New Location for Oconee Cellar Now Open!

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The Oconee Cellar has finally made the move to their new location, which will ensure that they continue their ranking as “The Best Wine & Spirits Store in Georgia’s Lake Country”. 15 years to the day, The Oconee Cellar moved to their new location on the other side of the Publix Supermarket next to Subway. As soon as you walk into the store, you will notice a much more user friendly, wide open floor plan, beautiful LED lighting, new tiled floors, highly visible glassed in wine cellar, walk-in beer cave, and much more!

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“We have been talking with Publix for over 2 years trying to make this move happen, and on November 1st it finally became a reality. I believe it is a real positive for The Oconee Cellar and my customers. We were able to fix all the things that troubled us in the old location and really use my 18 years of experience to create an improved consumer-friendly shopping experience. I am so happy and proud of the new store.”, says owner Matt Garofalo.
“It took a lot of great people to make this project a reality. From my realtor Ted Baker, my builder
Ed Blume, interior decorator Maryln Alea, the entire Oconee Cellar staff, my wife Daniela, my parents, my architect Steve Kippels, and so many more, I am eternally grateful for all their contributions.”, states Matt.
Stop by their new store and see why The Oconee Cellar seems to be well on their way to 20 more years of continued success in The Lake Oconee area.

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February Wine Club Selections 2016

February 2016
Michel Gassier Wines

With encyclopedic knowledge of the wines and terroirs of the Rhône
as well as his native Costieres de Nîmes, Michel Gassier is a restless and
innovative vigneron. Usually inquisitive personalities like Michel start as
outsiders, enfants terribles, iconoclasts. Such is not the case with Michel,
whose family has been growing grapes and making wine in the Costieres de
Nîmes for four generations. Together with his wife Tina, they are helping
to establish a new level of quality for Costieres de Nîmes without forsaking
the uniqueness of their terroir.

cercius

They have achieved this through nurturing their land, farming organically,
promoting biodiversity, and respecting their employees as much as their
vines. They are proponents of indigenous varieties and taking advantage of
the diversity of climats to make wines that are dense and pure but elegantly
balanced. Cercius is made in partnership with Eric Solomon and Philippe
Cambie from several sites throughout the Rhône valley. Nostre Païs is the
epitome of the terroir of the Costieres de Nîmes while Lou Coucardié
represents the aspirations of Michel and Tina through conversation with
the land and its history.

Cercius 2012 Cotes du Rhone   $ 13.99

91 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

 A joint venture between Gassier, Philippe Cambie, and importer Eric Solomon, the 2012 Cercius Vieilles Vignes is a year in, year out ridiculous value that also drinks well past its humble price point. Comprised of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah that was aged for 6 months in concrete, it has loads of raspberry, licorice, mineral and Provencal herbs as well as a soft, supple and silky textured feel on the palate. Coming from old Grenache vines (70-90 years in age) located on the Plateau de Domazan – which lies on the right bank of the Rhone river, just west of Avignon and bottled unfined and unfiltered, it is a quintessential Cotes du Rhone that will deliver the goods for 4-5 years, possibly longer. The leading estate in the potential rich Costieres de Nimes region, these knockout wines are made by the talented Michel Gassier, who is leading the way in this appellation and showing what’s possible when you focus on quality. Both the 2011s (which are as good, if not better than his 2010s) and 2012s are incredibly strong here. (JD)  (12/2013)

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Cercius Blanc 2012  $13.99 

“a blend of 70% Grenache Blanc and 30% Sauvignon that was aged all in concrete, with plenty of lees contact, the 2012 Cercius Blanc delivers a knockout bouquet of peach, tropical, and pit fruits to go with a core of edgy minerality. Containing a full 40% of declassified Nostre Pais, it delivers an absurd amount of quality for a wine that sells at this price. Full-bodied, rich and gorgeously textured, yet also brilliantly pure and precise, it should be purchased by the case load and consumed over the coming 3-5 years.” WA on the 2012

Connoisseur Club  

lagar

Lagar de Costa Albarino 2013  $24.99

This 100% Albarino from Rias Baixas, Spain is grown in the Atlantic climate with mild temperatures throughout the year in granite soil with good drainage. On the palate you will experience pale lemon-green, medium-intense balsamic, herbal and citric (grapefruit and lemon) flavors and white fruit aromas. Fresh and penetrating on the palate, recurring citric fruit notes as well as white flowers. Unctuous and long.  This wine received an 89 Rating by Robert Parker and a Gold Medal at the Brussels International Contest.  Perfect with almost any seafood and especially mussels or oysters.

Aster Ribera del Duero 2010  $29.99

aster

100% Tinta del País from the Fuentecojo, Otero Joven and La Cueva estate-owned vineyards surrounding the winery in Anguix, Burgos. They are on silt loam soils located at an altitude close to 780 meters.  They picked the grapes manually, very early in the morning, taking advantage of the cold to preserve the integrity of the clusters until they arrive at the winery sorting table. After destemming, the grapes were crushed and then put in tanks, where alcoholic fermentation took place. 80% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels, with weekly bâttonages for two months. The wine was aged for 22 months in new French oak barrels (70%) and the rest in French oak barrels with two wines.

