WINE TASTING ROOM-Completo's
We are pleased to welcome adults who've been Double-Vaxxed
to our newly reopened Tasting Room.
Tasting Hours are 12pm until 5:45pm. Monday through Saturday.
UPDATED AS OF January 8, 2022
SIRO PACENTI 2014 BRUNELLO DI
Pacenti studied the top wines of France and concluded the old
methods being employed in his Tuscan area of Montalcino could use
So he bucked tradition and started making wine in a different way,
using small French oak barriques to mature the wine.
His wines gained a lot of attention, derided by some while impressing
The Pacenti wines are highly regarded these days and we sense
that Giancarlo is a bit uneasy with his fame and celebrity.
The 2014 is a challenging vintage, but Pacenti weathered the
storm and produced a really good Brunello. It gets good
numerical scores from various critical publications despite being
a showy wine in its youth.
(These critics often prize undrinkability as a feature, believing
wine is better when it can be cellared for decades. Hey, if dinner is
tonight, we want something
delicious right now!)
GERARD FIOU 2020 SANCERRE $3/taste
to terroir more similar to that of the neighboring
Pouilly-FumÚ appellation, the Fiou family makes a most
This 2020 is really snappy and crisp, with citrusy and
minerally notes. No oak, of course, just pure, bone dry
BENOVIA 2018 Russian River PINOT
Noir can be such a treat with the traditional turkey dinner, but it also
pairs handsomely with red meats, grilled salmon and other culinary treats.
Benovia is a smallish estate with vineyards formerly owned by the DeLoach
It's been a favorite here for many vintages...dark cherry fruit and some
sweet fragrances from French oak aging...
ELENA WALCH 2020 LAGREIN
is such a cool grape...it can be made along the lines of a Beaujolais or styled
Pinot Noir or, if properly-farmed for such a wine, as big as a Cabernet
Producers in the Alto Adige used to over-crop their vineyards, making wines
good enough to sell to bus-loads of German and Swiss tourists, but not good
Now, much more enlightened about making high quality wines, the region is a
treasure trove of
Elena Walch bottles a young Lagrein which has the charm and allure of a
Pinot Noir. The 2020 just arrived and it's a medium-bodied, gentle red
bright red fruit character and a suggestion of a wood note (well in the
This is such a good red and it's just $19.99 a bottle.
You can put it on the table in place of entry-level bottles of Pinot Noir.
THE OJAI VINEYARD 2020 Santa Ynez
Valley SAUVIGNON BLANC $2.50/taste
Ojai Vineyard has sourced its Sauvignon Blanc from the McGinley
Vineyard for close to 20 vintages.
Instead of buying grapes by-the-ton, winemaker Adam Tolmach pays
by-the-acre and then directs the farming to focus on grape
quality rather than a bountiful yield.
Less is more if you're farming for quality.
Ojai's Sauvignon Blanc is vinified in seasoned French oak barrels and
they capture melon-like fruits with a hint of lime.
It's dry, of course.
LANG & REED 2018 California
CABERNET FRANC $2.70/taste
& Tracey Skupny have been championing the
Cabernet Franc cause for nearly three decades, making wine
using the brand name with the names of their two sons.
In the early days the wine was made from grapes grown
in Napa, but these days with the price of that fruit
having skyrocketed, they're sourcing Cabernet Franc
from the Sierra Foothills as well as a site in Sonoma's
Alexander Valley. Add to the blend a small percentage
of Napa juice and you have their take on a Loire Valley
The wine typically spends a bit more than a year in
seasoned French oak, but you won't find a big
impact from the wood in terms of fragrance
and flavor...the Cabernet Franc takes the
PEJU 2018 Napa Valley MERLOT
We had routinely found the wines from Peju to be perfectly
well-made but lacking the excitement factor.
When we tasted their current line-up we asked the winery rep if they had,
hired a new winemaker.
He laughed and explained the second generation is now running the show and they
have unshackled the winemaker and, voila!
Their Merlot is particularly good and we are presently able to offer for a price
well below the $60 cellar door cost.
RAMONET 2017 CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET
experts claim Ramonet is the benchmark for Chassagne wines.
