(858) 450-9557

9550 Waples Street, Suite 115
San Diego, California, 92121
360° Tour of WineSellar

Reservations  Newsletter Map  Rush Hour Map

Wine Club Newsletter - February 2018

♫ I Left My (credit) Card . . . ♪ in San Francisco ♬

Gary Parker

The first week of January is one of our slowest of the year, as we have ended our busy holiday season of November and December. This year, Lori and I decided to make a quick sojourn up to San Francisco to catch up on some restaurant action.

We were initially excited when a trade publication came out with its top 50 restaurant and wine bars to visit in San Francisco, written by six different journalists and food critics. Cool, we thought. We spent an hour or so pouring through the listings. Of course we knew we couldn’t visit all fifty locations in three days and two nights, so we made a plan.

The restaurants were listed alphabetically, so we decided to rank the potential stops on our own five-point scale, based on what we thought we wanted to experience. We picked out about a dozen places to visit, but found our plans changing after touchdown.

Over the years, on our travels across the globe, we have spent a significant amount of money in restaurants on fine food and wines. And happily so, for the most part. But after making a few stops in the city, I was becoming disenchanted with the amount of money restaurants were charging for wine.

Simple wines like Italian Pinot Grigio that I know cost about $10-$12 a bottle, were listed at $60. In fact, $60 seemed like a starting point of many wines on wine lists. There is something taken away from the joy of dining out when I have to pay exorbitant prices, even though I sympathize with the restaurant owners suffering from the high rents they have to pay.

But they knew that going in. I am not sure how sustainable wines in restaurants can be when they are priced in the stratosphere like this.

OK, so enough of my sniveling. Here are some fun spots we enjoyed and wish to share with you:

20 Spot  
This was fun for its quaint feel, very small and intimate. You have to get there early or you’ll get shut out. It is an old record store turned into a sort of wine bar and restaurant. They play vinyl records as a nod to the old tenants, and the sound system is really nice. Very interesting food, they are known for their deviled eggs.

Uma Casa   
We were excited to go here after conducting our recent wine tour to Portugal. It was a good stop, as we enjoyed some octopus and crispy polenta cake, and from one of our favorite winery visits in Portugal, an Alvarinho from Soalheiro.

August 1 Five   
Great stop for lunch. Modern Indian cuisine using the fresh ingredients and influences of the Bay Area. We found the food, service, and wine list all attractive. We ordered a number of appetizers and an entrée, and were delighted.

The Slanted Door 
2nd time visiting this contemporary Vietnamese restaurant on the Embarcadero, and it is well worth the effort to get in here. First time we had lunch, this time was in between hours so we sat at the bar and had appetizers with a bottle of well-priced wine. A great wine list, and one of the most reasonable in the city. Highly recommend.

A favorite stop for the trip, a lunch before we flew back home. Featuring foods from Spain, with focus on paellas, seafood, wood-fire-grilled options, all Spanish wine list (nicely priced), with sherry on tap (had to have), it was a great send-off for us. Highly recommended

Hotel Sir Francis Drake Kimpton   
Got a fabulous rate to this centrally located, well-appointed hotel. Sumptuous bar area, and we had two meals at their bistro Scala, as the food was excellent, and wine priced very well. Recommend highly!

California Dreamin’ Walk-Around Wine Tasting
February 24, 3:30 to 5:30pm

We’re dreamin’ of California (wine) on such a winters day. Our state produces close to 89% of the wine made in the United States. Join us as we taste through over 15 hand-picked selections.

$35 per person, $30 Club Members
Call (858) 450-9557 to reserve your spot,  or go here 

Portugal Wine Dinner with Gary Parker

I am hosting a dinner here at The Brasserie highlighting some of the wine finds we discovered while in Portugal last year.

Menu & Pricing Coming Soon!
Call (858) 450-9557 to reserve your spot!


2015 Zotovich Chardonnay, “Zoto”

Growing Region: Sta. Rita Hills, California
Varietal Composition: 100% Chardonnay
Fermentation:  Malolactic Fermentation, Oak Barrels
Alcohol Content: 13.9%
Suggested Retail:  $25.00
WineSellar Club Price: $20.69

Broad Strokes:
Form the Winery: Zotovich Vineyards & Winery is a small, family-owned winery located in the Sta. Rita Hills American Viticulture Appellation on California’s Central Coast in Santa Barbara County. Right in the middle of Northern Santa Rita Hills on the 246 corridor, between Buellton and Lompoc.  The vineyard was purchased 12 years ago by Steve Zotovich.

Legend says the deed was signed the day Sideways was released in theaters. The first estate wines were produced 2 years later. The vineyard's original owners planted it in the late 1990's, mostly to Italian varietals. Steve grafted over to the current mix of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and Viognier when he bought it. Grenache went in 10 years later. This Chardonnay scored 91 Points!

Very clean, straightforward, and identifiable packaging. You can read “Zoto” so well, this would stand out on any shelf. And another screw cap, thank you very much, I love it! The wine has a yellow/white corn hue, and clings to the glass.

A lot going on with the fragrances. I got baked apple wrapped in a hint of caramel and sweet oak. Mineral notes, mixed with the vivacious acids from kiwi, tangerine and grapefruit. A touch of pineapple surfaces, with toasted almonds and ginger flower.

It is medium in weight and body. A nicely balanced offering that feels clean and organized (in a good way), and provides a solid mid palate and finish that is mouth-coating. Some bright notes, the feeling of evolution is positive with a few more years.