Flavors of intense dark cherry red; very clean and bright, with a lively ruby-red rim. The nose uncovers intense notes of wild berries and ripe fruit enveloping a rich balsamic core of sweet spices, cocoa, liquorice and mild herb scents. Impressively strong in the mouth, with nerve, a delicate acidity and good balance. Soft, tamed, round tannins give this wine the imprint of Ribera del Duero.

January Wine Club Selections 2016

January 2016

Oconee Wine Club
Tournon Winery by Michel Chapoutier

In 1997, true to his pioneering spirit, Michel Chapoutier set out to explore the terroirs of the oldest continent. He wanted to meet people, people like him with a passionate interest in bringing out the true character of vines. A matter of convictions, too, prompting discovery and observation. He found land awaiting its revelation. Michel Chapoutier’s aim is to invent properties, not to follow the example of others. Michel Chapoutier buys land and joins forces with major winemaking families, playing on their complementary know-how and experience The result is exceptional Shiraz wines, displaying great elegance and mineral purity. In 2002 he joined forces with Ron and Elva Laughton (Jasper Hill) in central Victoria, and at Heathcote, north of Melbourne, on a very unusual, early Cambrian soil. He has also worked with Rick Kinzbrunner on the Giaconda vineyard at Beechworth, in northeast Victoria, on a granite soil. After a brief experimental joint venture with his US importer (Terlato & Chapoutier), Maison M. Chapoutier bought two other Australian vineyards (Shays Flat and Landsborough) in the Victorian Pyrenees and set up the fully owned Domaine Tournon.

Tournon Mathilda Shiraz 2013  $14.99
The wine is entirely aged in cement or stainless steel tanks and it is bottled 12 months later. The wine is brilliant, dark ruby color. The nose is deep with black fruits and pepper aromas with a mouth feel of supple silky tannins.
Rated 89 by Wine Spectator, “Velvety and focused, aiming the plum and black pepper flavors into a lithe structure that settles gently into the long and vivid finish. Best from 2016 through 2019. 4,000 cases imported.”

Tournon Mathilda White Blend 2013 $14.99
The wine is entirely aged in stainless steel tank on lees for 5 months. The color is pale gold with a fresh crisp and fruity with stone fruit in abundance.
Rated 91 Wine Spectator “Stacks a rich parfait of spicy pear and grapefruit flavors over lively acidity, stretching the structure into a supple wrapping. Impressive for the purity and precision of the flavors. Viognier and Marsanne. Drink now through 2020. 1,900 cases imported.”

Connoisseur Club

Mollydooker Winery

Mollydooker-Winery-Entrance

MollyDooker Two Left Feet 2014 Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot  $25.99

A generous array of bright fruit flavour with outstanding depth, gives this wine the approachable and engaging qualities it’s become adored for. Showcasing every character in our flavour spectrum, including raspberry, plum, deep mocha and licorice. All the elements interweave themselves harmoniously throughout each sip and work together in a way that achieves the subtle mouth feel of a truly delightful wine.

Ten Acre Russian River Chardonnay 2013  $31.99

ten acre
Ten Acre is dedicated to producing cool-climate pinot noir and chardonnay from some of the most renowned vineyards in the Russian River Valley. As a winery, they work in small lots, with a focus on discovering the personality and distinctive flavors of these great sites. Flavorful, balanced, intense—they strive to let the vineyard personality burst through the wine. Small by design; each wine is hand crafted, barrel-by-barrel.

This expressive wine perfectly personifies the classic style of chardonnay that the cool-climate Russian River Valley is known for. Fruit from several of their single vineyard chardonnay sources was combined to create this well balanced take on the classic Burgundian varietal. The Russian River Valley is famous for the coastal morning fog that slowly burns off throughout the day, lengthening the hang time of chardonnay fruit during the ripening season.

The 2013 Russian River Chardonnay entices with a bouquet of bright tropical notes and vanilla bean. On the palate, lush texture is balanced by crisp acidity. Eleven months in French oak barrels, combined with full malolactic fermentation gives this versatile chardonnay a rich, memorable mouthfeel and finish.

 

September 2015 Wine Club Selections

September 2015

The La Compuertas vineyard is located a stone’s throw from the northern end of the Mendoza river. The property has very deep soil, down to nearly 1.8 metres in places, though part of the property is close to a hilly area where the soil is shallower and somewhat rocky.

LAS COMPUERTAS

Ungrafted Malbec vines planted in 1929 enjoy an abundant source of clean, run-off water from the river and a longer ripening season thanks to the region’s cooler temperatures. Over the years, this vineyard has used a Guyot system with narrow rows and low trellises, irrigation provided by furrows running down the slope, a method used by the immigrants who started the industry in our province. This irrigation method brings silt and clay that retain moisture so less irrigation is used.

