Call it a “Best Buy”, “Customer Favorite”, or whatever, WORTHY SOPHIA’S CUVEE continues to be a Top Selling Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon blend, and rightly so. The wine offers a luscious, full-bodied, and concentrated red wine experience that is a proven “crowd pleaser”, at a nominal price point.
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WHAT MATTERS MORE, producer or vintage? Its one of the questions that oenophiles often ask themselves and one another when considering whether to buy a particular wine. Can a great producer overcome the odds of a poor vintage or will a year of bad weather trump even the most talented woman or man?
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Bordeaux blends are the way to go with a porterhouse.

Going to a steakhouse and not ordering a bottle of wine is practically a faux pas.

And for the steakhouse regular, it pays to know which bottles pair best with which steaks. Enter Brahm Callahan, the wine director at Grill 23 & Bar in Boston, Massachusetts and one of only 147 master sommeliers in North America.
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The next generation of winemakers in Napa Valley are making quite a splash!. These passionate young entrepreneurs are taking what their accomplished parents and grandparents built, adding their youthful energy, passion and creativity, and producing some excellent wines.

The 2013 TAKEN PROPRIETARY RED WINE is an example of the Next Gen wines. It’s a satisfying, reasonably priced, yet serious Napa Valley Bordeaux-style blend!
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Winemakers are Optimistic as the 2014 Wine Harvest ramps up – Could this be the 3rd “Dream Vintage” in a row?

The 2014 wine harvest, or “Crush”, is picking up steam throughout California with each passing day. A trend has emerged, and the familiar refrain from grape growers and winemakers goes something like this: the 2014 growing season and wine harvest in California looks really, really good, but it’s earlier than ever.

Grower/winemaker, Steve Matthiason states, “2013 was an early vintage, and this year is even earlier.”
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Carte Blanche Winery lineup

CARTE BLANCHE is a relatively new winery project in Napa Valley that is raising the eyebrows of wine enthusiasts who enjoy high quality, world class wines.

To say that proprietor Nick Allen and his family have a history of producing monumental wines would be an understatement.  Allen is the great-grandson of Clarence Dillon who purchased Chateau Haut-Brion in 1935 (now owned by the family company, “Domaine Clarence Dillon”).  As you may know, Haut-Brion is one of the original five Grand Crus of Bordeaux.

To make the wines under his newly formed CARTE BLANCHE Estate in Napa Valley, Allen spared no expense in luring one of America’s top winemakers, Luc Morlet.

Some of Morlet’s Milestone Achievements:

  • Creating Newton’s Unfiltered Chardonnay (96 points from Robert Parker)
  • Winemaker for Peter Michael (98 points from Robert Parker for his ’02 “Les Pavots” Cabernet blend
  • 99 points for his ’01 Peter Michael “Point Rouge” Chardonnay)
  • 97 points for his ’05 Peter Michael “Les Pavots” in Wine Spectator
  • Also winemaker for Staglin and his own highly acclaimed Morlet Family Vineyards

Suffice to say that Luc Morlet has an illustrious track record of making award-wining, highly-rated, world class wines. CARTE BLANCHE is destined to follow suit.

Vineyard Sources

The wines are made with some of the best grapes money can buy. Vineyard sources include Beckstoffer’s “ToKolan Vineyard” in Oakville, Newton’s “Hillside Vineyard” on Spring Mountain, and Beckstoffer’s historic “Missouri Hopper Vineyard” in southern Oakville.

“Carte Blanche is a partnership between proprietor Nicholas Allen and winemaker Luc Morlet. Although a new project started only in 2008, all of the wines I have tasted so far have been impressive. The 2010s are no exception.” —Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate

From top to bottom, no expense has been spared to ensure these wines live up to Nick’s uncompromising standards in becoming hallmark wines of the highest quality.


– The Wines –


2010 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Carte Blanche Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

This is a rich, opulent, beautifully balanced wine! Brilliant golden in color, an alluring bouquet, super creamy and plush on the mid-palate with a finish that lingers forever. Notes of peach, lemon meringue, nectarine, creme brûlée, hazelnut, and minerals all in perfect balance. A remarkable Chardonnay! Only 200 cases produced. ($75)

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley

Carte Blanche Cabernet Sauvignon

“Another powerful, young wine, the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon is incredibly dense and virtually impenetrable. Blue and black fruit, grilled herbs, licorice, new leather, menthol and tobacco flow through to an incisive finish layered with graphite and crushed rocks. Today, the 2010 is cool and implosive, suggesting it needs at least another few years to come together. The addition of 10% Petit Verdot seems to give the wine some of its brooding personality. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2028.”
—Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate,
Issue 204 Dec 2012 – Rating:  94

400 cases produced  ($125)

2010 Sandstone Seven
Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino

Carte Blanche Sandstone Seven Rhone-style Blend

A brilliant Rhone-style white wine blend. Aromas of bright white flowers jump from the glass, surrounded by notes of lemon zest, wet stones, mineral, slate and sea shells.  The palate entry is silky and rich with fine acidic structure.  Subtle spices speak of Bosc pear galette with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cardamom.  Crushed granite and the faintest flash of petrol barely whisper in the long, clean finish.