The caramel (popcorn) and baked apple are most prevalent, buoyed by the kiwi, tangerine, grapefruit and ripe pear notes. Got a touch of pumpkin, in addition to all the elements experienced in the nose.

Serving Suggestions:
This is GREAT Chardonnay value, $20.69 for a 91 pointer!!! Multi-purpose uses, great as an aperitif, and wonderful with fish, sushi, and spicy foods.

2015 Field Recordings, Old Potrero Vineyard

Growing Region: Arroyo Grande Valley
Varietal Composition:  92% Zinfandel, 5% Mourvedre, 3% Syrah
Fermentation:  American Oak, 50% New for 10 Months
Alcohol Content: 14.9%
Suggested Retail: $20.00
WineSellar Club Price: $17.99

Broad Strokes:           
Field Recordings is 35-year old winemaker Andrew Jones’ personal catalog of the people and places he values most. Spending his days as a vine nursery field man planning and planting vineyards for farmers all over California, Andrew is sometimes offered small lots of their best fruit on the side. Having stood in just about every vineyard on the Central Coast, he has a keen eye for diamonds in the rough: sites that are unknown or under-appreciated but hold enormous untapped potential.

As friendships are made and opportunities are embraced, Andrew produces small quantities of soulful wine from these unusual, quiet vineyards.

The Field Recordings wines are a catalog of single vineyard sites that produces wines with a sense of place and personality.

It’s a really cool package. Distinctive, kind of homey, yet creative and contemporary. The die cut label represents the shape of the Potrero Vineyard (I am fairly certain). I like the heavy, deep punted bottle with the white trim capsule. The wine is purple-grapey hued at the core, and is solid all the way to the edge, where it becomes dark red, brilliant and clear.

Kirsch, intense raspberry, very concentrated fragrances. You can detect the American oak by the touch of coconut.  Peripheral notes of cigar, tree bark, tobacco, roasted nuts, smoke and tree bark. Also notice star anise, black pepper, with hints of pomegranate.

It is medium to medium-full in weight and body. The fruit density makes the high alcohol seemingly disappear. Some tannic acid on the entry, but it is fun and energizing, as the middle palate glides to reach the crispy, astringent finish. Pomegranate acid also.

Sweet and smoky one could say. You could also say the fruit and oak reminds one of black berry ice cream, albeit with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, Dr. Pepper, cranberry, pomegranate, and a touch of orange rind. It all works out great! VALUE!!!!!!!!!

Serving Suggestions:
BBQ, big foods, big cheeses, with chocolate, anything commanding a nice big red.

2013 Nelle Syrah

Growing Region:  California
Varietal Composition: 100% Syrah
Fermentation: 30% New French Oak for 22 Months
Alcohol Content: 15.1%
Suggested Retail:  $36.00
WineSellar Club Price: $31.49

Broad Strokes:
In his early 20’s, after a few years working in the shop and eventually becoming the buyer, Tyler Russel’s interest for wine production grew too large to ignore. From there he packed his bags and headed to Paso Robles to pursue his dreams. It didn’t take long for him to get a tasting room gig at Dover Canyon Winery where he was shown the ropes of the trade, honing his knowledge while performing any job big or small.

After Dover Canyon, Tyler began methodically crafting his winemaking and cellar skills at other Paso Robles wineries, to include Zenaida, Justin, and one of my favorites and past WineSellar Club winery, Calcareous. During this time, he invested is spare time on the Nelle Winery project, producing the first wines in 2008. Only 250 cases of this wine have been produced.

Love the packaging . . . artsy, whimsical, and presenting both feminine (label art) and the masculine (big, heavy, dark bottle with deep punt). You anticipate something great, and it delivers. It’s black at the middle, bleeding (only slightly) to dark crimson to the edges.

Blackberry, currant, very ripe plum are the solid and enticing scents of the fruits, backed by solid dollop of vanilla oak, cigar box, rosemary and earth. This is typical of the Syrah grape, which is why I love it.

Big and bold is the palate entry, yet the wine is nonetheless smooth, balanced, and has a lovely texture. Even though the alcohol is high, it presents a silken, velvety consistency, rich, almost syrup-like feel, but of course, not with a heavy/sweet feel like that.

Ripe plum and blackberry essence from the nose follow through to the palate. Vanilla, dark cherry, wood notes, nutmeg lace a certain roast beef/red meat flavor. Very cool! Coffee, cappuccino, chocolate milk as well.

Serving Suggestions:
Keeper for a few years if you like to age your wines, This would be great about 2022-2030, or even later. Rack of lamb would be to die for with this!

2015 Pellegrini, Pinot Noir

Growing Region: Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Ca.
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Fermentation: 15 Months in Oak Barrels
Alcohol Content: 14.2%
Suggested Retail: $50.00
WineSellar Club Price: $40.49

Broad Strokes:
The Pellegrini Family traces its heritage in winemaking to the early 1900s when brothers Nello and Gino Pellegrini arrived in New York City from their native Tuscany. They soon made their way to the West Coast and in 1925 became Sonoma County grape merchants, shipping grapes throughout the U.S. for home winemaking. In 1933 after repeal of Prohibition, the brothers established the original Pellegrini Wine Company, shipping grapes from Sonoma County and producing quality wines for many of San Francisco's finest shops and restaurants. In 2003, the eight children of Robert, Richard and Jeanne–the "eight cousins"–purchased a 12-acre parcel of old-clone Zinfandel alongside the Olivet Lane Estate, launching the fourth generation of the Pellegrini family into the wine business. 92 Points Wine Enthusiast!!!