Terrazas Reserva Malbec 2012  $ 17.99

The 2012 vintage is characterized by a very cold winter followed by extremely high temperatures from late spring to early summer; this lead to an accelerated increase of sugar rate and a decrease of grape weight. Then, temperatures dramatically decreased therefore slowing down the ripening cycle on the vine; as a result 2012 wines are very fruity and aromatic, with an acidity found typically when the end of the summer growing season is cooler.

Tasting Notes
Intense purplish colour with red shades. Very expressive, revealing a floral and red fruit profile of violet, raspberry and cherry, with marked aromas of toasted coffee and chocolate. Characterized by a broad and sweet mouthfeel, delicate tannins add finesse to this great Malbec.
Ratings
James Suckling – 92 Points: “This is seamless with extremely fine tannins and gorgeous subtle dark fruits with black licorice. Hints of nuts too. Drink or hold.”

Food Pairing Notes

Grilled meats such as chicken or turkey. Lamb cooked with wine sauce. Grilled vegetables and red oily fish.

Terrazas Altos del Plata Chardonnay 2013 $ 12.99

Harvest 2013 was one of the most important harvests of the last decades in qualitative terms, thanks to the absence of climate risk factors. It was characterized by cool climate trends, excellent health conditions and scarce rain. Mild temperatures contributed to an extended ripeness and cool nights helped with keeping a great acidity and a right aromatic development.

Golden yellow with greenish highlights. Highly fruity. It reveals typical peach and white fruit notes, as well as tropical aromas such as pineapple and ripe melon. Slight herbal touch and white chocolate notes. Excellent balance between freshness and a touch of oak. Hazelnut and vanilla hints in the finish.

Dedicated to Chardonnay, Tupungato lies at the heart of a valley with magnificent views of the just-there Andes. Shallow, sandy soil, and a dry climate are a haven for grapevines accustomed to growing at high altitudes.

CAICAYEN

With a 16°C difference between day and night during the summer growing months, the cold nights enable the grapes to lock in all the aromas and flavors the plants produce during the warm daylight hours.

Connoisseurs Club

Emmolo Merlot 2012 $ 54.99

This well-balanced and darkly colored wine evokes the scents of saddle leather, coffee and plum, with traces of smokiness amidst its rich fruit. A smooth entry on the palate leads into ripe flavors of plums, prunes and cocoa, balanced by acidity and a grippy tannin character. On the finish: a harmony of fresh earthiness, smoky notes and cocoa’s lingering, inviting warmth.  This is one of the best Merlot’s I have had in a long time!

Merlot is a variety that requires hands-on manipulation in the vineyard to make a rich, concentrated wine. Crop thinning throughout the growing season leads to a low yield of rich, concentrated fruit. Grapes are sourced from Emmolo Oak Knoll, which includes two vineyards, one of which r Frank Emmolo purchased in 1972. On an average summer day, Oak Knoll is about 7 degrees cooler than Rutherford, allowing for a longer “hang time” than in warmer areas, which means that they can push the grapes to full ripeness. Harvest came in early to mid-October, and the combination of cooler weather, crop thinning and gravely light soil created ideal conditions for producing a rich, distinctive Merlot.

Critical Acclaim

  • Wilford Wong 95 Rating
    Wilfred Wong of Wine.com“Taking a big leap forward, the 2012 Emmolo Merlot has entered the arena of the elite. Rich, lush and generous, yet refined and super well balanced; sweet black fruit flavors; long and lusty from its incredible aromatic nose to is pleasing impact on the palate. Winemaker/owner Jenny Wagner is making a great statement here. How about seared filet mignon over a bed of fresh greens with this baby. Tasty now, but will get substantially better with a half a dozen or more years of bottle age. “
  • Robert Parker 92 Rating 
    The Wine Advocate“Although this winery has been around since 1944, I am unfamiliar with its wines. Packaged in an interesting bottle with a label sporting green ink, this 2012 Merlot is made in an explosively rich, blockbuster style. Its opaque purple color is accompanied by oodles of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit intertwined with hints of espresso and chocolate. Full-bodied and super-rich, but not overly extracted or astringent, this beautifully made, full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal Merlot should win the hearts and minds of many California wine enthusiasts. It is the complete package – from aromatics to an impressive entry, a full, savory mid-palate, and a long finish. Kudos to producer Jenny Wagner.”

Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc 2014  $19.99

 

With a light straw color, the 2014 vintage opens with the soft aromas of melon and white peach, with an underlying note of pantry spice. On the palate, this wine offers a flinty first impression, evoking the freshness of summer rain hitting pavement. An initial tartness quickly dissipates, yielding to the wine’s minerality. Lean but with a fleshy fruit body, this wine remains dry and maintains interest with a lingering lime citrus finish.

 

February 2015 Beer of the Month Club

Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City, Missouri

Founded in 1989, Boulevard Brewing Company has grown to become the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest. Their mission is simple: to produce fresh, flavorful beers using the finest traditional ingredients and the best of both old and new brewing techniques.

