- Item #: i_200330Bottle Size: 750mlThe focus of this two person operation is on small lot, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, as well as several other varieties uncommon in Northern Californian vineyards. Sites are carefully chosen and are generally on the cooler end of the spectrum for the planted varieties. Collaboration with dedicated and passionate growers is paramount in the farming of these sites.
Duncan and Nathan grew up around winemaking in the Napa Valley. Nathan is a second generation cooper and personally builds all of the French oak barrels that are utilized in the ageing of all Arnot-Roberts wines. Over the years Duncan has worked making wine in the Napa Valley in wineries like, Caymus, Groth, Acacia, Kongsgaard. Total production of Arnot-Roberts is around 2,000 cases per year with thirteen individual wines.
The Watson Ranch Chardonnay comes from one of the southernmost vineyards in Napa Valley AVA. The vines were planted in 1990 and dry farmed in clay over limestone with a view of San Pablo Bay. The wine was whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel by native yeasts and aged in neutral French oak barrels.
- "The 2018 Chardonnay Watson Ranch is a gorgeous wine. Apricot, chamomile, dried flowers, sage and dried pear are all laced together in this super-expressive, inviting Chardonnay. Readers should be prepared to cellar the 2018, as it is quite closed today. Bright saline notes add freshness and zip to this super-expressive Chardonnay."
- Item #: i_201530Bottle Size: 750mlArrow and Branch proprietors (and Laguna Beach locals) Steve and Seanne Contursi share a great love for the wines of Bordeaux, particularly those produced with a large quantity of Cabernet Franc, such as Chateau Cheval Blanc. The couple sought out their Coombsville vineyard property with an eye to producing top-quality Cabernet Franc-based wines from Napa Valley. They bought the Arrow and Branch Vineyard in November 2007, as this vineyard was the source of Tony Soter's renowned and highly rated Little Creek Cabernet Franc. The Contursi's have maintained the organic farming and, through their work with the detail-oriented Viticulturalist Mike Wolf, are continually improving this wonderful vineyard site.
One of the rising stars of Napa Valley winemaking, Jennifer Williams, was named Winemaker for Arrow and Branch in April 2011. After years of working with and learning from legendary winemakers such as Rosemary Cakebread, Francoise Peschon, and the Novak family, Jennifer now brings her outstanding talents and experience to Arrow and Branch. In 2002, Williams joined Araujo and Spottswoode as a harvest intern, splitting her time between these two great winemaking estates. At Spottswoode, Jennifer was drawn to the philosophy of organic and sustainable farming, which Tony Soter had introduced in 1985. Following harvest, she joined their team full time, working under guru David Abreu in the fields and Rosemary Cakebread in the winery. In 2004, with a deeper understanding of the estate vineyard, she took over as Vineyard Manager and was Spottswoode's Winemaker from 2006 to 2011. The San Francisco Chronicle named Jennifer a "Winemaker to Watch" in 2007.
From their high elevation vineyard about 1300 feet atop Atlas Peak, this is their second vintage fully sourced from Stagecoach Vineyard. The cool evenings and temperate days make for ideal Sauvignon Blanc conditions. This vineyard produces fruit full in flavor while retaining a bright acidity that is signature of Arrow and Branch Sauvignon Blanc. Fermented in oak and stainless to preserve the freshness and lees aged to give the wine some roundness.
- Item #: i_275937Bottle Size: 750mlJeb Dunnuck: 94People in the wine world always want to talk about the "new kid on the block", but what needs to be remembered is there are a few of the "old guards" that will go toe-to-toe with those "young guns" and give them a run for their money! For decades, Beringer has been making phenomenal, world-class wines utilizing time-honored techniques that are still used today by virtually all the high-quality producers…even by those "young guns"!
Beringer's Private Reserve Chardonnay highlights the richness and complexity of this varietal and has been one of the benchmark Chardonnays since its first vintage in 1978. Just to give you an idea of the quality, let's take a look at the scores from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate for the past few years:
2017 Vintage - 93 Points
2016 Vintage - 90-92 Points
2015 Vintage - 91 Points
2012 Vintage - 93 Points
2011 Vintage - 95 Points
2010 Vintage - 87 Points
2009 Vintage - 93 Points
2008 Vintage - 94 Points
2007 Vintage - 92 Points
2006 Vintage - 92 Points
These are scores that most producers receive every so often…but not with this consistency. This is one of the reasons why Beringer's Private Reserve Chardonnay is such in demand. And how do they do it? Well, winemaker Laurie Hook ferments the juice in French oak barrels to enhance the natural richness in the wine. Weekly lees stirring enhanced the toasty notes, and integrated the oak flavors for an overall balance. All of the wine was put through malolactic fermentation to encourage a lush creaminess. After 9 months aging, Laurie chose the most expressive lots and blended them to create this richly layered wine.
