• The Guaranteed Razor's Edge:   Enfield Wine Co. 2015 Haynes Chardonnay

    The Guaranteed Razor's Edge: Enfield Wine Co. 2015 Haynes Chardonnay

    Today's magnum-only offer is a first. But, I cannot think of a wine better suited to the format than Enfield Wine Co's 2015 Haynes Vineyard Chardonnay. While 750ml's disappeared in a flash, I made sure to go deep on magnums of this personal favorite, from the growing legend that is, John Lockwood.

    When John Lockwood's 2015 Haynes Vineyard Chardonnay floored me, his initial reaction was to point to a "perfect storm" of growing conditions. Knowing John, this modesty is key to the success in all his wines. But actually, it's his relentless curiosity and ever-questioning approach that's responsible for one of the greatest wines from California I've yet to drink.

    Sommeliers have blinded it as Pierre Yves Colin-Morey. Descriptors like laser-focused and weightless flood the mind when tasting. Lockwood has produced some terrific wines, but for me the 2015 Haynes Chardonnay is his most thrilling achievement to date. This month, Eric Asimov of the New York Times gave us a close look into Lockwood's steady rise in becoming a household name in the wine world.

    Today, I'm happy to offer John's 2015 Enfield Wine Co. Haynes Vineyard Chardonnay 1.5L for $100 per bottle. Also featured is a wide range of additional wines from Lockwood.

    John and I met while working at Failla Wines in 2011. From a solar-powered cabin on the extreme Sonoma Coast, four of us in total organically-farmed the Failla Estate Vineyard, home to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. In retrospect, taking the leap to that plot of vines was perhaps the single most important professional choice I've made.

    Getting to know John in tight quarters and amongst vine rows was a never-ending exploration into all things wine. Early mornings, late nights, the discussions never ceased. It was clear immediately that his thirst for discovery would be the root of all accomplishments to come. It was that summer of 2011 that John bottled his very first wine for his Enfield Wine Co. label, from Haynes Vineyard.

    Haynes, located in Napa's coolest AVA Coombsville, is home to a special parcel of 51-yr-old Chardonnay vines. These same vines were the source of John Kongsgaard's early work with the seminal Newton "Unfiltered" Chardonnay of the 70's. Lockwood had sourced from Haynes since 2010, but it wasn't until 2015 that he was given the opportunity to work with this prized, old vine parcel.

    The magic of these old vines isn't just in the obvious concentration, but rather it's a story of soil. Haynes is famous for a very high pH powdery white volcanic ash subsoil, endowing wines with wild levels of acidity that are rare to find in this region where ripeness is never too shy. The younger vines John had previously worked with here had shallower root systems that only tapped into the alluvial gravel topsoil. When the change was made to the old vine parcel in 2015 the real magic of this fascinating subsoil came to fruition in bottle.

    The 2015 growing season saw a heat spike toward the end where sugars rapidly rose, outpacing the expected drop in natural acidity. Lockwood was given substantially ripe Chardonnay with wildly high acidity levels - an easy comparison would be 2010 in the Mosel. The wine was gently and directly-pressed to avoid any unwanted phenolic character. And the wine was aged in large 500L neutral French oak barrels and did not see sulphur until after 1 year in barrel.

    For me, finding white wines in California that are built upon their focus and agility is the ultimate rarity. There's a head-spinning level of refinement and incisiveness to this wine that will appeal to every single white Burgundy lover. There are no bones thrown when it comes to selections for the shop. I buy what I love to drink, it's that simple.

    And, I'm so confident this wine will appeal to lovers of finely-tuned styled white Burgundy and Chenin Blanc that I will give a full credit to the shop for anyone who isn't pleased with what they find in their glass. That's a guarantee.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Santa Cruz Late Release:  2005 Ahlgren Bates' Ranch Merlot

    Santa Cruz Late Release: 2005 Ahlgren Bates' Ranch Merlot

    My fondness for the old school winemaking mentality that can be regularly found in pockets of the Santa Cruz Mountains is no surprise. Names like RidgeMount Eden, and more recently Arnot-Roberts have proved emblematic of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon's ability to show a more nuanced and earth-inflected tone in this ultra-cool zone of California. This is where my excitement for the variety reaches its fever pitch in America.

