New Release: Lot 894 2020 Columbia Valley Merlot

Lot 894 was sourced from deep-pocketed producers in Washington State (there are only a few!) firmly established in the Yakima Valley. The vineyards and winery were planted/built to make world-class Merlot and other Bordelaise varietals. No expense was spared on any aspect of this wine program. This sumptuous Merlot comes from a $60+ bottle program, but drinks like a $90+ bottle and is an exceptional value at $22/bottle, $264/case. It’s a must-try.

The grapes in Lot 894 were grown in lean soils, with high-desert winds, and diurnal swings producing small berries with tougher skins. The result is more concentrated fruit and intense complexity. This particular Merlot is a powerful wine with all the structure and stuffing of Cabernet but made all the more compelling with the trademark supple mouthfeel.

Deep ruby in the glass, Cabernet-like. The bouquet is super pretty with ethereal, powdery florals combined with cherry truffle, and raspberry puree underpinned with sweet herbs. The pyrazines in this wine are so nuanced under the richness of dark fruit creating a mini symphony of delicate and rustic. Supple and seamless on entry, the ripe red and black fruits are robust but so well-balanced with just the right amount of acidity. The show-stopper is the mid-palate that reveals mineral-coated tannins unfurling in a blast of baking spice and licorice, purple jalapeño pepper, and black/red fruit. Just, wow! So beautifully crafted and incredibly expressive.

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


New Release: Lot 808 2019 North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon

Lot 808 comes to us from a Mount Veeder winery that’s been under the same family ownership for almost half a century, produced by a very skilled winemaker whose decades of experience led him to craft this expertly woven blend of different Cabernets from the best of Napa and nearby North Coast wine country. The wine is aged in 30% new French oak for 18 months before bottling, and delivers all the checkboxes you want: red/black fruit, superb cooperage, tannins, texture, and structure. Despite having all the pedigree and precision you’d expect from a winery that also produces Cab that sells for almost $200/bottle, this wine is available at a vastly superior QPR because it isn’t entirely comprised of Napa fruit – a supremely attractive bang-for-the-buck offer any way you slice it, and the very definition of “perfect weekday Cab.”

Deep ruby and beautifully extracted on the pour, the nose is a wonderful intersection of red berries, black cherry, and bramble fruit underpinned by new leather, fallen leaves, and eucalyptus. The entry is very expressive in its youth and terroir-driven, introducing tobacco, bell pepper, leather, and clay pot alongside medium acidity, framed by a multitude of medium well-integrated tannins. The finish showcases the cooperage in full – baking spices and vanilla uplift red fruit in long, dry waves.

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


New Release: Lot 831 Mendoza Malbec

Argentina is home to some of the highest elevation vineyards on the planet, and it’s known that great wine was never made from easily grown grapes; the combination of being physically closer to the sun, benefitting from extreme drainage, and being planted to rough, relatively infertile soils makes for incredibly concentrated, deeply colored, flavorful grapes. Today’s release is a showcase of great wine having begun on these vines, then ushered into bottle by an incredibly talented winemaker at an unbeatable price for the quality.

Lot 831 comes to us from a certified organic and sustainable winery bolstered by a winemaker with global stints in California, Bordeaux, and South America. All estate-grown fruit is hand selected at optimal ripeness from vineyards beginning around 6,200 ft. and climbing up from there. After fermentation the wine is moved into second-pass French oak for a bit of aging before bottling. The result is an organic, concentrated Malbec that could easily pass muster with any Cab-loving aficionado with a steak in their future.

Beautifully dark in the glass, the nose is an elegant composite of black cherries and red plum backed by clay pot and chocolate. The entry explodes with red plum, black raisin, tobacco, and baking spices over medium acidity alongside plentiful, perfectly integrated small tannins. The finish is long, dry, and terroir-driven with further clay pot and tobacco transitioning to barrel-kissed vanilla and spice on the exit. If you’re looking for a “steak Malbec” that also acts as a cellar defender, look no further.

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


New Release: Lot 832 2018 Ribera Del Duero Tempranillo

Found at the upper reaches of the Duero River (the Douro for you Portuguese readers), the high-elevation vineyards of Ribera del Duero are planted 2500 ft above sea level in sandy clay soils, developing under intensely hot summers and bitterly cold winters which combine to produce rich Tempranillo wines of exceptional quality matched by few peers. From this harsh climate, dark black cherry and blackberry-like fruit leads to dense, textured wines that pair wonderfully with red meats. Some of Spain’s most historically iconic and expensive wines call this region home.