JEB DUNNUCK 94 POINTS - "The classic Napa release from this estate, the 2018 Chardonnay Private Reserve has lots of beautiful golden apple, caramelized citrus, toasted nut, and hints of acacia flowers. With a rich, textured style, it still stays beautifully fresh, balanced, and layered. It's a brilliant effort."
- Item #: i_206620Bottle Size: 750MLIn 1980 when the Brown family stumbled upon their now renowned property in the Chiles Valley sub-appellation of the Napa Valley, it was but a ghost ranch up the hill east of Rutherford. Five years later they planted vineyards and for a decade they farmed and sold wine grapes. In 1995 the second generation, encouraged by growing demand for their fruit, established the Brown Estate label and began making their own wines.
Brown's flagship Napa Valley Zinfandel historically has borne the responsibility of being the ultimate representative of what their property and its unique microclimate have to offer — the cream of the Brown Estate zinfandel crop blended into one stellar wine. Rich magenta hue in the glass. Nose opens with abundant floral notes of hibiscus, dried rose petals, and violet followed by fruit notes of black plum, blackberry, and dried orange peels. Nose finishes with fresh cut wood/sawdust, fir balsam, and a hint of tangy soy/umami. Medium-plus palate layered with bramble fruit up front, leading into dried herbs, exotic spices, and dusty earth. Long finish with well-balanced acid and tannins. Drink now through 2028.
- Item #: i_207600Bottle Size: 750mlChardonnay grapes grown in the bottom half of the valley tend to produce rich, ripe, elegantly structured wines that are delicious on release, but also age well in the bottle; this gem is no exception! And while 75% is fermented in French oak, only 11% goes through malolactic fermentation in order to produce a full-bodied wine that's food friendly. The nose offers vivid, creamy aromas of green and golden apple, pear and citrus with supporting scents of beeswax and mineral. Full-bodied and vibrant on the palate, with bright, intense, apple, citrus and melon flavors, Cakebread's 2018 Napa Valley Chardonnay is remarkably persistent on the palate, culminating in a long finish showcasing pleasing spice, yeast and mineral tones. Released soon after bottling, it will hit its stride after 6-8 months and reward 5-7 years' aging.
- Item #: i_207520Bottle Size: 750MLCakebread's classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon reveals aromas of ripe blackberry and boysenberry with hints of dark chocolate and sweet oak. On the palate, the dark fruit is balanced by fresh acidity and lush tannins that carry all the way over a lingering, elegant finish—with just a kiss of minerality. Enjoy this wine now, with everything from lamb burgers to filet mignon and fire-roasted portabello mushrooms—or lay the wine down and watch it continue to develop complexity in the bottle for years to come.
- Item #: i_208820Bottle Size: 750mlMade by highly-touted winemaker Julien Fayard, the grapes for thie Sauvignon Blanc come from a certified organic vineyard in the heart of the Napa Valley, and only 77 cases were produced! In the glass you'll notice its straw color with a golden tinge on the rim. The nose offers an instant waft of tropical fruit with Meyer lemon's perfume. Delicate floral aromas remind you of Spring time in the garden. On the palate the wine is expressive with a rich silkiness, a pure pleasure. A subtle spice from the small time of oak aging adds just the right mouth feel to this estate wine.
- Item #: i_210410Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 93+ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 93+ POINTS - "The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec. It was harvested from September 18 to October 30, and the alcohol weighed in at 14.5%. Deep garnet-purple in color, exuberant notes of warm plums, ripe black and red currants and black cherries come bounding out of the glass with suggestions of cedar chest, unsmoked cigars and beef drippings. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is simply singing with juicy black fruits and velvety tannins, finishing long with some baking spice hints coming through. Open for business now, this wine can easily be cellared for 20 years or more."
- Item #: i_210430Bottle Size: 750MLA blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 10% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc, this alluringly dark and spicy wine displays beautiful aromas of currant, cassis, sage and thyme, as well as hints of cinnamon and clove from barrel aging. On the palate, the tannins are impeccably balanced, adding depth to the lush ripe berry flavors, with layers of cola and grenadine emerging as the wine evolves in the glass.