The Boulevard story begins in 1988, when founder John McDonald started construction of the brewery in a turn-of-the-century brick building on Kansas City’s historic Southwest Boulevard. A vintage Bavarian brewhouse was installed, and the first batches of beer were produced in the fall of 1989. That November, the first keg of Boulevard Pale Ale was delivered—in the back of John’s pickup truck—to a restaurant just a few blocks away.

In 2006, a major expansion adjacent to the original brewery raised Boulevard’s brewing capacity to approximately 600,000 barrels per year—a sizable increase from the 6,000 barrels contemplated in John’s original business plan. The new brewing and packaging facility is a model of sustainable urban architecture and engineering; a three-story, 70,000 square foot building housing a new, state-of-the-art 150-barrel brewhouse, packaging lines, administrative offices, and hospitality rooms.

Boulevard Brewing Company Unfiltered Wheat Beer

Unfiltered Wheat Beer

  • Style: American-style Wheat Beer
  • Availability: Year-round, Bottles and Draught
  • Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with a natural citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance. This easy drinking American-style wheat beer has become our most popular offering, and the best-selling craft beer in the Midwest.

A slightly cloudy, light-bodied, straw colored beer with a sweet, bready malt flavor, low hop bitterness and a hint of citrus.

Aroma Light fruitiness
Malt Sweet, bready flavor
Hops Low bitterness and flavor
Balance Malt
Body Light

Ingredients

Malt: Pale Malt, Unmalted Wheat, Malted Wheat
Hops: Bravo, Zeus, Summit

 

January 2015 Wine Club Selections

January 2015                    The Oconee Wine Club Selections

Valentin Bianchi Cabernet Sauvignon 2011   $ 16.99

Bodega Valentin Bianchi is one of the oldest and most important wineries in South America. It is a symbol of tradition, nobility and quality in Argentine wines. Started in 1928 by Don Valentin Bianchi, they have won world attention and acclaim since 1934 starting with the “Maximum Quality” honor in Mendoza. On August 12, 1968, Don Valentin Bianchi passed away. However, the tradition that he firmly established continues to live on in his successors.

Today, Valentin Eduardo Bianchi and Ricardo Stradella Bianchi have brought the winery into the modern era. Valentin is the President of the winery while Ricardo is the Chief Financial Officer. Recently, they enlisted the aid of California winemaker, Robert Pepi. He has helped them refine some of their techniques and the new wines show the style that this new breed of management exemplifies. Pepi believes that Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are the future of this winery.

90 Rating Wine Enthusiast!

Wine Enthusiast“This is a superb value Cabernet. Black-fruit aromas come with touches of licorice, herbs and marzipan. The palate has an elegance to it, while flavors of berry fruits, cassis, chocolate and fig finish smooth and long. Bianchi has always made good Cabernet, but this one is better than usual. Best Buy”

Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2013 $ 10.99

89 Rating Best Buy!

“Tropical more than green and pungent, this fragrant wine offers powdery, sweet notes and stronger coastal ones. It’s lean and angular in feel, with oceanic flavors of nettle, tangerine and lemon. A light green flavor and a chalky feel make up the finish.”

The grapes were harvested between March 21 and April 15, in different stages, with 20.8-22.8º Brix, depending on the exposure of the parcels and the clone. The 2013 harvest stood out as the coldest season ever, leading to lower pH levels, higher acidity and juiciness, and a powerful aromatic expression. At the winery, the grapes were macerated in a pneumatic press at low temperatures for eight hours in order to enhance aromas and flavors. Afterwards, the wine was cooled to controlled temperatures (46º F) before being clarified to 60-120 NTU. Alcoholic fermentation was carried out at low temperatures (54-55°F, finishing at 60°F)  in stainless steel tanks for 18 days. The wine was aged on its lees for five months to round it out and improve the texture on the palate.

Tasting Notes

Showcasing expressive minerality, the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is marked by a powerful aromatic intensity and a wide aromatic spectrum, with herbal, citric and tropical notes. It is fresh on the palate, offering a crisp, tangy acidity and a juicy, citric finish.

Food Pairing

Pair with crab cakes, chicken tarragon or mussels.

Connoiseurs Club

Chateau Ducla 2012 White Bordeaux $ 18.99

Acquired by the Mau family in 1920, Chateau Ducla comprises some 80 hectares in the heart of the Entre Deux Mers region. The château combines longstanding authenticity and tradition and today offers wines that embody the Bordeaux tradition. Production area encompasses the Castets, Saint Hilaire, &Saint Exupéry. The appellation is in the Gironde region with Semillon and Sauvignon grapes, Bordeaux white are fruity, scented, and perfect served with seafood. The soil is silt-clay-limestone grown on the hillsides.

88 Points Wine Enthusiast

Tangy and fruity, this is a lively, bright wine that has added weight from light wood aging. Citrus and apple flavors show strong and bright to give a crisp, textured aftertaste.

