September 14th 2023 Newsletter - The Grape Tray

September 14th 2023 Newsletter

On deck for wine tasting next week at VRW:

Wine Spectator 94 Points
VILMART Brut Champagne Grand Cellier NV (2023)

A sculpted Champagne, rich but still elegant, with well-honed acidity and a panoply of flavors set on the raw silklike mousse. Delivers grilled macadamia nut and biscuit, white cherry and nectarine fruit, crystallized honey, lime blossom, star anise and smoke accents. Long, salty finish. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Disgorged January 2023. Drink now through 2033. 700 cases imported. —Alison Napjus. $89

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 92 Points
2019 Le Pich Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Le Pich is a terrific introductory-level wine from Julien Fayard. A rich, opulent wine, Le Pich offers up a compelling mélange of black cherry, plum, chocolate, cloves, new leather and licorice. This bold, sumptuous Cabernet delivers the goods, big time. The 2019 is one of the best editions of Le Pich I can remember tasting. Drinking Window: 2022-2034. $55

James Suckling 98 Points
2019 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red

Blackberries, blackcurrants and hints of mint. Full-bodied with very fine, velvety tannins. Turns firm and structured with a fine chewiness and a caressing mouth-feel. Lively, too. 77% cabernet sauvignon and 15% merlot, the rest petit verdot and cabernet franc. Very attractive now, but will be better in four to five years. Try after 2026. $240

James Suckling 93 Points
2020 Pahlmeyer Jayson Napa Cabernet

Aromas of blackcurrant, sliced plum, coriander and cardamom. Full-bodied with silky tannins. Nicely concentrated, without being overblown. Sweet spice and black fruit wash over the palate, with some black-tea notes coming through as well. I like the subtlety here. Drink or hold. $100


Taste Zinfandel: 2017 Turley Old Vine, 2020 Ancient Peaks Santa Margarita Ranch and 2021 Seghesio Sonoma Old Vine at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Thursday, September 14th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

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

Wine Spectator 90 Points
Ancient Peaks Zinfandel Santa Margarita Ranch 2020

Fan-friendly and zesty, with blackberry, licorice and savory pepper flavors that build tension toward briary tannins. Drink now through 2029. 5,701 cases made. $22

Wine Spectator 94 Points
SEGHESIO Zinfandel Sonoma County Old Vine 2021

That rare Zinfandel with finesse and briary fruit, offering wild berry, mocha and black licorice flavors that gather richness and zest toward lively tannins. Drink now through 2031. —T.F. $40


2022 Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre Rose

It's hard to imagine a wine as refreshing and enlivening as Reverdy’s Sancerre, but the domaine's Sancerre rosé gives their classic white a serious run for its money. Vigneronne Julie Guiard uses direct-press Pinot Noir vinified in stainless steel to create this snappy, saline expression of Sancerre's stony soils. While its delicate aromas of tart cranberry and white cherry set it apart, it makes for an all-star apéritif just as much as her iconic blanc. $35 Our Price $28.99 (Back in stock GT)

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 (Back in stock GT and VRW)

Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points
2020 Chateau Capbern

Another terrific Saint- Estèphe is the 2020 Château Capbern, which comes from the same team as Calon Ségur. (Current director Vincent Millet was brought on board in 2021.) Coming from 33 hectares of vines on sandy, gravelly, clay soils, the final blend is 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The élevage spanned 18 months in 60% new French oak, and this beauty hit just 12.8% natural alcohol. Gorgeous cassis, violets, damp earth, iron, and classy oak all emerge on the nose, and it's full-bodied on the palate, with beautiful tannins, a layered, seamless mouthfeel, and the vintage's pure, focused, age-worthy style front and center. Give bottles just 4-6 years and enjoy over the following two decades. $40 (Arrives GT 9/15/23)

Jeb Dunnuck 96-98 Points
2022 Tensley Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard

The 2022 Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard ratchets up the intensity and has a saturated purple hue as well as a killer nose of ripe black and blue fruits, graphite, ground pepper, and crushed stone-like minerality. Rich, concentrated, and powerful, it shines for its purity, has building tannins, and a great finish. $50 (Arrives GT 9/15/23)

Jeb Dunnuck 99 Points
2019 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard

Coming from a rockier site no more than a stone’s throw from Dr. Crane Vineyard, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard is more meaty and savory, with lots of red and black fruits as well as loads of rocky, earthy minerality, spring flower, tobacco, and lead pencil-like nuances. Just beautifully balanced on the palate, it's full-bodied and elegant, with silky tannins, no hard edges, and one incredible finish. It's more red-fruited than the Dr. Crane, yet it has a similar ethereal, weightless style that makes it such a joy to drink, even today. Given its balance, purity, and freshness, I have no doubt it will evolve for 25+ years, and I'm probably underrating it by a point. $310 (Arrives GT October 2023) Limited


Taste 2021 Merry Edwards Russian River Pinot, 2019 Tether Napa Cabernet and 2021 Venge Silencieux Napa Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Friday, September 15th. Available 12:00 noon -5:45 PM

Tasting Panel 93 Points
2021 Merry Edwards Russian River Pinot Noir

Aged nine months in (47% new) French oak and whole berry fermented, this red dispenses aromas of crushed violets, incense, wet stone, and boysenberry. Prickly white pepper perks up notes of plum and mocha. There’s a “calmness” on mid-palate with a hint of orange rind, soy sauce, and brushy, dried wildflowers.” Meridith May. $56

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

2021 Venge Silencieux Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Notes: The highest quality crop not witnessed in years. I know, I put a lot of eggs in the basket of vintage 2018. However, friends, brace yourself for some delicious, superior quality wines coming from 2021. Across the board—from Chardonnay through to Cabernet Sauvignon— we are looking at magnificent concentrations of color and flavor that forecast a stellar vintage to come. This vintage takes Venge’s Silencieux to another level. $80


Taste 2019 Pont Neuf La Vogue Russian River Pinot, 2021 Daou Reserve Cabernet and 2022 Stewart Tri County Cabernet at Vintage Reserve Wine (VRW) for $15 per person.
Saturday, September 16th. Available 12:00 noon -3:45 PM

2019 Pont Neuf La Vogue Russian River Pinot

Winemaker Notes: The best wines of Burgundy’s Cotes de Nuits come to mind. Aromas of sweet earth, red fruits, leather, truffles, and Porcini mushrooms take us on a walk through the woods. Leafy forest floor, aromatic spices and fresh cut wood are well integrated and become appetizing accents. The fruit flavors of “La Vouge” are inspired by the wild; berries, currants, cherries, and Damson plums with their soft, sweet flesh and perfectly balanced acidity. The 2019 La Vouge is a prime candidate for cellaring. $70

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

2022 Stewart Tri County Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Notes: The Stewart ‘Tri-County’ Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from Mendocino County, Sonoma County, & Napa Valley, showcases excellent terroirs from some of our preferred vineyard sites. The rolling red hills of Mendocino contribute bright, vibrant fruit, while Sonoma brings a lively acidity. Napa rounds out the blend, highlighting the structure and rich roundness. Aromas of cherry pie, black cherry, and rose petals are present on the nose, with the palate showcasing mocha, ripe black cherry, and soft vanilla, all framed by elegant tannins. $45


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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