Entrepreneur Circle December 2016 Newsletter

Quarterly Shipment December 2016 Shipped

2013 Malk Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District

Wine Advocate 94
Retail $80 BOFW $77.00

Malk Vineyards is exactly the kind of wine that we like to discover and present to our customers. High quality, low quantity and virtually unheard of in most circles. Now add in great fruit from the Stags Leap AVA, family owned and an outstanding review from the Wine Advocate (WA) and you have the perfect wine for our Entrepreneur Circle members. So here is the story on how it came to be in your shipment this month and the long wait (for BOFW anyway). Clear back in February, while attending Premiere Napa Valley, there was one last tasting on Saturday evening after the famous auction. My business partner (aka wife!) was tired and said she was going to pass on this last tasting. But I had seen the lineup; it was a spotlight on Stags Leap wines and was held at Pine Ridge Vineyards. While I have had their wines, I had never been to the winery, so I was “all in”. Not to digress too much, but if you haven’t tasted Pine Ridge Vineyards recently, you should give them a try, their recent vintages are outstanding. We carry their flagship Fortis and their more available and economical Napa Valley bottling.

It was this final Saturday tasting that presented us oops just me, the opportunity to try the 2011 and 2012 vintages of Malk Vineyards Cabernet and found them to be very enjoyable. The ’11 wasn’t reviewed but truth be told the ’11 was showing better than the ‘12 at that point and may continue to do so. The ’12 received a respectable 91 points from WA, but once back home, with some further research, I learned that the ‘13 had already been tasted and had garnered 94 points from WA. I knew I had to “bring it home”, for me and our club members. I reached out to the representative who poured at the tasting. I was quickly referred to none other than the proprietor/owner, Brian Malk. Brian was happy to hear that I was interested in his wines and offered me either the 2011 or ’12, but would not release the ’13 until late Fall, even for the volume I was buying for the club. We spoke off/on for the better part of the year trying to secure the ’13, but they would not release early. Finally, in late November I (and my business partner :)) was afforded the chance to visit Malk Vineyards and taste all of their wines.
We couldn’t agree more with the review and rating, but this does require a little bit of a setup. It was a 10:00am tasting, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We were still a little full, had a little over an hour drive to Napa and we were not overly thrilled to be drinking any wine so early. But what the hell, we owed it to all of you. After all,we are professionals and we know how to use a dump bucket! The 2012 Cabernet was definitely smoother and more polished that morning. The 2013 offers more complexity and fuller fruits but the tannins definitely were not as integrated or refined yet. Tasting it sans food, I would definitely suggest letting it rest another year or more. But with a nice marbled Rib-Eye or Roast Pork with a concentrated marinade or sauce, this would be fine to serve this month if desired. One advantage to the latter method, it gives you the chance to see if you like it enough to order more to put away for a while. Either way, we hope you enjoy this bottle as much as we enjoyed sourcing it for you!

Wine Advocate Notes:
“The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon has slightly more opaque purple color than the 2012, beautiful bluer-fruit characteristics, with black raspberries, blueberries, slightly more concentration and greater raw materials. Nevertheless, it’s full-bodied and capable of 15 or more years of aging potential with its terrific purity and symmetry. This is a sleeper producer, and I’m happy to have tasted them. Both wines tip the scales at 14.5% alcohol.” – Robert Parker

2014 Fattoria dei Barbi

Wine Advocate 92

Retail $55 BOFW $52.00

Now we’re taking you to the Old World, Italy to be more specific. It’s been a couple years since we’ve included an Italian wine and this time of year is perfect for a full bodied red to pair with winter meals. Not quite a polar opposite from Malk, but Fattoria dei Barbi is a much larger producer and quite well known in Italy and around the world. They produce many Italian varietals including the highly age-worthy and collectible Brunello di Montalcino. One of the reasons we share Old World red wines infrequently is because we find it difficult to source an approachable Old World wine. But you’ll note in Monica Larner’s tasting notes, her focus on current drinkability with over 5 years of age and a full year into the suggested drinking window of this Brunello.
We did an initial tasting by itself, but later paired it with a rich Pasta Bolognese. For our vegetarian friends, this would also pair nicely with a robust Eggplant Parmigiana or a vegetarian lasagna.

