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

Kaena “Ronin Red” 2016

Malbec Blend, Santa Ynez Valley, California

$35 (Wine Club Reorder – $30)

Mikael Sigouin started in the wine industry working harvest for Beckmen Winery in 1999. Later he moved to Fess Parker, and eventually came back to Beckmen in 2006 as their head winemaker. In 2001, he founded Kaena Wines as his personal project until taking it full-time in 2014. The distinctive Kaena logo on the wine labels is made up of four grape leaves forming a design reminiscent of a Hawaiian floral pattern.

Primarily focused on Grenache and Rhone-style blends sourced from Santa Barbara County, Mikael also makes outstanding blends, including this 2016 Malbec blend from Santa Ynez Valley – 60% Malbec, 20% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Mikael works with quite a few grape varieties these days and makes a number of different wines with total annual production of around 5,000 cases.

Although wine was not an integral part of his childhood in Hawaii, the paradise of flavors, colors and aromas surrounding Mikael prepared his palate to understand the delicate nuances of fragrance and taste. Spending hours at his great-grandmother’s side while she cooked gave him an appreciation for the layered flavors and aromas. Mikael credits her for the name Kaena, which came from her nickname for him “Ka’ena’ai” – meaning “potential for greatness.”

In the 2016 Ronin Red Malbec blend, you may smell deep aromas of blackberry and blueberry, black currant, and plum along with dark earth, violet, vanilla, and oak. Flavors of plum, currant and mulberry are followed by earth, pencil lead, leather, violet, and spice. This wine finishes off with long structured tannins.

Malbec holds up well with dark meat poultry, roasted pork, and leaner cuts of red meat (such as sirloin, flap, hanger, filet, and skirt steak). If you like more interesting meats, you will be surprised at how well the fruitiness in Malbec can compliment more gamey and earthy meat cuts, such as buffalo burgers, ostrich burgers, or even venison. For the veggie lover, be sure to use porcini mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, or even cumin to amp up the umami factor in your dish to pair with the wine.

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – January 2021

Together Wine Co. Napa Valley Red Blend 2015

First and foremost, you need to know that this winery is no longer in existence. So if you take a sip of this Red Blend and you love it, which I hope you do, be sure to place your reorder now because we have the last little bit of it.

Together Wine Co. was a small, boutique family-owned winery owned by husband and wife Matt and Ryan Pruess. You might recognize Matt from his appearances on TV shows like HGTV’s Landscapers Challenge and Outer Spaces. His full time business is Landscaping down in Southern California.

Their winery was inspired by Matt’s late mother and the memories they made together over a glass of wine. She unfortunately was diagnosed with cancer, so they donate a portion of their proceeds to early stage women’s cancer research as an honorable mission to help others.

I love this wine because it’s unique, it’s not often you see a Napa Valley Grenache Blend, or a good one for that matter. It has those big, luscious fruit flavors that will warm you up on a cool winter evening and with a little extra bottle aging all those complex flavors that were hidden upon initial release are coming through beautifully right now. 75% Grenache, 20% Petite Sirah, 5% Mourvedre.

So, pop open this bottle and share it with someone you love – because there are few things better than drinking good wine together.

Taylor Morgan – December 2020

Paul Lato “Cinematique” Larner Vineyard Syrah 2017

Paul Lato’s Wine Philosophy: “From my experience of tasting the finest wines from around the world, all the greatest wines possess authenticity, harmony, and elegance. These are the qualities I constantly try to capture in my wines. The ultimate goal is to create wines that are seamless and textural with enough structure and balance to complement fine cuisine.” 

In order to make wines of the highest caliber, Paul selects unique vineyards that are cared for by talented vineyard managers committed to excellence. He strives to locate and source from not only the best vineyards but the best blocks within each vineyard. Since every vintage is different, Paul does not believe in recipes. 

Bob Miller, the late co-owner of Bien Nacido Vineyards, gave Paul a job as a cellar rate, and let him stay for free in a bunkhouse at the vineyard. Miller also encouraged Paul to make his own wines. Starting with the 2002 vintage, he made six barrels of wine. By chance he met Robert Parker who was intrigued by the young winemaker and wanted to taste his wines. Paul had made 3 barrels of Pinot Noir and 3 barrels of Syrah. Parker told him he was starting with the hardest grapes to vinify and he was going to tell him if it was s**t, but Parker was impressed by the wines and told him he had tremendous talent. 

The 2017 “Cinematique” Syrah scored 97 points. It comes to us from the Larner Vineyard in Ballard Canyon appellation, in the heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country. Sexy notes of black raspberries, vanilla bean, bay leaf, ground pepper, and hints of crushed violets all emerge from this incredibly seamless, elegant, ethereal Syrah. Medium to full-bodied, deeply colored, and concentrated, it is no small wine, yet always has graceful, elegant style that builds beautifully with time in the glass. It has enough tannins to benefit from a year or three of bottle age and will drink brilliantly over the following decade or more. 

Dark fruit and peppery dishes will bring out the spicy and juicy aspects of this wine. Lamb Shawarma, Gyros, and even Indian tandoori meats pair excellently with Syrah. The earthy notes in this wine will be elevated by the rich spices in Indian food. 

Jennie Kaplan Woodson – December 2020