Fine Wine Source Wine


September 2018

Midnight Cellars:

Midnight Cellars is home to the Hartenberger family and their small production of award-winning Paso Robles wines. The 28 acre estate vineyard is situated in the newly established Willow Creek District, known for its strong marine influence, mountainous landscape, and calcareous soils. This climate, topography, and soil composition create an environment for growing quality, low-yield, sustainably farmed grapes. Planted on south facing slopes are Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec and terraced is eight acres of Zinfandel and a five acre lot of Chardonnay. The Midnight adventure began on a family vacation to Northern California. As father and son were sipping wine and overlooking a beautiful valley, the casual comment was made: “Hey Dad, you should buy a winery when you retire, and we’ll run it for you!” As fate would have it two years later, when Dad’s retirement became a reality, the winery idea resurfaced. The family sold their Chicago homes and converged on Paso Robles where they started their dream venture, Midnight Cellars Winery. In 1995 they purchased their 160 acre ranch in Paso Robles, which is now home to three generations of the Hartenberger Family. Midnight Cellars was the 29th established winery in Paso Robles. This area, also known as the Templeton Gap, has warm days and cool maritime influenced nights, making it a prime growing location. The vineyard is planted on hillside and hilltop in shale and limestone-rich soil. The southwest sloping hills face the Pacific Ocean, influencing a temperature swing of 40-50 degrees from daytime to nighttime.

About:

Although 2014 was another consecutive drought year for Paso Robles, this vintage resulted in fruit with powerful concentration and extra intensity. A dry and mild winter led to early patterns of flowering, veraison, and harvest, while the summer was mildly warm, with no extreme spike in heat. This vintage will lead to vibrant wines that will taste great young, but will continue to stay bold and balanced as they age. This is a very special Wine Club offer, only 765 cases were produced and Nebula was selling for almost $50 on Midnight’s website with a global average retail price of $43. We guarantee each Wine Club Member the allotted bottle; however, the remaining inventory will not last long!

Varietals:

90% Cabernet Sauvignon & 10% Merlot Aged 18 months in French Oak Barrels

Alcohol:

15.9%

Tasting Notes:

Rich aromatic notes of black cherry, raspberry, and anise rise from the glass. The first sip leads to complimentary flavors of spice and vanilla with full bodied black cherry fruit, berry, spice, leather, vanilla, and well balanced tannins.

Food Pairings:

Great wine for the tailgate or end of summer backyard party; grab nicest, best marbled, juiciest, Porterhouse or Rib-eye you can find and fire up the grill for one last Summer BBQ and enjoy the Nebula!

Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts:

Rich, intense, and loaded with layers of complexity, flavor, and a long lingering finish. Best served with tasty red meats broiled or on the BBQ.

Fine Wine Source Wine


July 2018

Ray’s Station Winery:

John Ray, former Army Captain and Bear Flag Republic Leader (1846), was an early founder in what is now Northern California’s Wine Country. After establishing successful vineyards throughout the region, Ray made his way up the northern stretch of the Russian River, planting some of the very first vineyards in Mendocino County, a county noted for its distinctive Pacific Ocean coastline, Redwood forests, and now under the canopy of those Redwoods, cannabis crops. Little did he know that one day Mendocino County would be known as “America’s Greenest Wine Region” – in more ways than one. Ray’s Station celebrates John Ray’s search for exceptional terroir and his need for discovery. An extended growing season, long hot days and cool maritime-influenced nights combine to make Mendocino a world-class winegrowing region. The benchland vineyards, from which the fruit is sourced, offer soils with exceptional drainage and vines whose roots grow deeper than typical valley floor vines, adding complexity to the fruit. Sustainable farming practices ensure that these small-production wines are intense, bold and full of character, much like the region itself.

About:

Down the road from the Russian River in the southern hills of Mendocino County, our expert winemaker crafts powerful yet approachable wines all at our estate winery. Overseeing fruit sourcing and winemaking is the renowned winemaker Michael Westrick. Michael has been crafting top tier, Bordeaux inspired wines for more than 20 years and has directed winemaking for such well-known wineries as Sterling Vineyards in Napa and Stonestreet Winery in Sonoma. With a hands-on approach and well-honed craft, Michael is excited to now create exceptional Cabernet and Merlot from Mendocino County, from handpicked fruit and small-lot fruit, his winemaking captures the full-flavored, terroir-specific expression of this region.