Wine Advocate review:
“The 2011 Brunello di Montalcino is a steady and pleasing effort that shows dark fruit layers packed tight with spice and tobacco. Like many of the wines this vintage, Fattoria dei Barbi’s newest release is immediate and approachable. You can drink it now or wait a few years longer. It tastes just great now with soft fruit layers and generous servings of black cherry and plum. It shows a dense texture with sweet tannins on the close.”
– Monica Larner

Monica Larner Trivia
I was a little verbose relaying our Malk experience, so I left little room for a recipe or other lengthy article. Here’s a little fact about Monica that you may not know. Monica is Wine Advocate’s lead taster for Italy, but she has literal “roots” less than 100 miles from Bent On Fine Wine. When Steven Larner, Monica’s father decided to retire from his role as Directory of Photography (Roots, Badlands, Caddyshack….) he bought 134 acres in Ballard Canyon, CA to pursue his lifelong dream of making wine under the Larner name. Monica helped select clones, plant cordons, etc. Today, Larner makes their own wine and Larner fruit is sought out by quality producers like Jaffurs and Stolpman.

Welcome new members, Chuck from the “Peach State” and Ken, Leslie, Dave and Ceceila all from our own “Golden State”, California. As always, we thank you for your membership and we wish you a healthy, prosperous New Year!

Bent On Fine Wine!

December Shipment Invoice

2012 Malk Vineyards      $77.00

2014 Fattoria dei Barbi   $52.00

Shipping/Handling           $18.00

CA Sales Tax                      $0 

Total           $147.00   



Recently I attended a trade tasting of many different wines, most of which were introducing their 2013 red wines, which is quite typical in, early Fall. The harvest is done and the winemakers and owners have more time to market their wine.  The stand out for me at this tasting was the 2013 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. Yes, the wine was outstanding (albeit young for my personal consumption taste), but it was the opportunity to meet and discuss the wine with Proprietess Rosemary Cakebread that put it over the top.

Rosemary is a petite lady and has enough self assurance to refrain from coloring her straight, medium length, perfectly coiffed gray hair. Most will recognize the Cakebread name and it is no coincidence, she is married to Bruce Cakebread the current President and son of Cakebread Cellars founder, Jack Cakebread. But Rosemary is one of the great women winemakers in Napa Valley and her first name deserves as much recognition as her last. Rosemary has been making wine in the Napa Valley for over 35 years and held positions at several wineries including the original Inglenook, Mumm and most notably she was the winemaker and consulting winemaker for Spottswoode for over 15 years.

She started her own label with the 2007 vintage of Gallica and has been making great Cabernet under that label ever since. She flew down to LA just for this tasting (that wasn’t abundantly attended) and personally spent time with anyone that wanted her attention or insight. Rosemary was kind enough to autograph a couple bottles for my cellar.

Gallica's Rosemary Cakebread

Rosemary must have spent 10 or 15 minutes with me, discussing the 2013 vintage and contrasted it with 2012, 2014 and early indication on the 2015 vintage, which Rosemary said was a bleak vintage in terms of production volume. She added a Syrah to her portfolio in 2012 which I had not tasted either, but did try the 2013, which was also a beautiful wine. A big full bodied Syrah, with nice roundness and rich flavors. Less peppery notes than many Syrahs. The fruit comes from a small Syrah patch in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. I would have no problem consuming this wine at this stage in it’s development.

I’d like to tell you, I tasted the maiden vintage (2007), but I didn’t find Gallica until the 2008 vintage. I’ve enjoyed it personally ever since and still have some ’08 in the cellar. Once I officially entered the wine biz it quickly became a standard in our inventory. I’m proud to say we’ve carried Gallica since the 2010 vintage and now can present the 2013 for your future enjoyment. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try this consistently, critically acclaimed Napa Cabernet, this is the year to treat yourself to something new and special.
2013 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.


BOFW tasting notes:
….fruit forward presence without being overly ripe or out of balance. Soft tannins that are well integrated,creating early approachability. Tremendous mouthfeel and fullness with a sleek finish.