Emeritus Hallberg Ranch Russian River Pinot Noir 2011 $ 36.99

93 Rating Wine Spectator #26 in The Top 100 Wines for 2014

“Impressive, offering richness, vibrancy and subtle charm, marked by snappy blackberry, red berry, spice, sage and underbrush notes. Ends with a minerally edge that holds the flavors. Drink now through 2021. 11,100 cases made. ”

In 1999 Emeritus was born when Brice Cutrer Jones closed on the purchase of Don and Marcia Hallberg’s prime apple orchard in the heart of the Russian River Valley. The 115–acre parcel, the Hallberg Ranch, is located two miles north of Sebastopol, on both sides of the Gravenstein Highway and directly on the Gold Ridge—the ten-mile long ridge that bears the name of the predominate soils of the area.

After acquiring the Hallberg property in 1999, Emeritus cleared the land over a three-year period and established a Pinot Noir vineyard with rootstocks and clones specifically chosen for the soils and orientation. The first few harvests were sold to various wineries in the area while Emeritus experimented with small lots of Pinot, and began to outfit the Hallberg barn with fermentation vats, barrels, and environmental controls. Then, in 2004, Brice finally convinced longtime Pinotphile, Burgundy–trained winemaker Don Blackburn to join the team. Don came aboard the day before the first harvest of the William Wesley Vineyard and established the hallmark style of Emeritus—that of elegance and charm. We lost Don to a brief but serious illness after the ’08 harvest, but his protégé, Nicolas Cantacuzene, stepped into his shoes and continues his quest: to produce an authentic wine of great distinction, one that represents its vineyard heritage, a wine of great balance, elegance and charm.

December 2014 Wine Club Selections

December 2014

This month I chose two French wines both rated 92 by Robert Parker!

Chateau Pesquie Terrasses 2012 $ 13.99

Chateau Pesquie is one of Robert Parker’s all time favorite French wine producers, and the Wine Advocate clearly shows the love with three 90+ ratings for the last four vintages.

The 2012 Cuvee des Terrasses is another brilliant example of an elegant and fruit forward wine from Pesquie. The talented brothers Alexandre & Frederic Chaudiere took the outstanding growing conditions in 2012 and turned it into a fabulous Rhone style wine. Don’t miss it!

Located at the foot of Mount Ventoux, Chateau Pesquie has one of the longer histories in the region. In the early 1970’s, Odette & Rene Bastide, bought Chateau Pesquie from an heir of the famous Provençal writer, Alphonse Daudet. They were wine pioneers, as the Southern Rhone wine appellation of Cotes du Ventoux was not created until 1973. Rene & Odette completely replanted the vineyards and the results of that initial work are paying huge dividends as their Syrah and Grenache vines now average 35 to 40 years of age. Although the Chateau Pesquie vineyards are situated in the southern Rhone Valley, the altitude and cooler temperatures of Mont Ventoux lend the terroir more northern characteristics of texture and finesse. With notes of blueberries, cherry liqueur, licorice and spices the 2012 Pesquie Terrasses is a terrific value red.

92 Rated by Robert Parker!

The Wine Advocate“In the same mold and an awesome value year in and year out, the 2012 Cotes du Ventoux Cuvee des Terrasses is a blend of 70% Grenache (60-year-old vines) and 30% Syrah (30+-year-old vines) that was aged two-thirds in concrete (and some in stainless steel) and one-third in older oak. Made from a blend of different terroirs on the estate (and basically declassified Quintessence) and coming from hillside vineyards lying between 840-930 feet in elevation, it offers up a gorgeously pure, supple and seamless profile with kirsch and berry-styled fruit, licorice and spring flower-like qualities all emerging from the glass. Elegant, forward and delicious, it gains in stature in the glass, is ridiculously textured from such an inexpensive wine, and has sweet tannin emerging on the finish.”

Novellum 2013 Chardonnay $ 14.99

Year after year, the Novellum Chardonnay is lauded for being one of the best Chardonnay values on the United States market. Because the wine is un-oaked, many restaurants have found it to be a terrific “by the glass” Chardonnay which marries quite well with food.

Critical Acclaim

  • RP92
    The Wine Advocate“More serious and layered, the 2013 VDP Cotes Catalanes Novellum is a crazy value that needs to be tasted to be believed. A custom cuvee by importer Eric Solomon and a blend of 100% Chardonnay that comes from two separate vineyards, this Cotes Catalanes is aged three months (on Viognier lees) in a combination of Burgundy barrels and stainless steel. Exotic and perfumed, with ample white peach, creme, brioche and subtle nuttiness, it flows onto the palate with a medium to full-bodied, layered and beautifully detailed texture that shows bright acidity and fantastic purity of fruit. An incredible effort that has both richness and freshness, it should continue to thrill for another handful of years. “

Connoisseurs Club

Bedrock Wine Co. Old Vine Zinfandel 2013 $ 29.99

Bedrock Wine Co. was founded in 2007 by Morgan Twain-Peterson in a 550 square-foot, former chicken coop with 8 foot ceilings and no fermentation space. After six years of Bedrock being a one-man-show, Morgan was able to talk his best friend, Chris Cottrell, into moving to California from New York to join him. They now happily have a little more space to move around in but share the same objectives that guided the winery at the start.

