March Wine Club Selections 2014

The Oconee Wine Club

March 2014

The red wine for this month is the Veramonte El Caballero Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Chile.  Veramonte was founded in 1990 as a vineyard-based winery whose mission is to produce high quality wines that accurately, authentically express varietal characteristics via Chile’s unique terroirs — the combined environment of soil, topography, climate and people. Our commitment to nurturing the ties of every wine to its soil or “sense of place” reflects a dedication to produce terroir expressive wines.

Veramonte is located in Casablanca Valley, and wines are made from estate fruit from both the Casablanca estate, ideal for the development of white and cool climate wines & Colchagua property, well-known for producing quality red wine grapes.

The Winery is a striking, modern facility that houses the latest technology and state of the art wine making, allowing to create authentic, vineyard expressive wines. Veramonte is dedicated to ultimate terroir premium wines.

90 Rating by Wine Spectator!

Firm and well-focused, with zesty red plum and wild berry flavors, supported by crisp acidity and chewy tannins. Green herb and spice notes appear on the finish. Drink now through 2018. 10,000 cases imported. –KM

Only $ 10.99 per bottle!

The white for this month is the Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2011 also from Chile.  Also rated 90 by Wine Spectator for $ 21.99 a bottle.

  • King Philip V of Spain bestowed the noble title “MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA” upon José de Santiago Concha y Salvatierra for his meritorious work as Governor of Chile and Knight of Calatrava in 1718.
  • Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay from Santa Isabel in Pirque was launched in 1989.
  • Marcelo Papa becomes chief winemaker of Marques de Casa Concha in 1999.
  • The origin of Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay switched to the Limari Valley. This new Marques origin reflects the constant challenge of delivering the finest quality and elegant wines while retaining the style, character and values of the brand in 2008.
  • Rated 90 by Wine Spectator in March of 2013.  “This smoky white opens up with dense pineapple, Pink Lady apple and zesty citrus notes that are tightly wound on a bright, medium-bodied frame. Drink now. 16,500 cases made. –NW”

Connoisseurs Club

The red for this month is the 2010 Xavier Vins Vacqueyras ( $34.99 Retail) made from 50% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, and 20% Grenache.  The wine is named after the winemaker Xavier Vignon, one of the most highly renowned oenologists in Chateauneuf de Pape, France.    Vacqueyras is a French wine Appellation in the southern Rhone wine region of France, along the banks of the River Ouveze.  It is primarily a red wine region with some white and rosé wines being produced. Being a little brother of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and, arguably, Gigondas, the wine is moderately prestigious and can yield pleasing results when treated correctly.

Rated 91 by Robert Paker, “The 2010 Vacqueyras was made from a somewhat unusual blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre and 20% Grenache, most of it from the Plateau de Garrigue, near Sarrians in Vacqueyras. This rich effort reveals lots of forest floor, roasted herb, blackberry and cassis notes as well as a hint of acacia flowers. Impeccably pure, rich and long, it should drink well for 6-8 years. ” 

The white for this month is the Chateau Brondelle 2011 from the Graves area of Bordeaux France.  Château Brondelle is located 2 km south of Langon and 50 km southeast of Bordeaux in the Graves region of Bordeaux, so named for the famous gravel soils that produce lovely, mineral, white wines. This 62 acre estate has been in the same family since the end of the 19th century and its wines were noted as early as 1929. Since 1968, this property has been completely replanted and the present owner, Jean-Noel Belloc, is creating an outstanding wine that express fully the potential of the terroir.

This is a delightfully fresh and lively wine. It displays lovely aromas of citrus and floral notes. It holds lots of weight and complexity in the mouth yet remains light and youthful. A fantastic white Bordeaux for only $ 19.99 a bottle!  Great with seafood and light chicken dishes.

February 2014 Wine Club Selections

February 2014                                     Oconee Wine Club

Norton was founded by Edmund James Palmer Norton, an English engineer, in 1895. Norton bought the estate and land in Perdriel, Lujan de Cuyo, and planted vines creating a winery soon thereafter. Bodega Norton is the first winery in Argentina south of the Mendoza River.  In 1989, Austrian businessman Gernot Langes-Swarovski (of the famed crystal-making family) acquired the winery convinced of the high potential of Argentina.

The Bodega Norton Malbec Reserve 2011 was rated 92 by Wine Spectator and was #36 in their Top 100 Wines of the Year for 2013.  What a find this wine is for only $ 19.99 a bottle! A deep red color with hints of purple, this Malbec is expressive on the nose with notes of ripe black fruits, violets, and tobacco.  “Toasty yet ripe, showing ample mesquite and mocha notes to the raspberry ganache and rich plum fruit. Silky tannins line the dark, cream-tinged finish. Drink now through 2018. 60,000 cases imported.” Wine Spectator.

The Bodega Norton Chardonnay 2013 comes from Mendoza, Argentina.  Fresh with crisp green apple and tropical fruit, this Chardonnay is well  structured and balanced with a long finish. Ranging from golden yellow to greenish tones.  This wine pairs great with seafood, pasta with light sauces and grilled chicken.  What a great value at only $ 9.99 a bottle!

Connoisseurs Club

The red for this month comes from a winery in Lodi, California called Klinker Brick called Bricks & Mortar 2011 ( $29.99).  Bricks & Mortar is a unique red wine blend comprised of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Petite Sirah and 10% Old Vine Zinfandel.  This delicious wine has aromas of currant and plum, coupled with botanical garden notes of mint and thyme.  Dense flavors of cassis and spiced plum layer the palate with a silky, rich texture.  If you are a Prisoner fan, then this wine will be right in your wheel house.

Great wine begins with a suitable climate and soil, both of which are found in Lodi.  Sandy Loam soil coupled with the hot, cold exchange
that graces Lodi from day to night creates a utopic environment to cultivate warm-weather varietals including Zinfandel, Cabernet and Syrah.
A certain level of skill, attention to detail and harvest accuracy is required from the vintner as well.  What once began as a grape-growing
community from the early 1900’s until the late 1980’s, Lodi is now a thriving wine-producing region adorned with dozens of wineries, including
Klinker Brick.

The white for this month is the Chimney Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($ 29.99). The Chimney Rock estate began to take shape in 1980, when Hack and Stella Wilson purchased a 180 acre parcel – which included a golf course – situated on the east side of the Silverado Trail. They built their country house based on Cape Dutch-style architecture and started planting vineyards shortly afterwards.  The first 59 acres were planted with a combination of red and white grapes, and the premiere vintage of Chimney Rock estate wines was produced in 1989. In the early 1990s, the Cape Dutch-style winery building (with the massive allegorical frieze of Ganymede, cupbearer to the gods) and the tasting room were added to the estate.

This wine exibits aromas of white peach, citrus and pear.  The taste is bright with crisp acidity balanced by rich texture which results from the lees stirring.  Great with seafood such as oysters and sushi.