- Item #: i_277382Bottle Size: 750mlWhen Cliff Lede (pronounced "LAY-dee") was in his late 20s, he was given his first taste of good Bordeaux. After that, as it has been said so many times before, he was hooked! Since that time, he has acquired a vineyard in the Napa Valley, and immediately assembled a team who is dedicated to taking Bordeaux varietals to a whole new level... and they’re doing what it takes to achieve that!
At the head of the winemaking team is the talented and dedicated Michelle Edwards. She earned a B.S. in viticulture and enology ad UC Davis, endured 12-hour graveyard shifts at a grape-crushing facility in southern Australia, and worked harvests at Peter Michael and J Vineyards & Winery. She came to Cliff Lede Vineyards from Colgin Cellars, where she served as the assistant winemaker for three years, and worked with master viticulturist David Abreu. David is now managing the vineyards at Cliff Lede, and together, he and Michelle continue working to source the secrets of each vintage.
Winemaker's Notes: "Born in the glorious 2018 vintage, this year's Sauvignon Blanc is a revelrous elixir that flourishes a multitudinous array of citrus tinged aromas and flavors. The exceedingly seductive perfume of orange blossom, pink fleshed grapefruit, and warm lemon souffle entices, whilst restorative verdant notes ascend out of the glass and meld with hints of lemon verbena, tarragon, and ginger. The entrance boasts a brace of lemon candy across the palate followed by an unraveling of lemon meringue, tangerine marmalade, and lychee flavors. With air the wine further complexes and is punctuated by plump apricots, toasted brioche, and crushed chalk. This fun, sexy, and smart wine is imbued with a delightfully bright acidity and a long, rich full-bodied texture."
- Item #: i_217180Bottle Size: 1.5LWith firm tannins and exceptional length, this is a lovely and age-worthy wine that shows how much Merlot can excel in a cooler growing season. The aromas are rich and inviting with layers of amaretto, sweet spice and cedar. On the palate, lush flavors of plum, blackberry and cherry dominate, with the tannins adding structure and depth.
- Item #: i_218740Bottle Size: 750MLEl Molino was established back in 1871. The winery, along with the historic label, was resurrected in 1981 by Reg Oliver who focused on incomparable Chardonnay and distinctive Pinot from an appellation admittedly more famed for Cabernet Sauvignon. He left a legacy of environmental stewardship and enthusiasm for Burgundy varietals that has not been lost on his daughter Lily and her husband, Jon Berlin (Jon & Lily pictured top right). Lilly moved to the winery with the family when she was nine, and since child labor was never frowned upon, there was a lot to be learned by the age-old tradition of apprenticeship under her father. Lily uses these time-honored techniques to fashion a Chardonnay of impeccable balance that can age for decades!
El Molino's 2018 Chardonnay displays a luminous pale gold, with green rim in the glass. A lovely nose of Meyer lemon, grapefruit zest, ginger, and fresh pineapple supported by verbena and coastal rainfall and is wonderfully complex and inviting. On the palate a delightfully broad entry leads to a viscous and rich midpalate with lovely weight. All of the richness is framed by fresh acids that complement the texture. Pineapple and Asian pears dominate the flavor profile, echoing on a long, persistent finish. Such delicious drinking now but restraint will be required if you are to realize the potential of the 2018 Chardonnay until 2030.
- Item #: i_223050Bottle Size: 750mlContinuing the legacy of the Wagner Family's other profound wine ventures such as Caymus, Belle Glos, and Conundrum, Jenny Wagner takes the reins of Emmolo Winery and is making a hit with these new releases! Her family has a long-standing history in Napa Valley beginning with her great-grandfather, Italian immigrant, Salvatore Emmolo, who planted grapevines and started a grapevine rootstock nursery in Rutherford in the 1920's. His son, and Jenny's grandfather, Frank Emmolo, ran Emmolo Nursery and built a strong following amongst Napa Valley grapegrowers - becoming the leading supplier to Napa Valley vintners for five decades.