Wine Advocate 95

Gallica’s beautiful 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon has velvety tannins, loads of plum, blackberry and cassis fruit and a floral component. It has a medium to full-bodied personality that would suggest a suave complex wine from a Bordeaux or Margaux appellation. The wine is quite beautiful with purity, richness and an overall charm that make this an endearing effort in 2013. Moreover, it should drink well for another 20+ years.” – Robert Parker


Entrepreneur Circle Pickup Party

Entrepreneur Circle Sept 2016 Pickup Party

This was the lineup Saturday for our annual Entrepreneur Circle Pickup Party in order of consumption, working left to right. To save us all some potential embarrassment, we’ve only displayed one of each bottle as opposed to the entire recycling collection!

Thank you to all the members that were able to attend and taste the wines in the September shipment.  For those that aren’t members, the September shipment was bottle #2 and #4, again working from the left.  You can read about them here: September Shipment

While everyone enjoyed the shipment selections, the favorites of the night were some of Chris Carpenters (winemaker) best work.  The 2013 La Jota was very approachable, smooth and dare I say fruit forward. Had we voted, the La Jota was probably the crowd favorite. Then was the flagship Cardinale, again a 2013. It was a little tighter and more tannic but even at this young age, you can get a glimpse of what’s in store in a few years for this top billing Napa Cabernet.

The surprise of the night and not officially in the lineup, but due to some late members that missed some of the earlier wines, we opened some 2011 Mt. Brave, also a Chris Carpenter wine from Howell Mountain.  The 2011 outshined both the 2013 La Jota and the 2012 Mt. Brave.  The tannins were well integrated and deep dark fruit flavors that show no signs of ripening problems.  2011 was a difficult vintage in Napa and the weather made it tough to get the berries ripe, but the fruit high up on Howell Mountain is grown above the fog line and they didn’t experience the same challenges that some of the valley fruit suffered. We are happy that we stocked up on this gem and 5 years in, it’s drinking nicely.

A quick shout out to the fine catering from Christina who served some excellent varietal appropriate paired appetizers like Marinated Shrimp with Lime Dressing in a Pastry cup and Smoked Tri-tip with a Horseradish Aioli.  Finished with a house made Apple pie with the 2010 Sauternes shown. Lastly, none of this would have been possible without Heather Balston and the generosity of Regal Wine Company for presenting most of the selections for Saturday evening.  Thank you Heather for spending your Saturday evening with us and telling us the back story for each of the wines. Next time, we’ll do it at The Rutherford Grill and get Chris’s input as well!

While not all are up on our site yet, each of these wines can be purchased from Bent On Fine Wine, including the beautiful Cava we found in Spain this last summer, Cordoniu “Anna” for an amazing $15.99.

If you’d like to attend next year, simply sign up here: Entrepreneur Circle


2013 Fait Main Teeter Totter Tasting

Last Thursday we had a few wine club members join us for a complimentary, blind tasting of the 2012 and 2013 vintages of Fait Main’s Teeter Totter Cabernet Sauvignon. First a little background on Fait Main, which means “hand made” in French. Fait Main is Benoit Touquette’s own label.  Benoit, makes wine for Realm, Hartwell, Jack Quinn and others. He garnered two 100 point wines with the 2012 vintage and is viewed as one of the “rising stars” in the winemaking world.  Benoit’s Fait Main makes even higher end wines including the $175 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon with fruit from the famous Las Piedras Vineyard.

Bent On Fine Wine served Point Reyes blue cheese, a 6 month aged Manchego and Saint Andre’s triple cream.  We mention this because depending on which cheese the tasters were eating, it affected the flavors dramatically.

There was variety on which was the “better”  wine, but most all agreed on the flavor profile and differences.

2012 Teeter Totter – the ’12 was fruit forward, easy drinking and while still blind, most guessed that it had higher alcohol content. One taster preferred the ’13 at first, but noticed as the ’12 opened up, it was more to her liking.

Teeter Totter 2013 Tasting

2013 Teeter  Totter – the ’13 is clearly a more tannic, full, robust wine that will reward cellaring better than the ’12.  It is a more complex wine already, but will need some time to allow the tannins to integrate further.  The ’13 is better appreciated with food today, where as the ’12 can easily be sipped alone or with mild cheeses or other light flavored foods.

So the mystery is still unsolved. The better wine is in the eyes, or in this case, palette of the beholder.  I personally think the ’13 is a better made wine that will age with nuances and layers that the ’12 wouldn’t achieve.  However, if you are looking for an easy drinking wine, that isn’t overly complicated, the ’12 might suit your tastes well.  Unfortunately, here and all across the internet the ’12 is unavailable.  But if you’re looking to try the 2013, you can find it here: Teeter Totter If you’re still wondering about the alcohol content, the labels both say 14.1%.