January 2014 Wine Club Selections

January 2014                               The Oconee Wine Club

Jean d’ Alibert Domaine de Chambert Chardonnay 2012      Retail $ 15.99

The type of Soil the grapes are grown in are very chalky with a Mediteranean sea influence.  Traditional wine making techniques include skin maceration followed by regulated temperature.   This Chardonnay has a very bright, clear yellow, golden straw color. It has a powerful, yet delicate nose with aromas of melon and rhubarb, with very discreet honey notes. The attack in the mouth is smooth but lively, thus giving a general impression of fullness.  It matches perfectly with fish, oysters, stuffed mussels and fresh goat’s cheese. Ideal as an aperitif.

The South of France has been, for the last 10 years, a good source for value Chardonnay. Though many of the Southern French versions don’t have the complexity of Burgundy, they are FAR less expensive. This delicious Chardonnay from Domaine de Chambert has the richness and full-throttle style of our most popular California Chardonnay, but with fine acidity that cuts through all that oak and fruit. Even though I’m not generally a fan of this richer style, the wine’s balance makes it appealing to me, and it will also appeal to anyone who loves an oaky Chardonnay. If you prefer your Chardonnay on the crisp side, chill this wine well; if you like a richer texture, serve it a bit warmer. This is an excellent wine to serve with lobster or cracked crab dipped in lemon butter. Enjoy over the next year.

Terra Sanctus Cotes du Rhone Village 2011 $ 16.99

This stylish red is made of 60% Grenache & 40% Syrah grapes are sourced from 30-50 year old vines in the Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu appellation.  Traditional winemaking in cuve béton (concrete vats) for fermentation and elevage.  The 2011 Terra Sanctus explodes in the glass with fresh scents of framboise, pine needles, and hints of freshly crushed black pepper.  Elegance and balance are the hallmarks of wines hailing from the Plan de Dieu which sits as a pebbly plateau near Rasteau.  The Terra Sanctus has striking flavors of currants, raspberries and plum with a long and spicy Châteauneuf-du-Pape-like finish.

Within the boundaries of the Côtes du Rhône Village appellation, there are several villages whose wines rise above those of the rest of the appellation and therefore are allowed to put their name on the label. Plan de Dieu is one of these villages and the grapes for this wine come from this area just northeast of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  Made from 30-50 year-old Grenache vines that have very low yields, this is 60% Grenache with 40% Syrah. This has all the dark-fruited, subtly spicy elements you would expect of a Rhone with this pedigree and is loaded with black currant, blackberry, licorice and pepper.

Connoisseur’s Club

Antica Chardonnay 2012 Retail $ 29.99

“Antica” originates from the words Antinori and California, and it represents a long-standing vision to produce great Antinori wines in the Napa Valley. The Antinori Family history is a narrative about devotion to winemaking woven through six centuries, stretching from the family’s legendary vineyards in Tuscany to their newest estate in California, Antica Napa Valley. For over 26 generations the family has always personally managed the business and today it remains entirely familyowned. The Antinori Family reputation has grown throughout the centuries by making innovative, sometimes courageous choices, always with unwavering respect for land and tradition. The qualities of tradition, passion and intuition have made Antinori one of the leading Italian producers of fine wines.

Antica Napa Valley is a breathtaking estate set high in the eastern mountains of the Napa Valley. Located in the remote Atlas Peak District, the 550-acre estate produces only small lots of Antica Napa Valley wines, a testament to the discipline and care of the Antinori Family. For Antinori, the California adventure began in 1966, when as a young man, Piero Antinori first traveled to Napa Valley and encountered its spirit of a new frontier. Twenty years later, the Antinori Family along with some business partners discovered a beautiful estate there. The Antinori Family was attracted to this spectacular property located in the Atlas Mountain of Napa Valley because of its breathtaking location, rocky soils, high elevations and beautiful landscape.

In September 2007, Antinori released in limited quantities the inaugural vintages of Antica Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. It is the Antinori Family’s belief that their Napa Valley estate’s intrinsic “DNA” will produce wines of great personality and style.

The 2012 Chardonnay is pure, ripe, and richly flavored, yet fine and delicate. There are lots of distinctive peach, nectarine, and pear notes, finishing with subtle hints of vanilla and toast flavors. The finish on the wine is mouthwatering and gains depth with its long persistence on the palate.

B Side Cabernet Napa Valley 2011 Retail $22.99

In the early 1950s record companies introduced the two-sided 45. The “A” side played the song the record companies hoped would become a hit. But the “B” side was often the real find, frequently revealing an undiscovered gem.

Inspired by these unheralded classics, B Side wines bring this alternative sensibility to the decidedly A-list world of Napa Valley wine. Hailing from Napa’s “flip” side, B Side reds are crafted with grapes sourced from the slightly-off-the-beaten-track vineyards along the valley’s eastern hillsides. They’re authentic originals: a little experimental and unexpected, crafted and perfected behind-the-scenes for those with a penchant for discovery.

Our 2011 B Side Cabernet Sauvignon opens with aromas of plum, blackberry compote, cardamom and hints of cigar box. Black cherry and cassis flavors transition to bittersweet chocolate and espresso through the mid-palate, revealing layers of depth. This wine is full-bodied, with well-integrated oak and smooth, supple tannins.

Bordered by two mountain ranges, Napa valley stretches approximately 30 miles north to south, one mile East to West at its narrow northern end and five miles at its widest point near the town of Napa. Its maritime climate—warm days and cool nights—coupled with deep yet not excessively fertile soils makes it ideally suited for the cultivation of ultra premium grapes. The first grapes were planted here in 1838, and today Napa accounts for four percent of California’s total wine production, focusing primarily on the top-end of the wine market.

The 2011 vintage was a trying one for growers. It was an unusually cool year and a late frost affected many vineyards cutting yields and pushing out harvest. The weather remained unseasonably cool through much of the growing season, and was devoid of any real grape ripening heat spikes until well into September. Rain and lower temperature returned again in October further reducing yields and bringing fears of botrytis. These early rain events gave way to the long-awaited Indian summer, with the grapes finally getting ripe enough to pick. While the harvest wasn’t abundant, the emerging crop displayed powerfully concentrated flavors developed during the extended hang-time they enjoyed.

August 2013 Wine Club Selections

August 2013                                         Wine Club Selections

There are a lot of exciting things going on this month at The Oconee Cellar!  We will be celebrating our 15 year Anniversary of being in business in the Lake Oconee area.  Stop by on Saturday August 17th and help us celebrate!  Dock 103.9 FM will be broadcasting live from the store from 10:00 – 1:00 pm, free refreshments will be served from 11:00 – 1:00, lots of really good sales on some of the most popular Wine & Spirits, giveaways, and much, much, more.  You don’t want to miss it!  It is a great time to stock up for Labor Day Weekend.