Varietals:

80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, & 10% Malbec

Alcohol:

13.9%

Tasting Notes:

Aromatic and complex: this vibrant wine fills your nose with scents of briar and sweet wild berries characteristic of Mendocino fruit. The palate follows the fruit trail with flavors of boysenberry, blackberry, black raspberry, and wild cherry. French Oak ageing adds hints of espresso and vanilla framing the fruit seductively while full, rich, silky soft tannins carry these sensations long into the powerful finish. Enjoy today or cellar for future reference over the next ten years.

Food Pairings:

Pair with tomato pastas, juicy bacon cheeseburgers from the grill, BBQ ribs, Steak, or some grilled Portabella mushrooms.

Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts:

Rich & complex cab that is loaded with black fruit that leads to a lush mouthfeel and a long, lingering finish; best served with grilled meats on the BBQ or rich and flavorful cheeses.

This Merlot captures the eye with a ruby red color, and the nose with an even palate of red berries, black berries and stone fruit. The transition into the mouth is pleasant and rewarding with lingering warmth of soft tannins in the finish.

Food Pairing
This Merlot provides enjoyable pairings with savory foods that benefit from the softer tannic structure of this remarkable Merlot. It also pairs well in the role of a Merlot, with hard cheeses and grilled meats.

FWS Price per btl. $34.99
Case Price per btl. $29.99

Skyfall Vineyard was named for massive car-sized boulders scattered among the vines, appearing to have fallen from the sky. These glacial rocks were left in the wake of the ancient Missoula floods that cut the Columbia River. Floods deposited silty loam soil mixed with volcanic ash for soil conditions that create complex, elegant wines.

Dave Minick, 3rd generation Washington State grower, oversees all vineyard management for consistent, perfectly ripe grapes across Skyfall vineyard sites. All vineyards receive the same environmentally responsible care with minimalist intervention including a new compost program for naturally enriching soils and use of low impact vehicles in vineyards.

Skyfall Vineyard fruit is sourced from Washingtons top AVAs within Columbia Valley including Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope, and Yakima Valley. Columbia Valley has optimal growing conditions with hot days allowing grapes to ripen and cool nights where acidity develops. This means Skyfall Vineyard wines are well balanced between the crisp acidity, firm tannins, and ripe fruit structure, ready for immediate enjoyment.

Wonderfully developed plum, vanilla and leather aromas swirl in the glass. Juicy flavors of cherry candy coupled with hints of cocoa powder weave through the palate. Balanced acidity and polished tannins on the finish. Very easy drinking and wonderful with meats off the grill.

FWS Price per btl. $18.99
Case Price per btl. $16.99


Our Pricing :
Regular Price -> $89.99
Case Price ( 12 bottles per Case) -> $79.99
Appellation: California
Blend:
75% Cabernet Sauvignon,
16% Cabernet Franc,
9% Merlot
Alcohol: 16.0%
Tasting Notes:
“Rich and full-bodied, with an alluring mix of loamy earth, dark berry, licorice and spicy oak flavors. Features a long, persistent follow-through. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Drink now through 2026.”
Winemaker’s Notes
Bright, nearly opaque, ruby purple core with a narrow, moderate intensity rim and slow forming slightly stained tears. Intense and complex with aromas of ripe black fruit, baking spice, sweet tobacco, leather, cocoa, oak barrel elements with subtle smoky eucalyptus accents. Dry and full-bodied with rich black cherry and blackcurrant fruit, vanilla, cinnamon and licorice spice notes on the entry. Savory, herbal and mint notes appear, followed by darkchocolate and smoky oak elements on the mid palate. The finish is very long and crisp with a complex interplay between the savory mid-palate and returning fruit of red cherry candy and sweet spice with a floral hint of violet, all framed by soft, chewy tannins. The 2013 ISOSCELES is drinking exceptionally well at release but has the structure to further develop beautifully over time.
Great with classic cab fare like rich braised short ribs or grilled leg of lamb with garlic and herbs, the 2013 ISOSCELES also drinks well on its own due to its exceptional balance of flavor and texture even when young.

