New Release: Lot 884 2018 Atlas Peak Petit Verdot

Small production crowd-pleaser from one of Atlas Peak’s best vintages.

We were thrilled when a sample of this powerhouse Petit Verdot arrived at our office late last year and after just one sip (there was no spitting this one back out), we quickly scooped up all 180 cases this very well-known producer had available. When you take your first sip, you’ll see why.

Today’s release Lot 884 2018 Atlas Peak Petit Verdot hails from the fabled Atlas Peak AVA in the Napa Valley, an appellation prized for growing grapes dating back to 1870 and stretching to over 2,500 feet high on the western slopes of Napa’s Vaca Range. The AVA is home to the likes of tiple-digit-priced Kongsgaard, iconic Antinori’s Antica winery, the legendary Stagecoach Vineyard (source of some of the region’s highest-scoring wines), and cult winery icons Hesperian and Alpha Omega.

In addition to the AVA, the 2018 vintage was one that Decanter raved “belongs in an echelon with the finest of the past two decades” for Napa Valley. The report added that “the best wines show control, poise, and transparency.” All of that coupled with the fact there were no-expenses-spared by the source winery with this Petit Verdot being coopered for 30 months in 100% French Oak (50% of that being new oak), this is a stunning expression of the varietal and one you’ll not want to miss out on.

Deep ruby-purple color. Knockout aromas of inky dark fruit, savory wild herbs, and flourishes of toasted cedar. Voluptuous on entry, overflowing with rich blackberry and red berry fruit compote, warm baking spices, dark chocolate, and dried sage and thyme. Firm tannins build with power as compelling acidity brings everything into focus. A lengthy finish is punctuated by white pepper, chocolate laced with cinnamon, and a touch of toasty oak.

Watch as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.

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New Release: Lot 904 2020 Sonoma County Chardonnay

Lot 904 pours a rich, golden color in the glass, giving way to explosive aromas of lemon meringue, white flowers, and toasty oak. On the palate, soft and silky fruit flows in waves of yellow peaches, green apples, nectarines, and apricots drizzled in honey. Polished through and through this is a seductive Chardonnay with plenty of tangy acidity to keep everything fresh and lively while satisfying your craving for a ripe, oak-kissed Chardonnay raised under the warm California sun.

If you were to blind taste today’s release, you might think you were sipping something from Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, or even Chassagne-Montrachet. However, this beautifully crafted old-world expression of Chardonnay actually comes to us from a storied estate right here in Northern California.

Lot 904 2020 Sonoma County Chardonnay was sourced from a legendary producer that has been crafting world-class Chardonnay along the Russian River for decades. The maritime influence of the nearby Pacific imparts a Mediterranean climate to the region, tempering the warm, sun-filled days with cooler, foggy mornings and evenings, allowing the fruit to reach peak ripeness while preserving its natural acidity. The result is a balance between power-packed flavor and palate-pleasing freshness, yours today for only $16.

Watch as Katy Long, Director of International Wines for VWE walks us through a tasting.

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New Release: Lot 866 2018 Nizza DOCG Barbera

A beautiful, approachable, and food-friendly red from Nizza represents the excellence of Barbera production in Piemonte.

Lot 866 2018 Barbera hails from the Nizza DOCG, which was established after years of painstaking work by some of the most well-regarded producers of Barbera in its homeland in Asti.

Nizza Barbera is grown on just 600 acres of prime Piedmont vineyard land, with production limited to just 18 Comuni (municipalities) within that small, prestigious area. The drier growing conditions offered by the high-elevation sandy soils, and perfect sun exposure of Lot 866’s source vines promote levels of ripeness, complexity, structure, and depth that few Barberas can achieve, even within most of Asti. We were only able to source 200 cases of this beauty so you’ll want to act quickly, folks.

Lot 866 erupts from the glass with a complex array of red and black plum, wild raspberry, and bramble notes. The palate is rich and dense with supple fruit, backed by hints of baking spices, cedar box, and freshly-tilled earth. Exuberant on the nose, and polished throughout the palate, Lot 866 is truly the pinnacle expression of Piedmont Barbera.

Watch as Katy Long, Director of International Wines for VWE walks us through a tasting.

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New Release: Lot 867 Napa Valley Zinfandel

Lot 867 brings you Old Vine Zinfandel at its most luxurious, directly from Napa Valley’s coveted Rutherford Bench.

Our Lot 867 Napa Valley Zinfandel is a gem of a red that has multiple facets contributing to its premium pedigree and delicious flair.

First, there’s Lot 867’s impeccable sourcing. A key component of this red comes from a tiny, family-owned, ten-acre plot situated on Napa Valley’s coveted Rutherford Bench, with fruit so good that it has regularly been used as a component for the original winery’s Meritage and field blend programs. This premium source provides Lot 867’s core depth and intense complexity.

