July 5th 2023 Newsletter - The Grape Tray

July 5th 2023 Newsletter

On deck for wine tasting next week at VRW:

Wine Spectator 92 Points
Groth Estate White Oakville 2021

Distinctive, aromatic and wonderfully elegant, this white shows details of beeswax, litsea oil and a whiff of smoked sea salt, which adds complexity to the core of tangerine, peach and lemon curd. Long, long finish. Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Drink now. 600 cases made. $50

Wine Spectator 94 Points
BEAUX FRÈRES Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2021

Sleek, graceful and elegantly proportioned, with expressive violet, raspberry, guava and black tea flavors that jump out of the glass and gather richness toward polished tannins. Drink now through 2032. —T.F. $75

Wine Advocate 94+
2018 Paul Hobbs Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville

This is the first vintage for this label. In fact, this replaces the "Napa Valley" label, but since all the wine now comes from the Coombsville AVA (and mostly from their estate), it now carries the Coombsville name.

Deep garnet-purple in color, the nose of the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville is redolent of Morello cherries, boysenberries and cassis with hints of lilacs, cinnamon stick and dried herbs. The medium to full-bodied palate has vibrant black fruit flavors with a a soft texture and nice tension, finishing with a red fruit lift. 6,677 cases were made. $120


Taste 2021 Pinot Noir: Frederic Esmonin Les Hauts Pruliers, Domaine de la Cote Bloom’s Field Sta. Rita and Lucia Garys’ Vineyard at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $25 per person.
Wednesday, July 5th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

2021 Frédéric Esmonin Les Hauts Pruliers

Winemaker Notes: The Frederic Esmonin Les Hauts Pruliers has a slightly spicy aroma with dark ripe berries. The delicious slightly creamy taste reveals a great complexity with many layers of red and black forest berries with light animal touches, good balanced acidity and mineral touches. $65

Wine Enthusiast 97 Points
Domaine de la Cote 2021 Bloom's Field Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills)

This estate bottling shows the most vivid and accessible fruit qualities compared to the rest of the 2021 lineup. Dark berry aromas meet with rose, carnation, achiote and turned earth on the nose. The tightly structured palate's dark-fruit core is decorated in eucalyptus leaf, kalamata olive and strong, dank herb flavors. MATT KETTMANN. CA Market Price $105-$189.

2021 Lucia Pinot Noir, Garys’ Vineyard

Winemaker Notes: Yet another sublime chapter in the long and increasingly fabled history of this renowned vineyard, the 2021 Lucia by Pisoni Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir wastes no time as its deep ruby hue paints the edges of the glass. Loads of black cherry, crushed strawberry, and sandalwood take center stage while secondary aromas of fresh cedar, clove, and sage create a stunning olfactory experience. Capitalizing on the mild summer temperatures created by ever-present fog and coastal wind, the vines rooted deeply in the sandy loam soils ripened these berries slowly and methodically. The slow ripening process produced a wine of exception depth and concentration, giving way to delicate notes of baking spice and toasted vanilla. Over time in the glass, the wine’s structured infancy evolves to soft and elegant approachability as tannin begins to soften. The delicious Pinot Noir has all the components to age and evolve beautifully over the next decade and beyond. $80


Taste 2022 Bedrock Ode to Lulu Rose, 2021 Paul Hobbs West Sonoma Coast Pinot and 2017 Whitehall Lane Leonardini Estate Cabernet at VRW for $15 per person.
Thursday, July 6th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 92 Points
2022 Bedrock Wine Company Ode to Lulu Rose

Bedrock’s 2022 Rosé Ode to Lulu, a blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah is one of the more complete Rosés readers will come across. Deep and beautifully layered, Ode to Lulu is a complex wine that will be at home either as an aperitif or as a companion at the dinner table. Rich, red-toned fruit, crushed flowers and subtle earthy notes all open effortlessly. $24

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 96 Points
2021 Paul Hobbs West Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

The 2021 Pinot Noir (West Sonoma Coast), a new wine in this range, is lights out. Rich, ample and bold, the 2021 races across palate with layers of purplish fruit, lavender, spice, menthol, licorice and spice. A dollop of stems adds nuance, but without dominating the overall balance. There's terrific acidity and structure to play off the natural fruit richness that is such a distinctive attribute of the best sites in the appellation. $84

James Suckling 93 Points
Whitehall Lane Leonardini Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

A full-bodied red with aromas and flavors of dried violets, blackcurrants, cloves and some crushed gravel. Chocolate and caramel, too, yet it stays fresh and polished. Firm, fine-grained tannins. Try from 2023. $90


Wine Spectator 94 Points
ASTROLABE Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2022

Checking all the boxes, this stunning version is fresh and vibrant yet also complex and full of flavor, from toasted green tea and lemon thyme to mouthwatering passion fruit, yuzu and mango. Ends with hints of white pepper, lemon blossoms and sea salt on the long, expressive finish. Drink now. —M.W. $23 Our Price $16.99 (Arrives GT 7/7/23)

