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Wine Club Newsletter - July 2017

No Slam Duncan Allowed

Ex-Screaming Eagle owner and winery investor Charles Banks has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for wire fraud.

It emerged last week that Charles Banks has decided to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud in a case that was heard in San Antonio, Texas, which carried a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Banks was indicted in San Antonio on two counts of fraud in September 2016, after retired San Antonio Spur Tim Duncan claimed that Banks, his longtime financial adviser, had persuaded him to invest over $13 million in Gameday Entertainment, a sport merchandise company partially owned by Banks. Duncan said that he had yet to see any return on his investment.

Banks initially strongly denied any wrongdoing. However, he would plead guilty to one of the counts of fraud.

Banks’ case is not directly related to any of the wineries that he has invested in via Terroir Capital, a fund that he founded, but a guilty plea could have repercussions for his role in wine.

Terroir Capital announced that Banks would be “stepping back” as CEO of its Terroir Life winery fund. Chief Operating Officer Kevin McGee has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer.

The fund has said that it will continue operations as normal and is not involved in the Duncan case.

But it emerged that the group faces uncertainty in New Zealand, where it owns Trinity Hill winery in Hawke’s Bay.

New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office (OIO) said that, in light of Banks’ guilty plea, it would reconsider whether he passed its “good character” test for foreign investors.

It said, “The OIO has met with Terroir Winery Fund’s representatives to make it clear that in our view Mr. Banks is unlikely to meet his ongoing obligation to remain of good character. If Mr. Banks is not of good character, then we will seek to have him removed as an individual with control of sensitive land in New Zealand.”

The OIO praised Terroir for voluntarily reporting the issue.

Banks became a key player in wine after purchasing a stake in Napa Valley’s Screaming Eagle in 2006. Upon leaving the cult winery in 2009, he founded Terroir Capital and has since invested in Wind Gap and Qupé wineries in California.

Banks is also believed to personally own half of Napa Valley’s historic Mayacamas Vineyards, which is part of a joint-venture with members of the Schottenstein family.

Decanter Magazine

Open Table Award!

Once again, we were in the Top Ten!

Looking for the best overall restaurants in San Diego? You’re in the right place. Each month, OpenTable analyzes more than 400,000 new diner reviews. The results are sorted by category to help you discover new favorites. It's a great partnership: you reserve, eat, and review. OpenTable listens...and deliver the results for all to benefit. Enjoy!

Open Table Award

2016 Pinot Grigio, “Pertico,” Castelfeder Winery

Growing Region: Vigneti delle Dolomite IGT, Italy
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Grigio
Fermentation: Stainless Steel, 4 Months on Lees in Tank
Alcohol Content: 13%
Suggested Retail:  $18.00
WineSellar Club Price: $15.29

Broad Strokes:                 
100% estate-grown Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige, they sell the rest of their fruit to Santa Margherita. The fruit for this wine comes from vineyards on the valley floor around the towns of Cortina, Magrè, and Salorno in one of Alto Adige’s largest and most traditional white wine production areas and famous for their fresh, fruity and mineral whites, as well as from the nearby Trentino area. The soils are of sandy and alluvial origin.

I love the clear bottle and the label on this package, as well as the nicely embossed “Pertcio.” Cork finish, hmmm. Straw hue with a faint hint of red. It is clear and vibrant, and has sticking power to the legs inside the bowl.

In the beginning, the fragrance is distant, with soft notes of kumquat and citrus. As it opens up, vanilla protrudes, hints of Lychee nut, white tree fruit of apple and pear, toasted pine nuts and a hint of caramel. Good notes of mineral and chalk also surface.

Long and even on the palate, it is medium to medium-light in body. It has a larger-than-your-typical-Pinot Grigio fruit profile. A more serious Pinot Grigio, if you will, not one to quaff. Some creaminess in the center, with ripe citric notes edging up the acid to provide a mouthwatering finish. An excellent balance, well-structured, somewhat assertive wine, and has a nice mineral component.

