Here’s a wine that embodies San Francisco summer just perfectly. It’s not a tropical summer vacation in a bottle - with overripe mangoes and pineapples or sweet vanilla - but rather a wine that’s zippy and refreshing as the fog rolling in at four o’clock, like flavors of California citrus - Meyer lemons and homegrown limes, aromas of white blossoms in full bloom along the sidewalks of every neighborhood, and like that first bite of summer stone fruit from the farmer’s market. This wine welcomes the arrival of summer in a way that’s distinctly homegrown.
Summer 2019 Collection
Chateau Cremade Rosé
A taste of elegance and artistry. Pink satin in color, with aromas and flavors of strawberry, grapefruit, and tangerine, this wine has a sophisticated creamy texture and lingering acidity that take it from a mere smile on your face to a “close your eyes and take a deep breath” kind of moment. At the risk of furthering a stereotype and distancing those who would rather pass on the pink stuff, this elegant rosé is pure poetry and I can’t wait for you to try it.
This new discovery - a Semillon from an up and coming husband and wife team in California - feels like the first glimpse of the sun shining through the trees as the season shifts from the busy productivity of spring to the relaxing long days of summer. With aromas and flavors of just-ripe peaches, a tall glass of tart lemonade, the minerality of crushed oyster shells, and just a hint of almond - perhaps your mom’s almond cookies wafting through the kitchen window to the yard - it’s enveloping in its comfort yet still fresh and exciting, like the nostalgic feeling of an entire summer vacation ahead.
Like a Friday night with your best friends, this wine immediately puts you in a good mood. It’s fun, refreshing, and most importantly, doesn’t require a sommelier certification to appreciate it’s best qualities. But before you worry that it isn’t worthy of a special occasion, let me say that you’ll love its elegant bouquet of raspberry, violet, and black tea, and a satisfying subtle smoky finish, making it the absolute perfect bottle to kick off the weekend, celebrate some good news, or simply turn a Tuesday into something special.
Vinca Minor Red Field Blend
When I first discovered this field blend of Carignan, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah, I was immediately taken back to that image of summers in Marin. The aromas of forest floor and wild blackberries from my childhood were taken to a sophisticated new level with the addition of black and tea and dried herbs lingering on the finish of every sip. It felt like the perfect wine to share with you for our summer collection.
Maître de Chai Zinfandel
This delightful bottle feels like a loving pat on the back. It energizes you, warms your soul, and puts a big smile on your face. A lighter, more fresh and tannic driven zinfandel than Californians are used to seeing, this wine takes a grape that is often gilded beyond recognition (and certainly beyond balance), and transforms it into something simultaneously serious and worthy of recognition, while also immediately enjoyable and perfect for the table.
Spring 2019 Collection
Domaine du Closel Savennieres
If gloomy April showers bring joyful May flowers, then this wine tastes like the very first day of May. It’s a glass full of clear skies, vibrant green hillsides dotted with wildflowers, and a crisp breeze lingering in the morning air. The allure here is in its unadulterated purity, with each sip leaving me energized and optimistic about what’s to come next.
This Chenin Blanc works wonderfully with the toughest of spring vegetables, tangy vinaigrettes, and just about any seafood that asks for a squeeze of citrus as a finishing touch. It also is great on its own, as an aperitif.
JLC Selections Saint Joseph Blanc
The beginning of spring can feel a bit like a false promise. Particularly this year, when the sunny days and warmer weather feel like a distant memory. But rather than lament the never ending “atmospheric rivers”, I say let’s embrace rainy nights at home and snowy slopes in Tahoe! Let’s don our favorite cozy sweaters and savor the arrival of tasty spring vegetables prepared in the most comforting and belly warming ways. And of course, I have the perfect wine for this.
With spring aromas of white flowers and orchard fruit anchored by toasted bitter almond, fennel, beeswax, and ginger, this isn’t a zippy summer quencher, but rather a complex and weighted white wine enlivened by its inherent minerality. It’s a wine to pair with a good novel or that Netflix documentary you’ve been meaning to watch.
Scar of the Sea Pinot Noir
Inspired and influenced by the sea in every way, this wine feels fresh and alive. Its texture is surprisingly both crunchy and juicy, with fresh savory, saline, and spicy tones that show this is no one-note wonder, but rather, a lighter style red with incredible depth. Planted on sandy soils near the coastline by two winemaking surf buddies, this wine is bright and fun, but made in the most dedicated way. It takes more discipline than you can imagine to produce a beautifully balanced wine with minimal interventions (meaning no tricks or chemicals in the winery), but Mikey and Michael of Scar of the Sea have certainly done it here. And can you believe, this is only their entry-level Pinot Noir?
