August 31st 2023 Newsletter - The Grape Tray

August 31st 2023 Newsletter

On deck for wine tasting next week at VRW:

2021 Sea Smoke Ten Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

Winemaker Notes: A brooding and intense wine. The aromas begin with notes of ground cacao, raspberry and Friar plum, followed by a mix of spices and a hint of lavender. Firm, mature tannins - evidence of Ten’s ageability - are followed by a long, velvety finish. 100% Pinot Noir (Ten Clones from which the wine takes its name) CA Market Price $110-$211. Our Price TBD

2021 Sea Smoke Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

Winemaker Notes: An elegant Chardonnay with aromas of mango, honeysuckle, fresh cut pear and honeydew. These are complemented by nectarine and a slight nuttiness in the focused mid-palate and the refreshing cool climate acidity of our estate vineyard. $100


James Suckling 90 Points
Albert Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis 2021

An aromatic wine for a regular Chablis, with plenty of fresh-lemon, white-peach and tarte-au-citron character. Cooler and crisper on the palate than the nose suggested, but that makes it very clean and refreshing. Good length, the finish nicely supported by a touch of tannin. Drink now. $42 Our Price $33.99 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Advocate 93 Points
2020 Faiveley Le Clos du Roy Mercurey Premier Cru, Burgundy

The 2020 Mercurey 1er Cru Clos du Roy wafts from the glass with aromas of cherries, raspberries and plums mingled with hints of raw cocoa and forest floor. Medium to full-bodied, supple and seamless, it's lively and refined, with velvety tannins and a polished, charming profile that marks it out as another of the more elegant wines in the range this year. Drink 2025-2040. $79 (Available GT)

Wine Spectator 95 Points
Renato Corino Barolo del Comune di La Morra 2019

This vibrant and balanced red starts out silky, featuring pure strawberry, cherry, rose and mineral flavors, then builds nicely to a long, expansive finish, where flashes of earth and underbrush emerge. Shows excellent potential. Best from 2026 through 2043. 1,000 cases made, 30 cases imported. $53 (Arrives December 2023)

Wine Spectator 92 Points
Ornellaia Toscana Le Volte 2021

Shows expressive, succulent flavors of black currant, blackberry, cassis and lavender that need time to integrate with the firm, dusty tannins, some of which come from the oak. Comes together even better with a few minutes of air. Offers fine length. Decant now. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. Best from 2024 through 2033. 14,400 cases imported.—B.S. $41 Our Price $24.99 (Available GT and VRW)

2022 Michel Laroche et Ses Enfants Petit Chablis

Importer Notes: Produced from estate grown and purchased fruit, these Petit Chablis parcels are mostly found on the crowns of the hills throughout the Chablis appellation. These are areas that historically were harder to ripen due to rocky soils and higher elevation, which is no longer an issue given global warming. These parcels now produce some of the purest, most striking mineral driven expressions of the Chardonnay grape.

The wine expresses flint, herbal notes and citrus in the nose, classic traits of Chablis. Bright crisp acidity provides tension and backbone to the ripe flavors of melon, pear and almonds. Wonderfully versatile with food, this wine is as serious or playful as you would like. $26 (Available GT)

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points
2019 O'Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The base 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is terrific, and while I don’t know the price, I suspect it’s a great value. Deep purple-hued, with terrific mulled currant and blackberry fruits, it has lots of ripe herbal, chocolaty spice notes, full-bodied richness, sweet tannins, and a great finish. This is pure Napa Valley goodness to drink over the coming 10-15 years. $85 (Available GT and VRW)

Wine Spectator 95 Points
Chateau Fuisse Pouilly-Fuissé Les Brules 2020

Though opulent and expressive, this white is also complex and displays superb balance. Boasts butterscotch, vanilla and buttered pastry elements that frame a core of peach and lemon tart, supported by well-integrated acidity. Builds almost seamlessly to the long, spice- and pastry-filled finish. Drink now through 2030. 375 cases made, 100 cases imported. $130 Our Price $114.99 (Arrives GT 9/1/23) Limited


Taste Pinot Noir: 2017 Copain Edmeades, 2021 Walter Hansel Estate and 2021 Walter Hansel South Slope at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Thursday, August 31st. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points
2017 Copain Pinot Noir Edmeades Vineyard

The first vintage for this cuvée from Ryan, the 2017 Pinot Noir Edmeades Vineyard comes from mid-valley and was brought up in 27% new French oak. It's a beautiful wine with blueberry and wild strawberry fruits as well as complex spice, dried flowers, and some loamy soil notes. Medium-bodied, seamless, and silky on the palate, it's a lovely, layered wine that shines for its texture and balanced. $60

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 92 Points
2021 Walter Hansel Estate Pinot Noir

The 2021 Pinot Noir The Estate Vineyards is gracious, elegant and silky. Crushed red/purplish berry fruit, spice and mint are nicely laced together in a juicy, mid-weight Pinot that delivers the goods. The 2021 offers tons of immediacy, but marries that with a good bit of energy. This is a very serious wine with a bright, bright future. $42

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


Taste 2020 Alban Patrina Syrah, 2018 Beringer Distinctions Napa Cabernet and 2019 Lancaster Winemaker’s Cuvee Napa Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Friday, September 1st. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

2020 Alban Patrina Syrah

Notes from John Alban: 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

Jeb Dunnuck 91 Points
2018 Beringer Distinctions Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Distinctions is another well-made wine with lots to love. Plenty of black and subtle blue fruits, notes of tobacco leaf, smoked earth, and graphite, medium to full body, and a seamless texture all make for an undeniably delicious red that’s ideal for drinking any time over the coming 10-15 years. $60

Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points
2019 Lancaster Winemaker’s Cuvee Cabernet

The 2019 Winemaker's Cuvee is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 5% Malbec, and the rest Cabernet Franc and was aged for 15 months in 50% new French oak. It is rich with aromas of lavender, tobacco, and boysenberry compote and delivers ripe fruit through the mid-palate, with notes of blackcurrant, leather, and baking spice. This red has immediate appeal, but it will continue to evolve over the next 10 or more years. $105


Taste 2022 Walter Hansel Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc, 2019 Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet and 2019 Mondavi Reserve To Kalon Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Saturday, September 2nd. Available 12:00 noon -3:45 PM

2022 Walter Hansel Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc

Winemaker Notes: Produced from fruit purchased from a variety of sites and clone. The fermentation was very slow but steady and continued for well over a month. The result is a fabulous representation of this varietal with a vibrant nose and long, lingering finish. 506 cases produced. $20

Natalie MacLean Wine Reviews 90 Points
2019 Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The Simi 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon has a splash or two of Merlot, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Carignane, Zinfandel grapes adding complexity and depth to the wine. A full-bodied, smoky, fresh and juicy Cab loaded with dark fruits, dark cherry, cracked black pepper, chocolate and smoky notes right to the very long and plushy end. Pour with steaks from the grill. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: rib steak on the barbie, garlic and herb rib roast, baseball sirloin burger. $35

Jeb Dunnuck 98 Points
2019 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve To Kalon

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve To Kalon shows beautiful elegance and poise, with classic cassis and currant fruits supported by complex dried herb, unsmoked tobacco, and flowery incense nuances. Coming from gravelly, well-drained soils, it’s full-bodied, has classic To Kalon opulence, ripe tannins, and a great finish. It’s an utterly classic Napa Valley beauty to enjoy over the coming 30-40 years. $225


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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