We would certainly include them on a short list of exceptional
Ages ago we used to be able to bring in a nice quantity of their
reds, as the world beat a path to their door for the whites.
Today, though, we are fortunate to be allocated but a precious
few bottles and we thought this might entice some people
to amble by to visit our shop.
MVEMVE-RAATS MR DE
COMPOSTELA 2016 CABERNET BLEND $5/taste
noticed this listed in the catalogue of a distributor that has
some interesting selections from South Africa, so we purchased a
bottle to taste and evaluate.
It's from a member of the famous Raats family in the Stellenbosch
region and it was a most pleasant surprise.
The 2016 is based on Cabernet Sauvignon, but they claim to really
be passionate about Cabernet Franc.
We're told this Mvemve Raats wine is in high demand in its home country,
but as it's distributed here by a big liquor house, nobody (yet) knows
It's very polished and balanced and intended to retail for about $80-$90, but
we have it presently on sale for $49.99.
GEIL 2019 SCHEUREBE Kabinett
The Scheurebe grape is a German variety
approximating the wine you'd have with blending
good Riesling with good Sauvignon Blanc.
Geil's is slightly sweet but with bracingly crisp acidity to balance...
Very fine and nice exotic!
AALTO 2018 RIBERA DEL DUERO $5.50/Taste
Made of Tempranillo in Spain's Ribera del Duero, this is a bit bigger
and deeper than most Rioja wines.
Mariana Garcia, one of the founders at Aalto, had been affiliated
at the legendary Vega Sicilia winery in Ribera. He and a partner
launched Aalto in 1999 and they've now got a great track record
for making intense, modern Spanish reds.
They have a higher-priced bottling, but we find this one to be
more drinkable and balanced.
Come have a taste!
HUNGARIAN (!) PINOT NOIR
is one of the most popular wines in the shop, as once people have tasted it,
It comes from an unlikely source but damn! It's really charming and
And the price is difficult to beat.
Mildly cherryish with a suggestion of
some wood notes...medium-bodied.
DOMAINE ZIND-HUMBRECHT 2018 RIESLING
"ROCHE GRANITIQUE" $5/taste
Winemaker Olivier Humbrecht is not only a skilled vigneron, he is one of the
very few winemakers who's attained the status of "Master of Wine."
His wines are remarkably well-balanced and exceptionally good as he focuses
on the notion of "terroir." His wines reflect the parcels from
This is a particular bottling coming from granitic rock and it's actually
grown, we're told, from the Grand Cru hill called "Brand."
It's kind of a declassified bottling and it comes from younger vineyards.
In this case, 36 year old vines, so they're certainly mature and then some.
The fermentation took close to a year to get the wine to dryness and then
Humbrecht left it for 18 months on the yeast sediment.
You'll find it's a rather noble Riesling and there are stony notes accompanying
the floral Riesling character.
STAGLIN FAMILY'S "SALUS"
2017 Napa CABERNET SAUVIGNON $10/taste
Staglin Family Cabernet goes for about $300 a bottle, as they view it
as an elite Napa red.
Their more normally-priced Cabernet goes by the name Salus
and it's made from vineyards in Rutherford.
We appreciate the improvements in this wine, as earlier vintages, while
perfectly pleasant, did not strike us as matching up well in terms of
This 2017 hits the nail on the head, though...lavishly-oaked and sporting
dark Cabernet fruit...lots of blackcurrant notes.
MOVIA 2018 RIBOLLA
is likely not listed on the tasting board, but there's a bottle presently in the
'fridge, ready to taste.
It's made of the Ribolla grape and they give it a bit of skin contact during its
fermentation creating, essentially, an
There is even an organization of vintners trying to promote wines made of "Rebula"
or "Ribolla" and all the
vintners give their wines some measure of a skin contact. This can be a
short period or an extended maceration of a month
Many of these are made by producers who embrace everything of former times and
so some turn their backs on
protocols commonly employed to produce what we consider to be well-made wines.
As a result, there are numerous "orange wines" which we consider to be
greatly flawed, showing elements of
This is a long-winded way of simply saying this wine avoids those flaws and
Movia's wine is surprisingly good in this
category of wine, but not surprising for a Movia wine.
