2016 Pichon Lalande – “a Rolls Royce with a purring engine”

My View, Approaching Pichon Lalande in the Spring of 2017


During the Spring of 2017, I spent a full week tasting more than 125 barrel samples from the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux.

Hailed as one of that region’s best vintages in a decade, I enjoyed too many great wines to count. My tasting notes – gathered meticulously in my well worn travel note book – reveal so many incredible wines, at ALL price points.

Many of the well priced gems will fill the aisles of our new store, Park Street Wine Cellars (in Alameda, CA) very soon.

Here’s a shot of one of the most famous chateau of all time: Chateau Pichon Lalande. Taken by me just before our tasting here, the wines truly lived up to the grandeur of the place for 2016.

Argiano Non Confunditur – Super Tuscan at Rosso Pricing – Not to be Mistaken

For 2015, Not to be Mistaken Indeed!


In the deep, cool and very humid cellars of Argiano, just before you enter the ancient doors leading to a collection spanning hundreds of vintages, the old family crest is prominently displayed above. You have to look closely at the details, and if you do, you’ll make out the initials “NC”.

Since taking over the 16th century Argiano estate in 1992, Countess Noemi Marone Cinzano was considered the driving force behind the renaissance at Argiano. She may have subsequently sold the property to follow her dreams abroad, but before doing so, she launched a formidable company. One of her precious jewels was the wine known as Non Confunditur, which she dubbed her “Baby Solenga”.

She commissioned a bottle design with the initials NC very prominently displayed in the center of the label. Clients as well as critics world-wide were convinced these were her initials (NC: Noemi Cinzano). She kept the secret close to her vest, preferring to discuss the classic blend: primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, with Sangiovese comprising the bulk of the balance and Syrah finishing things off with a dollop of Merlot. So that, until recently, the fantasy behind the label held true.

But for those of us who’ve followed Argiano for a few decades, we recall the old family crest. “NC” has been around for quite some time. Translated into English it means “Not to be mistaken”, “unmistakable”…  So whether NC tells the tale of the glamorous Noemi or reflects Argiano’s ageless position as that unmistakable brand, be certain that for 2015 Non Confunditur will certainly stand out in the crowd!

Noemi would have been proud to sign her name to this version of her namesake…

Perfection in Saint Estephe – Parker’s Pick for 2010 and Beyond – Stunning Chateau Montrose

Perfection in Saint Estephe – Perfection In 2010!


I’ll never forget my first opportunity to taste and purchase this masterpiece – the 2010 Montrose. I was in attendance at the 2010 en premier tasting where this garnered throngs of curious Sommeliers, professionals buyers and personal collectors. Each had their glasses lifted for a thimble full of what Delmas announced as the greatest achievement Chez Montrose in his tenure.

Octogenarians back in America confirmed the 2010’s place alongside the 1945 and ’47, and Robert Parker pulled no punches – rating the ’10 a near-perfect 99 points once bottled. Multiple tastings later – one summer not too long ago the most recent as well as most exciting – the 2010 officially joined the ranks of perfection.

Ranked alongside such coveted treasures as the 1929 and ’59, Montrose 2010 will go down as the stuff of legends.

I wonder how many of you were gifted with the same foresight as I was when I first tasted it. How many of you purchased a half case to stash away for a long as humanly possible?

2010 Montrose St Estephe

This is considered to be among the greatest vintages ever made in Montrose, right up with the 1929, 1945, 1947, 1959, 1961, 1989, 1990 and 2009. Harvest was October 15 to 17. The wine has really come on since I last tasted it, and it needs at least another 10 years of cellaring. The blend was 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The wine is opaque black/blue, with an incredible nose of blueberry and blackberry liqueur, with hints of incense, licorice, and acacia flowers. Tannins are incredibly sweet and very present. The wine is full-bodied, even massive, with great purity, depth and a finish that goes on close to a minute. This is a 50- to 75-year-old wine that will repay handsomely those with good aging genes. (Note: The Chateau Montrose website gives an aging potential of 2020-2100.)

100 points – Robert Parker


Silvia Imparato’s Montevetrano – “Explosive, Utterly Breathtaking”


Just outside the quiet town of Salerno – overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea – the Campanian vineyards of Silvia Imparato’s Montevetrano have become the stuff of legend.

Her grandparents purchased the property in the 1940s, producing various crops and wines for the family and their friends. But Montevetrano was only about sharing, says Silvia – no one ever thought it would become so famous.

After dabbling in fine wine on her own for awhile – attending various tastings throughout Europe – Silvia had a dream: to rebuild her grandparent’s property. She asked her dear friend Riccardo Cotarella (the “Wizard”; Falesco, Terra di Lavoro, Galardi) to join her on her journey. Together they replanted the vineyards, completing the task by 1985. Aglianico, Cabernet and Merlot were planted to the southwest facing hillsides that surround the estate, Cabernet and Merlot planted on the vineyard’s original Aglianico rootstocks.