The 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel comes from vines averaging over 80 years of age. Like its predecessor, the lovely 2012, it benefited enormously from the second year in a row of exceptional quality with higher than average yields. Though its core still revolves around the Sonoma Valley appellation (Bedrock Vineyard, Monte Rosso, and Casa Santinamaria Vineyard), we have become geographically more adventurous due to the addition of a few pretty amazing vineyards. The first of these is Nervo Ranch in Alexander Valley with its steep, decomposed shale soils. The second is Sodini Ranch on Limerick Lane in the Russian River Valley that Bedrock Wine Co. happily farms. The last is the amazing Stampede Vineyard in the Clements Hills AVA of Lodi: own-rooted on granitic sands and planted in 1919, it is a star in the making under the new ownership of the Perlegos family. There are also bits of Papera Ranch, Pagani Ranch, and Lorenzo’s in the blend. Though it is legally a Zinfandel, and labeled as such, it is also a Bedrock wine so you can be sure it has its full quotient of the wacky, weird and wonderful in it as well—nearly 23% Carignane, Mourvedre, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Abouriou, Aubun, and assorted mixed white varieties. We are thrilled with this wine–I think it is every bit as good as the 2012 though perhaps reflective of the age-worthy 2013 vintage.

MacRostie Chardonnay 2012  $ 24.99

Though MacRostie Winery and Vineyards was originally founded in 1987, the seeds for MacRostie go back to 1974—to the early days of Sonoma County winemaking, when Steve began his winemaking career at Hacienda Winery. At a time when most California winemakers were fixated on Bordeaux varieties and Napa Valley, Steve and a handful of other pioneers took a different path, embracing the fog-shrouded vineyards of Sonoma County and their untapped potential for producing some of the finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the world. While at Hacienda, Steve quickly gained renown as a winemaker capable of making exceptional Burgundian-variety wines. He also began to develop his own style, favoring crispness, complexity and vineyard character, as opposed to overt opulence.

In 1987, Steve established MacRostie Winery and Vineyards. To make his earliest wines, Steve reached out to growers he knew and respected—leaders of Sonoma County winegrowing like the Sangiacomo family. Steve also worked to champion quality in the region, both in the vineyards and the winery, and MacRostie’s wines were soon widely hailed for their unique balance of cool-climate structure and vibrant fruit. In 1992, years before the modern Pinot Noir boom, MacRostie added Pinot Noir to its portfolio, and quickly developed a devoted following for the pure and elegant style of these wines.

The wine is pale straw gold in color, with honey-suckle and jasmine aromas. Citrus flavors; kefir lime and tangerine, dominate the taste profile while the mouth feel is elegant and full, with a ripe pear and a touch of vanilla caramel from the oak. The finish is soft and smooth, very dry, but leaves lingering lush primary fruit flavors. 

90 Rating Wine Enthusiast

Wine Enthusiast“So bright and zingy in acidity, and so ripe in tangerine, mango, lime fruit and honeysuckle, that you hardly notice the oak influence. Yet, it’s there in the form of buttered toast. The result is a big, powerful Chardonnay, clean and vibrant, for drinking now with dramatic shellfish and pork dishes.”

 

 

November 2014 Beer Club Selection

November 2014            The Oconee Cellar Beer Club

Bell’s Brewery

Founded by Larry Bell as a home brewing supply shop in 1983, Bell’s Brewery, Inc. sold its first commercial beer in September 1985. Beer was initially brewed in a 15-gallon soup kettle and the company has grown remarkably from its production of 135 barrels (1 barrel = 31 gallons) in 1986 to over 248,000 barrels in 2013.

Originally self-distributed, Larry and his staff of 9 employees bottled and delivered all of the beer to market for the company’s first four years. By 1989, Bell’s was shipping more than 500 barrels annually and assigned its first wholesaler to further establish itself across the state of Michigan. In 1993, Bell’s became the first Michigan brewery to open an onsite pub.

After struggling several years to produce and sell robust, full-bodied ales against a tide of a mass-mar­ket domestic beer, Bell’s began to see the demand for craft beer grow dramatically and expanded into new markets. Bell’s currently sells beer across a 20 state area in addition to Puerto Rico and Washington DC through a network of over 80 quality wholesalers.

In 2003, Bell’s opened a new production brewery in nearby Comstock, Michigan about seven miles east of Kalamazoo. This facility has seen five major additions since then and encompasses over 100,000 square feet of building on a 32-acre site.

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Construction of a 200-barrel brewhouse began in April, 2011 and it officially opened on May 14, 2012. Fourteen 400-barrel fermentation tanks, new grain handling facilities and an employee care area were also added.

Beers are now brewed on a 50-barrel system and a newer 200-barrel system with a total annual capacity of more than 500,000 barrels. Bell’s brews more than 20 beers for distribution.

