Classic Joseph Phelps Cab from the 2011 Vintage

When I visited Napa Valley a couple of months ago to taste wines in advance of release, I was very impressed with how the 2011 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon tasted.  It reminded me of the elegant, classic style Phelps Cabs used to have twenty years ago, before the production of their top wine, Insignia, was expanded.  My guess is, like other Napa wineries, they made less of the flagship wine Insignia in the difficult 2011 vintage and put a lot of that juice into the standard Phelps Cab.  This wine is drinking beautifully now.  It has a silky black-fruit character and very polished tannins, and a gently earthy finish.  I like the fact that this is a more classic style, not the high octane – sharp tannin style that so many Napa Cabs seem to have these days.  The 2011 was a much smaller than normal crop, so even though this wine has just been released, I expect it to sell out quickly because there is not much of it to be had.  If you would like to reserve this wine for the special price of $64.99, please contact me at

Great Buy from Rioja, Spain

The Graciano grape variety was headed for extinction in Spain because so many grape growers were uprooting it and re-planting to Tempranillo since they could get twice the price per ton for Tempranillo grapes. Graciano has always been known as a blending grape in Rioja because it softens the astringency of Tempranillo (the primary grape of Rioja) and adds a delicate floral aroma to the wine. The guys behind the Rio Madre brand were able to secure enough Graciano grapes in the Rioja region to make one of the few bottlings of 100% Graciano, and a darn good one at that. The 2012 Rio Madre Rioja ($8.99 – 91 points International Wine Cellar) has nice cherry and cassis fruit flavors, an aroma of violets, and a subtle spicy finish. It is a soft red, similar to Pinot Noir, but with a bit more body to it. It is hard to believe they could make such a good wine at this price! If you would like to reserve a case of Rio Madre for the special price of $96, please contact me at


2011 Reata Pinot Noir Napa-Sonoma

91 Outstanding!
Nose is vibrant with generous scents of ripe cherry
and blackberry, and a hint of oak. On the palate,
this wine delivers a rich core of ripe and dried
cherries with supporting hints of baking spices and
vanilla. It finishes with a nice balance and great length.
Regular $19.99
Sale $12.99 or $120/case