I like the looks of the packaging: Clean, cut, trim label with focused message, and the detail on the label transferred to the capsule. Very cool. The wine has a red apple skin hue, which is on the light side. You can see light through the wine at the center, and spreads evenly to the edge of the glass. Perfect for Pinot Noir.

Soft cherry, white cherry, lovely cherry juice. It’s just SO Pinot! Notes of white pepper, mint and sage, red licorice, vanilla, coffee, cardamom, and a hint of chocolate are delightful!

Perfect Pinot Noir texture! Not too heavy, not too thin, elegant, beguiling, delicate, lavishing, present, memorable, unctuous . . . should I go on? It has a fabulous feel in the mouth from the smooth entry to the very long finish.

Obviously, it has a solid core of cherry fruit, albeit delicate. It is wrapped with vanilla oak, cedar, ample, cola, menthol, sassafras, cardamom, Asian spice and coffee. Notice a sprig of chocolate, tangerine (Grand Marnier) and milk chocolate.

Serving Suggestions:
It is so wonderful to drink now, it is hard to keep it off the table. I am certain it will benefit with bottle age, probably about 3-7 years more to go. Try with roasted meat.

2013 Mattina Fiore, Buona Derrata (GSM)

Growing Region:  Santa Maria Valley, California
Varietal Composition: 42% Grenache, 38% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre
Fermentation:  40% New French Oak, 30% 2nd Year French Oak, 30% Neutral Oak
Alcohol Content: 14.4%
Suggested Retail:  $50.00
WineSellar Club Price: $44.49

Broad Strokes:
From the Winery: Buona Derrata translates from Italian to English as “The Good Stuff”. It is a blend of our Murmur Vineyard Grenache, Syrah, and Santa Maria Valley Mourvedre. Although the origins of this blend of varietals s from the Rhone Valley of France, we live in and produce Syrah and Grenache in one of the most premier locations to do so.

A few years back, in our Wonderful World of Wine newsletter, I wrote about the Garagiste tasting I went to in Solvang in April of 2014. The Mattina Fiore wines I bought were a direct result of that event. They now have grown up into having a distributor in San Diego. I love the winery and its people, Scott & Andrea Williams. They are meticulous, caring, and thoughtful producers that deliver excellent wines in great packaging. Only 368 Cases Produced!

Class-act packaging. Big, heavy bottle, deep punt, tie cut label, special individual wrapping. They just do it right! The wine is deep purple-black, with long, long legs dripping slowly, slowly down on the inside of the bowl.

Deep and rich aromatics, ripe with blueberry and dark fruits, with hints of black olive, pine, eucalyptus, rosemary, some herbs and toasted nuts. Just awesome! Also detected some balsamic, red licorice, coriander and exotic spices.

Perfectly rich and balanced, it is medium-full in body. There is definitely some silk and velvet to the mouth feel, almost oily, but still has firm acid. SO agreeable and lasting forever in the palate. A long, even, smooth finish that lingers longer than the Mother-in-Law.

Rich cherry compote, ripe fruit, including the ripe black plum, wild mushrooms, black and white pepper, vanilla oak, roasted almonds, black olive and herbs that whisk you away to the senses of the Rhone Valley.

Serving Suggestions:
Keeper for a few years if you like to age your wines, This would be great about 2022-2030, or even later. Rack of lamb would be to die for with this!

Roasted Duck Breast with Dried Sour Cherries, Red Onion, and Thyme

To serve six


  • Six duck breasts, each weighing about 8 oz.
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 6 oz. dried sour cherries
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 3 cups brown duck (or chicken) stock
  • 2 tbsps. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil


  1. Pre-heat oven to 450º F.
  2. Peel and thinly slice the onion, tear three sheets of foil, each 12" long, and stack on top of one another. Place the onions on one side, drizzle with a little olive oil and fold the other side over, sealing tightly
  3.  Place in the oven and roast for twenty minutes.
  4. Combine honey, dried cherries, and thyme leaves in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, reduce over medium heat until the honey lightly caramelizes.
  5. Add brandy and roasted onions, reduce by half and add 3 cups of the stock.
  6. Reduce over high heat by two-thirds and add cream, continue reducing until liquid coats the back of a spoon and set aside.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preparing the Duck Breast:

  1. Trim the duck breast and score the skin, season with salt and pepper.
  2.  Heat a large sauté pan large enough to fit all of the duck breasts in a single layer. Add a little olive oil and sear the duck, skin side down until well browned, turn over and sear the flesh side for about 30 seconds, return the breast to skin side down and place the oven.
  3. Roast until skin is crisp and the duck is medium-rare.
  4.  Remove the duck from the oven and let sit skin side up in a warm place for about five minutes to collect its juices.       

To Finish:

  1.  Heat the sauce over medium heat, swirl in the butter and adjust seasonings, add a few drops of balsamic vinegar to adjust acid level if desired.
  2. Spoon a bit of sauce onto each of six warmed dinner plates and slice the duck thinly against the grain, arrange on top of the sauce.