On Monday August 19th we will have an Italian Wine Tasting at Da Corrado’s.  We have had 5 consecutive sell outs at our tastings, so if you are interested in attending stop by The Oconee Cellar and pay $25 per person (optional $10 per person to raise funds for Theo Griswold) ASAP!  Theo has been cleaning the floors here at the store since 2002.  He retired from the Georgia Department of Human Resources in 2000 after 32 years of service and has owned his own business in 1989.  He lost half his leg in March after undergoing what was supposed to be a simple procedure to correct an aneurysm in his lower leg.  Corrado and I have teamed up to give away a Six Course Wine Dinner for 10 at his restaurant to help raise money for Theo’s hospital, medical, and doctors bills and to help him get the prosthesis he wants so he can continue to have an active lifestyle.  Raffle tickets are on sale at The Oconee Cellar for $25 to win a chance at this great dinner.   We will pick the winner at the September wine tasting.  Cash donations are also being accepted.

Both of the August wine selections come from Dry Creek Vineyard, which is one of the few remaining family owned wineries left in California.   With more than 40 years of grape growing and winemaking experience, their efforts continue to focus on the quality of wine in the bottle.  When founder David Stare started Dry Creek Vineyard, he began the winery with a single-minded effort to offer the highest quality wine possible at a reasonable price.  Dave realized that the success of the winery hinged upon providing that “something special” in the bottle to keep customers coming back for more.

Today, the second generation continues to build upon those early-established values.  Dave’s daughter, Kim Stare Wallace and her husband, Don Wallace, are wholly committed to the quality of wine produced at Dry Creek Vineyard.  With an eye toward the future, Kim and Don continue their passion to produce high quality wines while being mindful of the original vision of the winery.

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2012  Retail $11.99

This wonderfully crisp, incredibly refreshing dry Chenin Blanc perfectly represents our love for this classic grape variety. At first swirl, fragrant aromas of tropical stone fruits such as white peach, melon, and citrus leap from the glass. A few minutes in the glass reveal the wine’s signature mineral characters, and even some chalky notes, which are an ode to the variety’s Loire Valley roots. The palate expresses soft apple flavors along with zesty citrus and, overall, an excellent sense of balance and freshness. A perfect patio sipper, Chenin Blanc is summertime in a bottle!

Dry Creek Heritage Zinfandel 2010   $ 15.99

This wine was first released in 1997 as Heritage Clone Zinfandel. Using old vine budwood grafted into a new vineyard, the Heritage bottling represents the best of a young vine Zin with distinctive old vine characters.  The 2010 vintage may go down as one of the more difficult, challenging vintages of the last decade. With varied growing conditions, it was incredibly important to stay on top of the vineyard ensuring that the canopy was well managed. Late spring rains, a cool summer and then several heat spikes before and during harvest added to the challenge. However, our winemaking and vineyard team really came through, keeping a cool head and bringing in fruit that achieved full ripeness, flavor and balance.

The 2010 vintage of Heritage Zinfandel presents an excellent cool vintage aroma profile of blueberry, red currants, earthy dustiness and mineral nuances. The low alcohol nature of this wine shines through immediately with silky smooth tannins and a firm grip of natural acidity and balance. The fruit is substantial with layers of black cherry, mixed berries, currants and allspice. This Zinfandel is superbly balanced and satisfying, repeating the earthy, mixed berry theme while also carrying forward subtler hints of white and black pepper. The finish lingers on creating a mouth-watering.

90 Rating by Wine Spectator!

A lively, zesty Zin, with raspberry and fresh sage aromas and appealing cherry, pepper and mineral flavors that finish with ripe and briary tannins. Drink now through 2017. 13,495 cases made. –TF

Connoiseurs Club

Chateau St. Jean, with its gracious style, elegant architecture and inviting gardens and tasting rooms, is the quintessential Sonoma winery.  The winemaking estate is located at the foot of Sugarloaf Ridge in the Sonoma Valley near Kenwood, California.   Founded in 1973, Chateau St. Jean has long been recognized as a leader in Vineyard Designated wines.  Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren uses her 30 years of vineyard and winemaking expertise with Chateau St. Jean to highlight the best of each vineyard in the wines.

In 1999, Chateau St. Jean was the first Sonoma winery to be awarded the prestigious “Wine of the Year” award from the Wine Spectator Magazine for its 1996 Cinq Cépages Cabernet Sauvignon, a Bordeaux-style blend of “five varieties.”  The winery received high acclaim again when it received the “#2 Wine of the Year” from Wine Spectator for its 1999 Cinq Cépages Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Vineyard Chardonnay    $ 27.99       92 Rating Wine Spectator!

Graceful and understated, with delicate, fragrant floral, white peach, honeydew melon and smoky oak notes, all beautifully proportioned, offering a long finish. Drink now through 2019. 8,554 cases made. –JL

J Dusi Zinfandel Dante Dusi Vineyards 2010  $ 29.99

The Connoiseur Club red J. Dusi Wines Dante Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel comes from small producer/farmer in Paso Robles called Janell Dusi, who was born and raised on the Dusi Vineyard where his grandfather Dante taught him the old world Italian style of winemaking.  His family’s heritage dates back to the early 1920’s, where grape growing has been a craft that has deep roots in the Dusi family.  The farming practices that were implemented by his great-grandparents eighty years ago, are still the standard that we follow today.  The unique, hand crafted quality of J Dusi Wines results from his intimate involvement in every step of the process: working in the vineyard, driving the tractor, hand picking my own fruit, crushing the grapes and fermenting the juice from the bins to the barrels to the bottle.

The intense flavor profiles of the “Dusi Fruit” are characteristic of the land’s unique micro climate and the family’s old-world, handcrafted grape growing techniques.  This 100-acre estate is located just south of Paso Robles.  A region that features the greatest day-to-night temperature variation of any appellation in California, providing ideal conditions for vibrantly flavored yet exceptionally balanced wines.  The vineyard has been sought after by many fine wineries such as:  Turley, Four Vines, Cypher, Tobin James, and JC Cellars.  These local wineries have been purchasing the fruit for many years, creating their own versions of Dusi Vineyard designated Zinfandels.  If you are a big fan of nice full bodied reds with lots of spice and character that you can enjoy by itself or with grilled meats, then this is a wine for you!  Big, ripe, and jammy with lots of blueberry, raspberry, and spice.   Just plain good!

July wine club selections

July 2013                                Wine Club Selections

Summer is in full gear now!  We wanted to say thank you for all of your support over the 4th of July weekend!  The rain sure kept us busy!  The two French wines from last month have sure been a hit.  You can’t beet a nice Sauvignon Blanc to quench your thirst in the summer time.  This month I did something I have never done before, I chose two wines from different countries- a California white wine and a French red wine.  I know you will enjoy these two great wines!