By 1991 the first bottles of Montevetrano were bottled and shared – again, mostly among family and friends. They built a modern cellar for storage – keeping the beautiful, ancient family villa for private use.

As for this 2007, from a long, warm and unique vintage, it absolutely overflows with buckets of radiant fruit. I can’t get enough of this wine – it’s one of Silvia’s greatest achievements.

And I know it’s going to be a treasure in your collection.


Available for a short while – at a fraction of its original price – here:


http://bit.ly/V4kB7Kmontevetrano ii


Fortune 1621 Cabernet 2011 ~ Brian Mox brings his Lewis Cellars moxie to Oakville

Christopher’s Wine Country Connection

Your Direct Source to Exclusive Offers from Wine Country

2011 Fortune 1621
Napa Valley Cabernet SauvignonFortune 1621

*Crafted by Brian Mox. (Former winemaker at LEWIS Cellars!)

*Previous Vintage Earned “Double Gold” in SF Chronicle Competition (60 Professional Judges!)

*At $26.99 with Shipping Included, you’ll think you’re drinking a $50 Napa Valley Cab! Yes, it’s that good….

*Without a doubt, the newly released Fortune 1621 is one of the best Cabs under $30 that we’ve seen all year!

2011 Fortune 1621 Napa Valley Cabernet

Retails at: $28-$30/btl
Your Price: $26.99/btl +
Ground Shipping Included on Case Purchases

“Seductive aromas of ripe blackberries, cassis and dried violets. Stunning depth and focus, usually not found in Cabernet anywhere near this price point. Layers of ripe black fruits, chocolate, black cherry, espresso and caramel are complemented by the finely intertwined soft velvety tannins.”
93 points, WCC

~Fortune 1621 by Darms Lane~
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the secrets to our success in sourcing some of THE highest quality wines and greatest values in all of Wine Country is that we follow the greatest winemakers in the region….

BRIAN MOX was not only the inaugural winemaker at LAIRD ESTATE, he also worked alongside industry leader/winemaker Tony Soter at ETUDE WINERY.

More importantly, Brian was the full time winemaker at LEWIS CELLARS. Lewis’s Reserve Cab was just featured as the #9 Wine in the World on the Wine Spectator top 100.

With Lewis Cabs retailing in the $90-$300/btl range, the new Fortune 1621 by Darms Lane is a no brainer at $26.99/btl (including shipping).

This is another one of those wines that will have your friends and family asking, “Where in the world did you find this amazing wine!?”

$hipping Note – We offer an option of using 15 bottle cases which are not only better insulated, but ship for the same cost as 12 bottle cases. This reduces your per-bottle shipping cost by about 20%.

If your account is set up, hit reply and indicate your desired order.

Or contact our office to establish an account and place your order:
(866) 620-4476

All the best in wine & life,

Wine Country Connection

Darms Lane Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – Brian Mox brings his Lewis Cellars magic to Oak Knoll

Like so many of the superb, yet “under the radar” wineries I’ve come across in my career, Darms Darms Lane 2009 Lane was a complete mystery to me until a few weeks ago. But I was intrigued when hearing about some of the winery’s recent accomplishments, so I decided to do a little digging. What I’ve discovered will convince you (as it did me) that this serious family run venture in the Oak Knoll District of Napa should be added to your list of “must haves” for benchmark Cabernets.

My curiosity was initially piqued when discovering a track record of excellent to outstanding rankings in the press for Darms Lane’s proprietary Cabernet. Known as the “Bon Passe Vineyard”, this bottling comes from a vineyard originally planted in the 1970s, when it was owned by Gil Nickel – of Nickel & Nickel as well as Far Niente Wineries. But in a twist that runs consistent here at Darms Lane, “Bon Passe” – like so much of the acreage here at the estate – was originally a Chardonnay vineyard.

That’s right; Darms Lane – becoming increasingly well-known for blockbuster, 100% Cabernets and Petit Verdots – began life as a Chardonnay stronghold. If Darms Lane has yet to become a household name for many, perhaps more will recognize the historical winery Crichton Hall. And it was precisely that winery – once known for its sultry Chardonnays – which would eventually be renamed: Darms Lane.

Located on Darms Lane road – hence the obvious choice when the time came for renaming the estate – Crichton Hall was in need of replanting by the turn of the century. One of the company’s limited partners – Richard Bump (who would eventually buy out his other partners and become sole owner) stepped up to the challenge. Terroir studies indicated Cabernet and other Bordeaux varietals as being more suitable to the vineyard, so Richard set about replanting (and renaming). The rest, as they say is history.