Wine Club Newsletter - January 2018

High Time People Stop Saying These Things About Wine

From The Wine Folly

I thought this was a fun and informative piece I recently saw on WineFolly.com. I hope you enjoy it! GP

Sooner or later in your wine journey, you’re going to come across, shall we say, certain people: certain people who say certain things. They may be going for refined, but we both know they’re coming off as something else. Let them say their piece, pity them quietly, and be content in taking the high road

1.  “I only drink…” / “I don’t drink…”
There’s no way this sentence ever ends well. The world of wine is so big! There are over 1,400 identified grape varieties and thousands of unique wine regions. Why anyone would limit themselves to just a tiny fraction of it, simply doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s no big thing, though. They could be in a wine phase and not even know it

2. “Sweet wines? What are you, five?”
We’re adults. And, adults can enjoy wines like Port, Sauternes and Takaji Aszu —sweet wines that rank among the most complex and revered wines on this planet! Yes, the wines that get most people into the world of wine in the first place tend to be sweet, so we see where that “beginners only” mentality comes from. Funny how that changes the further you get in your wine journey…

3. “Ew, screw cap wines. Pass.”
The wines of Australia and New Zealand are almost exclusively stoppered with screw caps. Take it from us, they are producing some effing dynamite stuff. Plus, screw caps have shown to age wines just fine (in fact, you don’t even have to store the bottle on it’s side). Why would someone let a flimsy, unfounded closure preference prevent them from tasting great wines? Tsk tsk.

4. “Pssh. White wines aren’t meant for aging.”
Sure, most white wines aren’t meant for long storage (but neither are most red wines for that matter!). However, when you get to top-tier Champagne, White Bordeaux, White Burgundy, White Rioja, Ialian Soave, and German Rieslings, you’ll discover they develop some surprisingly rich and luscious flavors with a little bit of age

5. “I’m not drinking any #$&@ing Merlot!”
OK. Even now, this is still a very funny scene and quote. But what isn’t funny is dismissing some of the world’s greatest and most acclaimed wines for no good reason! Also, if this is said in reference to Sideways, the ironic inside secret was that Miles lusted after a bottle of 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc, which is a Merlot blend from St. Emilion. See? Even Miles loves Merlot!

(Also, if you’re still saying this, you should definitely watch some newer movies about wine. Some of them have been pretty great. Just sayin’.)

6. “How do you know it tastes like _______?”
“Have you ever eaten a baseball glove? Doubt it.”
A signature note of aged Tempranillo, and one that’s echoed by wine experts worldwide, is leather. Do these wine experts sit around gnawing on baseball gloves and the sides of couches? We doubt it. (But you never know.)

We often encourage people to taste not only wine, but any number of things, be it vegetables, animals and minerals, to expand their palate. But there’s no denying it: smell has a gigantic impact on taste. For the things we haven’t yet tasted, we’ll naturally try to relate them the best we can. That relation typically comes in the form of smell.

7. “This wine tastes like morning mist, rolling down the hillsides, transforming into dewdrops on the grass…”
Not a half-bad tasting note, but let’s pump the brakes. We’re talking about wine, not writing the sequel to The Leaves of Grass! Now, there’s no wrong answer when it comes to taste and it’s important to remember feelings and sensations when drinking. But, it’s also equally important to put wine experiences into something that can be quantified—real tastes, real flavors. Wine is still a product and each has a specific flavor that can be (more or less) defined.

8. “You never, ever pair red wine with fish.”
We believe we speak for Pinot Noir, Gamay and Beaujolais when we say, “Excuse moi?”

Italian Walk Around Wine Tasting
Italy offers wine in every category and price point imaginable. Join us as we taste through a broad spectrum of wines across many styles and regions.

Saturday, January 20th, 2017, 3:30pm-5:30pm
$35 per person. $30 Club Members!
Call (858) 450-9557 to purchase tickets, Call now and make your reservation as space is limited.

Tuscany Wine Dinner with Stefano Butto
Following the walk-around tasting, enjoy a true taste of Tuscany with our Chef, Gustavo Perez and Italian Sommelier, Stefano Butto as they work together to create the perfect wine paired dinner menu!

Menu & Pricing Coming Soon! Call (858) 450-9557 to reserve your spot!

2014 Arendskloof Chardonnay

Growing Region: South Africa
Varietal Composition: 100% Chardonnay
Fermentation:  French Oak Barrels
Alcohol Content: 14.5%
Suggested Retail:  $22.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $17.99

Back label says 2014, but the Vintage is 2013. South African names can sometimes be a bit daunting, but when you get the hang, saying (errand-skloof) is kind of fun. Color is bright corn, showing NO signs of aging, and is overall quite pretty.

The fruity nose is delicate at first, with some tree fruit of apple and pear laced by vanilla and wood notes. Touch of citrus of ripe orange, kiwi levels out the fruit nicely. Also got some hints of browned butter and brioche.

Smooth mouthfeel, with a medium to medium light weight to it. A bit of youthful acid is still present, again, no signs of age. Some creamy feel texture is with you from start to finish, which is lasting and very pleasant.

The toasty wood notes are subtle but present. Ripe pear, a little peach, citrus of orange, kumquat, and kiwi. Other notes include apple, brown butter, Casaba melon, crepe brûlée, toasted marshmallow, dry vermouth, vanilla, and key lime pie.

Serving Suggestions:
A superb aperitif wine, as it fills the Chardonnay niche but does not overpower with ripe fruit or heavy-handed oak. The wine lots of life in the bottle, and it will be interest to see how it does with another year or two in the bottle.

