Sherwin Family Vineyards “Cellar Scraps” Cabernet Blend #14

Napa Valley, California

$79 (Wine Club Reorder – $70)

To our longtime reserve club members: you might recognize this wine. Years ago we featured their Estate Cabernet in your club. The “Cellar Scraps” is a blend of that Estate Cabernet and Petite Sirah, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from both 2016 and 2017. They have found a delicious way of making great wine out of their “scraps” – and at an amazing price too!

Located atop Spring Mountain right next to Pride Mountain Vineyards, Sherwin Family started making wine and growing grapes in 1996. Steve Sherwin was a builder and developer in the Bay area for over 30 years before taking advice from a friend to purchase some land in Napa and grow grapes. His 5th generation grape growing buddy assured him that, although farming is a lot of hard work, it was not nearly as stressful as building and developing. They released their first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon in 1999 and have since brought their son and daughter into the family business.

Matt and his sister Lindsey grew up in the family vineyard and naturally fell into their roles as assistant winemaker and event manager. I had the pleasure of meeting Matt at their estate last year where I learned about their story and toured their vineyard. Right now, they are working to rebuild their winery that sadly burned in the recent 2020 Glass Fire. They have a ways to go but with that builder and developer background I believe they will rebuild and be better than ever.

Fun fact: Sherwin Family Vineyards is the only company in the United States that can place the American flag on a bottle of alcohol. This came about shortly after September 11, 2001, when they were asked to participate in an international wine auction benefiting the families of employees of Windows on the World restaurant that was lost in the disaster. They still feature the American flag on their Commemorative Etched large format bottles in honor of 9/11.

Taylor Morgan – January 2021

Montagu “Sage Ridge Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Napa Valley, California

$150, (Wine Club Reorder – $99)

Montagu Wines was founded by Weston Eidson in 2012, who learned from mentor Russell Bevan, whose track record boasts several 90-100 point wines. Montagu Wines is a tribute to the winemaker’s great-grandfather John, the second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and a British automotive pioneer responsible for early automotive legislation. He was also the first person to drive an automobile to Parliament, gave the future Edward VII his first car ride, and served as the model for the iconic Rolls-Royce hood ornament known as the Spirit of Ecstasy. Eidson tries to capture his great-grandfather’s spirit and zest for life in each bottle of wine he makes.

John’s son, and Weston’s great-uncle Edward, the third Lord Montagu, continued his father’s legacy by founding Britain’s National Motor Museum. He was also a wine lover, producing his own from his vineyard in Southern England. It turns out that Napa makes better wines.

For as long as he can remember, Weston Eidson has possessed an entrepreneurial spirit and an appreciation for fine wine’s ability to enhance any celebration or family get-together. Weston has developed a conviction for making wine that is richly layered, complex, and balanced.

The 2017 “Sage Ridge Vineyard” Montagu Cabernet Sauvignon comes to us from the Sage Ridge mountain site in Rutherford, Napa Valley. Sage Ridge is a mountain site behind Pritchard Hill. It has incredible volcanic moonpowder-like soil and a sun drenched Mediterranean climate and landscape which allows the grapes to ripen to incredible density, texture and extraction. This Cabernet Sauvignon from a specific block in the Pritchard Hill area, high-elevation vineyard, is rich in gravelly dust, mineral, and texture. The inaugural vintage of this wine, shows length, breadth, and complexity. We are seeing notes of dried herb, sage, and leather saddle.

A side of cheesy polenta will help show off this wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon. Make sure to use an aged cheddar or gouda (harder cheeses) to mix into the polenta. The age on the cheese will help highlight the earthy notes of the wine making it the perfect pair.

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – January 2021

Lichen Estate Pinot Gris 2018

Anderson Valley, California

$25 (Wine Club Reorder – $22)

Breggo’s back, baby! Well, sort of. If you don’t know Breggo, back in 2006 it was home of the “Finest Pinot Gris of the New World” and was the “Best New Winery in 2008.” Winemaker and owners Douglas and Ana Lucia Stewart took an offer they couldn’t refuse and sold the Breggo name in 2009 but kept their land. For 5 years they planned and prepared their soils to grow even better organic grapes. Then, in 2014, Lichen Estate was ready for their first release.

Doug and Ana Lucia named their farm “Lichen Estate” in honor of its beauty and grace and the green lichen on the oaks studding the property. One might call Lichen Estate “The Pinot People” because they only make Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, both still and sparkling wines.

Lichen Estate is 203 acres overlooking Highway 128 in Anderson Valley. The vineyard comprises 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Gris vines on southeast facing slopes. Lichen Estate farms 100% organically. We’ve fallen in love with Lichen’s 2016 Sparkling Brut Rose as well as a past wine club favorite, the 2017 White Pinot Noir, and are excited to share the newest release with you, the 2018 Pinot Gris.