What captivates me about this wine is the incredible complexity. It's powerful, with a strong tannic and smoky finish, but in the middle, it has this perfect balance between ripe fruit and a sort of savory, salty bitterness. With aromas of tobacco and earth, black cherry and plum, and a potpourri of black peppercorn, cardamom, and licorice on the finish, it's a meaty wine that's unsurprisingly perfect for pairing with meat. It’s delicious with smoked and grilled steaks, charcuterie, braises and stews, as well as with wild game like venison and duck. It’s even great with corned beef - just in time for Saint Patty’s Day! For the veggie-lovers, it would also pair deliciously with smoked or grilled mushrooms and bell peppers, lentils, or vegetarian chilis.
Cruse Co Monkey Jacket Red
Michael Crus has set out to capture the old California spirit in a bottle - the can-do energy, the optimism, and the sunshine - just for you. Why? Because he thinks you deserve a great glass of wine at the end of the week, or on a mere Monday evening, not just on special occasions.
Here's a wine with a bouquet of aromas that develop from a brooding earthy quality into ripe, juicy fruit, finishing with a perfume of wildflowers, cherry, plum, smoke, and licorice. How can so many qualities fit so seamlessly together? Just the same way they do in California where the ocean meets the mountains, the mountains meet the vineyards and orchards, and it’s all basking in the glow of our year-long sun. Yes, this wine is complex, but this isn’t a wine to swirl and sniff all evening. It’s a wine to be enjoyed with friends - and it’s perhaps the best grape juice you’ve had in a while.
Poderi Colla Dolcetto & Nebbiolo
Living at the edge of the Presidio, there’s nothing better than taking walks through the winding trails and forest down to the edge of Crissy Field. Riley and I bundle up in our SF uniform of Patagonia jackets and Giants baseball caps to protect from that cool Sunday morning fog before heading out into the rustic charm of the forest inside a city. The aromas of wet leaves beneath our feet, wild mushrooms at the foot of the pine and eucalyptus trees, vibrant wild berries and wildflowers peeking out from between the branches, and more often than not, the faint aroma of a fire in the fireplace from one of the old officers houses along the path make a better welcome to the day than any cup of coffee ever could.
This unique blend of Dolcetto and Nebbiolo is as close as you can get to capturing our morning forest walks in a bottle. Rustic aromas of earth, wild herbs, smoke, and game are livened up by a hint of wildberry and sour cherry tartness to freshen your palate and keep you coming back for more.
December 2018 & January 2019
Scholium Project Sauvignon Blanc
Abe Schoener is a philosophy professor turned cult wine hero, whose approach to winemaking is as the eternal student, constantly experimenting, purely to witness the result. Is it good? Is it bad? That's not what concerns him. In fact, he'd much rather you hate his experiment than think it's "okay." Love it or hate it, but please don't shrug!
Luckily for us, his "La Severita di Bruto" Sauvignon Blanc from Scholium Project falls squarely in the ‘love it’ category. It lures you in with a sense of modesty and simplicity, not revealing its complexity and sophistication until long after you've committed to the glass! With enticing aromas of lemon and almond, an initially creamy texture that leads the way to an exhilarating nervous energy, and finally, to a lingering lemony zing on the finish, it's a charmer that seems to be in on our little joke here. “To hell with tradition,” it seems to be saying, “I’m about to knock your socks off!”
Heidi Schröck furmint
As a native Californian, I’m always being told that I don’t know the first thing about seasons.
And while it’s true that I’ve never shoveled snow or gone “leaf peeping” (or even know what that was until a few years ago), I do savor the scent of the first rain in the redwoods, love watching our puppy play with the the tiny, delicious apples that fall from the tree in my parents’ backyard, and that aroma of fireplaces that make you want to curl up with a good book, a blanket, and a great glass of wine. So maybe it’s not a change on the order of what our neighbors to the East tend to experience, but it’s late autumn to me, and more importantly, it’s precisely those aromas of yellow apples, a hint of smoke in the fireplace, and fresh winter air, that I think of each time I taste this delicious Furmint from Austria.