From Stu Bewley’s immaculate, impressive, and meticulously farmed Alder Springs Vineyard in Northern Mendocino County, this amazing blend of 40% Viognier, 40% Marsanne and 20% Rousanne is reminiscent of the great white wines of the Southern Rhone.  Alder Springs Vineyards lies seven miles from the Pacific coast, sitting on well-drained, ancient sandstone slopes at elevations ranging from 1700′ to 2700′.  Truly expressive of the terrior, the small intensely flavored berries create a beautiful, complex and unique wine.  125 cases produced. ($50)


To Purchase the CARTE BLANCHE Wines

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New Cabernet Sauvignon Releases From The Exclusive Pritchard Hill Region Puts MONTAGNA VINEYARDS Squarely In the Elite Napa Wine Category!

Montagna Vineyards

After Montagna’s 2007 ‘Tre Vigneti’ Cabernet Sauvignon release was met with resounding applause, we were eagerly anticipating the next release of this up and coming winery founded by Bob Long, co-founder of David Arthur Vineyards.

As it turns out, there were no wines made in 2008 by Montagna Vineyards, a decision not made lightly by a winery in its formative years.  But these are the tough decisions that have to be made to maintain the level of quality the proprietors want their wines to convey, and which will elevate the winery’s status into the upper echelons of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon producers.

The Wines

Montagna 2009 Cabernets

MONTAGNA 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
‘Tre Vigneti’ Estate

Montagna_Tre_Vigneti_labelComprised of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Syrah and 2% Malbec, there was a total of 843 cases produced of the 2009 ‘Tre Vigneti’ Cabernet.  The fruit was carefully selected from all three vineyards on the Montagna Estate on Pritchard Hill.

Tasting Notes:

A dark Ruby red color leads to aromas of ripe cherry, black currant, cedar, spice and vanilla.  On the palate the resolved, fine grain tannins frame flavors of dark plum and cassis, with hints of mocha on the finish. Drink now through 2020.  ($50)

MONTAGNA 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
‘La Presa – One South’ Estate

Montagna_La_Presa_labelWith the 2009 vintage, Montagna has included the inaugural release of the ‘La Presa – One South’ 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, a 288 case bottling of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the La Presa Vineyard, one of three vineyards on the Montagna Estate.

Tasting Notes:

A deep dark ruby color leads to profound aromas of blackberry-cassis followed by hints of floral-lavender and then spices of roasted coffee, fresh saddle leather, molasses and candied ginger.  On the palate the wine is rich and broad-shouldered with prominent tannins that are both firm and fleshy.  Nuances of anise, licorice and dark chocolate add to the layers and complexity as the wine continues to open up.  Hints of chocolate covered black cherries make an appearance on the finish.  Still a little closed, decanting is highly recommended for near term drinking, but the ‘La Presa – One South’ Cabernet should drink beautifully in about 3-5 years with another decade of cellaring potential.  ($125)

About MONTAGNA Estate Vineyards

Bob Long

Bob Long

Bob Long is the proprietor of Montagna Estate Vineyards located in the prestigious Pritchard Hill region of Napa Valley.  Long has a storied history in the wine industry beginning with the co-founding of David Arthur Vineyards in 1978 with his brother, David.  The first release of Montagna wines consisted of a small amount of 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.  The 2009 vintage marks the third release of Montagna wines as there were no 2008s produced.

The Montagna Estate rests at about 1400 feet elevation and consists of three distinct vineyards: La Presa (the “Pond”), Montagna (“Mountain”), and Casodores (the “Hunter”).

Nile Zacherle - Winemaker

Nile Zacherle

To help craft the wines, Long enlisted the help of wine-making veteran Nile Zacherle who has been making the David Arthur wines for several years.  Zacherle’s wine endeavors began at Navarro Vineyards. He went on to studied hands on, old school winemaking at Château d’Arsac in Bordeaux.  He returned to California in 2000 as winemaker for Chateau Montelena and Barnett Vineyards, before taking the reins at David Arthur.