BUEHLER 2018 Russian River
a nice little Sonoma white from our friend John Buehler
and his family up in the eastern hills of the Napa Valley.
The wine is a bit of a throwback and there's a hint of wood
and the wine is dry and appley.
We have it sale-tagged at $14.99
DANJEAN-BERTHOUX 2019 GIVRY
We tasted this wine and asked the
importer rep maybe 6 times to confirm
the pricing as we could not believe a Burgundy of this quality could
be selling for $19.99.
It's from a small, independent producer and the fellow incorporates
fruit from older vineyards in this bottling.
He's not a fan of lavishly-oaked wines, so you will see this
highlights Pinot Noir from the town of Givry, a place long-known
for affordable Burgundy.
It's drinkable in its youth, too.
CRAGGY RANGE SAUVIGNON
had been fans of Kevin Judd's Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, but
we keep hearing about supply chain issues and Covid difficulties as
being the reason that wine is not currently available.
In searching for a replacement we encountered this delightful
bottling of the Te Muna Road Vineyard from Craggy Range.
Greywacke is on the south island in Marlborough, while this comes
from the north island near Hawke's Bay.
We like its crisp, zippy, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc character
and it doesn't show its oak, but we understand a tiny
percentage was done in new French barrels.
VON WINNING 2017 RIESLING
"PARADIESGARTEN" TROCKEN $3.50/taste
Von Winning makes some
exceptional wines. We've long been fans of their Sauvignon
Blanc as it is mind-blowing in that nobody expects such a wine to come from
But they make some wonderful Rieslings and most are dry.
We tasted this 2017 from their Deidesheim site called Paradiesgarten and it is
at a wonderful stage of its evolution.
The wine was fermented in wood and left on the lees for a while in an effort to
more complex. And that's why you will find here.
We were smitten by this in June when we had a taste and we brought a bottle of
with friends at an Asian place. It was preceded by a very good bottle of
Ott's GrŘner Veltliner
and then this really sang!
It's showing a hint of a petrol note which is a bit odd for consumers who are
aged Rieslings. But if you appreciate that element in Riesling, you will
be enchanted by this, too.
DANJEAN BERTHOUX GIVRY $2/taste
We must have asked the
sales rep to confirm the price of this wine after we tasted it.
He could not understand why...we wondered "is this in a 6pk" for that
Okay...so here we are with some bottles of a delightful French red Burgundy at a
Classic Burgundian Pinot.
Smooth enough to enjoy tonight.
DELILLE Washington State CHALEUR BLANC $3.50/taste
loved the white Bordeaux from Smith Haut Lafitte, but now that it's north of
(closer to $150 these days), we've looked for alternatives.
The crew at Delille are also fans of Bordeaux wines and their Chaleur Blanc
often hits the mark.
The 2019 is exceptional and displays the herbal notes we like in Sauvignon Blanc
and the texture
of the Semillon. They use a fair bit of new French oak so there's a rather
character here, too.
Very showy white wine...
TITUS 2018 Napa Valley CABERNET
had this wine in two blind tastings of Cabernets the past few months and this
our top wine in both.
Phil Titus and his brother have vineyards in and around St. Helena and they make
a nice range of wines. His day job is that as winemaker at the Chappellet
It's a really inky red wine, with youthful purple tones and plenty of dark
There's a nice bit of oak here as it was matured in French and Hungarian
Something like 60% of the barriques were brand new.
This goes for $62 at the winery.
We sale tag it at $49.99.
TERLAN 2019 TERLANER
(Italian White Blend) $2.70/taste
Terlan co-op winery in Italy's Alto Adige makes some pretty damned good wines.
They distinguish themselves with their work incorporating Pinot Bianco.
We visited the cellar a few years ago and they still had a tank of 1979 Pinot
Bianco that is a
"work in progress," awaiting bottling one of these years!
In early June we splurged and bought a bottle of their "Rarity" Pinot
Bianco...2007 vintage and
it's fairly recently bottled.
This was a magnificent wine, but it's price for its scarcity: $180/bottle!
A few days later we popped the cork on a few wines we'd bought in hopes of
discovery and this 2019 "Terlaner" was exceptional. Not only
that, we can buy more than
six bottles of this compared to one of the Rarity!