2013 Tilaria Toscana Rosso

Growing Region: Tuscany, Italy
Varietal Composition:  35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Syrah, 20% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Franc, 0% Pugnitello
Fermentation:  Stainless Steel
Alcohol Content: 13%
Suggested Retail:  $24.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $21.59

Big heavy bottle with a long neck makes a statement on packaging and image of the wine. Interesting artistic design on the label, though somewhat understated. Love the detail on the cork, down to the numbered bottle. The wine is garnet, with a touch of cinnamon pervading on the edges.

Lilac, spices, vanilla, coffee, roasted nuts, a touch of smoke and dark berries. Wood notes remind me of fresh particle board. Black pepper, black tea, black cherry, with notes of rose petal and juniper. Just lovely and evolving.

It has a silky texture with just a pinch of acid to balance with food. Smooth and sophisticated, it’s very agreeable, harmonious. The long finish makes you want to drink more and more of it. Fabulous!

As the texture is even and smooth, so are the flavor components. Somehow the wine reminds me of autumn, with its wood notes, the sense of dust, herbs, earth, and fallen leaves. But freshness abounds with dark cherry fruit, raspberry, blueberry, chocolates, and root beer.

Serving Suggestions:
Even though there are some new world varietals in the wine, it still feels very Italian. So for me, it begs for classic Italian dishes, such as pasta, raviolis, veal scallopini, and even beefsteaks. Here is the chance to have a Super Tuscan at a great price!

2012 Toby Lane Merlot

Growing Region:  Alexander Valley, California
Varietal Composition: 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol Content: 14%
Suggested Retail:  $38.00
WineSellar Club Price: $29.69

Straightforward looking label and package, I might criticize it looks not quite personable enough, more suited to a grocery store aisle. Nice touch with a story on the back label. The wine is cherry skin red, going to nearly clear at the rim.

A lovely kind of fruit bomb like aromatics, but definitely not overboard. Lovely cherry, vanilla, oak, spice, black pepper, rhubarb, roasted nuts, cashew, smoky wood, almost rum or bourbon like, nutmeg, and Finally, cinnamon.

Voluptuous, engaging, luscious mouth feel with some slightly edgy tannic acid of youth. Just waiting for another year to two for resolution, but lovely now. Mouth enveloping, notes of balsamic richness.

Seemingly very spicy, notes of cherry, cherry skin, lead pencil and wood nuts . . . like chestnut. The balsamic comes through on the palate, and I also got a little touch of cough syrup, in a good way. Anyone get a hint of green Chile pepper?

Serving Suggestions:
As we noted on the texture, there is a little acid that will make this wonderful with food, yet allow it to further age and gain more complexity. I’d enjoy it with roasted duck in cherry sauce, or even with green peppercorns.

2012 Crosby Roamann Merlot

Growing Region: Oak Knoll District Napa Valley
Varietal Composition: 100% Merlot
Fermentation:  French and American oak barrels, 50% new
Alcohol Content: 15.3%
Suggested Retail:  $50.00
WineSellar Club Price: $43.20

Classy appearance simple and distinguished style. Parchment paper for the label gives it added texture and appeal. Easy to read font brings distinctive vibe. The heavy bottle and deep punt adds “weight” to the wines perceived quality. The wine has a dark brooding blackish red huge, dark in the middle, and slightly losing in color depth out to the rim of the glass. Medium viscosity, slow dripping tears.

Merlot fruit here brings black plum red berry aromas and elegance. Soft tobacco and cedar undertones pop out on the finishing aromas. The bouquet evolves significantly after 20 minute mark of being open. Blueberry, black plum, cedar, slight herbal undertones and chocolate cherry permeate.

Smooth entry, as would be expected which allows the ripe fruit to shine up front. Those herbal undertones are noticed through the evolution and balancing, and ever so slight acids finish the wines lengthy and nicely integrated conclusion.

We could go back to the nose for many descriptors: Black plum, cherry, dark chocolate. The finish validates the quality of the region, vintage and ability of the winemaker to vinify this Merlot. This is more than your average Merlot by taking the variety and folding in added layers of plump dark fruit, savory undertones and balancing acidy.

Serving Suggestions:
I am certain the wine will keep for a decade and deserves a 91 point rating. Go with fillet or grilled meats, even grilled vegetables because it can. Two new appetizers in The Casual Side Bar, Mushroom Toast with the sherry cream sauce and the bison sliders both worked delightfully here.

2013 Longfellow Cabernet Sauvignon

Growing Region: Napa Valley, California
Varietal Composition: 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation:  22 months in 70% French & 30% American Oak (60% New)
Alcohol Content: 14.5%
Suggested Retail:  $60.00
WineSellar Club Price: $53.99

I really appreciate the packaging. Artistic design, very readable, distinctive, and the heavy bottle. The wine is black/red in color, dark in the middle, and barely losing in color depth out to the rim of the glass. Very viscous, slow dripping tears.

Solid fruit with power and elegance. The nose just keeps coming, and evolves significantly after 20 minute mark of being open. Blueberry, black cherry, vanilla, Wood, bark of tree, juniper, chocolate, white pepper, charcoal, peanuts, pine nut, chestnut, all roasted.

Smooth yet powerful entry, allowing the ripe fruit to shine up front. Backed by some totally agreeable acid, which are firm in nature, but well melded. The finish is an illustration of both excellent ripe fruit, balanced by wonderfully superb acid.