The 2018 Pinot Gris offers Lichen’s richest take yet on this dazzling aromatic varietal. Opulent and ripe fruit abounds, yet the wine remains jazzy and refreshing. Clocking in at 13.7% alcohol, it strays from more restrained prior vintages but has been a crowd-pleaser in the tasting room and a new favorite among the staff. This is not your typical Pinot Gris. It is riper and fuller than most of its lighter, quaffable cousins and shows the significant fruity presence of a rather more serious look at the variety. It exhibits a good palatal weight with plenty of peachy, mineral-tinged fruit running its length. Slight residual sugar accentuates its inherent juiciness and its careful balance ages well for a few years.

This wine is the perfect pair for your sushi dinner. Delicate fish deserves a delicate wine that will cleanse the palate, and Pinot Gris does exactly that. It also goes well with fried dishes and cuts the oil, it will also complement any rolls served with tempura-fried ingredients like shrimp or yams. 

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – January 2021

Argot Chardonnay 2018

Sonoma County, California

$45 (Wine Club Reorder – $38)

Born in Chicago to a large Irish family, wine did not play a role in winemaker Justin Harmon’s life growing up. The industrial beers of the Midwest were his drink of choice for family parties, and milk was best for the dinner table. His love of wine came from a series of experiences, places visited, bottles opened and friendships forged.

Although he has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, Justin’s curiosity about wine inspired him to study enology textbooks published by UC Davis, while also making wine in his basement. The chance opportunity to be involved with California’s 2005 harvest, for a single day’s work, provided his first look behind the curtain. The hook was set. The following year brought him back to California to participate in Sonoma County’s 2006 harvest as a full-fledged cellar hand and Vinify, run by former Bacchus & Venus wine superstar, Matt Duffy. A second turn as cellar hand, during 2007’s harvest, afforded an opportunity to ferment and raise the single ton of Syrah grapes upon which Argot (\ ärgō \ : a shared language, borne from intimacy, associated with tight-knit groups brought together by a common interest) was founded.

The 2018 Argot Chardonnay comes from multiple Sonoma County vineyards with a focus on the significantly cool AVAs of Bennett Valley and Sonoma Mountain. With 600 cases produced, this 100% Chardonnay is created from grapes that were allowed an extended ripening period on the vine, resulting in a perfect balance and concentration of flavors. Justin uses minimalistic methods, often associated with classic Chardonnay winemaking techniques of Meursault. With a focus on the coolest Chardonnay region in Sonoma County, 2018’s long, even growing season favored the vineyards’ moderate climate, old vines, and deep volcanic soils.

After aging 11 months in primarily once-used French oak barrels this oaky Chardonnay would be the perfect accompaniment to a seasonal pumpkin ravioli. Red peppers, corn, butternut squash, and pumpkin are wonderfully paired with a rich Chardonnay such as this one. The vegetable-forward dishes can stand up to the extra degree of richness in the wine.

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – January 2021

Barlow Vineyards Petit Verdot 2018

Calistoga, Napa Valley

$45 (Wine Club Reorder – $40)

We have a wine club member to thank for this wine find, so shout out to Joy for introducing us to Barlow! This family winery has been owned and operated by the Smiths since 1994. We first met with Zach Smith earlier this year and fell in love with his Merlot ($45), but he had mentioned they had a Petit Verdot that was almost ready to be bottled that piqued our interest. Well, it’s safe to say we loved it, so pour yourself a glass and I’ll tell you the story behind the wine.

Barlow Vineyards is located in Calistoga, Napa Valley. They started their winery by making a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon intended to be just for family and friends. They quickly sold out of those 25 cases and have since grown to 1500 cases a year. They grow all Bordeaux varietals and have some tasty single varietal wines like Merlot and Cabernet, but also make a Zinfandel and Red Blend. It was tough choosing our favorite wine out of their line up!

Unfortunately, Barlow was in the path of the devastating Glass Fire this year. Zach and his dad defended the estate with buckets of water and hoses. Although the vineyards themselves didn’t experience very much damage, the facility where they made their wine lost power and their 2020 vintage was lost. We’re trying our best to support the wineries affected by the fires, so we hope you love this wine just as much as we do and order more.

Only 50 cases were made of the 2017 Petit Verdot and it scored 92 points from James Suckling. ​ A fresh, vivid red with floral and citrus aromas and flavors to the blue fruit and spices. Medium body, firm tannins and a crisp finish. Drink now or hold.” Petit Verdot is a BIG wine, it’s usually blended in with Cabernet to give it a strong backbone. If you want to pair this with food, you need something that will hold up next to the wine. Think along the lines of lamb chops, roasted pork, or braised short ribs.

Taylor Morgan – January 2021