Sixteen by Twenty Chardonnay 2017

Sonoma Coast
$45 (Wine Club Reorder $36)

Sixteen by Twenty Wines (16×20) was founded by artist and now self-taught viticulturist David Dunphy with the first vintage dating from 2005. David and his wife Karen are from Minnesota but fell in love with Napa after learning of its greatness after the Judgement of Paris. They used to visit 2-3 times a year before moving out to the Valley.

David was around Napa’s winemaking history at a time when there were far fewer wineries in the valley and very few tasting rooms. He met and became friends with some of Napa’s old timers – Charlie Wagner at Caymus, Justin Meyer at Silver Oak and Cathy Corison when she was still at Etude. David remembers tasting with them at their homes or in their kitchens – a level of tasting personalized with the owners far beyond what you typically find at a tasting room these days.

The name 16×20 refers to the most common canvas size used by artists. This size generally is accepted as a good dimension for providing the ideal balance for their works of art. Making the segue to growing grapes and wine making, David chose this name to represent the same type of balance he strives to create among each vine in the vineyard as well as in the winery.

Paul Hobbs has been making their wines since the original vintage. How did a Minnesota man get the great Paul Hobbs to make his small production wine? They met by chance at lunch with a mutual friend and David showed Paul a list of winemakers he was considering hiring. After critiquing the short list, Paul said “how about I make your wine?” and the rest is history. You’re getting an amazing value with Paul’s talent and the wine’s price point.

The coastal nose of this Chardonnay is crisp and clean with characters of bread dough, citrus peel and a beautiful slight tang of passion fruit. There is an equal balance between the fruit and acid and the French Oak adds flavors of crème brulee and a hint of slightly toasted marshmallow. A creamy Chardonnay like this is going to go well with butter or nutty flavors – you can’t go wrong with seafood, especially Dungeness Crab with drawn butter.

Taylor Morgan – August 2021

Coeur de Vigne by Sullivan Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Rutherford, Napa Valley
$110 (Wine Club Reorder Price: $90)

Jim Sullivan’s passion for Cabernet Sauvignon was ignited in the 1950s with a simple grape arbor given to him and his new bride as a wedding gift. A graphic artist by trade, known for his work with 60s icons such as The Monkees and Dick Clark Productions, Jim began to make wine at home.

As his winemaking skills grew, so did his passion for the vine. For the next two decades, he explored California in order to find the finest area to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1972, four years before the Judgment of Paris recognized Napa Valley for world class wines, Jim decided that Rutherford held all the potential he sought.

Under new family ownership as of 2018 led by entrepreneur Juan Pablo (JP) Torres-Padilla, the Sullivan team is deeply investing in the vineyards and plans are underway to build state-of- the-art winery and hospitality facilities. JP has gradually gathered one of the top teams of wine professionals in the country to lead the Estate, recognizing the great potential for crafting exquisite wines and one of the top visitor experiences. Exciting things are on the way for the Sullivan Estate!

The 2017 Coeur de Vigne expresses the characteristics that make Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon so iconic. Rich aromas of black cherry and boysenberry meld with hints of dark chocolate, forest floor, clove, thyme and vanilla. The wine is full-bodied on the palate, with luxurious and velvety mouth-coating tannins, while also maintaining bright acidity. Flavors of wild cherry and cocoa flirt with notes of pepper and baking spices. The wine’s vibrant nature invigorates the entire palate, from entry through the long finish. An amazing cheese pairing to try with this Cabernet Blend is Aged Gouda.

“Blended with 22% Merlot and 3% Malbec, this is an impressively made wine from the Rutherford estate. Densely concentrated, it offers youthfully grippy layers of black olive, dark cherry and plum, with underlying earthiness. The finish takes on additional notes of clove, black pepper and tobacco.” – 92 Points, Wine Enthusiast

Taylor Morgan – August 2021

Canard Estate Reserve Zinfandel 2017

Calistoga, Napa Valley
$95 (Wine Club Reorder $85)

Coming to you from the oldest Zinfandel vines in Napa Valley, the Canard Reserve Zinfandel is highly coveted. Rich (Duck) and his wife Carolyn searched for years to find the perfect plot of land for the types of grape they wanted to grow. They purchased their estate in 1983 and have been making wine ever since. Canard in Spanish means Duck, which is Rich’s nickname. With Duckhorn already being an established winery, Duck knew better than to get involved in what would’ve been a legal battle. Hence, Canard!

The twenty-five acre estate property is a historic vineyard in Napa Valley, situated on the Northwest corner of Dunaweal Lane and Silverado Trail in Calistoga. It was the original homestead of Reason P. Tucker, who gained notoriety for leading the efforts to rescue the survivors of the ill-fated Donner Party (if you don’t know the story, a brief synopsis: a group of emigrants traveling from IL to CA got stuck in winter snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains near present-day Truckee and resorted to cannibalism to survive).