Lychee nut, pine nut, mineral dominate the palate early on. Then, Rainier (white) cherry, with orange and vanilla bouncing off each other once again, providing me with that 50/50 ice cream bar memory from childhood.

Serving Suggestions:
As I mentioned, this is not your typical Pinot Grigio for drinking quickly for cooling off. It will do very well with appetizers of all sorts, including ripe cheeses, some charcuterie, fish, and shellfish. Enjoy!

2014 Cuvee, Kokomo Winery

Growing Region: Sonoma County, California
Varietal Composition: 35% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 16% Grenache, 5% Petite Sirah
Fermentation: 11 Months in 20% New Oak
Alcohol Content: 13%
Suggested Retail: $26.00
WineSellar Club Price: $21.59

Broad Strokes:                  
From the Winery:
Located in beautiful Dry Creek Valley, the winery produces ultra-premium wines with an emphasis on single vineyards. The focus of Kokomo Winery is to make the best wine possible from only the finest vineyards of Sonoma County. Kokomo Winery was founded in 2004 by winemaker/owner Erik Miller. Erik chose to honor his hometown of Kokomo, Indiana when naming his winery, and selected the Coastal Cypress tree as the logo to signify his move out west.

This Kokomo Cuvée is a unique blend of vineyards and varietals from across Sonoma County. Sonoma County is quickly becoming recognized as one of the premier wine grape regions of the world. Stemming from its close proximity to the coast, the County has very diverse microclimates and a wide range of soil types.

Excellent package overall, and I especially find the etching of the Coastal Cypress Tree classy and beautiful. Very dark red/black hues, with brilliant crimson edging.

Nutty, vanilla oak, cherry cobbler, pie dough, cherry pie, cinnamon, allspice, hickory, smoked nuts, bacon, and boysenberry.

Well-balanced with a soft yet full entry. Lots of forward fruit, but well-countered by lively, luscious acids. Lip-smacking, and a creamy center.

Plum, pomegranate, golden raisin, balsamic, boysenberry, dark fruits of summer, Bing cherry, and some smoke. It has lots of complexity.

Serving Suggestions:
This is a lot of fun to drink. Obviously, you can’t identify it by a single grape varietal, so rather, you enjoy it based on having a red, smooth, lush, rich red wine to consume with no pretenses. Great with BBQ, steaks, and perhaps at this price, even a cheeseburger!

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sojourn Cellars, Home Ranch Cuvee

Growing Region: Napa Valley, California
Varietal Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (berry sorted)
Fermentation: 20 Months in 60% New French oak
Alcohol Content: 14.6%
Suggested Retail: $54.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $48.59

Broad Strokes:                  
From the Winery:
Sojourn Cellars began in 2001 as a collaboration between two tennis buddies who discovered a mutual passion for great wine and the things that tend to go with it – good food and good company. Utilizing Erich’s experience as an Assistant Winemaker at Arrowood Winery, Craig Haserot and Erich Bradley developed a plan to produce distinctive Pinot Noir wines complemented by small bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon from extraordinary vineyard sources. Over the next ten years, they worked together to develop their shared love of fine wine into a winery that has established a consistent track record of producing highly rated wines under the Sojourn brand. 

Only 400 cases produced, and a 92-point rating by Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate

Big bottle, sturdy shoulders, and a clear message delivered from the label. The coloring is intense, with inky dark red and black colors, with some gray shading. The wine sticks to the inside of the bowl very hard, leaving dark-colored drapes.

Stunning aromatics, reminding me a bit of Chateau Mouton Rothschild with some dustiness and lead pencil. Aside from those, back to California traits, you’ll enjoy vanilla oak, blueberry, pine nuts, black cherry, cedar chest and cigar box.

Medium to medium-full in weight, this wine is very elegant and sophisticated. Well-balanced, with a ripe plum fruit feel in the mouth. There is a smallish bit of drying astringency on the finish that makes this wine sing with food.

