Wine Jargon: What Is Tannin?


Tannin, n.

A diverse and complex group of chemical compounds that occur in the bark of many trees and in fruits. Strictly speaking, a tannin is a compound that is capable of interacting with proteins and precipitating them, this is the basis of the process of tanning animal hides (hence the name tannin) and is also a process that is believed to be responsible for the sensation of astringency.”—Jancis RobinsonThe Oxford Companion to Wine

Fundamentals, people. We’re focusing on fundamentals. You can slam-dunk later on.

I’m sure you know this word already. Tannin was likely the first piece of wine vocab you learned. It was definitely the first term I absorbed. The word served as explanation for why I didn’t like that French red at that house party, the one nursed from the bottle, age twenty. My face had contorted, and someone pointed out Oh, that’s tannin, bro. Allow me to expand on that first lesson…

You are probably already skilled at identifying the sensation of tannin, that drying astringency mostly associated with red wines. However, red wine is not the only place you encounter the stuff. Black tea has tannin in spades (especially when oversteeped), as does the skin of a peanut. The skins of common apple varieties are always a bit tannic, but the tannin of crabapples and traditional cider apples is usually so intense (especially with their soaring levels of acidity) that it makes them pretty much inedible.

Tannin exists in the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes. Red wines get color and tannin by soaking these components in the fermenting juice. White juice usually ferments on its own, away from all that material, so they don’t show much tannin (although there is usually still a touch). There’s also tannin in the oak barrels that wine is sometimes aged in—how much depends on how the barrels were made and whether they’ve been used in winemaking before. Tannin is one of the main things that allows a red wine to age, with acidity being the other. These two become the framework upon which the fancier thing, fruit, is draped.

Why is one wine more tannic than another? Ugh, that’s a huge question, even for science, but grape variety will be the most important factor (compare the very tannic Nebbiolo of Italy‘s Piedmont against their softer Barbera, if you feel like it). Growing site, winemaking technique, and ripeness also seem to affect how much tannin makes it into the wine, while our old pal acidity seems to enhance our perception of it. It all begins to interconnect…

About the Author: Steven Grubbs is a sommelier and wine director at Empire State South (Atlanta, GA) and Five & Ten (Athens, GA). Ask him what to drink on Twitter, where he also accepts questions on tacos and manhood.

Wine Jargon: What is Minerality?


Another type of rock, another sensation of minerality: Glimmerschiefer in Austria [Photo: Maggie Hoffman]

“Lick it,” he told me, “Lick the rock.” I had heard of this kind of thing before, but still, I figured that Thibeault Liger-Belair, winemaker and inheritor of crazy-good chunks of prime Burgundy vineyard land, must have been at least halfway kidding.

He wasn’t. He demonstrated, turning an oblong hunk of mottled limestone in his hand and then dragging it lengthwise down the center of his unfurled tongue. He did it kind of hard. It was a little grotesque looking. He tossed the rock back into the clay of his sizable section of Les Saint Georges vineyard, for which Nuits-Saint-Georges is named.

I followed suit, taking it easier than he. He started making a weird pursing motion with his mouth. “Feel that? That is true minerality.” And, actually, I did feel it. It was a kind of pastiness, a thick adherent texture in the middle of my tongue. I have, in fact, since detected a shadow of this sensation when drinking wines from limetone soils. So, yeah, maybe Thibeault was right.

Minerality can be a slippery concept for new wine drinkers, partly because there isn’t a lot in our common culinary language to compare it to. Shellfish? Mushrooms, maybe? Overpriced bottles of acqua minerale?

There is also the fact that minerality comes in so many shifting shades. Often, it is recognizable as a scent, like the smell of river pebbles, hot rocks, or straight-up wet dirt. Other times, what we’re talking about is a flavor, a rocky saltiness, and this can feed into a saline, pasty texture. I think this was probably what Thibeault was driving at.

Where that sensation of minerality comes from is one of the enduring mysteries of wine science. There isn’t a generally-agreed-upon explanation for how the flavor of a soil finds its way into a grape. We don’t really know how it happens, though there are a number of theories.

