1st Bottle Red: Stolpman ‘La Cuadrilla’, Red Blend, California 2021

For the wine snob: A cold spring and a moderate, even weather without accelerating heat spikes set up a late red wine harvest that stretched through October into early November. The long growing season allowed for ample flavor accumulation and ripening, creating plush, luxurious wines. The healthy yields of 2021 and several riper picks in late October into November, allowed for a larger than normal Caudrilla cuvee.

For the rest of us: 75% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 10% Sangiovese. 2021 Cuadrilla opens up with dark ripe plum highlighted with bright fresh red berries. Deep and supple with the fine chalky tannins already married with a smooth, polished texture. An alluring otherness of wet stones, mint, and mocha prevail from the nose through the mouth captivating the senses beyond just the magnificently pleasurable profile.

1st Bottle White: Peju, Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast 2021

For the wine snob: In 1983, Tony and Herta (HB) Peju purchased thirty acres of vines in the famed Rutherford district of Napa Valley. They worked hard to build a winery, plant estate vineyards, and raise their family. PEJU remains family-owned with Tony and HB’s two daughters Ariana and Lisa guiding the business today. Ariana and Lisa are bringing ­esh ideas while maintaining the meticulous focus on quality that began over 35 years ago. With its landmark tower and warm hospitality, PEJU Winery is an integral part of the Napa Valley landscape.

For the rest of us: Vibrant aromas of citrus and tropical ­fruit leap ­om the glass. Hints of dried pear and lime emerge while guava and passion ­fruit weave together on the palate. An energetic acidity and undercurrent of minerality carry the wine to a re­freshing finish.

2nd Bottle Red: Secateurs, Red Blend, Swartland 2019

For the wine snob: The high-quality grapes are from Badenhorst farm and from neighboring vineyards, all from old un-irrigated bushvines, grown on a variety of granite soils that are naturally low yielding. All grapes are hand-picked, chilled overnight and then crushed into open concrete tanks for natural fermentation which lasts around two weeks. The tanks are pigeaged (foot stomped) twice daily during this time. The finished wine is run off into old casks and concrete tanks which have a low impact on the wine aromas and structures.

For the rest of us: 54% Cinsault, 23% Grenache, 23% Shiraz. This is the 9th vintage of Secateurs Red, and the hefty Cinsault component will ensure excellent aging and enough suppleness for drinking young. Perfumed, peppery, spicy, with ripe red fruit notes. The palate is supple, smooth on the entry but with enough grip and freshness to finish dry and refreshing.

2nd Bottle White: : Tyler, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara 2019

For the wine snob: Whole cluster pressed to tank, settled briefly before being moved to another tank for fermentation. After fermentation is active, the juice goes down to barrels and puncheons with no more than 10% new oak. No battonage and full ML. Left on lees for 11 months before going back to tank for an additional few months of aging.

For  the rest of us: Tyler Chardonnay opens aromatically with notes of flint, white chalk, with a combination of stone and citrus fruits, and a hint of florality. On the palate, the wine is extremely mineral-driven with notes of white pepper and green apples.

 

1st Reserve Bottle Red: Robert Craig, Howell Mountain Cuvee 2019

For the wine snob: It is our mission to be stewards of our tremendous vineyards while welcoming each successive generation to the wines and culture of The Craig … without requiring a ridiculous price of entry. In this spirit, it is our pleasure to offer a limited production of the greatest $50 wine to ever be released in the Napa Valley. Almost every great Bordeaux estate bottles a “second label” in order to make the Grand Vin consistently sublime. Lesser lots are bottled and sold at a lower price to ensure that farming costs and overhead are taken care of with additional cash flow, even if the margins are not as appealing. At Robert Craig Winery, our two Howell Mountain vineyards, Winery Estate and Candlestick, consistently produce some of the highest quality wine grapes anywhere in the Napa Valley. We replanted a section of the Candlestick Ridge Vineyard in 2015, and these young vines are the source for our Howell Mountain Cuvée. Without doubt, the 2019 bottling is a slightly more serious wine than the 2018 debut.

For the rest of us: 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot. A higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon has found its way into this wine. Dark, deep, nuanced and supple, the 2019 HMC displays immediate Howell Mountain power in the glass with lavender, thorny fruits and mineral at the fore. It has a long life ahead in the cellar, though it will taste great if opened immediately upon receipt.

1st Reserve Bottle White: Drappier Carte d'Or, Champagne, France

For the wine snob: The Drappier vineyard, mainly located in the village of Urville, maintains the strong identity of the Bar-sur-Aube arrondissement, characterised by the influence of Pinot Noir. This grape prevails here, representing 70% of the estate, supplemented by Pinot Meunier at 15%, Chardonnay at 9%, and old grape varieties at 6%.

Proximity to the vines is necessary to keep a close eye on how they evolve and interact with their environment. Because the vineyards are all local, the family has stepped up its sustainable approach to viticulture, and become certified as “organic”.

For the rest of us: 80% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay, 5% Meunier. With a very high proportion of Pinot Noir one is savouring what is nearly a Blanc de Noirs. A Champagne of great aromatic richness. The taste begins with stone fruits such as white vineyard peaches. A spicy note emerges in a powerful and complex mouthfeel. A vinous Champagne of grand complexity, with a characteristic touch of quince jelly

2nd Reserve Bottle Red: Domaine de la Solitude, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2020

For the wine snob: Historical Cuvée from the Domaine produced since the XVII century, from all our vineyards on safres and Gallets roullés. A blend of terroir and grape varieties of excellence it contains the 8 reds grapes varieties of A.O.C. and even some white or pink grape in small proportion. After a double selection of the best bunches in the vineyard then on the sorting table. The grapes are vinified as whole or destemmed according to the grape varieties. They are vinified in truncated concrete vats. The wines are then aged for 25% in barrels, demi muids and foudre and 75% in vats during 18 months. The wine is bottled without filtration or fining

For the rest of us:  50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault. A bouquet nose of garrigue, flowers of cistus, blackcurrant buds. A mouth full of fresh-ness and balance, with aromas of cocoa and morello cherry, with a long and liquorice finish.

 

2nd Reserve Bottle White: Domaine Drouhin, Chardonnay Arthur, 2020

For the wine Snob: Our 2020 Chardonnay was hand-picked into small totes, and then whole-cluster pressed. It was partly fermented in French Oak barrels to reveal the complexity of the fruit through the slow breathing process that happens in wood.  e rest was fermented and aged in stainless steel to keep the vibrancy and fruitiness. Veronique then blended these two portions to create a wine of a more delicate nature—Arthur. To Veronique, it’s as if one brought together elements of a pure Chablis and an elegant Meursault.

For the Rest of us: The 2020 Chardonnay Arthur opens to a classic bouquet of white flowers, Anjou pear, and golden apple. The palate is nuanced and balanced with a sense of minerality and honeyed lemon zest. Small berries and strict selection at harvest resulted in the intensity of  flavors on display.  The 2020 Arthur combines strength and  finesse, has nice acidity, and features a medium-long  finish that will likely expand as the wine ages over the next 7-10 years.