Rhone Varietals

A little bit of a primer on the Rhone for those who aren’t as familiar.  In the Rhone, like all of France, the grapes grown in the area are government controlled or recommended.  The red Rhone varietals are Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre, with Syrah predominant in the Northern Rhone and Grenache in the Southern Rhone.

We introduced a Rhone varietal in our Entrepreneur Circle wine club last month.  The Central Coast of California is becoming known as the best place in the U.S. for these grapes to thrive.  Each of our spotlighted wines today are from these appellations, primarily Paso Robles, CA. For those customers outside of CA or who have not had a chance to try these varietals, you’re in for a treat.  The Rockstars I mentioned earlier are quickly being recognized as top class performers in this category.  Names like Saxum, Booker, Linne Calodo, Epoch, Denner are known for producing world class wines and typically garner ratings of 95 or higher from the Wine Advocate.  With less tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon these wines are more approachable in their youth and are enjoyable sipping on a Spring afternoon without a heavy pairing for softening.  If you’ve never enjoyed a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) or another blend of these grapes, I encourage you to sample one of the best California examples from top producers.

Hourglass Estate Napa Valley

We recently had the opportunity to meet with Tony Biagi and taste the Hourglass portfolio of wines.  Tony is the (new) Winemaker for Hourglass with 2012 his maiden Hourglass vintage.  But Tony isn’t new to winemaking with over 20 years of Napa Valley experience, including time at Duckhorn and almost 10 years making wine for Plumpjack/Cade.

Once seated and introductions were offered, Tony was quickly scanning the wine menu looking for a light refreshing white. In a sign of support, he asked our host distributor, Kimberly Jones Selections which whites they carried at the restaurant.  But that particular restaurant only carried some of their red inventory.  Tony settled on a Trimbach Riesling to pair with the light salads and open our palettes.

Shortly thereafter though, they rolled out the Hourglass line for presentation and description of what the 2012 vintage offered.  They included the following:

Hourglass HG III – This is their entry level Cabernet that blends both Blueline fruit with the Estate fruit for a price point friendly Napa Valley cabernet. While not a bad wine, the others in the flight clearly surpassed in quality, bouquet and mouthfeel.

Hourglass Blueline Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Blueline is their latest Estate vineyard that was replanted in 2007 with classic Napa Valley cab clones including Clones 4 & 7.  This cabernet was very good with a beautiful nose to it.  Fruit forward,  but not jammy and overdone, well balanced.

Hourglass Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (2012) – The Estate Cabernet is their flagship and with one sip it becomes obvious.  This wine, while the fruit is evident, it isn’t as dominant, more oak and tannins, a wine with more finesse and stronger backbone.  Greater aging potential.  Truly and elegant wine that will cellar for decades if desired.  Robert Parker has rated the 2012 95+

Hourglass Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (2011) – They brought a bottle of the 2011 for comparison purposes.   I think they have a little left in stock, but mostly sold.  This too was a solid wine, although the challenges of the vintage seemed apparent.  I commented that it seemed more tannic and while this wasn’t Tony’s wine, he responded with “picked earlier….. the grapes weren’t as developed”.

Thank you to Tony and Kimberly Jones Selections, we’re proud to be one of the first to offer the 2012 Hourglass Estate Cabernet on our site. Follow the link below for more information.

2012 Hourglass Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Larkmead Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Went to the Capital Grille this evening and as usual struggled with which wine to bring to compliment the meal.  After putting a Caymus Special Selection in our wine tote, decided it needed a few more years and opted for a 2007 Larkmead Cabernet. Nothing like an eight year old Napa Valley Cabernet with silky integrated tannins to compliment a filet! The bouquet alone was mesmerizing and draws you in for more.  The delightful flavors are well rounded, smooth and yet still full of fresh fruit flavors. Dark cherries, blackberries with a hint of milk chocolate essence.

if you get a chance to try Larkmeads entry level cabernet or better yet their Solari bottling, I encourage you to do so. Larkmead is still family owned and  has been making Napa Valley Cabernet since the late 1800’s and have it all figured out.

At date of posting, we have a small amount of 2008 and 2009 Larkmead and expect the 2012 in stock in February.