Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.


2011 Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Olivet Lane Chardonnay

With March being Women’s History Month, we thought it appropriate to highlight a wine by one of California’s greatest female winemakers: Merry Edwards. Merry has been inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame and has won the coveted James Beard Award for Best Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional in the United States, just the fourth woman to do so.

Merry began making wine in 1973, a time when female winemakers were still a rarity. Pinot noir was her first love, but her Chardonnays are every bit as good. The Olivet Lane vineyard sits about 3 miles northwest of Santa Rosa in the heart of the Russian River valley, and from it, Merry makes of one the most regal Sonoma Chardonnays I’ve ever had. It’s very much a Lady. Refined but sassy, it reminds me of Maggie Smith’s character from “Downton Abby.”

Whereas last month’s Chardonnay (from Chablis, France) was sleek and racy, this one takes its time. Less a race than a procession. But what a procession it is! A parade of aromas greets you from the glass: apricot, ripe yellow apples, honey, creme brulee. It’s really just so decadent. The texture here, again comparing it to last month’s light bodied example, is thick and mouth coating, almost like drinking creme fraiche. That’s a result of what’s called malolactic fermentation, a process that takes place after the wine’s actual fermentation in which crisp malic acid is converted into the more lush and creamy lactic acid.

I just can’t get over how good this Chardonnay is. It’s the polar opposite of last month’s example, but the differing styles show what I love most about the grape: that it can act almost like a blank canvas, allowing the drinker to get a better sense of who the winemaker is as a craftsman through the finished product.

As far as food pairings, I honestly don’t think one is needed. This wine more than stands on its own, but if you want to enjoy it with food, I’d recommend something light but filling, like grilled salmon. Merry herself recommends bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken breast, which sounds equally perfect.

2010 Beneventano Aglianico

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of the grape Aglianico (al-leON-a-co).

No one?

Yep, that’s about what I expected. Aglianico originated in Greece but was brought to southern Italy about 2,500 years ago. Known for their distinctly black color, Aglianico grapes are thick-skinned and hold up well in the heat. Interestingly enough, this trait has led to it becoming one of the more widely planted grapes in Texas.

As a wine, Aglianico is known for its high tannin and acidity, two qualities that make it ideal for aging. Stylistically, it can seem similar to Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon and is often blended with those grapes. In most cases, Aglianico is best aged for a few years in the bottle before drinking. Thankfully, you’re getting the 2010 vintage which is perfect for drinking.

This Aglianico hails from the region of Campania, and specifically the vineyards surrounding the city of Benevento, just a few miles inland from Naples. The rich volcanic soils of the area make for an ideal vineyard site and, year after year, they produce grapes of excellent quality.

The wine is still a deep russet color, with a slight fading of the color at the glasses edges, a tell tale sign of age. On the nose, there’s a hint of spiced plum and the smoke from a campfire. The plum is evident on the palate, as well, where it’s joined by black cherry and white pepper notes.

Aglianico is such a great wine for food. You could almost pair anything with it, but I think it’s best for BBQ and other grilled meats. I’m a huge brisket fan, and I can only imagine how well this would be with beef that’s been cooking all day. For a lighter pairing, I think a dish centered around mushrooms or eggplant would be superb. Likewise, any hard Italian cheese (Asiago, Provolone, Pecorino, Grana Padano, etc.) would be ideal.

Want to join Shamrock Selections? There’s still time to subscribe in order to get next month’s selections. Use the link below to subscribe!


We love Cabernet Sauvignon in all its forms! From California and Washington to France and Australia, we love discovering all the ways winemakers showcase their wines. We often get asked if we have a favorite…well, “all of them” isn’t a good answer, so we tried to narrowed it down. Here are nine wineries that anyone who loves Cabernet Sauvignon should be drinking. Trust us, we think you’re going to find something on this list you’ll like!

JUSTIN

In 1960, Justin Baldwin purchased 160 acres in Paso Robles, California with the aim of crafting wines that belong in the company of the finest in the world. Rich in limestone, the soil of Paso Robles produces grapes with intense flavor and great structure, making it a perfect location for Cabernet Sauvignon. The first vintage, consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, was produced in 1986, but it wasn’t until the 1987 vintage that the wines became widely distributed. Today, JUSTIN remains an excellent producer of both red and white wines. Their JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent wine with flavors of black cherry, spice, and tobacco.

Alexander Valley Vineyards

After purchasing the historic Cyrus Alexander homestead, Harry and Maggie Wetzel strived to create a thriving agricultural lifestyle on the property. They raised their children along with their vines in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, providing inspiration and encouragement as they developed the estate together. Decades later, the fourth generation of their family is growing up amongst vineyards and next door to the working winery that is known around the world as “AVV.” You could call it a family tradition.