Occhipinti SP68 Rosso
Deep within the trees, where the ground is wet and the fog rarely lifts, are the most beautiful calla lilies thriving in the wild. Sure, you can buy lilies in the grocery store and prop them up in a vase, but it never fails to catch my breath to see how wildly beautiful they are in their natural state - wet soil beneath them, droplets of fog upon them, and surrounded by the wooded forest. It’s the natural contrasts, the compliments between the subject and setting, and the overall balance of it all that speaks to me - in very much the same way this Sicilian red wine shows in the glass.
With an effusive bouquet of rose petals and lavender, wild berries and woody bramble, and the subtle scent of tobacco and smoke on the finish, it’s not a “pretty” wine. Rather, with a perfect balance between rustic and elegant, it’s breathtakingly, wildly, beautiful.
Whitcraft Winery Syrah
Classic French Syrah - perfectly balanced with earth, leather, and meat married with black fruit, lavender, and rosemary. A wine that doesn’t overwhelm with headiness or alcohol, but whose deep complexity enchants and lingers in a way that makes you want to keep going back for more. Simply beautiful.
Except this wine wasn't made in France at all, but half a world away from Northern Rhone, in California in fact. This up-and-coming young winemaker, Drake Whitcraft, is making a real name for himself in the world of wine, producing Syrahs that could fool lovers of classic French Syrah loves time and time again - he certainly fooled me.
October & November 2018
Here’s a wine that reflects the perfect harmony between the warm California sun and our cooling coastal fog. Picture it, you’re standing on the wild coastline of northern California - the subtle scent of wildflowers on the hillside, the taste of sea spray in the air, the powerful ocean breeze whistling past you, and that perfect kiss of sun on your cheek making you want to linger all day - that’s exactly where this wine takes me. One of the most complex, intense, and balanced California chardonnays I’ve tasted in a long time, it’s French Chablis meets California at its best.
Eric Texier Roussanne
And so we come to our beautifully pure and crystalline Roussanne from Eric Texier. Here’s a wine that laughs at the idea that all natural wines fall into the dismissively “funky” category.
A bit like your favorite cashmere sweater that’s neither trendy nor flashy, but simply soft, comforting, and perfect for when the crisp fall air replaces the long days of summer, that’s how this wine feels to me. With flavors of pear, fennel, and fresh herbs, there’s a rounded texture enveloping a nervous core.
forlorn Hope Alvarelhão
To me, this wine captures autumn in a glass. With aromas of red fruit, grapefruit pith, orange peel, and cinnamon, and flavors of cranberry, cassis, and five spice, it’s like all the flavors of fall were captured and blended together to be shared amongst friends. It’s a wine for the first rain of the season, an indie film on Netflix, and for when you can’t possibly spend another moment thinking about email.
Tenuta Anfosso Rossesse
The ultimate crowd pleaser.
There’s plenty for families to disagree about over holiday get-togethers - politics, who’s doing the dishes, who to crown the real “Prince Newman” (Walter or Julian), but thank god for this knockout wine from Liguria that’s sure to please everyone from Grandpa to Aunt Joan.
Packed with dark fruit, winter spice, and a refreshing acidity to stand up to your favorite cranberry sauce, it’s the perfect option for Thanksgiving.
August & September 2018
Mullineux Old Vines White
I’ve selected his Old Vine White Blend for our latest bundle because it’s perfect for the end of summer in the Bay Area. Simply opening the bottle and pouring a glass will have you walking through the farmers market in your mind - aromas and flavors of ripe yellow and white peaches, sweet summer corn, fresh basil and mint - it’s all there, wafting out of the glass. There’s a restrained sunshine - like an August day on the bay with the fog rolling in - that allows the wine to feel fresh and exciting but simultaneously warm and inviting. Take my advice and pair it with seafood and summer corn, or take the our talented winemaker’s advice and pair it with pork belly to see how well this pretty wine can hold its own.
Jolie Laide Trousseau Gris
Equal parts floral, citrus, and savory, this wine’s complexity is simultaneously captivating and intriguing, but so well integrated and balanced that your time is wasted trying to question whether you smell clementines or lemons wafting from your glass. In fact, reading tasting notes for this wine is entertaining in itself - everyone seems to pick up on something different - the only consistent note being an overwhelming sense of admiration.
