Pono Wines “Mana” Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
$110 (Wine Club Reorder Price $99)

The search for balance and connection is what ancient Hawaiians call living ‘Pono’.
It is a continuous celebration of living in the moment, an appreciation for where we are and where we are going as we embrace life’s journey. Sounds like a pretty good mantra coming off this past year, don’t you think?

When I was searching for some new incredible wines to bring into the shop for you, I was blown away when I had the opportunity to taste Dave Sedeno’s collection of Pono wines. Dave Sedeno is a native Hawaiian and Pono Wines founder. Two decades ago he began working with many world-renowned wineries and winemakers in Napa and Sonoma. Through these collaborations he creates Pono Wines, with his wife Carole, resulting in wines that are timeless, rich in flavor and filled with a sense of adventure. Dave creates small lot wines with grapes sourced and blended from premium Napa Valley vineyards resulting in wines with great depth and palate pleasing layers.

Each bottle of Pono wines tells a story, the etched outline on the bottle before you is the island of Oahu and the coordinates beneath the name, 21 degrees north/157 degrees west, bring a traveler to the steps of the lolani Palace in Honolulu, the residence of the Hawaiian monarchs, a nod to Dave’s family history traced back to ancient Hawaii. Above the letters spelling out “Pono” is a golden fish hook. This is a ‘makau’ a universal sign in Polynesian cultures for ‘one that provides’ – good fortune.

“Mana” in Hawaiian means powerful. Pono’s ‘Mana’ Cabernet is powerfully made, a bold Napa Valley Cabernet led by formidable tannins. This Rutherford Cabernet is full of juicy flavors of black currant and blackberry with smashed peppercorn and hints of Cuban cigar. On the palate the wine is rich and finishes with a strong, yet smooth tannin structure that pleads for seared Wagyu beef or filet mignon.

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – March 2021

Jacob Franklin “Mon Chou” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Yountville, Napa Valley, California
$75 (Wine Club Reorder Price $66)

From the family who brought you Elyse Winery, Jacob Franklin is another Coursen family exclusive. Although the family recently sold Elyse, Ray and Jake Coursen are still producing a small amount of beautiful vineyard designated wines through this label.

Ray Coursen grew up on a dairy farm in New Jersey and was born into agriculture. In 1983 Ray and his wife Nancy packed up their car and headed to Napa with dreams of making great wines from California. They ended up in Rutherford, CA and in 1987 Ray made his first wine under his own label, Elyse. In 1998 Ray harvested the estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Elyse Winery and Jacob Franklin Wines was created.

Jake Coursen, grew up in the Napa Valley and spent his youth playing in vineyards and wineries. After an internship with Hunnicutt winery in 2013 and being hired as production assistant after harvest, Jake got an intimate knowledge of winemaking from some of the valley’s top winemakers. With the sale of Elyse approaching Jake realized it was time to sink or swim so he signed a grape contract for a smidge of Grenache which would mark Jake’s beginning as head winemaker for Jacob Franklin Wines.

“Mon Chou” (my sweetheart) is a blend of the six varietals native to the region of Bordeaux, France with Jacob Franklin’s growing in the AVA of Yountville, Napa Valley. This wine is rich with flavors, complexity and depth. Dark ruby in color with a dusty nose of violets, cocoa, cassis, blackberries, tobacco, and mint. Sweet toasty oak greets the palate followed by focused flavors of mulberries, cherries, and red currants. Full bodied and balanced with deep fruit flavors, well integrated tannins and a smooth lingering finish. A very nice wine. Tastes so good now, it’s going to be a hard one to keep in the cellar!

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the more complex and layered wines out there. It has higher tannins and a savory character often described with tobacco. Because of this wine’s traits, look for foods high in fat and umami flavors for this pairing. A nice ribeye steak with porcini mushroom sauce would be perfect with a glass of “Mon Chou”.

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – March 2021

Gros Ventre El Dorado High Country White 2019

El Dorado County, California
$32 (Wine Club Reorder Price $28)

Sarah and Chris Pittenger launched Gros Ventre Cellars soon after their 2008 marriage. But it really started in the place that they met – near the Gros Ventre River in Jackson Hole. A long-distance friendship was born when their paths crossed at a party; Chris was working in bottle shops and snowboarding while Sarah was visiting during an advertising trip out from San Francisco. This friendship survived Chris’ switch from the dining room to winery, and his moves from Jackson Hold to Napa to Australia to Healdsburg to New Zealand and back again.

When the time came to name the brand, Sarah was hugely pregnant with their son John Henry. They were considering the name Gros Ventre because of where they originally met and when they learned that “gros ventre” is french for “big belly” they were sold and the brand was born. They currently produce about 2,000 cases of wine, including vineyard-designated Pinot Noir from the West Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley, and several wines from the El Dorado region.