Today, under the wine-making guidance of one of Napa’s most experienced Cabernet experts, Brian Mox – formerly with Lewis Cellars, Etude as well as Laird Family Estates – this beautiful property, nestled against the southern hills of the Mayacamas Mountains is quietly and consistently releasing one great vintage after another. As Steve Heimoff – California editor for Wine Enthusiast – explains:

“Darms Lane is one of those wineries that travels under the radar, but it really is worthy of your attention.”

And now that yours truly has experienced their classically structured, brilliantly balanced 2009, I couldn’t agree more!

If your account is already established, simply reply to this post to order.

OR call me at my office number (866) 620-4476 to set up an account.
All the best in wine & life,

Wine Country Connection


Arietta “Quartet” Proprietary Red, Napa Valley ~ The Screaming Eagle Connection

Christopher’s Wine Country Connection

2011 ARIETTA “Quartet” Proprietary Red, Napa ValleyArietta Quartet 1

*From Stephen Tanzer, one of the toughest critics in the industry…

Dark red-ruby. Expressive aromas…Dense and sweet…boasts excellent energy...” 92-94

*Accomplished Napa winemaker Andy Erickson (Made Screaming Eagle from 2005-2010 with 2, 100 Point Wines, & assisted at Harlan Estate…)

*The Vineyard, located in the red hot Coombsville AVA in Napa Valley, was planted by world renowned viticulturist David Abreu…

$64.99/btl + Ground Shipping Included on Case Purchases

Dark red-ruby. Expressive aromas of black raspberry, pepper, mocha, leather, menthol and coffee. Dense and sweet but youthfully tight, with a sappy impression of firm acidity energizing the mid-palate. Finishes savory, peppery and perfumed, with a firm tannic spine. Not a thick wine but one that boasts excellent energy and supporting spine.”92-94 Tanzer

2011 ARIETTA “Quartet”
Proprietary Red, Napa Valley
62% cabernet, 19% cabernet franc, 17% merlot & 2% petit verdot

At a tiny fraction of the price that you would see a bottle of Screaming Eagle or Harlan Estate going for in the marketplace, Arietta’s “Quartet” packs in more bang for your buck in this price range than seemingly possible.   An expertly crafted blend by accomplished winemaker Andy Erickson

During Andy’s five year tenure making Screaming Eagle, he expertly crafted two 100 point perfect wines, the 2007 & 2010.   Andy was also the former assistant winemaker at Harlan Estate, is currently involved in his own label Favia, and is also winemaker at cult producers Dalla Valle, Dancing Hares and Ovid…  If you still aren’t quite convinced, Stephen Tanzer who is well known for being one of the toughest critics in the business raved about the 2011 Quartet and awarded it 92-94 points.   I strongly recommend securing a 15 bottle case of this magnificent red for your cellar….

If your account is already established, simply reply to this post to order.

OR call me at my office number (510.749.0325) to set up an account.

All the best in wine & life,

Wine Country Connection



Aurielle Napa Valley Cabernet 2008 ~ A Howell Mountain Superstar You need to know

Christopher’s Wine Country Connection

2008 Aurielle Napa Valley, Cabernet SauvignonAurielle

~ The April 2012 issue of Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine – wherein they reviewed 118 Domestic Cabernets to include Caymus Special Selection, Shafer Hillside Select, Stag’s Leap Fay and many other of the “big boys” – awarded its highest score to none other than AURIELLE Cabernet Sauvignon; bestowing a whopping 94 points (placing this beauty ahead of some very serious competition).

~ “Rich and complex, deep and boasting plenty of still youthful yet outgoing curranty fruit, this wine is about as close to classic as a wine of its size and expressiveness is likely to get…wonderfully complementary oak in its makeup …it is also a wine of great sophistication. … the wine’s depth is matched to its underlying sense of balance…”
94 points, #1 Cabernet,
Volume 36, Issue 6: April 2012

MSRP:  $90.00/btl

Your Price: $65.00/btl (That’s Nearly 30% OFF) + Ground Shipping Included on Case Purchases


Aurielle produces Super Premium Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards on Howell Mtn and Mt. Veeder in Napa Valley. This powerful Cabernet will have you on the edge of your seat, and the silky, fine grain tannins really extend the finish and will have you begging for another sip.

The wine is produced from extremely low yields of less than 2 tons per acre. This results in powerful, intense berries that make a truly memorable and very classy Cabernet Sauvignon.  Just 358 cases were produced of this ultra-premium Cab. I strongly recommend adding a 15 bottle case to your cellar.