The Terlaner appellation is a bit obscure, but it's a white wine blend based on
with Chardonnay and, in this case, Sauvignon Blanc.
It's mostly fermented in stainless steel, but about 20% of the juice is vinified
in large wood to
add a bit of complexity. Happily, the wood is not prominent here and the
wine displays the
bright, appley and peachy notes of Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay.
SADDLEBACK 2019 Napa Valley ZINFANDEL
Old Vines $4/taste
vines in Calistoga and an old winemaker in Oakville make for a rather
Napa Valley Zinfandel.
We've known winemaker Nils Venge since the 1970s and first met him as he was
wine for Villa Mount Eden and then Groth.
These days, aside from his various consulting jobs, he makes his own wines.
Especially charming is this amazing Zinfandel. It's beautifully berryish
a little bit of wood. The wine is rather gentle, too, being smooth and
in its youth.
This is a great choice for a backyard barbecue featuring ribs or burgers, yet it
pair beautifully with chicken, too.
ZAHEL "ORANGE T" Austrian
White from Vienna $1.90/Taste
Zahel winery is located in the Vienna area and it is the reference point for a
rather curious and
obscure grape variety called "Orange T," or Orange Traube.
Don't confuse this with the category of white wines vinified with the skins
which are known as
"Orange Wines." Those can be all over the map in terms of grape
varieties and styles, with
some being rather odd and tannic.
The grape called Orange T has typically been incorporated into the popular
wines known as Gemischter Satz. Zahel thought it has an interesting
personality and began
vinifying it on its own.
Today Zahel's Orange T is a benchmark for the grape.
We currently have this 2019 vintage in the shop and it's a delight. We
liked the 2018, too,
but Ellen noted this one is more intensely fragrant and beautifully crisp and
NEW CLAIRVAUX 2019 Tehama
County TEMPRANILLO $2/taste
DOMAINE WEINBACH 2018
is an elite domaine in France's Alsace region and the Faller family put this
the map in the 1970s and 1980s.
The wines are routinely a statement in elegance and balance.
This 2018 is beautifully aromatic and fruity...there's a hint of sweetness but
it's only a
HUDSON 2019 Carneros CHARDONNAY
2020 has just rolled in.
This is routinely one of our favorite, off-the-beaten-path dry white wines.
We brought a double magnum of the 2016 to dinner during the
San Francisco International Wine Competition and it was a hit with the
judges (from all over the world, too).
We brought this vintage recently to dinner with some friends at Dumpling Time in
San Francisco...thoroughly delicious!
Stony, nicely fruity with a hint of a spice note...
CI┘ CI┘ 2020
example of the Pecorino grape...certainly this will appeal to you if
you're enchanted by crisp, non-oaked Sauvignon Blancs.
This is yet another great, flavorful alternative to the "water"
many commercial cellars bottle as "Pinot Grigio."
FORTIFIED & SWEET
WINES OPEN TODAY:
PFEIFFER Rutherglen TOPAQUE (Muscadelle) $4.00/taste
Here's a really delicious Australian "Sticky" that used to be
sold as a "Tokay."
CASTA DIVA MOSCATEL "Cosecha Miel" $5.25/taste
Hugely famous in Portugal and around Europe, they're a mystery to most
wine consumers in the US. Remarkable wine, though.
BARBEITO 5 Year Old BUAL MADEIRA $2.40/taste
Not exactly dry but not precisely sweet...a nice 5 year old Madeira from a prestigious,
GRAHAM'S 2006 "MALVEDOS" VINTAGE PORTO $6.50/taste
The Malvedos bottlings from Graham's are routinely very good and this is
SANDEMAN 10 Year TAWNY PORT $3/taste
Nicely nutty and sweet!
FLORIO 2003 "TARGA" MARSALA $3/taste
A special bottling of Vintage Marsala from the historic Florio winery in
EXCINDRE MUSCAT DE MIREVAL $2.10/taste
Terrific Muscat from the south of France.
CRUZ VIEJA OLOROSO SHERRY $3.80
A well-aged, beautifully nutty dry Sherry...