Anyway, back to the wine: The Zinfandel vines were planted over 135 years ago and remarkably, those dry farmed vines still stand, yielding a small quantity of incredibly elegant fruit, which goes into this extremely limited Estate Reserve Zinfandel.

These incredibly unique vines may only yield a small amount of grapes, but what they do yield is unlike anything in existence in Napa Valley. This elegant expression of Zinfandel spends two years in new French oak and another year in the bottle before it is released. On the nose, cloves, blackberries, allspice and plums with hints of sweet vanilla. Persimmons, figs and brambly black fruit dominate the palate. The rich and full bodied mouth feel gives way to an elegant tannin structure and a long, smooth finish. Truly a very special wine. So special, Robert Parker scored it 90 Points.

In honor of Duck, we recommend pairing this wine with duck breast with Tamarind sauce.

Taylor Morgan – July 2021

Eco Terreno Cuvee Tierra Red Blend 2018

Alexander Valley
$28 (Wine Club Reorder $25)

Founded in 2012, Eco Terreno Wines is an authentic reflection of place, representing a vineyard truly committed to its land and environment. With focused care and a joy of farming, Eco Terreno Wines represents the intrinsic flavors of Alexander Valley and the benefits of their biodynamic estate grown grapes. They are committed to conscientiously making exceptional wines that connect people to the land, each other, and the celebration that follows.

Founder and winemaker, Mark Lyon, has been crafting wines for over 30 years, bringing passion and dedication to each vintage from 100% estate grown grapes. Mark’s respected winemaking techniques bridge “Old World” and “New World” traditions while highlighting biodynamic farming methods. Mark received a B.S. of Fermentation Science from UC Davis and the very next year was hired by Sebastiani Vineyards to assist with production. Mark’s successes were notable during his time at Sebastiani Vineyards. The inaugural 1999 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, from Eco Terreno Vineyards, was the first Sebastiani wine to be in the “Top 100 Wines of the Year” and on the cover of Wine Spectator Magazine. He was also named “Winemaker of the Year” by Restaurant Wine Magazine in 2004.

Biodynamic is a farming method developed in the 1920’s as a response to chemical agriculture. Founded by scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner, ancient practices were married with an understanding of chemistry and physiology of plants to create a system that treats the farm as a whole – an individual, living organism. The goal is to establish healthy farms growing healthy foods to create healthy communities, both human and wild. Eco Terreno is so dedicated to being caretakers of the land that the name translates to, “Ecology of the Land” in Spanish. The dedication is demonstrated by farming organically and biodynamically to create regenerative systems that build a nourishing, natural wine farm.

The 2018 Cuvee Tierra Red Blend has an inviting nose of black cherry, mocha, and earth. The palate offers bountiful notes of crushed red and black cherries, espresso, and cranberry, balanced by hints of dried herbs and baking spices. The finish lingers and grows, echoing flavors of black fruits and spice. Rated Best in Class with 98 points by 2021 North Coast Wine Challenge. 46% Cabernet Franc, 42% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot.

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – July 2021

J. Rickards GVM Blend 2020

Alexander Valley
$28 (Wine Club Reorder $25)

Passion…no pretense. J. Rickards Vineyards and Winery is a family-run operation of both wine grape farming and wine production, located at the northern end of the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. Owned and operated by Jim and Eliza Rickards, the vineyards have been planted over the past 30 years, augmenting the original 1908 Zinfandel vines. The winery started in 2005, born out of the encouragement of friends who have enjoyed the small lots of hand-crafted wine they have been making since 1991.

Winemaker Blaine Brazil grew up in a small farming community in Northern California. After graduating high school he left the cool and foggy weather of coastal Humboldt County (my hometown!) and headed south for sunny weather with a goal of earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Dairy Science. While attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Blaine stumbled into the Central Coast wine industry, fell in love with wine and ultimately changed his course of study so he could someday become a winemaker.

He got his feet wet in the cellars of Tolosa Winery and Saucelito Canyon Vineyards. It was there where his love for small lot, handcrafted wines began. After graduating in 2003 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fruit Science and a minor in Wine and Viticulture, he accepted the assistant winemaker position at B.R. Cohn Winery. In July of 2011 Blaine joined the team at J. Rickards Winery. His goal is to produce quality small lot, single vineyard wines that express the terroir of the individual vineyards. He is a firm believer that great wines start in the vineyard and it’s the quality of the grapes that create wine with intensity, depth, and balance.

Can you guess what three grapes are in this GVM blend?

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – July 2021

(Answer: Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Muscat Blanc)