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


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.