We could go back to the nose for many descriptors: blueberry, vanilla, cherry, old chocolate, roasted nuts. I would like to add cookie dough, biscuits, and grilled bread. It’s like a rich, deep, purple grape juice turned into a serious adult beverage. What a great drink!

Serving Suggestions:
I am certain the wine will keep for decades, and deserves a 94-point rating. That’s what I am giving it. I want to have this in my cellar for the next two decades, at least. Go with New York steak, grilled meats, or with the Elk we are featuring in The Brasserie this month.

Parker’s Cauliflower Purée

Here’s another Cauliflower recipe that we use at home. It’s very simple to make, and quite versatile. We use it as a side dish or a “bed” for fish, chicken, or other proteins. We usually make extra and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Serves four.


  • 1 Head of Cauliflower
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Basil, chopped medium
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Parsley, chopped medium
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Small to Medium Bulb of Garlic
  • Juice of One Half Lemon (if lemon has low yield, use juice of whole lemon)
  • 1 Level Teaspoon of Pepper
  • 1 Level Teaspoon of Salt


  1. In a medium stockpot, steam cauliflower until cooked through.
  2. Let cool
  3. Set aside, and save the cooking water
  4. In a food processor, add cauliflower, lemon, garlic, and blend lightly
  5. Add olive oil and water from the steamed cauliflower until texture is firm, but light
  6. (Texture and looks should resemble light mashed potatoes)
  7. Add salt and pepper to your taste
  8. Remove from food processor and top with basil and parsley


Wine Club Newsletter - December 2017

Holiday Champagne

Most of us know we can research tasting notes and scores from wine critics and experts on just about any wine that is sold in the United States. Many people rely on these ratings from various publications. However, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Another point of reference is to consider the results of the 100 people who tasted over two-dozen hand-selected Champagne and sparkling wines at our annual Grande Champagne Tasting last month. This mass of bubbling wine aficionado’s was a good cross-section of our populace, as they have varying taste preferences and economic prowess. In the end, they voted with their pocketbooks and their opinions. In order of popularity (by bottles sold), the results are below.

1st Place:
Pierre Peters, Brut Cuvee, Reserve Grand Cru, Non-Vintage $65
This is a Blanc de Blancs, meaning it is made from 100% Chardonnay. Everyone loved it for its vibrant feel in the mouth, while still retaining an amazing amount of elegance and harmony. The flavors are driven by the chalky soil, in addition to flavors of poached pear, apple blossom, and pickled ginger. And if you don’t want to believe 100 people, it rated 93 points in The Wine Spectator!

2nd Place:
Gaston Chiquet, Brut Tradition, Non-Vintage   $41
This Champagne has aromas of brioche, yeast, pear, anise, honey and a hint of lemon. There is a wonderful feel in the palate, with a fine, delicate “mousse” (bubble dispersion in the mouth). Notes of fresh apricot, white peach and toasted almond linger on the very long finish. Oh, and 92 Points in The Wine Spectator.

3rd Place:
Paul Laurent, Brut Rose’, Non-Vintage   $38
This was the bargain of the tasting! Made from 65% Pinot Noir, 16% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay, and 9% Still Pinot Noir, giving this wine a salmon/pinkish hue. The bubbles are active, and the palate feel is lively. There is a distinctive taste of red raspberry, strawberry, and even detectable Pinot Noir fruit. Lovely!

OK, so that’s what 100 people think. I think they chose wisely, but I need to throw in my 2 cents.

Cent #1
Taittinger, Brut “La Francaise”, Non-Vintage $40
To my taste, this is one heck of a bottle of Champagne, especially for the price. Firstly, you have high marquee name recognition in Taittinger, producing a consistent high quality Champagne. It has a nice fresh toasted white bread aromatic, with hints of peach and ginger. Great palate feel, acid (it’s GREAT with food) and the mousse are top notch. Scoring 90 points in two major publications. This wine sold one bottle less than the third place wine above.

Cent #2
Dom Ruinart, Ruinart, Brut Blanc de Blancs, 2006  $200
This was the wine of the tasting, outdueling the Dom Perignon, La Grande Dame, and dare I say, I like it better the ubiquitous Louis Roederer Cristal (at an additional $75-$100 per bottle). Some people have favorite wineries, this is my favorite Champagne house. I happen to love everything they make. It’s like they thought of me and figured out how to make Champagne I love and cherish.

Simply gorgeous, fashioned by 100% Chardonnay, acting more like a great white Burgundy with its richness, finesse, with super fine bubbles. Length of the finish is astounding. The bottle will age 20-plus years, and I hope to still have a few of these around at that time. This is a true investment in your quality of life, and should be enjoyed in the celebrations that may happen along the way.

I was just noticing the savings our club members enjoyed this month.

The WineSellar Club:
The suggested retail value of the two wines is $56, $21 savings on your two bottles!

The Two Rouge Club:
The suggested retail value of the two wines is $76, $26 savings on your two bottles!

The Gary Parker Collection:
The suggested retail value of the two wines is $95, $16 savings on your two bottles!

I want to wish you all happy, healthy, loving holiday season. It is my pleasure to find great wines for you, and I look forward to more of the same for years to come.