We can thank Lot 867’s second component—a small, older vine parcel in Napa’s famed Calistoga region—for this Zinfandel’s intense concentration and bold fruitiness.

The final piece of this flavorful balancing act comes from a single vineyard in Napa Valley’s cooler southeastern portion, which gives this red its surprising palate freshness and lifted red fruit aromas. In other words, Lot 867 is a true representation of real deal old vine Napa vineyards. And to cap it all off, it’s aged in special custom-made barrels that are a fusion blend of three different types of oak.

Lot 867 Napa Valley Zinfandel delivers the power and spice-laden hedonism we’ve come to love from this grape, with the prestige and elegance that define the allure of Napa Valley’s best sub-regions. No wonder the source producer for this red has consistently scored 90+ reviews from the likes of Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, James Suckling, and Connoisseurs’ Guide vintage after vintage after vintage.

The nose of Lot 867 holds nothing back, revealing Napa Valley Zinfandel in all of its glorious, old vine splendor: the jammy essence of blackberry compote intertwines seamlessly with this variety’s signature notes of white pepper and cherry preserves. Generous handfuls of dried herb notes give way to rich, savory flavors of plum and warm baking spices, all delivered on a silky palate that gains complexity as it goes. A custom barrel blend of three different oak species provides scaffolding and an elegant structure for this red’s artistically bold flavor showcase.

Watch as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.

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Lot 880 2021 Arroyo Seco Chardonnay

A ripe, rich, utterly delicious Chardonnay from a longtime family producer whose history with California Chardonnay is unmatched!

Lot 880 comes to us from a longtime family producer whose history with California Chardonnay is unmatched. With their deep connection to that variety, they’ve consistently delivered our #1 selling Chardonnay, and it’s back—and better than ever. We’ve said many times that Monterey County, where Lot 880 was sourced, over-delivers at the intersection of quality and value. The cool climate region of Arroyo Seco, situated southeast of Monterey Bay with direct exposure to the Pacific Ocean, is one of California’s smallest AVAs. The area’s fog and wind mitigate the low annual rainfall (thanks to the rain shadow created by the Santa Lucia Mountains to the west), creating a perfect environment for premium Chardonnay grape growing.

The grapes in Arroyo Seco ripen during warm afternoons but retain loads of natural acidity because of the cooler, windy nights and misty mornings. One thing is for sure, this is a Chardonnay for the unabashed lover of ripe-fruited, creamy, toasty-oak-driven, and downright delicious Chardonnays—the kind that only California is capable of producing.

This Chardonnay’s golden hue offers only hints of great things to come—explosive aromas of ripe, yellow apple, Bosc pear, and sumptuous oak tinged with baking spices and vanilla. All those rich aromas make appearances on the palate, which offers a round, creamy mouthfeel and deep, concentrated flavors balanced by the fresh and lively acidity of grapes grown in Arroyo Seco. Bruised yellow apple and caramelized pear mingle with candied apricots, woven around a tapestry of lavish oaks spices, finishing long and buttery. Simply put, this is a ripe, rich, utterly delicious Chardonnay.

Watch as Katy Long, Director of International Wines for VWE walks us through a tasting.

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Lot 859 2020 Monterey County Pinot Grigio

Cool coastal climate with New World fruit!

Monterey County was first planted to vine by Franciscan missionaries in the 1790s with modern winegrowing practices taking off in the 1960s and the region officially being recognized in 1984. Since its recognition, 8 sub-appellations have been designated as local terroirs, microclimates, and soil composites have come into focus. In the northern reaches, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot have taken hold in the cooler coastal climate while the southern portion of the appellation generally plants Bordeaux grapes due to a warmer climate while butting up against Paso Robles.

Lot 859 may be New World fruit, but there are strong Old World bones here; classic citrus and saline are coaxed out by the cooler, coastal maritime climate that blankets the region, giving the wine an incredible sense of place, while the New World honey and pear qualities that make it a local favorite are soundly built in too. Strangely enough, this might be the tightest NDA we’ve signed with a winery in a long time as we’re unable to tell you much of anything about the source winery or winemaker. Who’d have thought a Pinot Grigio of all things would be this under lock and key? Now we’ve about seen it all.

In fact, the only thing we can tell you is the source winery fetches roughly $36/bottle in the tasting room, here, it’s yours for a fraction of that price.

Pale golden on the pour, the nose is expressive with lemon, lime, golden apple, and acacia flowers. The entry is excellently weighted with medium acidity exhibiting further citrus notes alongside honey-kissed Asian pear. The finish is not without some length for a dry white, showing a touch of saline character over crushed blossom, apple, and pear umami – an excellent accompaniment to triple-cream cheeses, shellfish, or grilled halibut steaks.

Watch as Katy Long, Director of International Wines for VWE walks us through a tasting.