Decanter Wine 94 Points
2019 Viox de la Vigne Cabernet Franc

Nice dark, late summer strawberry, cocoa, dried thyme and basil, with a touch of graphite. There is a colorful mix of dried, savory herbs in this wine that pairs beautifully with the fruit. Undertones of cocoa, just a hint of coffee and earthiness really create a lovely blend of aromatics in the classic, yet somewhat bold Cabernet Franc. The bright entry mixes well with the slightly creamy berry mid-palate. The finish is lengthy with fine tannin and flavors of thyme, mocha and just a touch of spice and earth. 100% Cabernet Franc. $32 Our Price $27.99 (Available GT)

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 Our Price $22.99 (Back in stock GT and VRW)

Wine Enthusiast 94 Points
2020 Domaine Laporte La Comtesse Sancerre

This fine, aromatic wine is one of the top cuvées from this producer. Its fruit is soft, full-bodied and densely powerful. The structure is shot with minerality and citrus and kiwi fruits. It is well-balanced, intense and will be ready from 2023. Organic. $45 (Available GT and VRW)

Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points
Figgins Figlia Proprietary Red 2019

The 2019 Figlia is a blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot that was raised in a mix of used barrels and oval botti. It has exotic red and blue fruits as well as pretty floral and sappy herb nuances on the nose. These all carry to a medium to full-bodied, pure, seamless, gorgeous Merlot that has silky tannins, no hard edges, nicely integrated acidity, and a great finish. $70 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Spectator 94 Points
Echolands Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2019

Precise and elegantly structured, with multilayered boysenberry, forest floor and crushed stone flavors that build richness and tension toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2030. 800 cases made. $38 (Available GT and VRW)

2021 Margerum M5 Red Rhône-style Blend Santa Barbara County

Winemaker Notes: M5 is Margerum's Flagship wine. It is modeled after top wines from southern Rhône – Châteauneuf-du-Pape . The M is for Margerum & the 5 is for 5 grapes: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Counoise. M5 is a Grenache based blend & has elegance and layers making it a versatile table and food wine. The overlying presence of Grenache flavors initially impacts the palate, followed by a finish complete with hints of jam, cocoa and dark berry contributions of Syrah and earthy Mourvèdre. It’s a “go to” wine since it drinks well with every occasion and almost every type of cuisine. Syrah adds richness and power, Mourvèdre adds earthy, old world, Counoise adds aromatics of watermelon and Cinsault add a spice component. $30 Our Price $23.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points
2019 Unwritten Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

A step up over the 2018, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is gorgeous juice, offering lots of cassis, tapenade, chocolaty oak, and spicy notes in a round, lush, sexy package. The tannins are first rate, and this will last for 15 years. It's well worth checking out. $175. (Available GT)

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

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 (Available GT and VRW)


Taste 2021 The Calling Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, 2019 Stewart Tartan Napa Proprietary Red and 2019 Chappellet Signature Napa Cabernet at (VRW) for $15 per person.
Friday, July 7th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Wine Spectator 92 Points
The Calling Chardonnay Russian River Valley Dutton Ranch 2021

Generous and expressive, with heavy juicy tangerine, lemon curd and Honeycrisp apple flavors that sing out on a mouthwatering frame, while hints of lemon verbena, ginger, citrus zest and green tea emerge on the finish. Drink now. 9,300 cases made. $33

Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points
2019 Stewart Tartan Napa Proprietary Red

Checking in as a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and the balance Malbec and Petit Verdot, the 2019 Red Blend Tartan is one heck of an impressive red blend, as well as a smoking value. Cassis, sappy herbs, chocolate, and spicy notes all give way to a round, medium to full-bodied, expansive beauty with remarkable purity and freshness. Drink it over the coming decade. $50

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points
2019 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Signature

Always a smoking value that readers shouldn't miss, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature sports a dense purple color to go with beautiful cassis and blueberry-like fruits as well as bouquet garni, spice, and obvious, rocky mineral-like aromas and flavors. Rich and medium to full-bodied, with notable structure and good acidity, it's going to keep for two decades in cold cellars. It's a candidate for the best Napa Cabernet under $100. 18,000 cases. $90


Taste 2022 Sans Liege Groundwork Grenache Rose, 2019 Charles Krug Napa Cabernet and 2019 Cakebread Benchland Select Napa Cabernet at (VRW) for $15 per person.
Saturday, July 8th. Available 12:00 noon -3:45 PM

2022 Sans Liege Groundwork Grenache Rose

Winemaker Notes: Pale rose gold hue. Delicate aromas of citrus and sweet green herbs. Bright and mouthwatering, with layered flavors of tart red cherry, cantaloupe, blood orange and grapefruit, and notes of fresh sage, thyme and cumin spice. A more textural style of rose with a charming savory component and a juicy, lip-smacking finish. 450 cases produced. $19

Vinous Media 92 Points
2019 Charles Krug Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) is gorgeous. Bright and vibrant, the 2019 offers a compelling mix of inky red fruit, blood orange and exotic spice, all in a style that marries richness with energy. In that sense, it is a superclassic 2019 Napa Valley Cabernet. Drink 2024-2032. $40

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points
2019 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Benchland Select

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Benchland Select is another gem, offering lots of cassis and darker cherry fruits as well as notes of lead pencil and crushed stone. Flawlessly balanced, medium to full-bodied, and as elegant and seamless as they come, it’s already impossible to resist (as are most 2019s) but I’ve no doubt this will evolve for 15-20 years in cold cellars. $140


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

Back to Our Blog

Are you 21 years old, or older?