August 22nd 2023 Newsletter - The Grape Tray

August 22nd 2023 Newsletter

Delivery of the Harlan Estate has been delayed and it will arrive tomorrow. We will reschedule the tasting for a future date.

Wine Advocate 100 Points
2019 Harlan Estate

The head-spinning 2019 Harlan Estate is truly amazing stuff. Gentle cedar notes lead into layered dark chocolate and cassis, somehow impossibly rich yet savory. Full-bodied, concentrated and supple, this is dense, packed with flavor but seemingly weightless, with a lush, lingering finish that combines intensity with freshness to compel sip after sip. Like all truly great wines, it's full of somehow harmonious contradictions. $1680


Taste 2020 Bordeaux: Chateau Kirwan Margaux and Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Leognan at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $25 per person.
Tuesday, August 22nd. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points
2020 Chateau Kirwan Margaux

Lots of smoky oak, ripe blackcurrants, blueberries, tobacco, and chocolaty notes emerge from the 2020 Château Kirwan, a richly textured, medium to full-bodied Margaux. A wine that blossoms with time in the glass, it's a plush, sexy, yet brilliantly balanced 2020 offering velvety tannins and a great finish, and while the oak is preset right on opening, it integrated beautifully with air. This beauty is going to put a smile on your face any time over the coming 20-25 years. $65

Jeb Dunnuck 100 Points
2020 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Leognan

Absolutely pure gold and reminding me of the 2009 (or is it the 2010?), the 2020 Château Smith Haut Lafitte sports a dense purple hue to go with incredible aromatics of blackberries, blueberries, scorched earth, wood smoke, and acacia flowers. One of the most concentrated, rich, and sexy wines in the vintage, this massive and extraordinarily opulent 2020 shows the vintage's pure, elegant profile yet backs it up with sensational levels of fruit and texture. Based on 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it already offers pleasure given its wealth of fruit, but it deserves 7-8 years of bottle age and will evolve for 40-50 years. Not enough can be said about the quality of these wines. Bravo to Florence and Daniel Cathiard, as well as to director Fabien Teitgen, for another incredible achievement. CA Market Price $140-$205


Taste Ridge Vineyards: 2022 Grenache Blanc, 2021 Santa Cruz Mountain Estate Chardonnay and 2019 Monte Bello Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $30 per person.
Wednesday, August 23rd. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Wine Spectator 94 Points
Ridge Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Estate 2021

Rich and toasty up front, with grilled orange, toasted cumin, nectarine and honeycomb notes, plus dried ginger and cardamom. Shows a touch of salted toffee to complement peach preserves, dried pineapple and Honeycrisp apple. Juicy finish. Drink now. 2,100 cases made. $70

Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media 98 Points
2019 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet

The 2019 Monte Bello is a wild, exotic wine. Huge, soaring aromatics meld into a core of heady, exotically ripe fruit. Not a shy wine by any means, the 2019 is atypically opulent, and yet all of the classic Monte Bello structure is there, underneath all of that fruit. The 2019 needs time in bottle to shed its baby fat, but there is a lot to look forward to. I imagine it will always be a pretty exuberant wine. Inky red fruit, blood orange, espresso, sweet American oak, cedar and pipe tobacco leave a lasting impression. In a word: magnificent! $245


Taste 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon: Daou Paso Robles Discovery, J. Lohr Hilltop and Daou Reserve at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Thursday, August 24th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Wine Advocate 93 Points
2021 Daou Paso Robles Discovery Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2021 Discovery Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with 11% Petit Verdot, 8% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc and matured 10 months in 50% new French oak. Deep ruby, it has pure aromas of cassis, prosciutto, sage, thyme and pencil shavings with a classy frame of new oak spice. Medium-bodied, refreshing and supple, it offers generous, mineral-laced fruits and a long finish. This is easy to drink! $25

2021 J. Lohr Hilltop Cabernet

Winemaker Notes: Exhilarating blackberry and blueberry aromas are enhanced by crushed violet, herbes de Provence, and spiced tea. On the palate, dense and soft, with finely textured tannins. Juicy layers of black and red currants lead to a bright finish, accented by pastry notes from extended barrel aging. $30

Wine Advocate 94-96 Points
2021 Daou Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is blended with 23% Petit Verdot, made entirely with free-run juice, and it will be matured for 16 months in 50% new French oak. Opaque ruby, it offers pure aromas of cassis, violet, grilled meats, desert sage and bell pepper. The full-bodied palate is powdery, energetic and detailed with a long, layered finish. $65


Tasting Panel 93 Points
2021 Raeburn Sonoma Chard

We've long been fans of this 100% barrel-fermented wine aged in sur lie for nine months in French and Hungarian oak, but this vintage displays a surge of aromatics and flavors that is truly impressive. Ripe pear and lemon blossom perfume the air as the luxe mouthfeel of honeyed melon caresses the tongue. Intermingling notes of wet stone, charred caramel and yellow apple connect to an arch of bright acidity. The finish is juicy, with a twist of tangerine. $20 Our Price $14.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Jeb Dunnuck 91 Points
2021 Hartford Russian River Chardonnay

Ripe and flinty, the 2021 Chardonnay Russian River Valley pours a golden hue and reveals aromas of ripe peach, wet stone, and candied ginger. This full-bodied white is ripe with honeyed citrus, ripe melon, and a bit of vanilla spice and has a good, clean finish. A good value for this classic, ripe style, it’s approachable and ready to drink over the next few years. $30 Our Price $24.99 (Available GT)