Mollydooker

Mollydooker Wines is run by the husband and wife team of Sparky and Sarah Marquis. Located just 30 miles from the southern Australian city of Adelaide, they produce a dynamic range of wines that show off the excellent and full-bodied wines that Australia is known for. Their Maitre D’ Cabernet is big and robust, with bright fruit flavors and a nice helping of spice. We love pairing it with steak and BBQ and you will too.

Chappellet

When the Chappellet family settled on the rocky slopes of Napa’s Pritchard Hill, they became the first winery to plant vineyards exclusively on high-elevation hillsides. From these Pritchard Hill vineyards, the Chappellets have been crafting extraordinary, age-worthy wines since 1967. Pritchard Hill’s rugged terroir has become legendary for producing wines with great intensity and depth—qualities that define the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignons. As a result, Chappellet wines have consistently received the highest praise from critics, and are sought after by the world’s premier collectors. Today, a second generation of the family has joined their parents in embracing the romance of Pritchard Hill.

Round Pond Estate

Owned and operated by the McDonald family, Round Pond Estate made a name for itself by selling fruit to other wineries. Once the family decided to begin to make their own wines, it didn’t take long for the rest of Napa Valley to take notice! Located in the heart of Napa’s famous Rutherford AVA, the winery produced several different Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. Kith & Kin is a lively and complex wine with deep berry flavors and a hint of spice. Their Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep and brooding wine, with plum, dark chocolate, and raspberry flavors.

Chateau de la Coste

Château de La Coste is produced in Margaux, Bordeaux, France at the renowned Château Paveil de Luze. It has been made by the Barons de Luze family for over a century. For those whose love French wine, or even those who are just curious to see what Bordeaux’s wines are all about, Chateau de La Coste is an excellent example of the beauty, grace, and power of Bordeaux. Made predominantly of Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine has notes of blackberry, cassis, and spice and could easily age for a decade in the right conditions. We recommend pairing it with duck, lamb, or beef.

Honig

In 1964, Louis Honig purchased a 68-acre ranch in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley. The vineyard was planted with Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, which he sold to neighboring wineries. Louis worked to create a family gathering place at the ranch, for his children and grandchildren, while he dreamed of the day he could retire from his San Francisco advertising agency and make wine from his vineyard. In 1984, at the age of 22, grandson Michael Honig took over management of the vineyard and winery. The Honig family are leaders in sustainability, both in the vineyard and the winery, and what began as a small “garage” winery has today become a successful family enterprise, with everyone working collaboratively to run an inspiring and socially responsible business.

Cornerstone Cellars

In 1991 Mike Dragutsky was touched by the dream to make great wine and founded Cornerstone Cellars. Located in the heart of Napa Valley, Cornerstone Cellars is known for their deep and complex wines. Their Stepping Stone Cabernet, particularly the 2011 vintage, is one of our absolute favorites. After spending several years in the bottle, it has reached peak condition and is ready to take your palate on a wild ride! We recommend pairing it with dark meat such a duck or brisket for the optimal pairing.

DeLille Cellars

DeLille Cellars is a boutique artisan winery located in Woodinville, Washington. The winery was founded in 1992 by Charles and Greg Lill, Jay Soloff and celebrated winemaker Chris Upchurch. The mission at DeLille Cellars has always been to create a new Bordeaux blend using Washington State vineyards. From the beginning, the winery has looked towards the prestigious Red Mountain AVA as the foundation of its wines, using grapes from its own vineyards in combination with fruit from other top sites in the Yakima Valley.

Orin Swift Cellars

The history of Orin Swift Cellars dates back to 1995 when on a lark, David Swift Phinney took a friend up on an offer and went to Florence, Italy to spend a semester “studying.” During that time, he was introduced to wine, how it was made, and got hooked. A few more years of university led to graduation and eventually a job at Robert Mondavi Winery in 1997 as a temporary harvest worker. He decided that if he was going to work this hard, it would eventually have to be for himself, so in 1998 he founded Orin Swift Cellars; Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name. With two tons of zinfandel and not much else, he spent the next decade making wine for others as well as himself and grew the brand to what it is today. Today, Orin Swift Cellars is known for a range of excellent wines, but it’s the Cabernet Sauvignon that we keep coming back to.


Check out this month’s staff picks. See something you like? Add it to your cart, buy it online, and pick it up in store!

Catherine & Pierre Breton “La Dilettante”

The off-dry style of this wine makes it perfect for pairing with the spicy Indian and Thai foods that I love to cook. Though some people may not like the idea of a slightly sweet wine, when paired with spicy foods, the spice cancels out the sweetness and the wine can seem rather dry. I also got to visit Vouvray on a trip to France last year and fell in love with their wonderful Chenin Blancs. As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, I’m not sure there’s anything else that I’d rather drink on my patio.


– Seth

JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon

Justin, to me, is a great “everyday Cabernet.” It has a dark ruby purple color in the glass with aromas of cherry and blackcurrant jam with some baking spice to compliment. The palate is full bodied with bright black cherry, blackcurrant, and berry fruit with an underpinning of oak barrel accents. The tannins are soft, balanced by crisp acidity and subtle floral notes. Justin is a great red wine that will pair well with most red wine-friendly dishes.

 Ty

Andre & Michel Quenard “Vieilles Vignes” Jacquère

If you happened to guess that “Vielles Vignes” is French for “old vines” you’d be right. The vines here are all over seventy years old and were originally planted in the 1930s by Michel’s grandfather. Today he farms these old vines with the help of this two sons Guillaume and Roman. When I taste this wine, I am immediately transported back in time to a summer I spent in the alps of Switzerland and France. The grape here is Jacquère and it has that fresh crispness of mountain air combined with a surprising richness from a wine grown so high in the mountains. Drinking it makes me crave a big pot of fondue or raqulette.

-Keegan

Alta Maria Pinot Noir

This delicious wine comes from the Santa Maria Valley south of Paso Robles. The cool ocean breezes and higher altitude produce an ideal climate for ripening Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Alta Maria Vineyards sources their fruit from several vineyards in the valley including Presq’uile, a notable vineyard that has had great success with their Pinot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. This wine has a wonderful nose of cherry cola, strawberry, and dry leaves. On the palate, the fruit and spice are intertwined, with the fruit starting off light and building to a crescendo of spice and non-fruit complexity.

– Spencer

Chateau Puy-Galland

This Bordeaux is full of blackberry fruits on the palate with graphite notes to the nose. A fairly simple oak note augments this simple yet elegant wine. It has developed amazingly and opens up to become a delicious red. It would pair great with barbecued foods, roast chicken, or a grilled pork chop.

– Walker


When we think of French wine-growing we regions, our minds go quickly to the idyllic Loire Valley or to the chateau dotted landscape of Bordeaux. This is, of course, for good reason. Places like Bordeaux and Burgundy have become known the world over for producing high-quality wines, but they’re not the only regions in France that make delicious wines. Often, by exploring some of France’s lesser known wine regions, you’ll be rewarded with new and unusual wines of excellent quality.

One such region is the Savoie (sav-WAH), a mountainous region in Southeastern France that borders Italy and Switzerland, and one of our favorite Savoie producers is André & Michel Quenard. The father and son team are continuing a legacy started by Michel’s grandfather in the early 1900’s when he first planted vines in the area. The Quenards’ wines are all marked by a remarkably “fresh” quality, like the clean mountain air and cool glacial streams have imparted a crispness into each of their wines.

The high, Alpine vineyards aren’t ideal for growing many of the grapes that flourish elsewhere in France. In the Savoie, white wines are dominant, with a few excellent red wines being produced as well. Three of our favorite of these grape varieties are Jacquère, Rousanne, and Mondeuse.

Jacquère

Jacquère (zha-KAIR) makes a lovely, light-bodied wine that we’re absolutely in love with. Though it is often made in an off-dry style, we prefer the Quenards’ dry version or as they called it, their “Vieilles Vignes” Jacquère. “Vieille Vignes” is French for “old vines” and it’s an apt name for this wine as the vines from which it was made were planted in the 1930’s by Michel Quenard’s grandfather. Today Michel farms these old vines with the help of this two sons Guillaume and Roman. Tasting this wine is like a transatlantic trip to the French Alps. The wine has that fresh crispness of mountain air combined with a surprising richness from a wine grown so high in the mountains. You’ll also be greeted by notes of fresh white flowers and the faintest hint of honeyed apricots. This is a delicate wine and it will show best with simple dishes and cheese.

Roussanne

Roussanne (ROO-sahn) is known for its thick and almost oily texture, and here, in the hands of the Quenard family, it really shines. The grapes for this wine are hand pruned by André Quenard himself, ensuring that each cluster of fruits reaches optimum ripenesses. The wine is called “Les Terrasses” after the steep mountain terraces that the vineyards grow on. This is a white wine that is best decanted to open up a decadently floral bouquet that seems sprinkled with lemon zest. For many, this will be their first introduction to Roussanne and what a wonderful introduction that will be!

Mondeuse

The Mondeuse (mon-DUZE) grape has been growing in the Savoie region of France since before the Romans brought their winemaking techniques to the region thousands of years ago. Known for its striking pepper note, it is one of the parent grapes of Syrah. It’s deep purple in the glass, with strong tannins that are held in balance by a tight acidity. It has aromas of raspberry and strawberry that cushion the soft scent of autumn flowers that develops after decanting. This wine is delicious now, but could easily be aged for over 10 years in the right conditions. It’s an excellent pairing with duck, quail, or other fowl, as well as cheeses such as Reblochon and Chevrotin.