But minerality isn’t just in our imaginations. We have experienced it for, like, thousands of years. And its effect in wine—which seems to work opposite of fruit flavors—can make the difference between a wine that is just okay and one that is truly fine. I don’t think we are dreaming. I don’t think we are nuts. Even if we are standing around, licking expensive, significant rocks.

About the Author: Steven Grubbs is a sommelier and wine director at Empire State South (Atlanta, GA) and Five & Ten (Athens, GA). Ask him what to drink on Twitter, where he also accepts questions on tacos and manhood.

Wine Jargon: What Is Acidity?

Editor’s Note: In this series, Steven Grubbs, wine director at Empire State South(Atlanta, GA) and Five & Ten (Athens, GA), seeks to break down the jargon he threw at you last night.


You’ll need some riesling with that pork belly.

Acidity, n.

Last night, when I used this word at your table (I think the topic was how awesome the riesling is with pork belly), I loaded it with such obvious ardor that you must have wondered if acidity wasn’t some weird byword for quality, that acidity=good.

And the equation might hold, at least for many sommeliers. Acid may be for us what capsaicin is for judges of chili cook-offs. Most of us are hooked on the stuff.

It is the acidity of orange juice that wakes you up in the morning. And it is the lime squeeze that enlivens your carnitas, the malt vinegar that keeps you motivated in front of your fish-n-chips. Acid in wine not only helps invigorate your food, but also works within the matrix of the wine itself to make you want you want to keep on drinking.

Acidity gives discipline and shape to a wine. Otherwise, the fruit flavors and alcohol would just laze around anywhere, directionless. Acid does the clutch work of tidying up.

A few types of acid may appear in a wine. Which ones, and their relative proportions, will have some bearing on its texture. Tartaric acid is the abundant workhorse acid, performing much of that task of structural stability. High levels of malic acid, will make a wine feel tart and fresh, like green apple, whereas lactic acid is rounder and less acute. Wines that have gone through a conversion called malolactic fermentation will have at least some of its malic turned into lactic (most reds see this conversion, as do some whites).

Certain wines, like Pinot Gris from Alsace, or some Northern Rhone whites, make stylish use of lower acidity to create attractive satiny textures. These wines are interesting exceptions to our earlier equation (and can be used to refute us junkie somms when we go on and on and on about acidity).

About the Author: Steven Grubbs is a sommelier and wine director at Empire State South (Atlanta, GA) and Five & Ten (Athens, GA). Ask him what to drink on Twitter, where he also accepts questions on tacos and manhood.

Wine Jargon: What is Residual Sugar?


Sweet. [Photo: Steven Grubbs]

In the broad pantheon of eternal wine lingo, perhaps no other phrase carves out sharper lines of drinking identity than the words residual sugar. People tend to define themselves as drinkers by the way they react to its existence, and we can usually track them as tasters this way, too. There seems to be a natural arc moving from the mode of “Yum! That’s sweet”, to the nose-wrinkling of “Ugh, it’s sweet“, to “Oh! This wine has a little RS, and that’s cool by me…” In the interest of a tolerant spirit, let’s explore the whys and the how-comes.

Residual Sugar, or RS for short, refers to any natural grape sugars that are leftover after fermentation ceases (whether on purpose or not). The juice of wine grapes starts out intensely sweet, and fermentation uses up that sugar as the yeasts feast upon it. The by-products are bubbly CO2 gas and our adorable amigo, alcohol.

There are many reasons why fermentation might stop. The age-old method has to do with alcohol toxicity. Different yeast strains can tolerate different levels of alcohol, so a weaker strain might die before eating all the sugar in the fermenting wine. In the case of a dessert wine like Sauternes or ice wine, the sugars are concentrated when the grapes get shriveled, so there’s a lot of sugar to ferment. When alcohol reaches the level of a normal dry wine, say 12 or 14%, the yeast might die, but plenty of uneaten sugar is left. In the case of a fortified wine, hard booze is added to get a similar job done.

Fermentation is also temperature-sensitive, happening faster at warm temperatures and slower in the cold, so it will stop if the temperature drops too much. A winemaker can chill a wine down until fermentation stops, then just get rid of the yeast. No more yeast, no more fermentation. Certain chemical compounds can snuff them out, too.