Wine Spectator 92 Points
SANDHI Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills 2021

Complex and seamless, there's plenty to admire in this white wine. Shows spiced, poached pear, dried apple, grilled lemon and fresh tangerine flavors that are juicy and generous, with details of sage, white pepper and toasted sesame seed on the finish. Drink now. 4,536 cases made.—MaryAnn Worobiec. $35 Our Price $29.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Jeb Dunnuck 97 Points
2019 Booker Vineyard Fracture Syrah

The 100% Syrah 2019 Fracture comes all from the Booker Estate Vineyard and is another pure, balanced, incredibly classy wine from this estate. Loads of darker fruits, ground black pepper, crushed stone, and scorched earth give way to a medium to full-bodied, powerful, concentrated Syrah that will benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and cruise for 10-15 years. $105 Our Price $94.95 (Available 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)

2021 Summer Dreams Stargazing Pinot Noir

Winemaker Notes: The wine is vibrant and complex with subtle dark fruits and berries, grandmother’s cherry pie, flowers, minerals, and a slight touch of rain-soaked earth, intertwined with a balance and very pleasing easy-going luxury. Should have been priced higher but what the hell. $75 (Available GT)

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 (Available GT and VRW)

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 Our Price $83.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Advocate 90 Points
2018 Turley Juvenile Zinfandel

The 2018 Zinfandel Juvenile has a medium ruby-purple color and gentle aromas of perfumed red berries and earth. The palate is medium-bodied with soft, restrained fruits, a grainy frame, good freshness and an easy finish. $25 (3 bottles available at GT)

Wine Advocate 92 Points
2017 Turley Old Vine Zinfandel

Medium to deep ruby-purple in color, the 2017 Zinfandel Old Vines features exotic spice accents over a core of blueberry and boysenberry compote, crushed black cherries and berries with notes of cinnamon stick and potpourri. Medium to full-bodied, it has loads of spicy black and blue fruits in the mouth with firm, ripe tannins to frame and juicy acidity, finishing long and very spicy. 12,000 cases produced. $30 (4 bottles available at GT)

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 96 Points * 2021 Walter Hansel South Slope Pinot Noir

The Walter Hansel 2021 Pinot Noir The South Slope Vineyard is a classic Steven Hansel wine. A rush of dark cherry, plum lavender, rose petal and licorice are all dialed up. This boisterous, exuberant Pinot Noir has a ton of character. Plush contours wrap it all up together in style. The 2021 will be nearly impossible to resist on release. What a knockout! $47 (Arrives GT 8/23/23)


Taste 2022 Merry Edwards Russian River Sauvignon Blanc, 2019 Dehlinger Altamont Pinot and 2021 Paul Hobbs Russian River Pinot at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Friday, August 25th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

2022 Merry Edwards Russian River Sauvignon Blanc

Winemaker Notes: The stunning 2022 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc is the result of impeccable farming along with our practices of barrel fermentation and lees-stirring. The maritime influence at our vineyards means that even when we have unprecedented heat, as we did in 2022, our grapes are able to hold onto delicate flavors and juicy acidity. This wine opens with enticing aromas of Meyer lemon, white pineapple, lime zest and white blossoms. On the palate, ripe yellow stone fruit and lemon grass mingle with notes of honeydew and marzipan. The texture is silky, but the bright acidity keeps the wine fresh and lively. — Winemaker Heidi von der Mehden. $50

2019 Dehlinger Altamont Russian River Pinot Noir

The 2019 Pinot Noir Altamont is a gorgeous wine. At present, the Altamont is quite closed, as if all of its energy is focused inward. Wild red cherry, lavender, rose petal, kirsch, mint and blood orange all run through the 2019. There's lovely depth and density here. $65

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 95 Points
2021 Paul Hobbs Russian River Pinot Noir

The 2021 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) is dense, heady and explosive. All the classic Russian River exuberance comes through, but amplified in all of the good ways and none of the bad. Even with all of the richness and intensity, the 2021 retains good freshness as well as energy. A touch of whole clusters brightens the finish nicely. $80


Taste Champagne: Louis Roederer Brut Collection 243, Bollinger Special Cuvee and Gosset Grand Brut Rose at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $20 per person.
Saturday, August 26th. Available 12:00 noon -3:45 PM

Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points
Louis Roederer Brut Collection 243

The NV Champagne Collection 243 Brut is the third release and is based on the 2018 vintage, with the addition of 30% of the perpetual reserve started in 2012 and 10% reserve wine that has been aged in oak. It is ripe and balanced, with yellow flowers, honeycomb, and plum, and it has elegant concentration and underlying tension, precise mousse, and rich salinity, with lingering notes of croissant and delicate smoke. $68

Wine Spectator 93 Points
Bollinger Brut Champagne Special Cuvée NV (2022)

A graceful Champagne, with flavors of black cherry, Asian pear, toast point and salted almond dancing across the palate. Bright and buoyant, with a fine, lacy mousse and delicate notes of lime blossom, ground coffee and exotic spices playing on the finish. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Drink now. 15,000 cases imported. $90

Wine Spectator 93 Points
Gosset Brut Rosé Champagne Grand NV (2022)

A minerally rosé Champagne, with a chalky underpinning to the delicate weave of apricot, crunchy pear, blanched almond and clementine. This fresh version offers good precision and focus in an elegant, integrated package. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Drink now. 315 cases imported. $90


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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