose, which nicely sets off the wine's white peach and lime notes. Full-bodied and generous but sturdily built, with an imposing structure, the 2021 Chardonnay Eastside is powerful and long on the finish. The crop was virtually wiped out by a spring frost in 2020, but the vines rebounded in 2021, yielding 1,400 cases. Auction $135+


Taste Piper Heidsieck Extra Brut Essentiel, J Cuvee 20 Brut and Ruinart Blanc de Blancs at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Wednesday, March 8th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

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
J Cuvee 20 Brut

Steely and full of snappy acidity, with accents of red apple, gingerbread and lemon tart that build richness and plushness on the lingering finish. $30

Wine Spectator 93 Points
RUINART Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV

Steeped apricot and candied ginger flavors are an aromatic entry for this graceful Champagne, backed by finely cut acidity and layered with accents of kumquat, toast point and salted Marcona almond. It's fresh and racy, yet there's an effortless quality to the integration that makes this hard to stop sipping. Long, minerally finish. Drink now through 2027. — AN. $70


Taste 2020 Hoopes Napa Chardonnay, 2021 Purple Hands Lone Oak Pinot and 2019 Chappellet Napa Cabernet Franc at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Thursday, March 9th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points * 2020 Hoopes Vineyard Chardonnay

I was blown away by the 2020 Chardonnay, a clean, crisp, vibrant expression of Chardonnay that has medium to full-bodied richness, wonderfully integrated acidity, and a distinct sense of minerality in its citrus, stone fruit, and white flower-driven aromatics. It's shockingly good and tastes like it cost 3-4 times its price. $30

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

Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points
2019 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Franc

Similarly deep purple-hued, the 2019 Cabernet Franc (78% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Merlot) offers a kaleidoscope-like array of red, blue, and black fruits as well as spring flowers, cedarwood, and leafy herbs. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, it's another rich, concentrated, yet vibrant and fresh 2019, and it's going to evolve for 20 years or more. It's a brilliant bottle of wine! 3600 cases. $125


2021 Roar Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

Winemaker Notes: Fruit-driven and wrapped in leather and sagebrush, this blend melds elements from all of our vineyards. This approachable Pinot integrates the best of north and south within the Santa Lucia Highlands. $55 (Arrives GT 3/15/23)

Austin Barrel 21 Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Notes: True to Paso Robles’ signature style, this fruit forward Cabernet Sauvignon has enticing aromas of dark fruit, fresh vanilla bean and hints of coffee. On the palette, the dark brooding fruit flavors are balanced with savory notes of black pepper, baking spices along with a touch of tobacco to add warmth and dimension. Lovely notes of sweet oak, lively acidity & fine dusty tannins complete this wine, making it the perfect Cabernet Sauvignon to enjoy daily. $20 (Available GT and VRW)

WOW-57% Off!
2020 Signore Giuseppe Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio

Winemaker Notes: Signore Giuseppe Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio is expressive and fresh nose revealing notes of fresh fruits with hints of white flowers. A well balanced and fresh wine offering yellow fruits aromas with floral notes at the palate. $15 Our Price $6.45 (Available GT)

2020 Alban Patrina Syrah

Notes from John Alban: All over the world, wine geeks, like you and me, freak out over the unbelievable wines that can be produced by isolating unique parcels on distinct soils. That concept is at the heart of every vineyard designated wine including Reva, Lorraine, and Seymour’s. Today we are releasing 2020 Patrina. This wine is our recognition of the fact that there are very important and genuinely beautiful human elements to any wine no matter its origin. Patrina is our wide open opportunity to share what our farming, vine selections, and fermentations can make when combined with the climate of the Edna Valley and the many soil types surrounding us. We are blessed with concentration, deep fruits, and long silty tannins. South of the Santa Lucia range and so very close to the Pacific, our vineyards were isolated from the tragic fires that plagued much of California in 2020 and buffered enough from the heat of early September to retain their freshness. This wine is among my favorites for this offering yet produced. It is dark, full of black and blue berries, coco powder, and immediately pleasing and pure. It is, in our opinion, a wonderful and delicious expression of our farm and farming. $60 (Back in stock GT 3/8/23)