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Lot 901 2018 Napa Valley Rhone Blend

Released in November 2022, Lot 901 is a Rhone-style red by way of California’s Côtes du Napa Valley. Sourced from an iconic estate responsible for “top-flight” Napa reds that cost up to $150.

We’re beyond thrilled to offer you one of the finest California Rhône-style reds we’ve tasted from the 2018 vintage—one of Napa’s best vintages in the last four decades.

The producer we sourced this stunner from is a Napa Valley institution with nearly 50 years of crafting wines of beautiful balance, depth, and complexity. In fact, if you’re a frequent reader of The Wine Advocate, the publication founded by critic Robert Parker, you may have read some Parker reviews of this producer’s “top-flight Napa Cabernet Sauvignon,” which can cost upwards of $150 per bottle.

The grapes for their Rhône-style blend were sourced from two highly coveted vineyard sites in Napa’s Pope Valley, and one in Yountville. All three vineyards have been sources for some of Napa’s top winemakers, including at least two who have earned 100-point scores for their wines. So, as far as the class of these grape sources goes, we’re definitely in the Mercedes Benz category of Rhône varieties growing in Napa.

And for you fans of France’s Rhône Valley—especially fans of the famous Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which favors a hefty dose of Mourvèdre for its iconic $100+ blend—you’d be hard-pressed to find another Rhône-style red like Lot 901 2018 Côtes du Napa Valley anywhere near as complex for today’s $32 price tag.

Lot 901 shows a beautiful ruby color in the glass. Enticing aromas of cranberry, blood orange, and black cherry fruits mingle with herb de Provence and hints of vanilla-scented cedar spice. Your first sip reveals a rich and creamy red that unfolds in silken robes of mixed red berry fruit and spiced plums dusted with brown baking spices like cardamom, coriander, and Chinese Five spice. Lovely dark chocolate notes emerge on the finish, driven by a mineral freshness and lively acidity along with bursts of fragrant dried red floral notes. Composed primarily of Mourvèdre and Grenache, with splashes of Syrah and Petite Sirah, it offers a sumptuous, ripe, and juicy California take on the classic GSM blends that are famous throughout France’s Rhone Valley.

Watch as Katy Long, Director of International Wines for VWE walks us through a tasting.

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New Release: Lot 903 2019 Sonoma County Merlot

This is the Merlot CHW fans have been waiting for—a snapshot of cool-climate California one delicious sip after sip after sip.

There are three places in the world where Merlot grapes can be transformed from nice-looking, dark, juicy berries growing on a vine into world-class, delicious wine.

The first is Bordeaux. The second is Italy (think of the great Super Tuscans you might have heard about). The third is California.

If you asked us to rank our favorite — we’d put California at the top of the list. From Napa down to the Central Coast, there are pockets of unique microclimates where Merlot thrives, Lot 903 Merlot is sourced from several of those locations within Sonoma. It is the perfect snapshot of Northern California Merlot, all in one glass, and with only 500 cases available, it is sure to be scooped up quickly!

Charging out of the glass with red and blue fruit, spices, and toasty oak notes, it envelops the palate with juicy plum, red currants, dark chocolate, and a kiss of tobacco spice. This is a food-friendly wine and one to bring to your next dinner party. Give it a nice half-hour decant and it will really start to sing.

Watch as Katy Long, Director of International Wines for VWE walks us through a tasting.

SHOP LOT 903

New Release: Lot 881 2021 Central Coast Rosé

Lovely salmon-pink hue. Candied peaches and crushed stone minerality. Bright, clean, and juicy, showcasing delicate red berry fruit flavors, watermelon, guava, and a gravelly minerality. This is the rosé you want on hand for grilled or pan-seared fish dishes, savory salads with dried fruit and nuts, or a bevy of fresh-cut herbs.

We love to make rosé wine from California’s Central Coast for one reason—the weather. Vineyards planted from Monterey down to Santa Barbara are treated to refreshing, cool Pacific Ocean breezes, which means that while grapes ripen under the warm California sun, those cooling breezes slow the ripening down, leading to incredibly fresh, natural acidities in the grapes.

One sip of this Lot 881, 2021 Central Coast Rosé, and you’ll see what we mean. Crafted in the lean, dry style of rosé wine from France’s Provence region, the vibrant natural acidity of this Pinot Noir and Grenache blend delivers mouthwatering freshness with a firm backbone of acidity.

Watch as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.

SHOP LOT 881

What’s Happening in the Vineyard Right Now

Get ready for your crash-course in winter-time grape-growing. Cameron Hughes’ Zeke Neeley talks through winter dormancy, springtime threats to young vines, and offers predictions on the growing season ahead. By CH Wine Team Zeke Neeley, the senior winemaker at Kunde Family, one of the shining gems in the…