The white wine is called SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from Santa Barbara County.  Invigorating scents of lemon, lime, grapefruit, and freshly cut grass waft from the glass, while clean, crisp notes of gooseberries and tangerines awaken your palate. With a lively, slightly tart finish, our Sauvignon Blanc captures the free feeling of endless summer.  Vineyard Information Our Sauvignon Blanc vineyard is nestled in Santa Barbara’s rolling hills. The cool ocean air and abundant fog of Santa Barbara County allow Sauvignon Blanc grapes to ripen slowly and evenly while developing complex tropical flavors and crisp acidity.

Reductive style winemaking keeps the fresh, fruitforward flavors of the grape intact during the winemaking process by keeping the juice void of oxygen exposure. 100% non-malolactic fermentation maintains the wine’s delicate varietal flavors and crisp acidity. SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc is fermented in stainless steel tanks at cold temperatures to retain the grape’s natural tropical flavors. The wine is bottled early and sealed with a Stelcap closure to preserve the wine’s freshness.

The red for this month is the Shatter 2011 Grenache.  This wine is a collaboration with Dave Phinney from Orin Swift Cellars.  Dave Phinney founded Orin Swift Cellars in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2000 that the success of The Prisoner, a Zinfandel blend, enabled Dave to focus on Orin Swift Cellars full time. The Mercury Head, Veladora, Saldo, Papillon and Palermo labels soon followed, each label demonstrating Dave’s interest in art and his ability to create surprising, unconventional blends that consumers were wanting. Looking for a new wine project, Dave visited Maury in the Roussillon region of France in 2008 after hearing about it from a friend. Amazed by the area’s potential, he made his first wine, a Grenache blend named D66, from the area in 2009.

Joel Gott started making wine in 1996 with his first vintage of Dillian Ranch, Amador County Zinfandel under the Joel Gott label. His goal was to make quality, balanced wine for under $20 a part of the market he felt was under-served. Joel soon realized that the best way to do this was by blending various California appellations, getting the best from each region, instead of focusing on a single one. He later partnered with two friends in 2001 to launch The Three Thieves, a wine project that allowed him to explore wine branding and packaging, and that eventually took him abroad to Argentina, Chile and Spain to make wine for The Show label, laying the groundwork for further winemaking travels.

Dave Phinney, Joel Gott & Trinchero Family Estates, Shatter

As soon as Dave told Joel about Maury, with its ancient vines struggling on rocky, hillsides of schist, Joel had to go. An area that for years was known only for sweet, port-like wines, Maury was slowly changing course; locals and newcomers were beginning to make exceptional, dry wines. When Joel went to Roussillon with Dave, who by then had built a winery in Maury, he was amazed by the incredibly concentrated fruit, capable of creating darker wines than anything else in France, and the terroir, different from anywhere else in California or France. It was an extraordinary opportunity for them to work together, and with Trinchero Family Estates who will import and distribute the wine.

2011 SHATTER GRENACHE  $ 21.99

Shatter, Dave Phinney and Joel Gott’s first collaborative effort, comes from the small town of Maury in the Rousillon region of France.  The Hillside Grenache vines were planted over 60 years ago in black schist, a slate-like, rocky soil common to the area.  Though nutrient-poor, it retains heat well, allowing the slow-ripening Grenache to reach full maturity through cool nights.  Tough soil, strong winds and hot days push the vines and cause shatter, or coulure, in the grape clusters, naturally thinning fruit from the vines and producing more intensely concentrated flavors.  After harvest, the fruit was cold soaked for 30 days to help further concentrate the wine, then fermented and aged in maury.

You will find aromas of crushed cherry and spring ruhubarb pie with a back ground of seasoned French oak.  As you tasted the wines loads of luscious wild strawberry round the mid-palate.  The finish is full of ripe blackberry and blueberry notes that are intense yet pleasurable.


Zolo Reserve 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza, Argentina  $21.99

Zolo is produced at one of the most technologically advanced wineries in Argentina. Zolo selects grapes from estate vineyards throughout different key regions of Mendoza. Located at various altitudes, each of these terroirs provides a different expression of fruit and varietal concentration. The winemakers are Fabian Valenzuela and Jean Claude Berrouet (former Petrus winemaker), the vineyard manager is Carlos Correas, and the President and owner is Patricia Ortiz.

The purpose of the winery’s Zolo classic line is to create a family of fruit-forward, great value wines, which can be enjoyed with a wide range of food or by themselves. The Zolo Reserves, with their ultra-high concentration, long ageing in new French oak, and aromatic complexity are made for those special occasions when one needs a wine to “blow your hat off.”  Zolo has been a leading Argentine brand since 2004, and is estate-grown & sustainably-farmed.

93 points, The Wine Advocate (’10).

“A worthy follow-up to the 2009. It has a sedate, well-defined bouquet of kirsch, cranberry, raspberry and that gravel note. The palate is full-bodied and well-balanced with earthy ripe black fruit. It is a little broody, but draws you in, and the finish is powerful but wonderfully focused. This is a classy Cabernet.”

Pine Ridge Vineyards Dijon Clones Chardonnay 2011  $ 31.99

Established in 1978, Pine Ridge Vineyards produces classically proportioned, expressive wines that embody their history and distinct place of origin.  Pine Ridge founder Gary Andrus, inspired by the illustrious wines of Bordeaux, believed in the Napa Valley’s potential to produce wines of similar stature. He planted the property’s original namesake vineyard on a steeply terraced hillside flanked by a dramatic ridgeline of pine trees in the Stags Leap District. Gary’s pioneering efforts with this first vineyard were met with tremendous success as the Bordeaux varietals he planted – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot – thrived and produced wines of great distinction. In the following years, Pine Ridge continued to acquire exceptional vineyard sites across the region. Today, the Estate’s 200-acres span over five renowned Napa Valley appellations – Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Oakville, Carneros and Howell Mountain.

90 points, Wine Enthusiast
Radiant and golden, our Dijon Clones Chardonnay sings from the glass with aromas of fresh yellow apple, crisp white peach and lemon creme brulee.



June Wine Club Selections

June 2013                                                    Oconee Wine Club Selections

Summer has finally arrived at Lake Oconee!  Lots of new and exciting products are coming in daily to help you beat the heat.  Last month’s H3 wines by Columbia Crest where very well received by wine club members.  We do have extra stock in case you want to purchase additional bottles.  This month I am very excited to expose wine club members to some delicious French wines!  Also, don’t forget our next wine tasting consisting of California wines will be on Monday June 17th at 6:00 at Corrado’s.  You can RSVP by bring check or cash for $25 per person to The Oconee Cellar.  Hope to see you then!

Plan Pegau Lot # 2009     90 Points Wine & Spirits      Top 25 wine values in the world, Robert Parker  $ 19.99

The red wine for this month comes from the Southern Rhone region near Chateauneuf.  They are crafted by Laurence Féraud of Domaine du Pegau.  Plan Pegau has loads of character and personality, and offers a true and loud echo of the flavor and style of Domaine du Pegau Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A perfect illustration of the HPS mantra of quality, character and value, it always seems to have a bit of that magic Châteauneuf funk!

