Peter Paul “Master’s Blend” 2018

Napa Valley
$78 (Wine Club Reorder Price: $70)

Peter Paul produces less than 2,000 cases annually and is only sold in a handful of states, remaining one of the industry’s hard-to-find wineries. Peter Paul Wines showcase the sunny temperament of fruit grown along the California North Coast while offering the proper balance of fruit, savor, and structure that hits a sweet spot of ripeness. These wines are known for delivering density, richness, and joy.

Try not to ask yourself “Where’s Mary?” when you open up this Napa Cabernet Blend. Mr. Peter Paul, while unrelated to the 1960s folk band, is a generous philanthropist responsible for founding this small production wine label. In addition to owning the wine label, Peter launched the Headlands Foundation in 1995 to improve the standard of life for underprivileged children and their families in the Bay Area. He is a longtime supporter of many Bay Area nonprofits, including Food Bank of Marin, Marin Abused Women’s Services, St. Vincent’s School for Boys, and Meals on Wheels to name a few.

Martin Reyes wears many hats – one being the winemaker for Peter Paul and another being a Master of Wine. Not to be confused with Master Sommelier, the top restaurant- based (and better-known in the USA) credential, a Master of Wine holds the most respected title in the world for the production, business, and handling of wine. Martin started with Peter Paul in 2016, and his first 2016 vintage of Napa Cabernet was rated “Top 100 under $100” in Wine & Spirits magazine – not a bad start! Today, Martin is a leader in climate change and its effects on California wine, the first MW of Mexican descent, and a founder of Wine Unify which supports diversity in the wine industry.

“This blend is 58% cabernet sauvignon with 35% cabernet franc and the balance petit verdot and merlot, made by Martin Reyes MW, from sources in mostly Rutherford and St. Helena. It has Rutherford dusty aromatics of cedar and tobacco leaf, an olive skin savor offsetting black and red fruits, flavors generous with oak, balanced by notes of leather and black cherry. Joyous in its approachability and casual power.” – 95 Points, Wine & Spirits Magazine

Amy Ryan – September 2021

El􏰒􏰡yse Viney􏰒ard Cabernet􏰢 Sauv􏰓􏰑ignon 2018

Yountv􏰑ille, Napa Valley􏰒
$98 (Wine Cl􏰓ub Reorder Price: $88)

In 1983, owners Nancy and Ray Coursen arrived in Napa Valley from Cape Cod to fulfill Ray’s dream of making wine and Nancy’s taste for adventure. Coursen’s general interest in wine came from his roommate who was attending culinary school. Coursen said, “He taught me about the harmony and synergy between food and wine.”

In Napa, Ray began a nine-year tenure at Whitehall Lane Winery under the tutelage of Art Finkelstein, first as a cellar worker and then as head winemaker. The year 1986 saw the arrival of their daughter, Elyse Sarah, who became the namesake for their winery. After a decade of nomadic winemaking at various custom crush facilities, the Coursens purchased a small winery and vineyard on Hoffman Lane. Today it’s the home of Elyse Winery and tasting room.

Last year, nearly three decades after starting the winery, the couple felt ready to retire, so they sold the winery, vineyards, and house to local couple Josh Peeples and Cheryl Foil. “Basically, we’ve got some young blood coming in now. I think it’s a real positive change for the winery,” Ray Coursen said. They brought on Russell Bevan as winemaker, who has earned 15 100-point wines in his career, including the world’s only 100-point wine in 2011.

Only 386 cases were made of this single-vineyard 100% Cabernet Sauvignon produced from their 1.3-acre estate vineyard off Hoffman Lane in Yountville. Notes of Bing cherry and saddle leather dominate the nose, with just a kiss of menthol and mint to remind you of this vineyard’s unique sense of place (a grove of giant Eucalyptus trees border the vineyard leaving a signature aroma in the wines). Vibrant acidity mixed with refined tannins will allow this wine to be enjoyed for decades to come – but with the Russell Bevan touch, you can certainly pop it open and drink this bad boy now. 

Everyone knows to pair steak and Cabernet together, but the true experts know that Napa Cabernets that come from mountain AVAs (Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, etc) pair best with fatty steaks like Ribeye and Cabernets from the valley AVAs (Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville, etc) pair best with leaner steaks like Filet Mignon.

Taylor Morgan – September 2021

Lost Blues “Lucky Penny” Malvasia Bianca 2019

Paso Robles
$32 (Wine Club Reorder Price: $28)

At age 19, Giovanni Grandinetti was working a horrible summer job at a small bird food packaging plant. A friend of his suggested he come out to Meridian Vineyards to work the harvest where Gio fell in love with the work and never looked back. In 2012, with a push from his mentors, Gio had the opportunity to start his own wine label and thus Lost Blues was born.

“Lost Blues” was inspired by Gio’s fascination that some of the best blues music ever recorded has been lost as the recordings degraded. This reminds him of making wine, a life’s work that ultimately disappears and that sort of temporary media parallel really resonated with him.

If you’re familiar with the ever-so-popular Herman Story Winery, you will be pleased to learn that Gio learned from and worked with Russell From (owner and winemaker of Herman Story). Gio notes that out of every winemaker he has worked with, Russell had the greatest influence on him. Russell taught him the importance of quality oak barrels, shooting for the stars when it comes to purchasing excellent fruit, and the art of co-fermenting.

The 2019 Luck Penny comes from the Paso Robles Highlands – another favorite Malvasia Bianca of ours, the “Flower Bomb” by Saint K, also comes from this region. What these wines have in common is a highly aromatic nose that you could sit and smell for hours. You might find aromas of tart citrus, wet wool and tangy lemon, like meandering through a damp lemon orchard. There’s a grippy texture to the palate thanks to aging in an oak barrel on the lees. When you sip it, flavors of sour lemon candies and perfumed orange-blossom flavors meet with guava peel.

An excellent pairing for this dry, beautiful white wine is a quinoa salad with pears, baby spinach and chickpeas. Only 95 cases were produced.

Taylor Morgan – September 2021

Kirchho􏰘 Chenin Blanc 2020

Clarksburg AVA
$29 (Wine Club Reorder Price: $26

“Most already know Clayton Kirchoff from his day job as winemaker for Hudson Vineyards. His private family label has remained under-the-radar and mailing list only until now.”

The Kirchhoff family lives and farms south of Clarksburg, CA, on the Sacramento River Delta. The fertile soils and warm days of the Clarksburg Appellation allow for strong vine growth, with the Delta breeze allowing the vines to cool down and rest at night. The result is nothing short of excellence.

“Growing grapes is more than an occupation in our family. It is a passion which drives us day in and day out to produce the highest quality achievable.”

Everything that can be done is done hands-on, from the vines being hand pruned, picked, and tended. They use a dry farming technique to evoke the most flavorful expression that each variety has to offer. They also follow organic and sustainable practices so they can preserve the land for future generations.

Their winemaking approach is “hands-off”, doing as little as possible to change the wine and how each vintage is expressed. There are no added sugars, acids, or tannins to the wine, and they use spontaneous fermentation, no yeasts are added either. This is almost unheard of in modern winemaking. What they get in the end is a pure, natural product that they are proud to put their name upon.

“This Clarksburg staple is crisp and refreshing, with notes of honey melon. Fermented in neutral oak and stainless steel barrels, and racked to neutral oak barrels for aging additional 6 months.”

100% Chenin Blanc, only 145 Cases Produced.

Amy Ryan – September 2021

Vaughn Duffy Carignane 2019

Bartolomei Brothers Vineyard, Mendocino
$29 (Wine Club Reorder Price: $26)

Some of you may remember when Matt Duffy was the Manager here at Bacchus & Venus over a decade ago. He estimated that he tasted more than 3000 wines working here, which helped foster his desire to become a winemaker. He began at the bottom, schlepping hoses and cleaning tanks at Siduri Winery before eventually moving on to Vinify Winery Collective, where he has been making wine for about 30 different wineries under one industrial roof (spared by the raging fires of 2017 by only a few blocks).

While working at Bacchus & Venus, Matt met his wife Sarah Vaughn, eventually convincing her (and her family) that they should start their own label. Starting out, they bought one ton of Pinot Noir grapes and made their first wine under the Vaughn Duffy label. Right out of the gate, Vaughn Duffy was recommended by the San Francisco Chronicle, Wine Spectator, and Wine & Spirits Magazine, among others. Over the next decade, Vaughn Duffy grew from a passion project into a boutique California winery with a loyal following among in-the-know enthusiasts, including rosé freaks, Pinot Noir geeks, and wine buyers at top restaurants and retail establishments in the Bay Area and across California.

Vaughn Duffy crafts small lots of primarily vineyard-designate wines. They’re emblematic of the new era of first-generation winemaking families in California. No estate or winery is required – these new vintners purchase grapes from farmers across the finest appellations and make their wines in shared facilities. This Carignane is one of Matt’s latest creations, and actually the first time he’s ever had a go with Carignane. Only 46 cases were made, and we snagged the last 9.5 cases of this vintage so I urge you to try this wine now and order more as needed.

This Carignane boasts a flavor profile of juicy fruit and bright acidity, making it an ideal food wine. It smells like Valentine’s Day – lots of roses and chocolate. The acidity pops the palate and leads to fresh red fruit flavors of cranberries, Bing cherries, and raspberries. I might be getting ahead of myself, but this wine is a perfect pairing with a classic Thanksgiving dinner.

Taylor Morgan – September 2021