Gary Parker, Owner
The WineSellar & Brasserie

2015 Furmint, Tornai Pincészet

Growing Region: Nagy-Somlo, Hungary
Varietal Composition: 100% Furmint
Fermentation:  Stainless Steel Vats
Alcohol Content: 12%
Suggested Retail:  $20.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $16.19

Broad Strokes:              
Here’s something I bet you haven’t tried, FURMINT! It’s the main white grape varietal used in Hungary, and it is taking hold in the United States market. This particular Furmint is typical of the modern style coming from the Somlo volcanic mountain region. I love the wine and I think you will too!

The Tornai family has been dealing with winemaking since 1946 on Mt. Somló. Endre Tornai, the founder, started making wine on a one-acre vineyard. Today the family owns 56 acres and its third generation is now engaged in the everyday tasks of wine production. Every year, 250-300 thousand liters of bottled wine are produced and mainly sold on the Hungarian market, although there’s an increasing interest from the export markets too.

Alsace Riesling style bottle has great overall appearance, with the white label and screw cap contrasting the brown bottle. I also like the whimsical ”F” for “Furmint” on the label. The wine is brilliant, sparkling, with a very clear yellow hue core. The wine has some serious viscosity, and clings to the inside of the bowl.

Gorgeous tree fruit essence, along with some tropical fruit, tangerine, ginger, and peach. I got something quite unique and fun, egg custard. It also reminded me of something like a cupcake, with dough, frosting and some nutmeg and cinnamon thrown in. Also note the mineral and stones adding complexity to the nose.

This Furmint is medium to medium full in weight. It has a firm acidity that is lively, edging off the substantial amount of fruit. After the acid resolves in your palate, the wine has an almost oily feel to it, though still dry.

Spicy Bosque pear and Granny Smith apple is laced with cream and dairy. The cake dough and frosting is there with nutmeg and cinnamon. Tangerine, citrus and ginger has presence in the middle and finish. Aftertaste shows complexity and intrigue with mineral and stones, finally leaving ripe peach impressions.

Serving Suggestions:
Wow, do I love this! Drink as an aperitif, and show it off to your wine friends. Superb with spicy dishes, Asian foods, including sushi.

2012 Kieu Hoang Cabernet Sauvignon, Blue Label

Growing Region:  California Appellation
Varietal Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation:  Oak Barrel
Alcohol Content: 12.8%
Suggested Retail:  $36.00
WineSellar Club Price: $22.49

Broad Strokes:              
From the winery: Kieu Hoang’s journey to find KH good-healthy cells to improve quality of life. Mr. Kieu Hoang is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, originally from Vietnam.

He is the CEO of RAAS, Inc (USA) and Vice Chairman of Shanghai RAAS Blood Products, China. Through his studies on different foods and plants, he has come across numerous findings. Studying Red wine in particular caught his attention. In his research he found that good healthy cells did not just exist in human plasma but also in red wine; he found that a small grape has 5000 more genes than a human being. With 38 years of experience in sophisticated fermentation, PH adjustments and cold stabilization, Mr. Hoang presents the world with his exclusive line of wines.

No way you are going to miss this label, a significant departure from the standard. With Mr. Kieu Hoang’s image, vertical titles, and blue background for the blood cell theme, it will definitely stand out on the shelf. The wine is dark red at the core, edging to clear.

A lovely, assertive bouquet with sultry, sexy vanilla oak and leather strap. Notes of raisin, ripe plum, prune, and tobacco meld with coconut, mushrooms, forest floor and fresh herbs.

Smooth entry, feeling large in the mouth without being too brutish. Fruit emerges after some 30 minutes of air. Acid melts into the fruit, and creates the impression of a full, seamless, supple bottle of wine.

Black fruits, with very ripe (bursting at the skin) black plum, with dark cherry and that touch of prune, Somewhat like a rich cherry juice (sour) with cinnamon stick, tobacco, hard wood, black walnut, and flavor of grain (brown rice). Finishing with a knockout punch of black fruits.

Serving Suggestions:
Did you notice the difference between the winery price and ours? With this kind of savings, you should salt away 6-12 bottles and enjoy it with Filet Mignon or breast of duckling in mild sauces. The Dark Cherry Sauce recipe I supplied in March 2016 would be perfect.

2014 Bannister Pinot Noir, Green Valley

Growing Region:  Russian River Valley, Sonoma, Ca.
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Fermentation:  Barrel Aging
Alcohol Content: 14.1%
Suggested Retail:  $40.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $34.19

Broad Strokes:              
From the winery: Our family began hand making small lots of wine in Sonoma County in 1989, but our history in the industry started in 1973 when Marty took a job in the lab at Rodney Strong Vineyards. After five years as a member of the winemaking staff, Marty left to co-found Vinquiry in Healdsburg.

Our wine service laboratory, consulting and specialty winemaking products provided critical support to the surge of growth in the wine industry.

In 1989, Marty and Gary acted on their interest in winemaking and started the Bannister label, with a focus on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. Brook was involved in harvest and critical points in the process when he wasn’t busy in school. At present, he and Marty collaborate on the wine making and the management of the business.

Nice black/dark looking package with a heavier-weighted bottle. Makes you anticipate the quality within. Nod to the local Pomo Indian tribe with one of their prized baskets adorning the label. The wine had a beautiful dark rose color, evenly dispersed.

A wealth of fruit, savory elements and herbs that seems sharply focused. Black cherry, blackberry fruit, clove, vanilla, black licorice, smoke and spices.