It is an approachable, medium bodied wine with loads of cherry fruit, light peppery notes and a touch of Châteauneuf funk.  Serve with game, hearty stews, and grilled meats. Fruit was sourced from numerous vineyard sites in the Southern Rhône (Costières de Nîmes, as well as vineyard sites owned by Pegau, near Châteauneuf).  The wine is a blend of roughly 65% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Carignan, the balance a kitchen sink blend of Mourvèdre, Merlot, Alicante, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Whole grape bunches were lightly crushed and fermented at controlled temperatures in traditional concrete vats. Aged about 6 months in very old French oak casks. The wine is unfiltered.  This is a great wine to drink now or cellar up to 5-6 years.

Chateau des Tourtes 2010 Cotes de Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon  $ 13.99

The Chateau is owned by Philippe Raguenot, father of Emmanuelle Miller and Marie-Pierre Lallez (who, along with their husbands, Darren and Eric, own Château Haut Beyzac in the Haut Médoc), Chateau des Tourtes is a substantial property situated in the Premières Côtes de Blaye district of Bordeaux.

This crisp refreshing white is loaded with citrus, fresh-cut grass and light floral notes, with an underlying mineral character. On the palate, it has great freshness and a racy acidity, ending with a long, clean finish.  It is perfect for the hot summer weather to sip on along with fresh fruit and cheese.  They own 150 acres in total, 2/3 planted to red (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), the balance planted to Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  This wine consists of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and  20% Semillon.  The vines averaged 15 years in age, with yields of 3.67 tons/acre.  Fermentation lasted about 12 days, with an additional 6 months ‘sur lie’. Unoaked – vinified entirely in stainless steel tanks.  Enjoy as an aperitif, with seafood (especially oysters or fatty fish such as salmon) or hearty salads.

Connoisseur’s Club
Guigal Gigondas 2010      $ 34.99     91 Rating Robert Parker!

The story of the Guigal family is a young but remarkable one.  Etienne Guigal was the youngest in his family, but as the most resilient he was sent off on his own at a very young age when his family could no longer afford to care for him.  He came to Ampuis to pick apricots, labor he found preferable to his previous work underground in mines.  In the early 1930s his brother helped Etienne, still only 14 years of age, secure a job in the vineyards at Vidal Fleury, then the largest and strongest winery in the Rhone.  Etienne started pruning in the vineyards and rose to Maitre de Chai over the course of 15 years, before eventually leaving in 1946 to start his own firm, E. Guigal.  Etienne’s son Marcel became involved very early in the business when in 1961 he was forced to rush back from school because his father was suddenly struck with total blindness.  Marcel has led the firm since, and his unparalleled work ethic and dedication to quality have lifted the Guigal wines to the pinnacle of the wine world, and the Guigal domaine to its status as the leading winery from the Rhone Valley.

The Guigal firm is extraordinary in a number of dimensions.  First is their decision that they will only purchase vineyards that are capable of producing truly great wines.  Therefore despite their important production, they own only 150 acres, all in the Northern  Rhone.  They own overwhelmingly the finest collection of vineyards in Côte-Rôtie, the finest, carefully selected sites in both Condrieu and Saint Joseph, four exquisite parcels in Hermitage, and some of the finest vineyards in Crozes-Hermitage.  These 150 acres are truly the finest sites in the Northern Rhone, and serve as the source for their estate-bottled wines and the foundation for their Northern Rhone appellation wines.

A second important dimension is Guigal’s approach to viticulture.  The Guigal family is tireless in its work on the steeply sloped, terraced vineyards it owns, with views entirely to the long-term.  They are methodically re-building vineyards today that won’t be planted for another five to ten years because of their belief in the soils, expositions and mesoclimates of these sites.  Their philosophy in the vineyard is to prune low and strictly limit the number of shoots per vine, training for low vigor and low-yields and looking for natural balance and concentration in this manner.  No pesticides, herbicides or chemicals are used in the vineyards, and the fact some of Guigal vines date back to the 1890s is a testimony to the nurturing, obsessive approach the Guigals have in their vineyards.

Thirdly, Guigal is a unique negociant company.  The family knows the Northern Rhone like no one else, and supplements their holdings by buying grapes from long-time grower partners.  In total, they vinify around 33% of Côte-Rôtie and 45% of Condrieu, and have access to top fruit in all the regions they work.  In the Southern Rhone, they buy only wine, and with a distinctive approach.  Namely, they do not have a single contract.  Marcel and Philippe taste relentlessly and start from scratch every year.  In a given year, they will purchase the top 1% of the wines they taste, and because of their longtime contacts, they have access to the best wines in the region; they select, in other words, 1% from the very finest wines in the Southern Rhone.

Fourthly, Guigal’s vinfication is singular in the world of wine, and allows their great raw materials to flourish in the bottle.  Their vinification approach actually harkens back to tradition in the Rhone Valley, with long ageing, which integrates tannins and flavors and creates wines of great complexity and refinement.  Because of their superior fruit, the Guigals do not make “simple”  wines – these wines demand time to come together.  All wines undergo natural yeast fermentations, and intervention is at a bare minimum, with no fining or filtration.  The top Guigal wines undergo famously long maturation period in barrel, up to three and a half years, but even parcels of old-vine Syrah for their Côtes du Rhône are aged in foudres for six months, completely atypical for the Côtes du Rhône category.  The Guigals are so exacting about the ageing process that, finding inconsistent barrels from even the best tonnelleries, they make every barrel that is used in their winery, with one barrel produced by hand every day by their single cooper at the Chateau d’Ampuis.  These barrels are destined for their Northern Rhone wines, while they use foudres built to exacting specifications for their Southern Rhone wines.  The reality is that it is enormously expensive to hold onto 3 or 4 vintages of Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Côte-Rôtie, or even to hold onto Côtes du Rhône that is two or three vintages behind what other producers are releasing, but it is done for the quality of the wine, and so that consumers can enjoy the wines for drinking upon release.

“The excellent 2010 Gigondas (a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre and 5% Syrah) is a ripe, earthy effort displaying peppery notes intermixed with garrigue, blueberries and black raspberries, super fruit (a characteristic of this vintage), low acidity and attractive lushness as well as density. It should drink nicely for a decade.”  

Joseph Drouhin Saint – Veran 2011   $ 19.99

With its 73 hectares (182.5 acres), the Joseph Drouhin Domaine is one of the largest estates in the region.  It owns vineyards in all of Burgundy: Chablis (38 hectares – 95 acres), Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, (32 hectares – 80 acres), Côte Chalonnaise (3 hectares – 7.5 acres).  It is comprised of a majority of Premier and Grand Crus, planted with the two Burgundian grape varietals, pinot noir and chardonnay.  The Domaine was put together through the years, thanks to judicious purchases and agreements between families.  Some vineyards are among the most famous in Burgundy, such as Clos des Mouches, Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, Musigny, Clos de Vougeot, Corton-Charlemagne, etc.