With intense flavors of blueberry, black cherry, chocolate, vanilla oak, and rich plummy fruit, this wine transported me into that dreamy wine dimension I get every once in a while, when I feel elevated by a great wine. Maybe it is the New World dynamic fruit that marries with the finesse of fine Bordeaux wine that sends me, the best of both worlds in our Sojourn. Graphite notes = Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

Serving Suggestions:
This most definitely deserves a few bins in your cellar. Hold for ten years and drink a bottle every year for another 11 years after that.

2014 “All or Nothing”, Tank Garage Winery

Growing Region: Napa Valley, California
Varietal Composition: 42% Zinfandel, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petite Sirah, 9% Malbec, 3% Mix Black
Fermentation: 14 Months in 45% New Oak, 70% French
Alcohol Content: 14.9%
Suggested Retail: $38.00
WineSellar Club Price: $33.29

Broad Strokes:                 
From the Winery:
Tank Garage Winery comes to life in a 1930s-era gas station in the Napa Valley town of Calistoga, California. An area graced with world-class vineyards and cool California-made wines. The winery and tasting room are the dream of two longtime friends who, after decades of collective experience in farming and creating world-class wine, decided to celebrate the heart and soul of vintage California culture and creativity.

The result is a small collection of “one-off” uniquely-crafted wines that draw heavily on the owners’ personal lifestyles and experiences. Belief in the notion that ideas and influences continually surround us, tease us, and tempt us is at the heart of Tank Garage Winery. Whether you're facing the new and the unknown, or celebrating the past, just hold on and embrace it. And above all … Never Dream Alone.

Thought-provoking label depicts artist Shawn Barber’s interpretation of “All or Nothing.” That and the coolest-designed foil capsule and heavy bottle make for a striking package.

Blackberry and dark berry fruits, with spice, cedar and mocha. Pie crust, chestnuts, and a hint of rosemary.

Big and bold, yet still has an elegant feel to it. Mellow and smooth, with big flavors of jam and jelly, but does not have that jam-like in texture or feel.

Plum and cassis, blackberry, pie dough, cedar

Serving Suggestions:
This is a big wine that could benefit well from a few years of aging. But in this hot summer we’re having, it may also prove to be your new favorite grilling companion. Try it with just about anything from grilled chicken and steaks – try your hand at the attached Brasserie Short Rib recipe for a match truly made in Heaven!

Brasserie Short Ribs

Serves six


  • 4 lbs. Bone-in short rib
  • 1 yellow onion, whole
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 level teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups red wine
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 large carrots
  • ½ cup cooking oil (coconut or canola oil)


  1. Cut meat into approximately ½ pound sections
  2. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, rub it into flesh (you can do this the day before if you like)
  3. Chop onion into approximately ¼ inch squares
  4. Place cooking oil in a very large pot and sear the meat on all sides. (This helps keep juices in. Do not cook through, sear only.)
  5. Remove the meat and set aside.
  6. Drop onion into the same pot you cooked the meat in and cook until translucent.
  7. Add the meat back into the pot and add the wine. The meat must be completely covered by liquid. Add more wine, water, or stock as you may choose.
  8. Turn heat to very low.
  9. Cut garlic cloves into quarters and add to the pot.
  10. Slice carrots and add to the pot.
  11. Add the bay laurel and rosemary to the pot.
  12. Cook on low heat 5 hours minimum.
  13. When meat is tender, remove from pot.
  14. Separate the grease from the broth.
  15. Strain, removing carrots and onion.
  16. Reduce broth until it has the texture appropriate for spooning sauce over meat.
  17. Serve meat without slicing.

Do not let the liquid boil AT ANY TIME. This will make the meat tough.
Temperature of the liquid should be about 170-190 degrees. The less the heat, more tender the meat. Takes longer, but results are worth it.
Nearly impossible to overcook at low temperatures.
Sometimes in the middle of cooking the meat may seem tough, but then it will break down after another hour or two more.

Gary Parker, 7-2017

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