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 Our Price $56.95 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Spectator 94 Points
Bedrock Zinfandel California Old Vine 2021

Spry and briary, this Zinfandel is fun to drink, with lively black cherry, licorice and dried sage flavors, which take on richness and cracked pepper accents toward zesty tannins. Drink now through 2031. 4,000 cases made. $35 Our Price $24.99 (Back in stock GT and VRW)

Wine Spectator 90 Points
PEDRONCELLI Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Mother Clone 2020

A gutsy red that's easy to drink, with lively blackberry, licorice and savory peppercorn flavors that build toward zesty tannins. Drink now through 2030. 6,500 cases made.—T.F. $24 Our Price $17.49 (Back in stock GT and VRW)

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 (Available GT and VRW)


Taste 2021 Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay, 2017 Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepages and 2018 Trinchero Mario’s Napa Cabernet at (VRW) for $15 per person.
Friday, March 10th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

2021 Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay

Winemaker Notes: The 2021 Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay offers pure, elevated aromatics, deep underpinnings and a distinct sense of weight without being heavy. It is marked by lofted aromas of ripe yellow and green stone fruits, nuanced tones suggestive of morning white flowers that are a clear personality of the site and a broad and compact yet well-structured presence on the palate. $75

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 93 Points
2017 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Cinq Cepages

The 2017 Cinq Cépages is jam-packed with inky-dark fruit, crème de cassis, chocolate, cloves and licorice. Dense and full-throttle, the Cinq packs a serious punch. The Cinq is undoubtedly racy, but not as opulent as it can be. This is a fine showing for the Cinq. $85

Wine Spectator 92 Points
Trinchero Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Mario's 2018, Magnum

A lush and polished style, with boysenberry and fig compote flavors that are seductive, while alder, bay leaf and anise notes dapple through on the finish. This has a toasty frame, but it's not overdone. Drink now through 2032. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 1,588 cases made. $100/magnum


Taste 2021 Luli Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot, 2021 Bravium Anderson Valley Pinot and 2019 Andremily EABA at (VRW) for $15 per person.
Saturday, March 11th. Available 12:00 noon -3:45 PM

2021 Luli Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

Winery Notes: Luli Wines came about from a very special partnership between Sara Floyd and the Pisoni Family. Sara is a Master Sommelier from the San Francisco Bay Area with many years of experience in the restaurant and wine business. The Pisoni Family is from Monterey County, where they farm their eponymous vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. $25

Wine Enthusiast 93 Points
2021 Bravium Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

This beautiful expression of Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley emits immediate aromas of bright red cherry, raspberry and red plum complemented by earthy tones of roses, violets, damp forest floor, fresh mountain air and river-rock minerality. This depth and complexity follows through onto the palate, where fine-grained tannins create a silky texture. Elevated acidity maintains a sense of freshness from start to lingering finish. $32

Wine Advocate 97+ Points
2019 Andremily EABA

The 2019 EABA ("end all be all") is a blend of 61% Syrah, 24% Mourvèdre, 13% Grenache and 2% Viognier and was made with 65% whole clusters. Fruit comes from several vineyards in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, including Bien Nacido, White Hawk, Larner, Harrison-Clarke, G2 and Alta Mesa. It was matured for about 22 months in 55% new French barriques and 600-liter demi-muids and 45% used French barriques, and it was bottled on August 21, 2021. Opaque ruby-purple in color, it offers beautiful, pure scents of licorice, tar, blueberry and black cherry jam, charcuterie, pepper, olive and fried savory herbs, offering up more nuances as it spends time in the glass. Medium-bodied, it has abundant, super-fine tannins, seamless acidity and slowly expanding, spicy flavor layers, finishing very long and alluringly floral. Its notable length, detail and latency suggest this will continue to improve in bottle over the next 5-7 years and will be long lived in the cellar. $160


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
Tuesday-Friday 10:30 AM-5:30 PM
Saturday 10:30 AM-4:00 PM

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