About Pritchard Hill

Pritchard Hill is a rocky, rugged region located in the eastern hills of Napa Valley.  The soils are red rock, well drained and very suitable for Bordeaux varietals.  The problem is getting water.  Several of the wineries that planted vineyards in these eastern hills of Napa Valley have employed extreme measures including employing “water witches” to locate the best source of water.

However, the region has proven to grow phenomenal Bordeaux grape varietals and attracted some of the top “cult” wineries in Napa Valley, including such renowned wineries as Bryant Family, Colgin, Ovid, Chappellet, Continuum, and David Arthur.

Suffice to say… it’s a pretty good neighborhood!


Alexander Valley

Mentioning the name “Silver Oak” in a conversation about wine will typically elicit
some very strong opinions on both sides of the fence.

Justin Meyer Silver Oak

Justin Meyer – Founder/Winemaker

On one side of the Silver Oak debate are those who consider the wines to be a hallmark of California Cabernet Sauvignon and purchase them with each new vintage release.  Many even boast about verticals they have in their cellars that date back to the days when the winery, under founder Justin Meyer’s rule, bottled a miniscule production, and highly prized “Bonny’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon” from Meyer’s one-acre parcel in Oakville.

There are apparently legions of Silver Oak fans judging from sales each year of about fifty to sixty thousand cases of the Alexander Valley bottling, and about twenty thousand cases of the Napa bottling.

On the other side of the fence are those that contend that Silver Oak has seen it’s heyday, and is not the “cult wine” favorite that it once was.

However, there can be no argument with the fact that Silver Oak Cabernet played a major role in developing the mystique surrounding California “Cult Cabernet Sauvignon”.

Twice A Year Silver Oak Release Parties Draw Huge Crowds

Silver Oak Release Party

Silver Oak Release Party

The first Saturday in August, and again the first Saturday in February, Silver Oak Cellars releases it’s new vintage of Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, respectively.  Devout fans from all over the country, if not the world, descend on both the Napa and Alexander Valley facilities.  Attendees are not only able to taste and purchase the new release, but often are treated to library wines.  Limited release large bottle formats are also made available for purchase at the release parties.


Silver Oak 2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet SauvignonThe current release is the Silver Oak 2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  (The Napa 2007 will be released at the Release Party on February 4, 2012.)  From the epic 2007 vintage, this wine is one the best Alexander Valley Cabernet bottlings for Silver Oak in the past decade.

  • Vintage: 2007 – one of the BEST in recent history
  • Appellation: Alexander Valley
  • Composition: 100% Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Big Bottles: Large bottle formats – Limited – 1.5L Magnum & 3.0L Double Magnum – (send inquiries to

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes:

Daniel Baron Silver Oak Winemaker

Daniel Baron – Winemaker

“Our 2007 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a profound,fruit-driven wine from a great California vintage. It has a dark ruby color with a purple edge and an inviting nose of ripe black plum, blackberry, baking spices and soy sauce. On the palate, the wine is rich and full, reminiscent of the flavors of a berry cobbler. It has a long, fruity finish with fine grained tannins, and is a testament to exquisite ripeness at moderate alcohol. With proper cellaring, this wine should give drinking pleasure through 2031.”

Vintage Description

“The 2007 vintage had an unusual combination of a light crop and a cool summer which resulted in great concentration and mature flavors and tannins at moderate alcohol. The season started cool and dry with less than an inch of rain in January. The dry weather continued into spring and the dry soils induced early budbreak and bloom. Fruit set was light and berries were small: crop levels were 15% to 20% below normal. Summer weather was mild with temperatures rarely exceeding 90˚F. Continued dry weather, a warm spell in early August and a Labor Day heat wave were the catalysts for achieving perfect maturity. The small berries and long, slow ripening resulted in extraordinary wines.”

Blending and Aging

“Our 2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of wine from several different vineyards, is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. We blended the vineyard lots in early 2008 and transferred the wine to 50% new and 50% once-used American oak barrels for aging. Blending prior to barreling allows us to achieve a balance of the wine’s natural elements, such as fruit and tannin, before they are influenced by oak. The wine was then aged in barrel for approximately 25 months and another 15 months in bottle to harmonize its components before release.”

SILVER OAK 2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

$840 per case $70 per bottle – 750 ml

$840 per case $140 per bottle – Magnum (1.5 Liter)

$382 per bottle – Double Magnum (3.0 Liter)

Looking to purchase Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon?

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