If your account is already established, simply reply to this post to order, or call me at my office number below to set up an account.
All the best in wine & life,

Wine Country Connection



95 Point Vintage Yields Part II in The Series: Your Voice is Heard

Hello again folks,

Part II of this week’s series, a series dedicated to “Listening to The People”, now takes direct aim at satisfying the palates of the Cabernet and “Cabernet Blends” lovers.  This particular category registered second place by only the narrowest of margins in our survey of a couple weeks ago, so addressing your desires for value Cabernets / Blends became my focus while meeting with suppliers these past several days.  Interestingly, finding THESE types of wines in that magic price point so many folks are searching for today was easier, but the selections came with caveats in the vast majority of cases.

I’ll explain.  Cabernet Sauvignon, in all its glory and all its various forms and blends – be it labelled on its own, dubbed a Meritage from the West Coast in homage to the wines of Medoc, hailing from any of the many appellations of Bordeaux, or from any of dozens of countries from Australia to Chile to Africa and back again – has been the most powerful and successful wine category for as long as I’ve been in the wine business (indeed for as long as wine as been marketed).  Carving out market share in this dastardly competitive sector requires serious savvy – and decent wine-making doesn’t hurt either. 

Let’s address that first point, one of savvy when marketing your Cabernet / Blend.  The major suppliers, distributors, wineries, importers and such that I am forced to play ball with in my antiquated, monopoly driven 3-tiered market state are some of the most powerful companies on the Planet.  Through consolidation and the building of literally thousands of multi-thousand square foot liquor stores in the state, the place where I attempt to discover hand crafted and terroir driven wines feels like a vinous waste-land on most days. 

These giants of the liquor industry own the rights to most major as well as “individualistic” Cabernets.  So to even have an opportunity to sample one, I as an independent merchant will be forced to accept one of the mass-marketed / plonk brands represented by these same suppliers.  To paraphrase, if I wish to offer my ever-dwindling base of clients a wine such as Harlan, and I use that one strictly as an example, a stack of somebody’s “Coastal Cabernet” will be demanded in a prominent corner of my wine shop.  That’s the wine business in my town, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  They call themselves “savvy marketers”.

But once in awhile, once in blue moon as I say, my Dorothy takes care of me.  Dorothy is my pet name for one of my suppliers – and she works for THE big boys.  She really takes my interests to heart and she absolutely reminds me of a scene right out of The Wizard of Oz.  You can imagine the red slippers every time she walks in.  She sells me Dunn “on the sly”, brought me an allocation of Loring for literally half the cost of what the mega-mall of liquor was buying it for; in short, she protects us.  And with today’s offer, a Blend that takes my palate and mind through a tunnel of Mediterranean as well as New World sensations, she has once again brought us a wine that not only rocks my charts, but is priced like never before, too.

This is McLaren Vale, a Valley town roughly 30 miles south of Adelaide, on the Gulf of St. Vincent.  Nearly 50 boutique, family-owned and operated wineries call this beautiful region their home and they describe their climate as almost “Mediterranean” in style.  The great Cabernet does very well here, as do the Shiraz, Merlot and a host of other grape types, offering the interested explorer wine types ranging from dry whites to “port-like” wines of the fortified nature.  Today’s blend, from the very famous folks at Scarpantoni, brings together Cabernet with Shiraz and Merlot from one of the greatest vintages Southern Australia has recorded in decades, 2002.  The good folks here suggested, upon release, this wine age for “up to 8 years” before consumption, to allow for integration.  Now that I’ve tasted it with just nearly that suggested bottle age, folks, look out – this is one delicious bottle of wine!

Thanks “Dorothy”, you’ve done it again!

2002 Scarpantoni “School Block”
Scarpantoni Estate Wines
60% Shiraz, 30% Cabernet, 10% Merlot Dry Red Table Wine
McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia

Review by Cepage Noir
E*Newsletter Winter 2009
Rating: 89 points
Excellent wine with all the qualities expected of a near-outstanding rated wine.”
Drink: 2009 – 2012

        “A deep, opaque color, bricking at the rim, indicating a wine reaching its window of drinkability.  A big, brooding nose, soaring from the glass and offering buckets of decadent black fruits, molasses, black and white pepper, jam and even some wild marmalade nuances, all allied to an almost chicory-like oak frame that is just fabulous to smell.  The palate has lost its baby fat and now offers the sweetest, most subtle red berry fruits that are captivating with 30 minutes of air.  We have jam, berries and vanilla, with the youthful oak now integrated to offer a decadent yet harmonious and cocoa infused flavor profile.  Once a tannic and oaky wine, this is now integrated, polished and quite the drinker.  Just delicious.  Think lamb, think duck.”
                — Cepage Noir

Cabernet fans, fans of full-bodied Blends, Aussie drinkers: this is for you!

Normally about a $25 bottle of wine…

But coming out this week at only $18 per btl!

Think you might want a case?  How about $15 per btl on orders of 12 bottles or more?!

If your account is current, you may order via email, or by calling 713-524-9144…