In 2014, a canning line and twelve 800-barrel fermenters were added.

Future expansion at the Comstock Brewery will include the addition of a wastewater treatment facility.

Despite repeated expansions at the main production facility, we haven’t forgotten our roots and continue to brew at our original Kalamazoo location. Using the same equipment that served us so well for more than 20 years, this space has become home to several specialty projects, as well as brewing an extensive array of brands typically only available at the adjoining Eccentric Café.

Bell’s Winter White Ale $ 9.99

Taking its cues from Belgian-style white ales, Bell’s Winter White Ale offers a lighter yet abundantly flavorful alternative to the traditional heavy winter warmers. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley & wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the use of any spices. Deliberately brewed to retain a cloudy appearance, Bell’s Winter White Ale is a beer for embracing winter.

September 2014 Wine Club Selections

The Oconee Wine Club

Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio 2013 Retail  $12.99

Luna Nuda is the Italian phrase, meaning “Naked Moon” often used by vintners to describe a clear night sky with a bright full moon shining and shimmering over the beautiful Italian countryside, the fresh smell of dew as it softly dusts the trees carried in the calm whispering breeze.  An experience that has and continues to inspire generations of Italian winemakers.  Luna Nuda was created in Alto Adige Italy at the Castelfeder Wine Estate and Tuscany Italy at the Fratelli Nistri Wine Estate.  The vines bearing the grapes for these fine Italian wines have seen many generations of naked moons, and we believe there is a little of that energy and beauty inherent in each bottle of our Chianti and Pinot Grigio.

Buckhead Life Group in Atlanta Georgia is now serving Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio in many of their restaurants, including Pricci, Veni Vidi Vici, Buckhead Diner, Chops, Nava, Atlanta Fish Market, and Bluepointe. These represent a few of the elite restaurants in Atlana and we are very exited about showcasing our exciting new wine from Northern Italy in such fabulous venues.

The Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio was hand-harvested in cool morning hours.  It is Fermented in cool stainless steel tanks to retain freshness and purity.  Grapes sourced from carefully selected low yield vineyards in Alto Adige and Trentino.

Basilica Cafaggio Chianti Classico 2010 Retail $ 18.99

Located in the “golden valley” of the Chianti Classico area, Villa Cafaggio is considered one of the finest producers of Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva and “Super Tuscan” wines.  The origins of the current Villa Cafaggio site date back to the 15th century, when Benedictine monks owned the land and began cultivating grapevines and olives. The 400 meter altitude and mainly southern exposure provide the ideal microclimate and create the best conditions for developing the company’s wine production. For over thirty years, the Cafaggio Basilica has produced and sold its wines on the international market to widespread acclaim.

The Villa Cafaggio estate has 40 ha of vineyards, 85% of which have been replanted planted with Sangiovese over the last two decades. These vines have now reached perfect maturity and are being used to produce Chianti Classico.  The wine is aged in Slavonian oak casks, traditionally used in the production of quality Chianti. The result is a rich, full bodied wine with a deep ruby red color. It has an intense fruity aroma with notes of spicy cloves and a wonderfully refined black cherry and plum fruitiness on a long finish.

91 Rating by Wine Enthusiast      # 10 in the Top 100 Best Buys!

“This stunning wine boasts a bright, vibrant character. The palate has a juicy core of black cherry spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon that recalls Christmas cake. It’s fresh and delicious, with silky tannins that make it easy to enjoy soon.”

Connoisseur Club

In 1971 Sanford Winery and Vineyards discovered an overlooked, grape-growing treasure in the Santa Rita Hills. Recognizing a magical combination of climate and soil conditions much like those in France’s famed Burgundy province, Sanford planted the area’s first Pinot Noir in its Sanford & Benedict vineyard.  The Santa Rita Hills AVA is 100 square miles of heaven for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Sanford’s estate vineyards – Rancho La Rinconada and Sanford & Benedict – lie within it.

Under the direction of Doug Fletcher, Vice President of Winemaking for Terlato Wine Group, Sanford maintains low yields to nurture the lush fruit. To retain the intensity and integrity of the Santa Rita Hills fruit, Fletcher’s team uses a unique gravity racking system. Powerful hydraulic lifts raise and lower vats, minimizing handling and preserving the esters that give Sanford’s wines complexity and delicacy.

Sanford’s white wine fermentation takes place in both 60 gallon French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks, while the Pinot Noir is fermented in open-top stainless steel tanks and then finished in French oak barrels. Crafted in small lots, Sanford wines have a consistent style: Their full-bodied fruit flavors are balanced by mouth-watering acidity.