Shield

February 2016

Domestic Wine: 2012 Hedges Family Estate C.M.S., Columbia Valley, Washington

Hedges Family Estate:  The history of Hedges Family Estate begins in June of 1976, with the marriage of Tom Hedges & Anne-Marie Liégeois in a 12th century church in Champagne, France. The convergence of separate cultural upbringings provides a strong backdrop for creating a modern day, but traditionally inspired wine estate. In 1986, Tom & Anne-Marie created an export company, American Wine Trade, leading to a negociant-inspired wine called “Hedges Cellars.” They quickly learned that the success of this ancient trade would be based on the site of its vineyards; a developing wine region called Red Mountain. At this location, American Wine Trade transformed itself from negociant & wine trader to the classic model of a wine estate. The second generation of the Hedges Family Estate belongs to Tom & Anne-Marie’s children, Christophe & Sarah. Each has a special set of skills for understanding the terroir. Sarah is the head winemaker of the estate, doing her best to express the terroir with minimal intervention, while Christophe is working on the completion of the estate using modern biodynamic arts. Tom, Anne-Marie, Christophe, Sarah, & the entire Hedges company believe place of origin is the keystone of authenticity. Their goal is to treat the wines with reverence & let the Red Mountain terroir speak for itself.

About:  2012 was another excellent & more normal vintage in Washington State. The “fading” La Nina current brought warmer & even spring and summer temperatures & an extended warm, dry autumn with perfect 80-85 degree afternoon highs and 40-50 degree lows without rain. The result was great set that yielded ripe, disease free fruit with good natural acidity. The resulting wines reflect the excellent qualities of the fruit and are a pleasure to drink; probably one of the top 5 vintages in Washington State’s history.

Varietals:  50%Cabernet Sauvignon, 44%Merlot, 6% Syrah (60%French Oak & 40% American Oak).

Alcohol:  13.5%

Tasting Notes:  Dark, deep ruby color leads into a nose of black cherry, blackberry, plum fruit & sweet toasted oak, dried herbs, & vanilla with hints of cocoa powder. Good body on the palate with lively acidity, dark berry fruits, cocoa, sweetness, & a well integrated tannic structure linger on the finish.

Food Pairings:  The balance of acid & tannin make this a great wine for roasted red meats, steaks, venison, or lamb. Use C.M.S. to sauté some onions & mushrooms to accompany a juicy ribeye!

Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts:  Rich & flavorful, loaded with black & red fruits and a long, lingering finish. Best served with any red meats.

March Domestic Wine: 2011 Stack House Merlot, Sonoma County, California

We recently used another fabulous Stack House wine for wine club a few months back. And when we tasted this, we decided we had to use the same producer again! We hope you enjoy this incredible red. Read on to learn more!

The idea for creating the Stack House label came from Anna and Mario Monticelli’s weekly poker parties with their friends. As it typically happens in Napa Valley, all the players were somehow involved in the wine industry so it became Texas Hold Em poker and wine tasting.

This was the inspiration for creating a Stack House wine, a fun beverage to be enjoyed amongst friends. We have a full house of thirsty players and the deck is stacked so you always win at our house.

Vineyards: The vineyards used for this Stack House blend are found throughout Sonoma County. Most of the fruit is found in Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Mountain and Alexander Valley.

Varietals: 88% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Syrah

100% French Oak (40% new) and aged for 21 months

Alcohol: 14.3% by volume

Tasting Notes: The 2011 Stack House Sonoma County Merlot is laced with raspberry, cherry and blackberry aromas. This elegant and attractive wine shows great balance and finesse on the palate. Layers of fruit, oak and caramel linger on the finish. 720 cases produced.
Food Pairings: Pair with blue cheese and parma ham flat bread, toasted nuts and mini duck burgers! Enjoy!

August Domestic Wine: 2011 Desert Wind Merlot, Wahluke Slope, WASHINGTON

Desert Wind Winery and its History: “From the very first harvest in 1994, the Fries family marveled at the intensely concentrated fruit produced by their Desert Wind Vineyard–fruit perfect for crafting wines with immense structure and aging potential. In 2001, the family introduced Desert Wind wines in order to showcase this exceptional vineyard through its own wine brand. The original lineup consisted of just four offerings–an elegant Semillon and three refined reds, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and their flagship red blend known as Ruah, each with 3-5 years of barrel aging.”

In 2004, the family built a crush pad and wine production facility in Prosser, Washington, allowing them to process the fruit and age wines in close proximity to their vineyard sites. Three years later, they opened Desert Wind Winery, an immense Santa Fe-inspired destination housing a tasting room, restaurant and luxury overnight accommodations.

Desert Wind Vineyard: The Fries family began planting the Desert Wind Vineyard site in 1993. Today, the vineyard totals 423 planted acres, with large blocks of Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. The vineyard also contains smaller plantings of Viognier, Semillon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Mourvedre and Carmenere. The vineyard is planted using 9 x 6 vine spacing with 806 plants per acre.

Desert Wind Vineyard lies on the Wahluke Slope and ranges in elevation from approximately 800 – 1,000 feet. Its rocky soil is covered by shallow topsoil; the unique soil makeup places extra stress on the vines, forcing them to funnel energy into fruit production instead of excessive vegetation. The fruit from this vineyard is highly pigmented with firm tannins that lend structure to the resulting wines.

Several Northwest wineries purchase fruit from Desert Wind Vineyard for their own winemaking; they often refer to this site as “Fries Vineyard” on their labels.

Vineyard Notes: The Wahluke Slope is located in Eastern Washington’s Columbia Valley. The site is considered  Zone 3, the hottest in the region. Our 480-acre vineyard is a southern facing block with a two percent slope and shallow, rocky soil. The vines are irrigated with an underground drip system; double catch wires are used to increase air circulation during the growing season. Leaf pulling and cluster thinning are important steps in aiding the ripening of the grapes.

Varietals: 98% Merlot and 2% Other Reds

Alcohol: 14.5% by volume

Food Pairings: Often you’ll get a lot of herbal, earthy and mushrooms from Merlot, which makes this wine a perfect match for herbal preparations of meat (such as marinades or herbal sauces). Merlot can handle the bitter flavors of fennel, eggplant, broccoli, raw onions, garlic, and even radicchio, just as long as the Merlot is not heavily oaked or sweet.  Try a cool pairing and see how you like it!

Tasting Notes: Intense, late summer fruit flavors are a hallmark of the Desert Wind Merlot. The wine is full-bodied and rich with ripe flavors of plum, marionberry, with a hint of chocolate. Winemaker Mark Chargin uses oak and patience to bind these qualities into a well-integrated and supple wine. Our Merlot pairs well with full-flavored foods including hearty pastas, grilled meats and game.

88 points – Wine Advocate, Issue #213 (June 2014)
“The 2011 Merlot is a very good effort that’s also a solid value. Giving up ripe black fruits, mulled spices, chocolate and hints of herbs, it hits the palate with a medium-bodied, rounded, supple and deliciously texture profile that’s perfect for drinking over the coming couple of years.”

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich, bold layers of complexity . Full throttle with plenty of punch. A wine that is very strong and bold, but has an elegance. Perfect with grilled meats, especially lamb, or anything on the barbeque. Cheers!”-JL

February Domestic Wine: 2010 Roblar Merlot, Santa Barbara, CALIFORNIA

Nestled in an oak tree-studded 40-acre vineyard, Roblar Winery is located in the heart of Santa Barbara County. Designed by renowned architect Bob Easton, in collaboration with owners Steve and Denise Adams, their grand lodge-style winery reflects the spirit of the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley—rustic, authentic and bold.

History of Merlot and its Relation to Roblar: Merlot is a darkly blue-colored wine grape, that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to derive from the Old French word for young blackbird, merlot, a diminutive of merle, the blackbird, probably from the color of the grape. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

The Roblar estate vineyard is located in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley two miles south of the town of Los Olivos. The mild climate tempered by foggy mornings, combined with the long growing season (the southern latitude makes for longer days, more sun and warmth in October and November), allows their grapes to fully develop structure and complexity while retaining fresh and bright fruit flavors. The Merlot grapes from their estate vineyard typically exhibit very rich cherry and plum flavors.

Varietals: 96% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon

Alcohol: 15.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: The Merlot is bursting with red fruit, cherry, and plum flavors on the forefront with a mid-palate filled with dark fruits and cedar. Lingering flavors of cassis and cherry compliment the oak on a soft tannin structure. This heavy bodied wine with rich dark flavors makes for an excellent wine to be enjoyed on its own or with lamb or steak.

Food Pairings: Pair this Merlot with maple sage pork sausage with port wine caramelized shallots and apples.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich, flavorful wine with great grip in the mid-palate. A Cabernet Sauvignon lover’s Merlot. The wine has a long and intense finish. Enjoy today or lay it down for a few years.”-JL

November Domestic Wine: 2009 REVELRY VINTNERS Merlot, Columbia Valley, WASHINGTON

Revelry Vintners is a Washington State winery rethinking the crafting and enjoyment of fine wine, founded upon the idea that truly great wine is created from quality fruit, and that it should remain both accessible and unpretentious. As a progressive producer of premium wines, highlighting the viticulture movement and dynamic quality of Washington State’s Columbia Valley, Revelry is a winery building a tradition of excellence. Revelry is the brainchild of northwest native Jared Burns. Jared, drawing on a unique and experience filled upbringing, adopted wine as a personal passion at a young age; the son of self-made entrepreneur Dennis Burns, founder of Pro-Tec Helmets, Gargoyles Sunglasses, and the inventor of the synthetic wine cork. In 1998, Burns was awarded the Golden Grape Award for his pioneering ingenuity, the product of which forever changed the course of an industry and ultimately the quality of wine. Harvesting fruit throughout the Columbia Valley’s distinct and varying microclimates and employing both traditional and modern winemaking techniques, Revelry is a homage to the heritage and excellence of Washington State’s unrivaled winemaking tradition, creating wines of uncompromised quality at unparalleled value. Revelry Vintners is located in the beautiful Walla Walla Valley, in the southeast of Washington State’s unrivaled winemaking tradition, creating wines of uncompromised quality at unparalleled value.

History of Merlot and its Relation to Revelry Vintners:  Merlot is a darkly blue-colored wine grape, that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to derive from the Old French word for young blackbird, merlot, a diminutive of merle, the blackbird (Turdus merula), probably from the color of the grape. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

In the 1980s, Merlot helped put the Washington wine industry on the world’s wine map. Prior to this period, there was a general perception that the climate of Washington State was too cold to produce red wine varietals. Merlots from Leonetti Cellar, Andrew Will, Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle demonstrated that areas of the Eastern Washington were warm enough for red wine production. Today it is the most widely grown red wine grape in the state and accounts for nearly one fifth of the state’s entire production. It is widely planted throughout the Columbia Valley AVA but has earned particular notice from plantings grown in Walla Walla, Red Mountain and the Horse Heaven Hills. Washington Merlots are noted for their deep color and balanced acidity. The state’s climate lends itself towards long days and hours of sunshine with cool nights that contributes to a significant diurnal temperature variation and produces wines with New World fruitiness and Old World structure.  Other US regions producing significant quantities of Merlot include New York State‘s Long Island AVA, Virginia‘s Shenandoah Valley AVA and Oregon‘s Rogue Valley AVA.

Varietal:  100% Merlot                                                          

Alcohol:  13.8% by volume

Tasting Notes:  The 2009 Revelry Merlot exhibits ripe blueberry and the fresh acidity of cherries. Aged in primarily American oak cooperage, the wine has undertones of cocoa and toffee notes. The 100% Merlot wine was harvested from Doval, Sagemoor, and Stillwater. It is an incredibly balanced wine from front to back with an exceptionally smooth quality on the palate.

Food Pairings:  Pair this great Merlot with fatty or heavy meats, pastas with rich Bolognese sauce, hearty cheese, and spicy ethnic foods.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts:  “Rich, supple and elegant. A complete wine from start to finish. The best of Washington state’s cool, sandy climate and terroir shine through. A great addition for the Thanksgiving table.”-JL