The 2019 El Dorado High Country White is into its 4th vintage and is seeing Arneis taking the driver’s seat with Grenache Blanc riding shotgun. It is composed of 26% Arneis, 22% Grenache Blanc, 20% Fiano, 15% Picpoul Blanc, 10% Sauvignon Blanc, and 7% Vermentino. Subtle chamomile and lavender aromas lead to hints of lime, flint, salty ocean breeze, and a whiff of cotton candy. Light-to-medium bodied and very refreshing, more lime joins pears and apples on the mid palate. The finish is long, layered, and tamed by bright acidity that first livens then washes away…only to return again. 263 cases produced.

With the hints of lime and fresh pear, this wine is the perfect match for a heavy garlic seafood spaghetti and light summer salads. The bright acidity can live up to the garlic in the dish and compliment the palate over and over again.

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – March 2021

Stirm Wine Co. “eøølian” Dry Riesling 2019

Kick-on Ranch, Santa Barbara County, California
$29 (Wine Club Reorder Price $26)

At Stirm Wine Company they have two simple goals that direct their operations: to present the narrative of the growing season in a delicious and transparent format, and to craft a wine with a strong foundation intended to age for decades. Every year is unique, so the vineyard and cellar practices evolve annually to adapt to the changes each season brings forth.

Ryan Stirm’s path to becoming a winemaker was not clear at first though his interests as a kid helped stir the pot in that direction. His focus on wine was sparked because of wrestling. He chose to go to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo because they had a great wrestling team and they offered a degree in Wine and Viticulture. Soon after finding his passion he met his mentor, Justin Willett of Tyler winery, while rock climbing in Santa Barbara County. This chance meeting led to a four year endeavor as the assistant winemaker at both Tyler and Lieu Dit Winery and the rest was history!

So why Riesling? There is no obvious reason why Stirm chose Riesling, except, they love it. It’s not only their belief that this terpene-rich grape is the most dynamic, the most transparent, and the most exciting; many of the world’s top sommeliers and wine critics consider it the greatest white wine grape of all.

The “eøølian” Riesling is a revelation in dry-finished Riesling. With 0.1 g/L of residual sugar Ryan Stirm changes anybody’s expectation of cloying aromatics and sweetness. This true advocate for Riesling creates a pure, pristine, and bone-dry white wine that you want to drink. You’ll find loads of texture and puckery acidity which flows into green apple, unripe peach, and savory herbs. As Ryan likes to say, pour a big glass and get your daily dose of Vitamin R!

Riesling is one of the top food wines in the world. Because of its bright acidity, versatility, and kiss of sweetness makes it an ideal pairing for most cuisines. Skip the sake on your next sushi night and opt instead for a glass of Riesling.

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – March 2021

Briney Glimmer Syrah 2019

Broken Leg Vineyard, Anderson Valley
Mendocino, California
$30 (Wine Club Reorder Price $26)

Wesley Box grew up in San Rafael and on the commercial wharf in Sausalito and San Francisco where his father was a commercial fisherman. With an affinity for the ocean just like his father, Wes traveled up and down the coast of CA on his surf trips. On those trips, he found himself seeking out small businesses like local coffee shops and eateries and on the windy days he would go taste wine. I guess you could say that’s where it all started for Wes.

Over the years Wes worked many different roles within the wine industry and met so many influential people who helped him get to this point of launching his own label. He was a Sommelier and Bartender at Farm Shop, ran the wine program at Vin Antico in San Rafael, and was a wine broker for a number of small producers, many of which we carry at our shop thanks to Wes. Beginning in 2009, each year he worked the wine harvest for a different producer to get a well rounded view of winemaking and learned from the best (to name a few: Arista, CalStar, Red Car, Panthea, and Mending Wall.)

Those gentlemen told Wes to go for it and encouraged his journey into making his own wines. The Broken Leg Syrah was the first wine he ever made, and is now producing wine from Mendocino, and Sonoma County for his family’s upstart project Box Wine Company.

The 2019 Vintage was pretty epic in Anderson Valley. A moderately warm season gave them some extra hang time for the grapes at this legendary Syrah Vineyard. This Syrah has smooth white pepper, lightly tannic flavors of white tea, dried red fruit , red vines and cherry cola. It goes down a little too easy if you ask me…so be sure to pair it with a hearty dish like grilled pork chops. 48 cases produced.

By the way, “Briney Glimmer” is jargon specific to Boonville that means “lighthouse”. If you’ve never heard of the “Boontling” dialect in Boonville, I highly recommend Googling it. Fewer than 100 people are left who speak this unique dialect.

Taylor Morgan – March 2021