In addition to its obvious sweetening power, sugar also has a bonus effect: it can help wines age well. If you can go the long haul, say, a decade (or two, or three), the RS can bring deep dividends. We’ve talked>a little about which wines age well: those with a little RS can be the most exciting to taste as they evolve over time. The sugar compounds change shape, and we perceive them less directly, so the wines even seem to dry out a bit.

Whether your bottle is young or elderly, you should think of RS as having a balancing relationship with acidity. They are on opposite sides of the seesaw, so if the wine has sugar you will probably want strong acidity, too—otherwise the wine will feel cloying. On the other hand, certain very high-acid wines, like Vouvray or Riesling, can be far more tasty with a few extra grams of RS. (Remember: we like balance more than anything.)

About the Author: Steven Grubbs is a sommelier and wine director at Empire State South (Atlanta, GA) and Five & Ten (Athens, GA). Ask him what to drink on Twitter, where he also accepts questions on tacos and manhood.

Some Japanese Whisky Tasting Notes

Suntory Yamazaki Single Malt

The Yamazaki distillery was Japan’s first distillery—the birthplace of Japanese whisky. Centrally located near the confluence of three rivers outside of Kyoto, it’s Suntory’s flagship in many ways, so it’s only fitting that their 12 year expression was the first Japanese whisky available in the US.

A lovely single malt in the style of a Speyside Scotch, the Yamazaki 12 starts out light and fruity up front with the scent of apples and honey, transitioning into deeper malt flavor and a hint of barrel spices appear on tasting. With a light mouthfeel and finish fading from sweetness to spice, it’s devastatingly drinkable at 86 proof—a perfect entry point into the world of Japanese whisky, and the cheapest entry point at around $40 a bottle.

The Yamazaki 18 is also available at a more pricey $135 or so, as well as a limited-release expression of the Yamazaki 1984 (largely sold out even at a MSRP of $600). They are both exceptional whiskies, so if you’re looking to take the next step in your journey, these are the bottles for you.

Suntory Hakushu Single Malt 12

Further north, Suntory’s Hakushu distillery is located outside Hokuto in the Yamanashi prefecture. Nestled in Japan’s Southern Alps, it’s one of the highest single malt distilleries in the world, though its nickname is “the forest distillery.” A lightly peated whisky, the Hakushu 12 smells similar to the Yamazaki—sweet and fruity—but the delicate smoke adds a very lively contrast. On tasting, citrus and ginger start to emerge with a bit of pepper and heat. Once again, the mouthfeel is luscious but light, and the finish lingers briefly with a touch of dry smoke. It’s incredibly fresh and crisp for a peated whisky. Hakushu 12 is 86 proof and listing at around $55 a bottle.

Suntory Hibiki 12

A blended whisky made from malt and grain whiskies from Suntory’s distilleries aged in a range of barrels (including plum wine barrels) the 12 year expression is the sweetest of the Suntory whiskies. Honeyed and floral, with desert flavors of vanilla, clove, and almond, it’s rounded out by a substantial grain presence and enough wood to keep the sweetness in balance. The Hibiki 12 is 86 proof and lists around $60 a bottle. (Bonus: Bill Murray is selling the Hibiki 17 in Lost in Translation, but the bottle has the same appearance, so you can play the part at home!)

Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 12

Nikka’s blended whisky offering to the US is not a blend of grain and malt whiskies, like the Hibiki, bur rather a blend of only malt whiskies (hence ‘pure malt’). Drawing on stocks from the Yoichi and Miyagijyo distilleries, it’s fruity and round. Apples, barley, and sweet grain transition to honey and wood spices, with just a trace of smokiness to pull it all together. With a heftier body than the Hibiki, it’s a more muscular blend without sacrificing balance. A wonderful pure malt that stands on its own at 80 proof, it’s priced at $70 a bottle.

Nikka Yoichi Single Malt 15

The Yoichi distillery is on the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japans four major islands. Situated on a coastal perch that’s partially surrounded by mountains, it’s Nikka’s oldest distillery. The Yoichi 15 is Nikka’s marquee offering stateside, and it’s the boldest whisky of the day. Sweet, nutty, and sherried on the nose, the malt transforms on tasting. Evolving very dramatically from a mild oakiness to intense spices and ginger to mild sweetness, it finishes with all of the flavors commingling and drifting off on a wisp of smoke. Full bodied and rich, it’s a journey in a glass. The Yoichi 15 is bottled at 90 proof and lists for $130 a bottle.