For some village or regional appellations, Joseph Drouhin complements its supplies by purchasing grapes from other vineyard owners who have been long time partners and share the same quest of excellence.  Starting with the vintage 2008, the name “Vaudon” will be associated with Joseph Drouhin for all its Chablis wines as a sign of the firm’s allegiance to this historical terroir.

They are located at the southern end of Burgundy, just north of Beaujolais. The appellation Saint-Véran is actually larger than the territory of the commune.  The actual village of Saint-Vérand is spelled differently (note the final “d”). Established by decree in 1971, it is the latest appellation in the Mâconnais region.  The soil consists of Jurassic limestone, a continuation of the chalky strata found in the Côte d’Or, ideal for growing Chardonnay grapes.

“It is stylistically close to Pouilly-Fuissé, with its golden hue, its greenish reflection and its refreshing taste. The aromas are reminiscent of the ripe Chardonnay grape, with subtle notes of musk. A pleasant roundness coats the palate”.


Wine Club Selections May 2013

This month I chose two wines from Washington State’s Columbia Crest.  The more wines I taste from Washington, the more I am a true believer that they are some of the best in the U.S.  Wine Spectator named Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet “Wine of the Year” in 2009.  This was the first time a Washington State wine has won this prestigious title.  Another great Washington winery called Quilceda Creek has had more 100 point ratings that any other California wine!  Whether you like Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Riesling, or Chardonnay, give Washington State a try and you will see that they are some of the best domestic values on the market.

Juan Munoz Oca joined Columbia Crest in 2003 and was named head winemaker in 2011. Prior to 2011 he was dedicated to the winery’s red wine program where he worked alongside Ray Einberger whose 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, ‘Wine of the Year’ by Wine Spectator in 2009.   The two wines I chose come from the H3 series, which stands for Horse Heaven Hills.  This is the name of the vineyard where the grapes are grown and is named for the wild horses that once roamed the area.

Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay 2009 $ 15.99

Whole berry Chardonnay from select vineyards was pressed. The juice was held at 50 degrees in stainless steel tanks, for two days, allowing solids to settle.  38% of the clarified juice was barrel fermented in new American and French oak, and 37% in older oak barrels to create complexity and maintain the fruit integrity.  25% of the juice was fermented in stainless steel to retain the minerality and fruit-forward, elegant characters unique to the Horse Heaven Hills region.  Various yeasts were used at fermentation including Prise de Mousse Burgoblanc and N96; 75% of the wine was then inoculated for malolactic fermentation.  All barrels were hand stirred weekly for six months; the wine aged in barrel for a total of 9 months.  Barrel lots were clean racked by gravity flow into a blend just weeks prior to bottling.

“Aromas of baked apple, honeysuckle, nutmeg, and a touch of mineral introduce this elegant yet racy, medium-bodied Chardonnay. A broad spectrum of orchard fruits and sweet oak notes lead to a seductive, slightly creamy vanilla finish.”

89 points – The Wine Advocate – August 31, 2011 2009 H3 Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills

The 2009 Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills (a mere 36,000 cases) was 75% barrel-fermented with 75% of the wine going through malolactic fermentation. It was aged sur lie in barrel for 9 months with batonnage. Toasty tropical aromas lead to a spicy, savory, well-balanced, lengthy Chardonnay that is an excellent value meant for drinking over the next 2-3 years

Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet 2010  $ 15.99

Fermentation lasted 6-10 days on the skins to extract optimum fruit and structural components.   Various yeasts were used to maintain fruit flavors and complexity. Malolactic fermentation occurred in stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. Blending occurred shortly after malolactic fermentation.  The wine was barrel aged in 40% new and 60% older French oak for 18 months.  The wine was racked three times during the 18 month barrel aging period “This bold medium-bodied wine delivers aromas of cherry blossoms and rose petals, with a perfect balance of earth, mineral and deep berry flavors leading to a soft tannin cocoa finish.”

The 100 Outstanding Values of 2012” – Wine Spectator – December 31, 2012 2010 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills

For high quality at low prices, these wines are the world’s best. (90 points)

“Harvey Steiman’s Recommended Wines From Washington” – Wine Spectator – December 15, 2012 2010 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills

Polished and distinctive, offering chocolate and espresso accents around a supple core of cherry and fresh currant fruit. (previously scored 90 points 11/30/12)

Connoisseur Club

Jay Corley, came to Napa Valley in 1969 seeking land to plant and grow an estate vineyard.  Thirty-five plus years later, sons Kevin, Chris and Stephen manage the winery: Kevin is our Winegrower and President, Chris is the Winemaker, and Stephen is the Director of Wine Sales. They are a small winery producing approximately 15,000 cases of wine annually designated MONTICELLO VINEYARDS, CORLEY RESERVE and CORLEY.

Today they farm five vineyards in the Napa Valley – Home Ranch Vineyard and Knollwood Vineyard in the Oak Knoll District planted to Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah vines and State Lane Vineyard in Yountville, Tietjen Vineyard on Niebaum Lane in Rutherford and Ehlers Lane Vineyard in St. Helena each planted to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Monticello Vineyards Jefferson Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon 2010  $ 31.99

This 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon is like a slice of Napa Valley, as it represents four vineyards spanning the valley from St. Helena to Rutherford to Yountville to our Home Ranch in Oak Knoll District. You can find elements of each appellation in the finished wine. Lush fruit from St. Helena, dusty tannins and berries from Rutherford, black berry fruits and firm tannins from Yountville, and a solid backbone from Oak Knoll District. The wine is big, with a nice attack, huge mid-palate and along lingering finish.

Monticello Vineyards Estate Grown Chardonnay 2011   $24.99

This 100% Chardonnay displays is showing great aromas of tropical fruit with citrus undertones. The oak is very well integrated and lends the wine a nice tone of lightly toasted vanilla aromas. The texture of the wine is very smooth, with a lower than typical alcohol and fresh acidity that culminates in a smooth lingering finish. Drink Now through 2015.



April 2013 Wine Club Selections

April 2013                                                                 Wine Club Selections

This month I chose two wines for The Oconee Wine Club from one of the fastest growing wine growing countries in the world, Argentina.  The popularity of these wines have taken the world by storm.  When The Oconee Cellar opened in 1998, we did not have a section dedicated to Argentina wines.  There was probably only a handful of wineries making good wines.
Today, you are hard pressed to find one of the thousands of wines available, that are not tasty, well balanced and full of flavor.

The winery I chose to showcase this month is a winery called Bodega Cuarto Dominio.   It is owned by Javier Catena, who is a 4th Generation of the Catena family.  Their tradition started in 1902, when his great grandfather planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza.  His great grandfather, was born in the little town of Tolentino, Italy in the 1800’s. He was a vineyard worker there until he sailed from Italy to Argentina in 1898. When he arrived in Mendoza, he was taken aback by the splendor of the Andes, its landscapes and by the people that received him warmly. He was convinced he wanted to pursue his wine making dreams in Argentina, and planted his first Malbec vineyard in 1902. Up until that time, Malbec was a blending grape in Bordeaux; but he believed it would flourish into a world-class varietal in Mendoza.