Lot 832 comes to us from a top-notch producer in the riverside town of Aranda de Duero. Harvested from 20-40 year old vines, the grapes are cold fermented and macerated for two weeks before aging in French oak barrels, transforming into a pure expression of local terroir crafted by expert hands using techniques faithful to the traditions of one of Spain’s flagship DOs. This is an absolutely terrific introduction to Spanish Tempranillo for the newbies, and a sublime taste of the familiar to those already acquainted with some of Spain’s best.

Medium ruby with excellent legs, the nose is plush with cherry, fresh-sliced pastrami, dried figs, and cedar. The entry showcases an abundance of strong terroir – volcanic rocks and dried leaves hint towards dried blackberries and a sour cherry-like acidity amidst plentiful, perfectly integrated tannins. The finish is also terroir-driven and Old World as they come: dry with decent length, resonating with cherry before falling back to an ever-so-delicate tobacco and vanilla umami. A bit of aging on this bottle will reward the patient, as all the bones are here for an incredible wine four to five years out under proper cellar conditions.

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


New Release: Lot 882 2019 Napa Valley Petite Sirah

When you find the right bottling, Petite Sirah is capable of reaching the same quality heights as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and even traditional Bordeaux blending grapes like Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Such is the case with our newest release Lot 882 2019 Napa Valley Petite Sirah.

The grape sprung to life when a Syrah vine was crossed with Peloursin in the late 1800s in Montpellier, France; however, Petite Sirah (known throughout France as the Durif grape) never really made a big splash in its home country. Instead, its small, intensely-flavored berries thrived in California.

And they have thrived under the careful attention of the source winery that gave us this positively delectable Petite Sirah bottling. Little wonder, the grape has been cherished by some of Napa’s Old Guard producers like Stags’ Leap Winery, which touted the merits and quality potential of the grape.

We think our Lot 882, from 2019 (a vintage described as “thrilling” and “stunning” by Vinous) proves that those bold Napa pioneers had the right idea. Despite the perfect growing season, the source winery exerted intense quality control, dropping clusters and further concentrating flavors in the tiny-berried older Petite Sirah vines growing in Calistoga and Pope Valley. They made just 400 cases.

Lot 882 is as delectable as the deep blue color band on the label. It exudes the same blue colors, tinged with purple in an explosion of candied violets and sumptuous blueberry compote. Ruby-purple robes of mixed berry fruit and strawberry preserves call to mind the freshest Bonne Maman compote of succulent blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, wild strawberries, and brown sugar. With ample grip, and acidity for days, this juicy berry-laden red is wrapped in a blanket of Graham cracker pie crust spices and sweet cedar. Impossible not to love on its own, but next to a Wagyu beef burger, this is happiness in a glass.

Watch as Zach Long, winemaker for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.


New Release: Lot 782 2017 Tuscany Rebo

This obscure offering might be the first time you’re hearing of Rebo. That’s ok. Created in 1920, Rebo is a crossing of Merlot and Teroldego brought about via efforts to find alternatives to Merlot for regions where Merlot struggled to grow in Italy. The result was a wine with the best of both worlds; Teroldego’s intense coloring and tannic structure with Merlot’s velvety texture and overall goodness, quite literally, built to embrace the Italian soils.

Lot 782 comes to us from a long-established Tuscan estate with a knack for the local rarities and age-old natural vinification methods, complete with a well-travelled winemaker, trained in France and blessed with stints at some of the more well-known California houses before returning to their ancestral home in Tuscany. Mature fruit is hand harvested and immediately pressed before aging in French oak for a minimum of 12 months, resulting in an intensely fragrant, highly quaffable glass.

Intensely ruby on the pour, the nose hints at plums, cherries, and blackberries over a bit of earthy Tuscan terroir. The entry continues the darker fruit notes over medium acidity accented by soft, round tannins and a beautiful note of spice. The finish is all barrel maturation; further spices kissed by oak with an overtone of vanilla essence that makes for great length while still retaining a dry character. Excellent on its own, it’d be a welcome accompaniment to any bacon-based dish (or any pork preparation, come to think of it).