Japanese Whisky: General Knowledge

Whisky production in Japan began around 1870, but the first commercial production was in 1924 upon the opening of the country’s first distilleryYamazaki. Broadly speaking the style of Japanese whisky is more similar to that of Scotch whisky than IrishAmerican, or Canadian styles of whiskey, and thus the spelling typically follows the Scottish convention (omitting the letter “e”).

There are several companies producing whisky in Japan. Perhaps the two most well known are Suntory and Nikka. Both of these produce blended as well as single malt whiskies.

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Sustainable Sushi

The Fish

Aburasokomutsu Aburasokomutsu / Escolar
Aji Aji / Horse Mackerel
Akame Akame / Barramundi
Ankimo Ankimo / Monkfish Liver
Awabi Awabi / Abalone
Ebi Ebi / Shrimp
Gindara Gindara / Black Cod / Sablefish
Hamachi (Buri) Hamachi (Buri) / Amberjack 
Hiramasa Hiramasa / Yellowtail 

Hirame Hirame / Halibut / Flatfish

Hokkigai Hokkigai / Surf Clams
Hotate Hotate / Scallop
Ika Ika / Squid
Iwana Iwana / Char
Iwashi Iwashi / Sardine
Kaki Kaki / Oysters
Kani Kani / Crab
Kanikama [Surimi] Kanikama [Surimi] / Imitation Crab / Haddock
Kanpachi Kanpachi / Almaco Jack 

Katsuo Katsuo / Bonito Tuna, Skipjack

Kohada Kohada / Gizzard Shad
Maguro Maguro / Yellowfin and Bigeye Tuna
Masago (Karafuto-shishamo) Masago (Karafuto-shishamo)/ Capelin roe
Mirugai Mirugai / Geoduck
Muurugai Muurugai / Mussels
Saba Saba / Mackerel 
Sake Sake / Salmon
Sanma Sanma / Pacific Saury
Sawara Sawara / Spanish Mackerel
Sayori Sayori / Halfbeak
Sazae Sazae / Conch
Shimaaji Shimaaji / White Trevally
Shiromaguro Shiromaguro / Albacore Tuna
Suzuki Suzuki / Sea Bass 
Tai Tai / Snapper
Tako Tako / Octopus
Tobiko (Tobiuo) Tobiko (Tobiuo) / Flying Fish Roe
Toro (Honmaguro) Toro (Hon Maguro) / Bluefin tuna belly
Unagi Unagi / Freshwater Eel 
Uni Uni / Sea Urchin

Tasting Notes for the Current Wines by the Glass 4/11/13

Thanks to Cathy for putting this together for us!


Drusian, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene N.V., Italy     $11

Extra Dry Prosecco opens with frothy cream and floral tones of jasmine and honeysuckle. It tastes lively and fresh in the mouth thanks to its well-integrated acidity and its piquant effervescence.

Extra Dry, granny Smith apple and white flowers that turn creamy on the mid-palate and finish crisp and clean.

Scharffenberger Brut Rose, Anderson Valley 2009    $14

Sleek, with pinpoint focus, this offers raspberry and butter cookie aromas, with crisp, elegant citrus and cherry flavors marked by ginger and spice.”

Crisp, elegant citrus and cherry flavors marked by ginger and spice

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Brut Napa Valley     $22

Made from 100% Chardonnay rich, clean and elegant

A profile of green apple and tropical fruits are rounded out by flavors of brioche and stone fruit. Creamy minerality and mouthwatering acid drive the finish.

“The Davies family has long had a particular fondness for its Blanc de Blancs, ever since Nixon brought it to China in 1972 at the historic “Toast to Peace” in Beijing, China.

Blanc de Blancs (white from white) made from Chardonnay is the counterpart to the Blanc de Noirs (white from black), made from Pinot Noir. Blanc de Blancs was the first wine Schramsberg produced in 1965 and was America’s first commercially produced Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs gained international recognition in 1972 when then President Nixon served the wine

While this wine can be enjoyed by itself as an apéritif, it is also perfect with fresh oysters and other shellfish, crab cakes, ceviche and grilled sea bass. It is also delicious with lemon chicken and Thai curries. Serve with aged Gouda or other hard cheeses and as a counterpoint to soft triple creams.