Javier’s grandfather, Domingo, carried on his father’s dream and took the family winery to the next level, becoming one of the largest vineyard owners and producers in Argentina.  During that time, my father, Jorge Catena, studied oenology in Mendoza and began working in the family winery in the mid-1960’s.  Jorge specialized in wine making and viticulture.

Towards the end of the 1970’s, Javier’s father believed that in order to produce the best wines of Argentina and compete with the greatest wines in the world, he must learn the latest technologies and wine making techniques, so he travelled to California to study at the University of California at Davis. He also travelled to Europe to study the French wine making techniques and to Australia several times.  This philosophy of learning and dedication shows in these great wines.

Bodega Cuarto Dominio Tolentino Winemaker’s Selection Malbec 2011  $ 14.99

90 Rating by Robert Parker!

This Malbec has a dark violet color with dense black-fruit aromatics and some mocha character in the nose.
It also has very soft and silky tannins, a natural balance, nice concentration and a distinctive smooth lengthy finish.
The wines go through a cold pre fermentary maceration to preserve primary aromas, then a series of delestages and pumpovers during fermentation for a more balanced extraction.   The juice is fermented for about 14 days at low temperatures and it is followed by a post fermentation maceration. The wines spend around 6 to 8 months in contact with 100% French oak.

Robert Parker’s review, “The 2011 Tolentino Malbec Winemaker’s Selection, which sees six to eight months in French oak, has a pinched bouquet of raspberry, mulberry and a touch of banana skin (from a little reduction). The palate is medium-bodied, with sappy, ripe red berry fruit on the entry. The acidity is well-judged and builds nicely with copious raspberry jam and boysenberry notes, towards the satisfying, structured finish that is pure and silky smooth in the mouth. This is a delicious Malbec to savor over the next five or six years. Drink now-2018.”

Tolentino Pinot Grigio 2011   $ 14.99

This Pinot Grigio has a light yellow- greenish color with intense notes of white flowers, delicate and complex aromas of jasmine, yellow fruits, a natural well balanced acidity and long elegant finish.  This Pinot Grigio comes from the foothills of the Andes Mountains, in the Uco Valley, Mendoza, at 1,100 meters above sea level.  The soil is sandy and rocky. The climate typically presents hot days and cold nights, with a considerable temperature variation.  Harvest takes place in two different moments: an early harvest to obtain good acidity and freshness and floral notes.   A second harvest is carried to obtain tropical fruits aromas.

Connoisseurs Club Selections

Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet 2009  $ 36.99

The Ladera story is a tale of great hillside vineyards in Napa Valley. Ladera’s flagship vineyard on Howell Mountain ranges

in altitude from 1,600 feet to 1,800 feet: a gently rolling terrain, but set on a broad ridge of the mountain high above the Napa Valley floor. Our name reminds us of the virtue of producing intense fruit from well-drained hillside and
mountain vineyards.  Ladera’s Howell Mountain vineyard was considered from the very beginning to be a little piece of France, and was named Nouveau Medoc Vineyard by the men who founded it. Jean Brun, a native of Bordeaux, and Jean V. Chaix, whom he met in  Napa, first planted 20 acres of Medoc grapes on Howell Mountain in 1877— among the first to plant vineyards up on Howell Mountain instead of on the Napa Valley floor.

It sits on a what is considered a High Plateau that includes extremely volcanic soils that are rich in minerals but low in nutrients which together bring natural stress to our vines and result in smaller, more intensely flavored berries.  The 2009 Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was fermented using a number of different wine yeasts including native yeasts at approximately 50%. The fermentations finished in 6 -12 days. As soon as the wines neared dryness they were immediately pressed. The wine was barrel aged for 20 months in new (40%) and used French oak barrels, and was bottled June 6th, 2011. The 2009 Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon produced a fruit driven wine with an intense nose and flavors, great texture and seamless balance. Aromas of ripe plum and black cherries are complimented with notes of cedar and anise. The palate is layered with black fruits, sweet oak spice and ripe tannins that linger to a long velvety finish.

Neal Family Sauvignon Blanc 2011   $ 19.99

Neal Family, located on Howell Mountain in the Napa Valley of California, is know for producing high quality wines.  The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc is their fifth vintage of a food friendly white wine that is not overdone with winemaking techniques.  This wine is made from 100% Organic grapes which produced only 924 cases.  Their choice for this style of wine is a single vineyard from the lower, eastern foothills of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. There, the vines don’t grow as aggressively as in deep valley soils and we see fruit characters that go beyond simple grassy, grapefruit flavors.

Similar to the 2010 vintage, the cooler growing season extended the growing season into September. At harvest, they
whole-cluster press and allow a couple hours of skin contact in the press. The resulting juice is fermented in stainless steel for a long, very cold fermentation and over four months of ‘sur lie’ aging. The result is a bright, crisp, flavorful Sauvignon Blanc that is a delightful food wine. This is a wine that captures classic Sauvignon Blanc fruit characters and a hint of very ripe tropical flavors.

Very intense aromas include pure Sauvignon Blanc fruit, gooseberry, citrus, floral blossoms, and tropical fruits. While the bright acidity contributes to a long, lingering character, a richness softens the mouth-feel and adds complexity. Best served cold and pairs well with chicken, seafood and rich, flavorful sauces.


March 2013

March 2013                                             The Oconee Wine Club

Spring is finally in the air!  The time changes soon, so don’t forget to Spring forward.  This month I chose two wines from one of my favorite European countries, Italy!  The red, Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre 2009, is from the Veronese  area of Italy.  For centuries, the Allegrini family has defined winemaking in the Valpolicella area north of Verona, while continually engaging in their tireless pursuit of perfection. Today, they operate one of the most highly acclaimed Italian estate wineries, renowned in particular for their exceptional Amarone production. As one of the first families to develop several cru vineyards, including the famed La Poja dedicated to 100% Corvina, they continue to demonstrate a respect and devotion to Valpolicella wines paired with a modern sensibility. Years of research and experimentation are evident in every aspect of Allegrini’s wines, from the meticulous vineyards and cellars to the innovative grape-drying process; everything is done with the objective of enhancing and perfecting the intrinsic quality of their wines. While demonstrating the same quest for perfection, the winemaking style focuses on emphasizing local grapes and crafting enticing wines that consistently showcase elegance, intensity, concentration and complexity.

Franco Allegrini became Allegrini’s winemaker in 1983, assuming his father Giovanni’s responsibilities shortly after his death. Franco had worked closely with Giovanni for many years, acquiring both his father’s skill and passion for fine wine. Relying on his rock-solid intuition, Franco was responsible for a revolution of sorts in traditional Valpolicella winemaking, pioneering several fundamental innovations including the introduction of barriques, reducing the aging period to maintain a lively fruitiness in the flavors and aromas, modifying the well-known Ripasso technique and the drying process, with the creation a modern drying center called Terre di Fumane that today stands as a benchmark for the Valpolicella region.

Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT 2009  $19.99

89 Rating by Wine Spectator, “Flavors of blackberry, candied black currant and kirsch mix with hints of pomegranate, violet and balsamic in this open-knit, creamy red. Medium-bodied, with a lightly juicy finish. Drink now through 2017. 18,300 cases made”

This blend of 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella and 5% Sangiovese is a smooth, fullbodied cru made in an innovative ripasso style. After the harvest, the grapes from the Palazzo della Torre vineyard follow two different paths: 70% of the grapes picked are vinified immediately, and the remaining 30% are left to dry until the end of December. The fresh wine made at harvest is blended with the fermenting juice of the dried grapes, initiating a second fermentation, and rendering a more highly concentrated and complex wine. Allegrini affectionately refers to Palazzo della Torre as its “baby Amarone.”

Banfi Le Rime Pinot Grigio 2011  87 “Best Buy” from Wine Spectator $ 9.99
Exclusive use of free-run juice to avoid colour extraction from the skins. The temperature-controlled fermentation (15-16°C) is followed by a short storage in stainless steel tanks and, finally, by an early bottling to capture varietal freshness.  Colour: straw yellow with fresh green reflections. Bouquet: fruity, fragrant and harmonious.  Taste: fresh, floral, full and appropriately acidic.  Enjoy as an aperitif or charming complement to antipasto, pasta and light meals.

Connoisseur’s Club

Saintsbury 2010 unfiltered Carneros Chardonnay $ 24.99

92 Rating Wine Enthusiast, “There’s a bit of oak here, but not too much, giving a smoky, buttered toast richness to the orange, lime and pineapple fruit. It’s a rich, flashy Chardonnay, with crisp acidity and a clean, spicy finish.”

Powers Champoux Vineyard Reserve Cabernet 2009  $ 29.99

Past vintages have rated 90-93 by Parker!

From it’s inaugural release in 1992, Powers Winery has remained committed to crafting concentrated, structured and age-worthy wines, while practicing and innovating environmental, community and fiscal sustainability.

This shared view of integrated stewardship led to our partnership in 1996 with Paul Champoux and four other wineries to purchase Mercer Ranch Vineyard and form Champoux Vineyards, LLC. Under the management of Paul Champoux, the estate has become one of Washington’s premiere vineyards, boasting some of the state’s oldest root stock, planted in 1972. Champoux Vineyards forms the core of Powers’ Cabernet Sauvignon program.

Whether a single vineyard Reserve or a unique blend of diverse fruit, Powers wines have always been priced to provide exceptional value to consumers. Over the past 17 years the winery has continued to increase production and our wines are now available throughout the United States, select Canadian Provinces, many European countries, and some parts of the Pacific Rim.

Rich, layered and decadent aromatics of cherries, pine needles and forest floor. These brooding scents are woven with dark red cassis and granite in mouth-filling richness. This wine is dense and wild with layers of rich anise and pine. Not for the faint of heart, this is complex wine will compliment intensely flavored foods and is sure to gracefully age for many years to come.


February 2013 Wine Club Selections

February 2013                             The Oconee Wine Club

This month I went back to one of my favorite wine making countries, Spain.  I believe Spain has some of the best values in the world!  Just to prove my point, I have chosen two Spanish wines that retail for $14.99 and rate 91 respectively by Robert Parker!  You can not find this type of value anywhere else.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Nisia Old Vine Verdejo from Rueda 2011  91 Rating Robert Parker!

The 2011 Nisia is made from 100% old vine Verdejo (the youngest vines were planted in 1942, and others are nearly 100 years of age). The wine is aged sur-lie, and fermented in both stainless steel and large format French oak. It is undeniably one of the finest Verdejos I have ever tasted. Yields were less than three tons of fruit per hectare, which is noticeable in the wine’s old vine intensity. Notions of caramelized white citrus and tropical fruit blossoms along with a naked, natural texture as well as finish make for a terrific dry white with loads of personality and complexity. This beauty sells for an absurdly low price. Enjoy it over the next year.

Production from the Rueda vineyard (38.3 acres) owned by Jorge Ordonez was begun in 2011. This well-known white wine appellation sits on the border of the province of Segovia. The 2010 and 2011 Zerran come from a vineyard planted at 1,500-1,800 feet altitude. They are blends of Grenache, Mazuelo and Syrah whose vines were planted between 1934 and 1942.

Tineta 2011 Ribera del Duero   91 Rating Robert Parker!

The grapes from this vineyard are used in the 2011 Tineta (100% Tinto Fino). It reveals a deep ruby/purple color as well as copious notes of creme de cassis intermixed with hints of wood smoke and charcoal. Medium to full-bodied, juicy, succulent and sensual, it should drink nicely for 3-4 years.

Not far from the beautiful cathedral city of Pedrosa de Duero in the province of Burgos on the northern bank of the Duero River is the Bodegas Avante. Their south-facing vineyards were planted between 1975 and 1985 in alluvial, gravel, sand and clay soils.

Connoisuer Club

Thirty years after planting our first vineyard, Girard continues our fine tradition of producing highly-rated wines. Gaining critical acclaim for excellent wines at great values, Girard Winery has been repeatedly hailed by the Wine Spectator & others as among the best in the region.

Longtime California vintner Pat Roney purchased the winery shortly after the new millennium. Roney’s career in wine began as a sommelier at Chicago’s renowned Pump Room, where he worked during and after college. Later he returned to his native California and eventually he took up the reins of two wineries: first as president of Chateau St. Jean, and later as president of Kunde, both in Sonoma Valley. Ultimately Roney took his management skills and wine knowledge to the specialty food purveyor Dean & DeLuca, where he helped grow the business from a small presence in New York and Washington to a national enterprise.

Girard Russian River Chardonnay 2011  $ 24.99

Hints of toasted hazelnuts, orange blossom, honey, and lemon curd on the nose.  Follows with a palate of lime rind and tangerine that lingers with a balanced body of acid and stone fruit.  Pair this wine with roasted chicken spiced with toasted spice rub & paired with herbed potatoes and  wild mushrooms.

A wet winter and spring delayed bloom and hindered fruit set, resulting in shatter in some regions, which decreased the overall crop load. A generally cool summer prolonged the growing season and harvest started very late in most areas. Early autumn rains prompted us to selectively pick earlier in some vineyards. The Russian River Valley harvest showcased the bright acidity we have come to appreciate from this region.

Girard Napa Valley Cabernet 2010  $ 31.99

Aromas of pipe tobacco, ripe Bing cherry and wild marionberry appear on the nose with hints of soft and elegant baking spices. The palate expresses dark fruit infused with pomegranate, toasted oak and mocha. The finish lingers with satisfying flavors of graham cracker, plum and well-integrated tannins.