Sanford Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills 2011  Retail $ 25.99

Our 2011 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay comes exclusively from our two estate vineyards in heart of this cool climate appellation. The 2010 vintage was marked by low yields due to spring frost.  This resulted in intense flavors with bright acid. By gently whole cluster pressing and barrel fermentation in French oak, this Charonnay has lovely texture to balance the vibrant palate. Our 2011 estate Chardonnay offers intriguing aromas of lemon peel, apricot and toasted hazelnut. In addition to the bright fruit, this wine has aromas of white flowers. On the palate the minerality and acidity give this wine great structure, which carries through its long finish. This full bodied wine has nice acidity to keep it in balance and makes a nice complement to most seafood, poultry and pasta with lighter sauces, and makes an excellent pairing with mushrooms (especially chanterelles and morels).
 

Alejandro Fernandez Dehesa La Granja 2006 Retail $ 26.99

Alejandro Fernández personifies the mercurial 20th-century Spanishexperience. A family breadwinner from the age of thirteen, he went on to learn several trades, beginning as a master carpenter. After military service he worked selling agricultural machinery but soon came to manufacture equipment of his own design, attaining national success with a revolutionary beet harvester. During all these years Alejandro harvested and made wine yearly from his own vineyards, nurturing a lifelong dream of establishing a bodega for the production of great red wines, following the traditions of his ancestors dating to Roman and Visigothic times.  In 1972, Alejandro and wife Esperanza licensed their bodega in Pesquera, the 16th-century lagar and press house serving as grape receiving and processing through the 1982 harvest. (His machine shop which ceased business in 1985 still serves as the source for stainless tanks and countless other items for vineyard and bodega.)

Since 1982, fermentation has been of destemmed whole berries only, maceration varying from 12 to 20 days. The unclarified wine goes directly to small oak after pressing. Barricas are an astute blend of American, Spanish and French oak, custom-cured and made by Spain’s finest coopers.  Innovations such as overhead lifts and Alejandro’s patented barrel steamer facilitate the frequent racking process. Clarification is natural in the cold Castilian winters, assisted only occasionally with egg white fining prior to bottling. Neither filtration nor cold stabilization is practiced.  At a time when the region was pulling out vineyards in favor of irrigated row crops such as beets, Alejandro was augmenting and developing vineyards, his Viña Alta in 1972 the area’s first to be wire-trained.

This 100% Tempranillo is from the Castilla y Leon opens with a mild oak and mild blackberry with a hint of black licorice. On the palate, this wine is full bodied, balanced and juicy. The flavor profile is a tasty black plum and black licorice blend with hints of minerality, old oak, and spice. The finish is dry and it sticky tannins show very nice length. This would pair well with slow cooked barbecue beef brisket. This is a great value from Spain!
 

 

September Beer of the Month Selection

September 2014

Victory Brewing Company Festbier

The story of Victory Brewing Company starts on a school bus in 1973 when fifth-graders Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski stepped aboard, on their way to a new school. The two became fast friends and remained so, even as they grew up and went to college on opposite coasts.

Just months out of college, Bill’s appreciation of good beer and access to his father’s home brewing equipment inspired him to explore the hobby. That same year (1985), Bill gave Ron a home brewing kit as a Christmas gift. With that, both Bill and Ron developed their love of the craft, and a friendly rivalry grew between the two. The good-natured competition pushed Bill and Ron to become accomplished home brewers, and as they both grew disillusioned with their jobs in the corporate world they realized their combined skill and love of brewing could pave the path to successful careers as brewers.

Ron left his job as a financial analyst and started an apprenticeship at Baltimore Brewing Company (BBC), working under a Dutch-born and German-trained brewer named Theo DeGroen. After working there for nearly a year, Ron had the necessary prerequisites to move on to study at the Technical University of Munich at Weihenstephan.

Immediately upon Ron’s departure, Bill took over his emptied role in Baltimore. While Ron was enhancing his German brewing knowledge, Bill was expanding the line of beers produced at the BBC to include several German specialty beers, many of which went on to win multiple awards at the Great American Beer Festival. After his time at BBC, Bill completed his brewing studies by traveling to Munich, Germany to attend Doemens Institute.

After Ron’s year of education in Munich, he returned stateside and took a role at Old Dominion Brewing Company in Virginia. Over the course of four year as the brewmaster there, he helped to increase production from 1,500 barrels annually to nearly 15,000.

With knowledge, experience and a love of quality beer in place, Bill and Ron decided they were ready to open their own brewery near where they first met in Pennsylvania.

Victory Brewing Company opened its doors to the public on Feb. 15, 1996. What was once a Pepperidge Farm factory became home to a 144-seat restaurant, 70-foot-long bar and a full-scale brewery. In its first year, Victory Brewing Company brewed 1,725 barrels of beer.

Since then, Victory has increased the size of the restaurant to 300 seats. The brewery has also expanded, producing  93,196 barrels of beer in 2012. As loyal craft beer drinkers continue to show their dedication to flavorful, quality beer, Victory plans to continue its own growth.

Festbier  

Malt: Imported 2 row Vienna and Munich German malts

Hops: Whole flower German hops

ABV: 5.6%

Flavor

Subtly sweet with a delicate malt nose, our Festbier gains its impressive body from our use of all imported German malts and decoction brewing process.

Food Pairings

Spicy Latin dishes, pizzas and burgers