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


New Release: Lot 876 Lodi Albarińo

At long last, Albarińo is back! We snagged this delicious, crisp beauty from a well-known, multi-generational family winery in the heart of Lodi. Located at the head of numerous tributaries that feed the San Pablo Bay, Lodi boasts a fantastic wine-growing climate due to the natural influx of cool, mineral ocean air that allows temps to cool off at night, preserving the fruit.

Lot 876 is the perfect wine to sip on during this late summer heat wave, offering relief from both the heat and the pocketbook at just $13/bottle.

Lot 876 2021 Lodi Albarińo pours like golden nectar in the glass with bright hints of fresh clementines and lemon zest. On the palate, stone fruits, honeysuckle, and floral elements abound, while the medium acidity allows the saline & ocean notes to come forward. A great expression that melds California terroir with this refreshing Spanish varietal.

Watch as Zach Long, winemaker for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.


New Release: Lot 874 2020 Montepulciano D’Abrazzo

Wine Spectator has had plenty of praise (and excellent scores) for the boutique, family-run winery behind Lot 874 2020 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo—going so far as to call them out as a “recommended” Italian producer. After tasting this 2020 Abruzzo red, we’re in total agreement (in fact, if anything Spectator might have undersold this producer!)

Montepulciano from Southern Italy should be bold before all else, and this red fits that bill perfectly. For all of its boldness, however, this red stays almost effortless on the palate, inviting sip after sip, and glass after glass (you’re going to want more than one bottle; an open bottle of Lot 874 won’t stay full for very long). The producer also had extensive experience creating big reds in northeastern Italy, and that experience pays off in spades here.

Lot 874 was carefully crafted from the source family’s 100% Montepulciano grapes and offers a robust, warm-hearted glassful of black fruit, all topped off with a mineral-richness like crushed graphite complemented by smoky clove and toasty oak. If you’re planning on putting a roast in the oven, Lot 874 is your wine!

Dark ruby red in color, this is a quintessential Italian red wine with classic aromas of cherry, cranberry, wild herbs, loads of graphite, dried rose petals, cedar, and clove. Fresh and energetic with a medium-bodied palate feel, leading with juicy blackberry, vanilla-kissed cherry, and notes of flaky milk chocolate. There’s ample acidity here balanced by fine, satiny tannins and a long mineral-driven finish. Tremendously enjoyable and perhaps a bit too easy to drink.

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


New Release: Lot 872 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

In the realm of sophisticated, quaffable Cabernet you’ll not find a better deal anywhere than Lot 872 2020 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon.

Produced by a Sonoma Valley winery directly south of Knight’s Valley, this wine is an absolute standout, not only holding its own, but outperforming Chalk Hill and Russian River offerings from the same winery sold at 4x the price!

Lot 872’s lengthy journey begins with a richly styled dark fruit nose of brambly blueberry and blackberry confit on the nose and palate. Next up, hints of crème de cassis perfectly underscore the soft, supple tannins. The journey then takes you to the beguiling aromatics of tonka bean, and toasted oak with just a soft kiss of earth to coat the palate with a mouthwatering lingering feeling. This Cabernet is a cool-weather beauty that is just pure enjoyment and comes directly from a $65/bottle program. Like chocolate, it will leave you wanting more. Good news, you can have more at only $18/bottle.

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


New Release: Lot 738 Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG

Lot 738 comes to us from beautiful hillside vineyards in Valdobbiadene, a little growing region in northeastern Italy that produces the finest Prosecco grapes in the world (thanks to a unique microclimate and some very talented growers). This is cream of the crop, first-class Prosecco that you are going to love popping bottle after bottle on any occasion. A brut-styled spumante from a top-of-the-line winery, it also picked up a Gold Medal and 92 pt score from IWSC under its original label.

Pouring a crystalline pale straw color with very active tiny bubbles, the nose greets you with green apple, pear, and fresh peeled lemon rinds. The entry is very active, with melon and apples lifting up gardenias and honey alongside perfect acidity. The dry finish starts with a fresh cream note, leading into aromatic lemon oils and citrus blossoms. Besides being a fantastic aperitif (or the foundation for an apex mimosa), this is also an awesome food pairing with everything from charcuterie boards and raw shellfish to spicy Asian dishes or fried chicken.

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