This is not your typical mourvedre. Known for a dominating personality of black pepper, red meat, smoke, and high tannins - typical mourvedre wines are not for the faint of heart. But when a winemaker decides to have an open mind and experiment with grapes in new locales, then a grape like mourvedre can take on an entirely different persona. If warm climates create a hearty BBQ pairing wine, then what should we expect from the Sierra foothills, with their cooling winds, volcanic and granite soils, and refrigerated sunshine? When mourvedre tangos with the edge of snowmelt, what then?
Vara Y Pulgar Tintilla
Don’t let the wine’s deep ruby color or region of origin fool you. This isn’t a heady, high alcohol force. Rather, it’s equal parts juicy black fruit, mineral nerve, spicy black pepper, dark chocolate, earth, and an intoxicating floral perfume. Serious, but not imposing, this wine feels like dinner by the campfire. This is the wine for your final summer camping trip or your picnic in the Presidio before the leaves begin to fall. It will suit the rustic but beautiful surroundings, while also connecting you to the farmers and traditions of Spain.
June + July 2018
Masseria Li Veli Verdeca
One of Riley’s old Airbnb friends now leads trips in Puglia, Italy, and when he broached the idea of booking one, I shot it down on the grounds that “they don’t really do white wines there”. Later that same day, one of my favorite distributors stopped by with a case of wines for me to taste. And guess what he threw in because “I just had to taste this delicious new white wine in the portfolio.” Yup, that’s right, a traditional, nearly extinct, variety called Verdeca, made in Puglia, Italy. I ate my words as the first sip went down.
Chateau Leoube Rosé
Yes, I know, rosé feels a bit overdone these days. There are more rosé hashtags than I can count on two hands. From #yeswayrosé to #brosé, there’s plenty to roll your eyes at and it’s only May as I write this. That said, there’s a reason why everyone from your college-aged cousin to your grandma is jumping on the bandwagon - rosé is simply delicious.
Pence PTG Gamay & Pinot
This blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay wine from Pence reminds me of a bouquet of hibiscus flowers and cherry blossoms, all wrapped up in a gorgeous silk ribbon. It’s an elegant wine for Pinot lovers - a bottle for those of us that love having a little dash of something new to compliment the familiar. It’s not a big, bold, or powerful wine, but neither is it wimpy or thin - it’s elegant, inviting, and frankly, intoxicating. And to top it all off, the land these grapes come from is equally breathtaking. All around, this one’s a beauty.
Benanti Nerello Cappuccio
We discovered this Nerello Cappuccio over lunch at one of Sicily’s top wineries and it made me yearn for summer - especially dinners outside with my dad at the grill. It’s deliciously smoky, with hints of tobacco and herbs, but with just the right amount of ripe fruit to balance it all out. I like to think we’re tasting a hint of the volcano itself with each and every sip. But it’s not all smoke and tobacco in there, there’s also an undeniable sense of passion and generosity inside this bottle - something we were so taken with as our early lunch turned into early evening with the Benanti family.
April + May 2018
Domaine Ostertag Riesling
On a rare rainy night in San Francisco (which we seem to be having a lot of lately), I’m inclined to plan a hearty meal that pairs best with a red wine. Now, that leaves me with a problem… what will I sip on while I’m cooking, and what will I pour with our salad course? (I’m a huge veggie fan, so every meal has to have some greens involved.) You might not think this is a “P1” kind of problem, but if our goal here is maximum enjoyment in life, then I’m here to solve that problem for all of us, and this Riesling is just what we need.
My husband Riley and I fell in love with wines from the Jura last year while living in France. Our favorite neighborhood wine shop, Les Vins du Terroir, had the best selection - not too many options, and every bottle just right. As we got to know the owner Antoine, we came to trust anything he recommended and one day he suggested a Chardonnay from the Jura mountains. We took it home that night to pair with our favorite roast chicken from the farmers market and it completely changed the way we thought about Chardonnay.
Cristom Pinot Noir
Ready for a cozy night in? This is the kind of bottle I want when I’ve come home from a long day, cooked a delicious meal with my husband Riley, and I just want to relax. With juicy red fruit, exotic five spice, dried orange peel, and a velvety texture, this wine is an excellent example of the incredible Pinot Noirs coming out of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
This Aglianico (pro tip - the G’s silent) is a classic Italian grape from the Basilicata region. However in this case, it’s grown and handled with care by a tiny family-run operation down in Paso Robles. They farm sustainably, have a deep respect for creating beautifully balanced and food-friendly wines that can rival the classics of Italy, and at the end of the day, Stephanie and Brian Terrizzi are simply some of the nicest people in the business, so you can’t help but want to support them.