Flavors of brioche and stone fruit, creamy minerality and mouthwatering acid drive the finish

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne  $25

Brut Premier is the embodiment of Louis Roederer style, combining all the fruitiness and freshness of youth with the vinosity of a fully mature wine. This is a structured and elegantly mature wine, with a lively attack and a smooth palate.

Grape: 56% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier, including 10% of reserve wines from three former harvests, aged in oak casks for 2-6 years.
Tasting notes: a golden colour with fine bubbles and a nose of fresh fruit and hawthorn. Smooth, complex palate mingling flavours of white-fleshed fruit (apple and pear) with red berries (blackberries, raspberries, cherries) and notes of toast and almonds. A pleasurable wine, deliciously smooth and mature

Choice of food: Brut Premier is excellent as an aperitif but also readily accompanies light entrées based on fish or shellfish.

Smooth, complex palate mingling flavours of white-fleshed fruit (apple and pear) with red berries (blackberries, raspberries, cherries) and notes of toast and almonds.

Niepoort Docil Loureiro, Vinho Verde 2011, Portugal    $9

Pale straw, fresh, ripe nose of peach, apricot and a hint of fresh herb

Bright and minerally in the mouth – flavors of ripe apple, lemon zest and ripe peach – as odd as that amalgam might seem. Really acid-driven and yet has a textural sweetness too.

Grape: Loureiro Portuguese white variety. Vinho Verde is produced from grapes which do not reach great doses of sugar. Vinho Verde does not require an aging process. Vinho Verde wines are now largely exported, and are the most exported Portuguese wines after the Port Wine.

Bright and minerally in the mouth – flavors of ripe apple, lemon zest and ripe peach. Acid-driven and yet has a textural sweetness too

Marisa Cuomo, Furore Bianco, Campania 2011, Italy $15

Hand-picked grapes are gently pressed and a cold maceration is used to obtain the finest fragrance of the fruit. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place in stainless steel for about 20/30 days.

Aging: 4 months in stainless steel

Tasting Notes: Bouquet: delicate, fruity nose, unmistakable perfumes of the Mediterranean coast

Taste: broad and balanced with light acidity that supports the freshness of the aromas

Grape: 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella

Falanghina is an ancient Italian white wine grape.

Costa D’Amalfi Furore Bianco DOC 2010 is a broad and balanced white wine with a slight dominance of acidic note in support of the freshness of the aromas. It’s ideal served with seafood pasta.

The grapes are harvested manually, arrive intact in the winery, and after de-stemming and crushing are subjected to pressing. The juice is fermented at a controlled temperature for about 20 days.

Tasting Notes: Intense yellow color, aroma of fruit and especially citrus fruits. The flavor is complex and balanced with a slight predominance of freshness.

Complex, balanced, citrus fruits with a slight acidity

Domaine du Margalleau Vouvray Sec Vouvray, France 2011  $13

The Domaine du Margalleau 2011 sec has a beautiful perfume of honey and fresh, juicy lemon which lifts from the glass. The palate is rich, fresh, textured and has concentrated lemon and honey flavors with a stony edge. The finish is very long and perfumed.

Vouvray is a region in the Loire valley not far from Tours. This region is famous for it’s Chenin Blanc wines

Grape: Chenin Blanc

Palate is rich, fresh, textured and has concentrated lemon and honey flavors with a stony edge. The finish is very long and perfumed.

Craggy Range Te Muna Vineyard Martinborough 2011   $15

Our single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc wines provide a fascinating insight into these site derived differences. From Te Muna Road in Martinborough, the unique limestone soils produce wines that show a distinctive fine soft chalky texture and great elegance.

And in Marlborough, our Avery Vineyard yields grapes with great complexity in the lime, citrus blossom and passion fruit spectrum rather than the distinctive herbaceous and grapefruit notes typical of many Marlborough wines.

This smooth, silky white delivers pretty Key lime, Meyer lemon, passion fruit and melon notes that are elegant, balanced and delightfully tangy. all leading to the juicy finish. Grape: Sauvignon Blanc

Smooth, silky white delivers pretty Key lime, Meyer lemon, passion fruit and melon notes that are elegant, balanced and delightfully tangy

J.J. Christoffel, Riesling, Ürziger Würtzgarten, Kabinett Feinherb Mosel, Germany         2011 $15

How’s that for a tongue twister? Phonetically it’s ERTS-ih-ger VERTS-gar-ten.

Ripe sweet peach and crisp pear. Mineral backbone. Very flavorful, well balanced and not too sweet.

Ripe sweet peach and crisp pear. Nice mineral backbone and well balanced.

Grape: Riesling

Merryvale Chardonnay Carneros, 2010 (Oaky, buttery)     $18

Tasting Notes: Our 2010 Chardonnay Carneros displays expressive aromas of pear, papaya, citrus, nectarine, pineapple, toasty oak and spice.

The wine is medium weight with a round fleshy texture and a crisp sweet finish.

Production Notes: Hand sorted, whole-cluster pressed; 100% barrel fermented; with native yeast and malolactic fermentation; Barrel fermented and aged 11 months in French Oak (43% new)

Aromas: mineral/wet stone, tangerine, orange blossom, mango, papaya, fresh pineapple, baked apple and pear, vanilla

Great fruit concentration with tropical and hazelnut notes, lively acidity, crisp sweet refreshing long finish.

By the Sea, Monterey County, 2010    $20

Aging: 9 months in French Oak. 20% New

On the nose, tropical notes, hints of spearmint, white peach, and lychee.

On the palate ripened white peach, green apple, mango, and melon with a mineral accent on the finish.

2010 Chanin Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley             $24

ELEGANT: Vibrant, Citrus, Honey, Sea Salt

Chanin Wine Co. is dedicated to crafting wines from Santa Barbara County that reflect the individual vineyard in which they are grown — with a focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Gavin Chanin, who was named one of FORBES’ “30 under 30” in food and wine and a “winemaker to watch” by SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, began his winemaking career as a harvest intern at Au Bon Climat and Qupé, under the tutelage of winemakers Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist, working his way up to assistant winemaker at both labels.

The Bien Nacido Vineyard is one of the best in California and Chanin’s Chardonnay comes from vines dating back to the original 1973 plantings.  These old vines give the wine a unique mineral and nutty note. We were blown away by these wines from the Pursuit of Balance tasting in NYC.

The nose is dominated by classic chardonnay characteristics of citrus, very present stone fruit, honey blossom, and lemon rind. On the palate the fruit is reminiscent of citrus, baking spice, toasted almonds and ripe green apple.  This wine was aged for 16 months in barrel, giving it texture and natural richness. I use this traditional technique to make a lush and generous wine while keeping a high acidity and low alcohol. This makes it enjoyable on its own but also very food friendly.

The finish is long, and with intense minerality and refreshing acidity.

 Grape: Chardonnay

On the palate the fruit is reminiscent of citrus, baking spice, toasted almonds and ripe green apple.  Long finish with a refreshing acidity.


Domaine Charles Audoin, Marsannay, 2011                                    $13

Style: Rose

Grape Type: Pinot Noir

Origin: France

Region: Burgundy

Appellation: Cote de Nuits

Musky cherry and floral aromas, with notes of anise and candied orange in the background.  Fleshy and a touch warm, offering pungent red fruit flavors and showing an open-knit character.  Closes with good punch and breadth and a hint of smokiness.

Pungent red fruit flavors, balanced with a hint of smokiness.

Red Wine

Potel-Aviron Moulin-à-Vent Vieilles Vignes, France  2010    $15

91 points Wine Spectator

Well-knit, with a core of mineral and spice, and notes of blackberry, grilled plum, tar, dried floral and herb. Fine-grained tannins show on the fresh, fine-grained tannins graphite-tinged finish.

Grape: Gamay grape is largely confined to Beaujolais

Mineral and spice, and notes of blackberry, grilled plum, tar, dried floral and herb

Oakwild Ranch Toboni Vineyard Russian River Valley 2010               $17

An inviting Pinot that opens with aromas of cinnamon, cloves and wild cherry. The delicate balance of red cherry and plum flavors, soft tannins and a bright acidity create a wine that is both complex and pleasantly smooth.

Grape: Pinot Noir

Delicate balance of red cherry and plum flavors, soft tannins and a bright acidity

Domaine Michel Sarrazin, La Perrière Mercurey, Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise 2010                    $23

A stunning, lush and very tempting Burgundy with plenty of character and charm. Long, sweet and lush, with good spice and body.

Grape: Pinot Noir

Long, sweet and lush, with good spice and body.

Domaine la Millière Tres Vieilles Vignes Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape                          $13

It exhibits a dark ruby/purple color as well as a surprisingly supple style, full body, and pure cassis and black cherry fruit intermixed with hints of Provencal herbs/garrigue, lavender and dusty, loamy soil note

Grape: 90% very-old-vine Grenache, 5% Syrah and 5% Cinsault; 100% tank-made.

Full body, and pure cassis and black cherry fruit intermixed with hints of Provencal herbs

Keenan Winery, Merlot, Napa Valley 2009     $17

Keenan has purchased Merlot grapes from the Napa Carneros district for many years. The “Carneros” is the southern region of Napa closest to the San Pablo Bay and is known for producing high quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Merlot grown in the Carneros tends to be very fruity and soft with distinctive spicy nuances.

Keenan began purchasing Merlot from the Carneros to blend with the estate Merlot grown on Spring Mountain. The two wines are a great match; the Carneros Merlot softens the dense, powerful wines produced from the estate grown fruit. But, in 1999 we were so happy with the quality and distinctiveness of our Carneros Merlot, we decided to bottle a small amount on its own. We continue to bottle a few hundred cases of Carneros Merlot most years.

The 2009 Carneros Merlot shows jammy blackberry and raspberry aromas. Nuances of spice and cocoa emerge as the wine opens up. Silky mouth-feel and well-balanced structure allow it to show wonderfully with a variety of well seasoned dishes.

Big Merlot. Dark, plummy, with a silky mouth-feel, well balanced and structured

Lang & Reed 2010 Cabernet Franc North Coast, Saint Helena, CA   $15

The 2010 North Coast Cabernet Franc has a bright, clear violet blue color. The aromas display firm red berry, gentle lavender and licorice overtones. The palate provides a supple counter to the bright aromas yet shows a slightly huskier structure than most recent past vintages. firm tannins

Palate provides a supple counter to the bright aromas of red berry, gentle lavender and licorice, yet shows a slightly huskier structure than most recent past vintages. firm tannins

2009 Justin Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles     $18

The JUSTIN Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles in California is a delicious cabernet with a nice, rounded finish.

It is smooth and supple, making this an excellent cabernet wine to pair with food.

The Paso Robles region is land locked, creating a hot climate suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon.

The JUSTIN cabernet has loads of ripe black and red fruits on both the nose and the palate. I love the hints of vanilla on the nose and the kick of herbs and spices on the finish. There is a nice balance of acidity and structure, making this is an easy drinking cabernet. It is a perfect wine for a nice dinner at home or for your spring and summer time barbecues.

The JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with the following foods:

~ Juicy Hamburger ~ Stews ~ Braised Meats ~ Grilled Steak ~Roasted Eggplant
~ Barbecue Ribs

Tasting Notes

Aroma:Bold black fruit – cassis nose, sweet vanilla note from American oak

Palate: Dry and mouth filling, raspberry and blackberry flavors. Plush, round and dense, with modest tannins and a long, generous finish

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine, Napa Valley                                    $12

Winemaker Notes: If there is any wine of the 2011 releases that accurately demonstrates the poised, claret-like, character of the 2011 vintage it is the 2011 Sonoma Valley Old-Vine.

The late ripening Stellwagen Vineyard once again was included into this cuvee to lend its dark fruit, and Casa Santinamaria, another vineyard originally slated for vineyard designation, was included for its beautiful spice. The remainder of the wine is composed of Zinfandel from the terraced Los Chamizal Vineyard, some younger vine fruit from Rossi Ranch in Kenwood, a few barrels of Monte Rosso Zinfandel, and a dollop of old-vine Carignane and Mourvedre from my Bedrock Vineyard. This is old-school Zin- bright, focused, and energetic. Like previous releases of this wine, I would expect it will reward a year or so of short-term aging.

Black cherries and some earthiness on the nose. Bright red fruit on the palate, finishes crisply