Jenny Wagner sourced grapes for this vintage from the Emmolo Oak Knoll vineyard located near the city of Napa in a sub-appellation called Oak Knoll. It's ten miles nearer the San Francisco Bay than Rutherford and has a cooler microclimate. The site was strategically chosen for its soils and moderate climate, which are appropriate for growing Merlot. Merlot flourishes at this site thanks to the cooler weather - a mild climate allows the berries to hang on the vine longer, letting them fully mature. Crop thinning is essential to balance the vines with a low yield of rich, concentrated fruit that's dark in color and has chalky tannins and ripe flavors. This wine is very much an expression of the well-drained, low vigor soil that is light in color in the Oak Knoll appellation.
- Item #: i_220630Bottle Size: 750mlCoombsville's beloved Haynes Vineyard was planted upon beds of rich, volcanic alluvial soils in back in the late 1960s, making it one of the oldest Chardonnay vineyards within the Napa Valley. Old Wente clones have been grafted upon St. George rootstock. After harvest, the grapes are fermented with native yeast, which follows with full malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 11 months sur lies in 15% new French oak, 20% concrete egg, and 10% stainless steel.
Aromatically the wine has nuances of white flowers such as jasmine, as well as a touch of lemon curd and an underlying salinity. On the palate, the wine is beautifully full-bodied with just barely ripened stone fruits and serious longevity.
- Item #: i_220010Bottle Size: 750mlCrafted by perhaps the #1 undiscovered talent in Napa today, winemaker Benoit Touguette, was Andy Erickson's right hand man, managing day-to-day wine production at Screaming Eagle during the 2005/2006 vintages (both 98 points) and the legendary 2007 vintage (100 points). Benoit also happens to be the French protege of world-famous winemaker Michel Rolland and assisted him along with Andy Erickson in launching Ovid. Today, Benoit is leveraging his substantial talent and connections in Napa to craft just five barrels of a glorious micro-production Cabernet under his new personal label he calls Fait Main which means "hand-crafted" in French. The fruit for this Cabernet Sauvignon comes from prime vineyards in Pritchard Hill, Saint Helena, Calistoga, Oakville, and Yountville.
- Item #: i_219930Bottle Size: 750MLAlways the "darling" of Chardonnays, Far Niente Chardonnay is a blend of superlative Napa Valley vineyards, many of which are located in a little-known area called Coombsville: a cool growing region nestled in the rolling hills east of thecity of Napa. While entirely barrel-fermented, it doesn't go through the typical secondary fermentation, thus keeping itsrefreshing acidity. Perhaps this is why it appeals to such a broad spectrum of consumers!
Classic Far Niente style with aromas of grilled citrus, melon and honeysuckle with hints of white fig, gardenia and toasted hazelnuts, background of mild toasted oak that adds supportive warmth and richness. A silky entry builds on the palate with a rich texture that continues to evolve. Possessing great structure and length, a sweet core of melon and citrus is supported by white floral and toasted vanilla and baking spice notes. The broad mid palate comes back together with a long bright finish.
- Item #: i_219670Bottle Size: 750MLJames Suckling: 94When the 2018 rendition of this wine landed, we just had to crack open a bottle, and once we did, we knew immediately that this would be featured on our top wine list! Faust is owned by the Huneeus family, who also owns Quintessa, Flowers, and Leviathan. Faust was originally designed to be the second label for Quintessa’s Rutherford property, but the Huneeus family eventually found exquisite property in the Coombsville area east of Napa proper, and now it is that vineyard in Coombsville that makes up the majority of the wine.
Both the newest in Napa Valley and the furthest south, Coombsville benefits from ancient volcanic soils, marine breezes coming off the nearby San Pablo Bay, as well as a long and cool growing season due to its location in the valley. Besides being the latest-to-ripen vines in Napa, the soil profiles are very different given it’s closer to the Vaca Mountain range, so there is a lot of eroded volcanic soil, which means, lots of minerals in the soil. In Coombsville, you get more intense color, a blue-black fruit profile, a brighter acidity and minerality in the wines, and the wines are VERY unique.
Earning 94 points from James Suckling, this shows the high quality of the 2018 vintage from Napa. Medium to deep ruby in color, the wine struts its stuff with a bit of aeration to display aromas of toasted oak, cinnamon, dark chocolate, blackcurrants, and plums. On the palate, the firm tannins give way to the intense, rich fruit, driven by flavors of cassis, black cherries, blueberry, wild blackberry, and a hint of pencil shavings. Full-bodied, and with a finish that lasts for half a minute, this may be the best rendition of Faust we have ever encountered!
JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "Very attractive aromas of blackcurrants, black olives and dark leather with some cedar. It's full-bodied with firm, silky tannins and a refined, polished finish. Shows finesse and focus. Grows on the palate. Really delicious now, but will improve with age. Drink or hold."
- Item #: i_262605Bottle Size: 750MLVinous Media: 91Back in 1978, Ric Forman made the decision to produce Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in amounts small enough so he could personally be as meticulous as he felt necessary, without anybody getting in his way. Pretty much since his first vintage, his wines have been hard to get, with the majority of his wines being sold directly off his mailing list. We have typically received a small allocation, and this typically sells out within a few months, but before it does, we felt the need to let you know about this gem, even if it will be gone in a short amount of time! A passion for a more austere Chablis style from this noble grape has been Ric's goal for more then 36 years. This Chardonnay is whole cluster pressed and exclusively fermented in Burgundy barrels. Left sur lie for 7 months (aged on the dead yeast cells is common in Burgundy), the wine is racked once during its 9 months of barrel aging, with the secondary fermentation intentionally inhibited.
ANTONIO GALLONI 91 POINTS - "The 2018 Chardonnay is bright and nuanced, as it always is. Lemon peel, almond, dried flowers and light tropical overtones abound. As always, Forman blocks the malolactic fermentation in his Chardonnay, which makes for an especially understated style by Napa Valley standards. Even so, the 2018 is also a touch light for this wine."
- Item #: i_274436Bottle Size: 750mlBright and lively; it opens with aromas of lemon/lime zest, candied Meyer lemon, yellow nectarine, raw ginger and dried Mirabelle plum. These fresh aromas are countered by vanilla, butterscotch, spice cake and creamy butter giving rise to a vibrant and harmonious combination. The palate is crisp, mellow and full; bursting with stone fruit, green apple, and Asian pear while being laced throughout with gentle toasted oak aromas of vanilla and spice.
- Item #: i_223710Bottle Size: 750mlFreemark Abbey is one of Napa's hallmark producers with a rich history dating back to pre-prohibition days. They were also one of the 12 Wineries featured in "The 1976 Judgment of Paris" tasting where California won every single category, which catapulted Napa Valley onto the world stage as a premier wine-producing region. Ted Edwards has been at the helm as winemaker for over 3 decades crafting these classically-styled wines while garnering rave reviews from the top critics year after year. This producer is also no stranger to our Hi-Time Cellars top 10 wines of the year feature we do every holiday season which should tell you how our staff feels about the level of quality, commitment and consistency!
CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE WINERY
- Item #: i_226320Bottle Size: 750mlIn 1885, Dr. George Beldon Crane planted an assortment of grape vines on an eight-acre plot of land, just south of St. Helena. Today, it is one of the oldest vineyards in the Napa Valley, consisting of a field blend traditionally known as "mixed blacks". Although records are scarce, the vines likely consist of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignan and to a lesser extent, Alicante Bouschet, Mourvedre and Valdiguie. Of the eight acres currently in production, approximately four contain a mixture of G.B. Crane's original head trained vines with newer plantings from the 1930s interspersed. The other four acres consist of a 1.6-acre block of Cabernet Sauvignon, a 1.4-acre block of Petite Sirah, and two rows of Merlot. With such a storied history and enormous potential, GB Crane purchased the eight-acre vineyard in 2012 with one goal: to preserve this piece of California viticultural history and produce a wine that both represents and respects that heritage.
The El Coco blend changes every year, and this time it's a blend of 56% Petite Sirah, 35% Zinfandel, and 9% Merlot. The 2018 El Coco pours vivid violet and sits with a dark crimson core and a Black Baccara Rose rim. Awash with complex and changing aromas, the nose starts with ripe blue fruits and brambly framboise, then opens up to some crème de menthe and cigar box. Seamless yet broad on entry, the palate is rife with blueberry, black cherry and a hint of white pepper. Plush, effortlessly balanced and with round, soft tannins, the finish is the epitome of length; it builds and eventually blooms to a satiating note of dark pluot.
- Item #: i_227330Bottle Size: 750MLLong, cool fermentation in a mixture of old and new barrels gives this Chardonnay layers of fruitiness and complexity that result in a wine that is very enjoyable when young or after several years of bottle age. This method of fermentation, in conjunction with whole cluster pressing and "sur lie" aging add layers of toastiness and creaminess to the wine. Together these components meld together harmoniously to create a balanced wine that is both lively and rich in aroma and flavor.