The wine is medium full in body. The texture is typical of fine Pinot Noir: long, silken and delicate. This Bannister is closer to full in the mid-palate, with round, fleshy character. Some light crisp acid on the seamless finish.

Overall delicious! I’ll go naming things . . . black cherry, red apple, cranberry and pomegranate, date, figs, prunes, smoke, ginger and vanilla. It’s kind of a mix between old world style and contemporary Pinot Noir styles.

Serving Suggestions:
Only 300 cases produced, this is a pretty rare bird. It will keep 5-9 years if cellared properly, and I would expect it to take on aged complexities very nicely though those years.

2014 Dewitt Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

Growing Region:  Alexander Valley, Sonoma, Ca.
Varietal Composition:  100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation:  Barrel Aging
Alcohol Content: 14.5%
Suggested Retail:  $55.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $44.99

Broad Strokes:              
From the winery: A passion for wine began in the 1970’s with producers such as; Lancers, Blue Nun and Mateus. As our wine experience moved into the 1980’s we began to enjoy wines from California like; Inglenook, RM-Robert Mondavi, Sebastiani and Paul Masson. However; our most memorable experience was with a 1976 Silver Oak, North Coast, Cabernet Sauvignon, made by the late, Justin Meyer. It was this experience that identified Cabernet Sauvignon as “King.”

Through the years, Marie and I have enjoyed fine Cabernet on numerous special occasions. Over time, we discovered a “great” Cabernet would make any occasion, special. Our goal is to make a great Cabernet Sauvignon, in order to make your occasion, special! We hope you enjoy our wine, a much as we have enjoyed making it for you!

Ed & Marie DeWitt

The black dominated bottle with paperless label looks classy and distinctive, I’d give it an “A” for packaging. The wine is nearly black at the core, as well as nearly all the way to the edge of the glass.

It has a firm and sturdy impression as it takes awhile for it to open up. Deep red and black fruits come about, with vanilla, roasted hazelnut, and distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon aromatics. Also noted casaba melon, unusual aroma from a red wine, but lovely!

The wine is medium plus in body. Evolving textures as the wine grows with airing. It is elegant and sophisticated, reminding me of the sweet and cedar Bordeaux wines I love so much, but with ripe, developed California fruit. It keeps making my mouth water!

WOW!!! With gorgeous Alexander Valley fruit flavors, which I liken specifically to ripe blackberries, it’s just wonderful. The focused dark berry and black currant fruits from the nose translate wholly to the palate. So too does vanilla and roasted nuts. Great Cabernet Sauvignon properties, and somehow Bordeaux like with sweet and cedar impressions.

Serving Suggestions:
Only a few hundred cases produced, this is a pretty rare bird. It will keep 10-16 years if cellared properly. Check out the great price!

Honey and Soy Cured Hamachi

This has been one of my all-time favorite Brasserie appetizers. This is great with the 2015 Furmint by Tornai. (For four persons)

For the marinade and glaze:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 pound cleaned hamachi fillet
  1. Combine the honey and soy sauce, set aside 1/4 cup for the glaze to be used later.
  2. Add the pepper and ginger to the mixture and stir well in a non reactive bowl.
  3. Add the hamachi and toss to coat on all sides.
  4. Refrigerate, turning twice a day for five days.

For the cream:

  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 1 teaspoon spicy Asian chili oil
  • pinch of kosher salt

Combine and mix well.

For the ginger vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small clove garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • pinch kosher salt

Combine and mix well.

For the marinated cucumber:

  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup ginger vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
  1. Thinly slice the cucumber and toss with the salt, place into a colander, drain for fifteen minutes.
  2. Rinse thoroughly and toss with the vinaigrette and coriander.

For the plate:

  • Remaining half of the English cucumber
  • 1 ripe Haas avocado
  • 4 ounces daikon sprouts (kaiware)
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and cut into a small dice
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  1. Slice the cucumber into 36 paper thin slices, arrange nine of them into a circle in the center of four plates.
  2. Mound the marinated cucumbers in the middle and top each with a dollop of the cream.
  3. Quarter and peel the avocado and slice each into three slices, place on top of the cream.
  4. Divide the daikon sprouts on top of the avocado and drizzle each with a tablespoon of vinaigrette.
  5. Slice the hamachi into 12 very thin slices and arrange them on top of the sprouts.
  6. Drizzle one tablespoon of the reserved glaze over each and garnish with the tomato and scallion

More Articles ...

Fine Dining

Intimate atmosphere, seasonal French menu, fine wines.

2018 diners choice badgeLunch Menu Dinner Menu

Wine Shop

Why Buy Wine at The WineSellar?

  • Selection - Quality & Value
  • Service - Expert & Personal
  • Wine Tastings - Try it, Buy it
  • Wine Lockers - Wine Storage
  • Wine Clubs & Wine Gifts

Wine Shop Wine Tastings Wine Lockers


Casual Side Bar Hours
Tue - Fri 4-9p
Happy Hour:  Tue - Thr 4-7p
Happy Hour:  Fri All Night

Brasserie Hours
Lunch:  Tues - Fri 11:30a -2p
Dinner:  Tues - Sat 5:30p - Close
WineSellar Shop Hours
Mon - 9a - 6p
Tues - Sat 9a to 9p
WineSellar Locker Hours
Mon - 9a - 6p
Tues - Sat 9a to 9p

Casual Side Bar Menu Full Bar + Craft Beers