    There's always an element of mystery to these vineyards that have remained way off the radar as compared to Napa counterparts. Among the mysteries residing in the Santa Cruz Mountains, no winery elicits the same intrigue as that of the former Ahlgren Vineyards and their Bates Ranch bottlings.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the late release direct from the winery of Ahlgren's 2005 Merlot for $47 per bottle. 

    Val and Dexter Ahlgren had been producing wines from this Boulder Creek zone of the Santa Cruz Mountains since the 70's. Upon their relatively recent retirement they had sold all of their library stock to a favorite distributor of mine whom I've long turned to for everything from Soldera Brunello to Foradori Teroldgeo to Cedric Bouchard champagne. When they announced these Ahlgren wines would be poured at their portfolio tasting I was very excited to taste. The results in bottle were so impressive I took every bottle available.

    Now, I've painted the Santa Cruz Mountains with a broad brush in the past, describing a middle ground between Napa and Bordeaux for the Merlot-based wines. When we talk about Ahlgren we need to pull away from this simple analogy a bit. Ahlgren produces wines from Merlot with a transparency and light extraction that actually bears little resemblance to either Napa or Bordeaux. Ahlgren exists in its own category of style, and pointing to similar references wouldn't do these wines justice or accurately explain what you'll find in bottle. The 2005 Merlot pulls us further away from primary fruit and into a deeper emphasis on the tertiary, floral, and earth tones.

    For me, these late releases impress first and foremost in their soundness of fruit. These had been resting at the winery since initial bottling until their recent purchase.There's a singular sweet brown spice I find in the 2005 Merlot that's simply Bates Ranch. Tannin was never the basis of structure for these wines, interestingly enough from a variety that rarely has any shortage in that department. Instead, it's the acidity and freshness that serves as the wines' foundation today with bright red and black fruits pulsating with energy. There's a soft, drinkable quality that's at once fun and playful, yet lingers with dead-serious earthy inflection that puts terroir front-and-center.

    Late releases from wineries always offer something that's worthy of getting excited about. Especially in these more delicately constructed wines, the provenance is so critical in enjoying them at their apogee. Today's final release from Ahlgren Vineyards Bates' Ranch is one that sums up why this ultra old school zone of California warrants so much attention.

    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Refresh: Ultimate Spring Awakening  2018 Arnot-Roberts Rosé

    Refresh: Ultimate Spring Awakening 2018 Arnot-Roberts Rosé

    Today, we're offering refreshed quantities on one of our favorite rosés on earth, the2018 Arnot-Roberts rosé of Touriga Nacional for $27 per bottle.

    This is the rosé I find myself reaching for continually through all occasions. Based on Touriga Nacional planted at 1,400 feet in the Clear Lake AVA, this pink always follows a high wire act of melding topicality with a salty and refreshingly mineral finish.

    Duncan Arnot and Nathan Roberts have long been celebrated for carving their own path in California. They've proved time after time that marginal climates once considered too severe can actually craft some of America's finest and most age-worthy wines. Between Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Falanghina, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Trousseau, and today's favorite rosé, this duo is unrivaled in how they excel across such a wide spectrum.

    In the obscure Clear Lake area Duncan and Nathan have tapped the variety most known for comprising Port. Here, on volcanic cobble, Touriga Nacional has annually been the backbone of this rosé that's seen its loyal fan-base continually expand. There's always a dizzying array of tropical fruits like guava, pomegranate, and passion fruit that meet savory orange peel with a quintessential saline snap on the finish that evokes sea breezes.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Bilbro's Mendocino Gold Rush:  2015 Idlewild Fox Hill Cortese

    Bilbro's Mendocino Gold Rush: 2015 Idlewild Fox Hill Cortese

    Idlewild's Sam Bilbro has a story that stands apart from many producers who came into light during the transformational New California Wine emergence, as dubbed by Jon Bonné in his excellent book. Idlewild focuses on Piedmontese single varietal, single vineyard wines, sourced from high altitude sites in Mendocino County.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2015 Idlewild Fox Hill Cortese for $35 per bottle.


    The story behind the Fox Hill Vineyard Cortese is one that perfectly captures the imaginative process between each phase of a wine's origin: viticulture, harvest, and fermentation. The Cortese on this site is divided into two parcels: One receives ample, direct sunlight on the grapes giving a golden hue and more overt ripeness. The other parcel is shaded and yields Cortese grapes full of verve and minerality from these porous rocky soils.

    In the cellar 75% of the grapes are directly pressed and barrel fermented. But, the remaining 25% is fermented on this skins, doubling down on those unctuous tones from the direct sunlight parcel and giving significant textural weight. This golden hue gives elements of chamomile, cardamom, orange peel, and a some tannin.

    I've followed this particular bottling over the years and each vintage impresses for that combo between energetic saline tones juxtaposed brilliantly by those more skin-macerated qualities. It's fleshy, yet finishes with a deep mineral drive that makes it ideal for cutting through richer dishes. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Santa Cruz Late Release:  Ahlgren Bates' Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot

    Santa Cruz Late Release: Ahlgren Bates' Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot

    My fondness for the old school winemaking mentality that can be regularly found in pockets of the Santa Cruz Mountains is no surprise. Names like RidgeMount Eden, and more recently Arnot-Roberts have proved emblematic of Cabernet Sauvignon's ability to show a more nuanced and earth-inflected tone in this ultra-cool zone of California. This is where my excitement for the variety reaches its fever pitch in America. There's always an element of mystery to these vineyards that have remained way off the radar as compared to Napa counterparts. Among the mysteries residing in the Santa Cruz Mountains, no winery elicits the same intrigue as that of the former Ahlgren Vineyards and their Bates Ranch bottlings.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the late release direct from the winery of Ahlgren's 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon for $68, and their 2005 Merlot for $39. I've also created special 6-pack pricing to sharpen up this rare back-vintage offer even more.


    Val and Dexter Ahlgren had been producing wines from this Boulder Creek zone of the Santa Cruz Mountains since the 70's. Upon their relatively recent retirement they had sold all of their library stock to a favorite distributor of mine whom I've long turned to for everything from Soldera Brunello to Foradori Teroldgeo to Cedric Bouchard champagne. When they announced these Ahlgren wines would be poured at their portfolio tasting I was very excited to taste. The results in bottle were so impressive I took every bottle available.

    Now, I've painted the Santa Cruz Mountains with a broad brush in the past, describing a middle ground between Napa and Bordeaux for the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-based wines. When we talk about Ahlgren we need to pull away from this simple analogy a bit. Ahlgren produces wines from these two varieties with a transparency and light extraction that actually bears little resemblance to either Napa or Bordeaux. Ahlgren exists in its own category of style, and pointing to similar references wouldn't do these wines justice or accurately explain what you'll find in bottle.

    For me, these late releases impress first and foremost in their soundness of fruit. These had been resting at the winery since initial bottling until their recent purchase.There's a singular sweet brown spice found in both the 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2005 Merlot that's simply Bates Ranch. Tannin was never the basis of structure for these wines, interestingly enough from two varieties that rarely have a shortage in that department. Instead, it's the acidity and sense of freshness that serves as the wines' foundation today with bright red and black fruits pulsating with energy. Each has a soft and utterly drinkable quality that's at once fun and playful, yet lingers with dead-serious tertiary development that makes terroir the prime feature.

    Late releases from wineries always offer something that's worthy of getting excited about. Especially in these more delicately constructed wines the provenance is so critical in enjoying them at their apogee. Today's final release from Ahlgren Vineyards Bates' Ranch is one that sums up why this ultra old school zone of California warrants so much attention.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen