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!

Lucienne Doctor's Vineyard Pinot Noir

Extremely robust for Pinot Noir, even from California. There’s a lot going on here: a hint of vanilla oak, ripe red fruits, and round tannins. For me, this is the perfect wine to transition into fall – it’s light yet firm, perfect for the almost-but-not-quite chilly nights we’ve been having. Pair it with pork or chicken, or even just have it by itself.

Keegan

Chappellet Chardonnay

How do you not love Chappellet? They’re one of Napa’s best wineries and every one of their wines is outstanding. This Chardonnay is full of bright fruit flavors and hearty notes of melted butter, toast, and baking spices. You can pair this wine with almost anything, but I love it with seafood and all the great vegetables that I’ve been picking at farmers’ markets around town. 

Mr. Baker

Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone

This wine was blended to resemble a classic French bistro wine. There’s nothing fussy about this bottle. It’s fresh and medium bodied and perfect for drinking outside. I actually like it chilled, so try sticking it in your fridge for about 30 minutes before you plan to drink it.  

Dominique

The Eyrie Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir

I’m not ready to give up my rosé just yet! This rosé from Eyrie Vineyards is the perfect rosé for fall. It’s got a lot of body to it, so it won’t be as light and crisp some of my favorite summer sippers, but it’s still got all of the bright berry flavors that I love.

Kalie

Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling

WE’RE NOT WORTHY! Like being in the presence of HRH Britney Jean Spears, drinking this Riesling is a privilege bestowed on the lucky few who dare to dream for the greatest pleasures in life. This baby is now 10 years old but drinking it now is criminal because it can easily age another 10 to 20 years. Granted, what’s the point of buying a wine just to wait a decade to drink it? Maybe you should just go ahead and buy two – one for now and one for tomorrow, er, well, maybe you should actually buy three?

Seth

Bodegas Juan Gil Silver

This wine is basically everything I’ve been waiting on fall for: strong tannins and bold flavors. I strongly recommend decanting this wine for at least an hour so that the lush floral aromas have time to percolate. Spain has long been a place to look for great values in wine, and there are few better values than this!

Sam


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.


 

2013 Spann Vineyards Smoke Vineyard Syrah

Spann Vineyards might be familiar to many of you. We’ve carried many of their wines over the years and, when possible, have tastings with Peter Spann, the winery’s owner when time allows. This month’s offering, his 2013 Syrah is typically only available at the winery, but through a little string pulling (and some begging and pleading), we managed to secure a few cases for you all.

Like so many of Peter’s wines, this is actually a blend, in this case of Syrah and Viognier (95/5%) in the style of the great wines from France’s Cote Rotie region of the Rhone river valley. The Viognier, a white wine, here actually adds color and body to the wine. How does a white wine make red wine darker? When the two grapes are fermented together the white grapes pull more color out of the red resulting in more color and flavor extraction.

I recently asked Peter about his propensity for blends, and why he makes them almost exclusively. “We started our winery during the 2001/2002 recession,” he said.  “The dot-com bust happened, followed by the 9-11 attacks and wine consumption dropped dramatically…Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots [were selling] at half price so we decided it would be foolish to make the same wines that the market already had too much of. Betsy and I grew up on French wines, most of which were blends so we simply made the style of wines we knew and enjoyed.”

(you can check out my full interview with Pete here) 

I highly recommend decanting this bottle for several hours. It’ll bring out the wonderful gamey and earthy aromas that make it so special. When I first began drinking this wine, I was overwhelmed by the “rustic” aromas that came to me: desiccated summer grasses and dried earth. Once it had time to open up it showed the most intriguing aromas of smoke, truffle, and ripe blackberry. For being a Californian wine, the fruit here is decidedly subtle, a fact that makes this stand out among Peter’s other wines.

This is an ideal wine for the grill – I feel like I’ve said that about most of the wines we’ve shared with you this summer, but I think there is no better wine that goes with grilled meat better than Syrah.
If, after you try your bottle, you think you’d like some more for aging (and this could easily age a decade), please let us know. We’ll have a few extra bottles that weren’t allocated to Shamrock Selections, but they won’t last long.

2012 Notre Vin Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon

We just couldn’t let summer end without another rosé. This one, like the Spann Syrah, is a limited release that we’re happy to be able to share with you. A rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, this bottling comes entirely from vineyards on Howell Mountain, one of the most prized growing sites in Napa Valley. It’s rare to see fruit from a site of this renowned being used for rose (with many Howell Mountain Cabernet running north of $100/blt, it’s understandable why many winemakers would choose to focus solely on their red offerings). But not Denis ‘Denny’ Malbec.

Denny grew up with wine. His grandfather was the winemaker at Bordeaux’s famous Chateau Latour and his father was the winery’s, Cellar Master. Eventually, after stints in Bordeaux and Champagne, Denny began making wine in northern California. As a shop, we’ve been carrying his wines for quite a while, most notably his Alienor Syrah and the beautiful Alienor Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.

Unfortunately, Denny passed away in April of 2016, leaving many vintages of unreleased wines. These wines allow Denny’s spirit to stay with us as we enjoy the fruits of his final years of winemaking.

This rosé is unlike almost any other rosé I’ve tried. It’s age and fruit quality give a depth of flavor that is so different from the Provencal style of rosé that most people are used to. Though the wine is completely dry, I immediately picked up the strong candy-like aroma of cotton candy. On the palate, it reminded me of the milk left over from a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. It’s okay to serve this chilled, but you don’t want it too cold. An ice bath would dull the intense fruit flavors (though we fully support drinking this in the bath…). Pair this with food a little heavier than you otherwise would for rosé. Mushroom risotto or pasta come to mind.

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!


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!

The Eyrie Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Blanc

Where has this wine been all my life? I’m a long time member of the Pinot Blanc fan club, but wheeeeeew, was this a welcome sight: a light-bodied wine with tropical notes that wasn’t a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Let me tell you – I. AM. HERE. FOR. IT. This is what I’m drinking all summer long. Get your bottle before I buy it all. [praise hand emoji]   

  • Keegan

Allegrini Valpolicella Superiore

A well-structured wine, with a soft, long and persistent finish. Brilliant ruby red in color, with a pleasant scent of wild berries. Dry and velvety on the palate, it is characterized by a bitter almond finish. If you’ve ever wanted to get into Italian wines, start here!

  • Mr. Baker

Lolea Sangria No. 2

Bright pale white gold slivery straw color. Rich, fruity aromas and flavors of peach sherbet and candy and nougat with a glycerous, bright, off-dry light-to-medium body and a tingling, fast white grapes and diet-peach-soda finish. A very fruity and candied sangria.

  • Dominique

Saison DuPont

This beer has a beautiful poor, moderately cloudy, with hints of pears and a herby, hidden sweetness. Overall an outstanding satisfying saison!

  • Kalie

Priorat Bluegray

I won’t lie: when I first had this wine I was pretty unimpressed. Thankfully, I gave it a second chance it has quickly become one of my favorite wines from Spain. This wine is bursting with ripe red fruit flavors as well as a strong aroma of rose petals. The tannins here are grippy but still pleasant with plenty of acid to balance them out. Pair this with any protein you can think of, just please, please, please decant it first!

  • Seth

King Estate Pinot Noir

You really can’t miss with this wine. Several months on oak lend spicy tannins which are balanced by delicious dark fruit notes like cherry and blackberry. It’s surprisingly light-bodied in spite of its complex flavors. I tried it with barbeque, chicken, and chocolate cake and was blown away every time!

  • Sam

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!

Sonoma-Loeb Pinot Noir

I first had wines from Sonoma-Loeb last March while I was in the Sonoma Valley. I immediately fell in love with this fun and playful Pinot Noir. It has the wonderful taste of Cherry Coke, a tell-tale sign of Sonoma Pinot. The wine will eventually open up to reveal notes of rose hips, pomegranate, and baking spices. This is a wine that’s got be looking at California Pinot in a whole new way.

– Seth

Domane Wachau Riesling

Cristal clear straw yellow with green reflections; present and pronounced on the nose, ripe stone fruit, delicate citrus, hints of exotic fruit; on the palate juicy apricot, white peach and subtle hints of quince; an elegant structure; very fresh, crisp and well balanced by a great acidity and a dense fruit; long finish!

-Keegan

Loosen Brothers 'Dr. L' Riesling

Trust me, I’m a doctor…

This Riesling blends the taste of plum, apple, and lemon to provide a sweet and fruity finish. It’s the perfect prescription for hydration during this Arkansas summer.

 – Alex

Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs

The grapes that make up this “field blend” are hand harvested from the eastern half of Ridge’s estate in Lytton Springs, CA. The vineyard is planted with 100-year-old vines of Zinfandel and other complementary varietals. The wine is dark with silky tannins and notes of raisin, plum, and baking spices. Enjoy this wine by itself or pair it with cured meats, sharp cheeses, or roasted vegetables.   

– Spencer

Hogwash Rosé

This crisp, smooth rosé has hints of ripe strawberries and fresh flowers. This tastes like a warm day by the pool and will class up any taco truck experience. If you’ve never tried rosé before, start with this one!

– Kalie


The truth is that for most people, wine can be pretty confusing. It’s our job, of course, to change that and to show people just how amazing the world of wine can be.

‘Ask a Somm’ is your chance to ask all of the alcohol related questions that you’ve always wondered about. Have a question? Ask it using the form at the bottom of the page. 

What's the actual difference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio? - Mary P.

Well, the simplest is “there isn’t one,” but let’s dig in a little deeper than that. The words “grigio” and “gris” and Italian and French, respectively, for gray. Naturally, wines from Italy will be labeled with “Grigio,” while those from France as labeled “Gris.” Wines from the U.S. are most often labeled with “Gris,” but this is entirely up to the winemaker or, more often, the winery’s marketing team.

Now, name aside, is there is any difference between the grapes themselves? No. On a genetic level, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same. In fact, Pinot Gris/Grigio is actually a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir grapes’ color is determined by a gene called anthocyanin. When this gene is active, it gives the grapes a deep purple color resulting in Pinot Noir. When this gene is dormant, the grapes are colorless and the resulting wine is called Pinot Blanc. Pinot Gris/Grigio comes from an in between coloring in which Pinot Noir skins cover Pinot Blanc grapes, resulting in fruit that isn’t quite white but also into quite red. Hence the name “gray.”

My husband doesn’t drink white wines - only reds. I know you’re not supposed to drink red wines with fish, but we eat salmon at least once a week in our house. Is there any red wine that I can serve that pairs well with fish? - Susan M.

Well, first of all, it’s disappointing that your husband is ruling out so many amazing wines. White wines, when given the chance, can be every bit as good as red wines, and I wish more people would be as adventurous with whites as they were with reds. That being said, I’m a believer that red wine and fish isn’t the ‘no-no’ common practice has lead us to believe. Conventional wisdom tells us that the delicate flavors of fish are too subtle to handle the power of a red wine. I can certainly think of times when this is true (sushi and Napa Cabernet, ugh), but in your case, especially with salmon which is quite flavorful on its own, I think there are a few options that work perfectly.

The first thing to come to mind is Pinot Noir, especially one from France or Oregon. These wines will have enough body to satisfy your husband’s taste without being so robust as to overpower the fish.

My other recommendation is a little less common than Pinot but every bit as good! Have you ever heard of the grape Gamay? Most people’s experience with the grape is from Beaujolais Nouveau, a mass marketed wine that’s released each year just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Though quality varies by producer, most examples of Beaujolais Nouveau aren’t that good, but please don’t let that spoil Gamay for you. Gamay produces a light to medium-bodied red wine that’s high in ripe fruit flavors; think strawberry, raspberry, and plum. It’s one of my favorite reds to drink in the summer largely because of how good it is when chilled. Pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes before you drink it and it becomes the perfect patio red!

I’m someone who doesn’t like to rock the boat...I have my go-to wines both red and white and I don’t venture from them often. This isn’t because I don’t want to try new things. It’s more that I don’t know how to find the wine that comes next. How am I supposed to know what else I might like? - David P.

This is something I see all the time. Trust me, you’re not the only person feeling this way. For a lot of people, wine can be confusing. That’s where people like me come in. It’s literally my job to help customers find a wine that they’ll love. I do this by asking questions and the first question I always ask is ‘what do you like?’ It’s a pretty simple question but knowing what you enjoy is the easiest way for me to pick out something new for you. The second question I like to ask is what you don’t like. Knowing you like Chardonnay is helpful, but knowing you dislike oaky, buttery Chardonnays is even better! Lastly, I’ll always ask how much you’re looking to spend. The worst answer to this question is a non-answer like “not too much” or “a medium price.” Everyone’s budget is different and there’s no harm at all with wanting to spend a specific amount on a bottle. Giving me that information not only helps me choose a better wine. There’s nothing wrong with having a go-to wine, but the beauty of wine is how different every bottle can be. If you’re not exploring even a tiny bit, you’re limiting your palate and your enjoyment in a major way.


Let’s be honest: as much as we’d all like to drink a $100 bottle of wine each night, for most of us, that isn’t an option. So, what’s a wine lover to do?

 

Well, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best wines in our shop – all under $20. Each of these wines represents a great value and have been our favorites for a long time. Now, we want to share them with you! If you see something you like, you can now buy it online and pick it up in store! 

Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

Coming it at just under $20, this Alexander Valley Cabernet is a stunner for its price. Lots of plum, blackcurrant, and raspberry flavors give this wine all the body it needs to pair with everything from grilled pork to steak! For those looking for a Napa Cabernet without the Napa price tag, you’ll be hard pressed to look for a better value than this.

Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon

South America produces some excellent wines, and just as importantly, those wines are often great values. The Los Vascos Cabernet is bursting with ripe fruit flavors and firm tannins that make it the perfect everyday-drinker. We like pairing it with BBQ, grilled meats, and roasted veggies.

Calera Central Coast Chardonnay

Balance is the name of the game with Chardonnay, and it can be tricky to find a wine at a lower price point that walks the fine like of ripe fruit and oak barrel aging. This Central Coast Chardonnay from Calera does exactly that with ripe apple and lemon flavors and a subtle hint of vanilla and toast flavors from the time it spent in oak.

Juan Gil Silver Label

Wine made from lesser known grapes can also be a great place to look for hidden gems and high-value wines. This Spanish wine is made of 100% Monestrell (known as Mourvedre in France), and we’re in love with its blackberry and violet aroma. It’s perfect for cooking out or enjoying by itself during a night in.

Broadbent Vinho Verde

It’s hard to beat a $8.99 bottle of wine, right? Vinho Verde is a young, slightly spritzy white wine from northern Portugal that’s loaded with citrus flavors and crisp acidity. This has become our go-to wine for warm afternoons in the summer.

Lago Rosé

Yes-way rosé! It’s high rosé season and whether you’ve been drinking pink for yours or have yet to have a sip, this is a rosé full of ripe raspberry and strawberry flavors. It’s perfect for sipping out by the pool with friends. This might just be our wine of the summer!

Check back next week for part 2!


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.


I haven’t done any official research on the topic, but I’d be willing to wager that after December, May is the second busiest month of the year. Everyone is graduating or going to events or on their first bit of vacation. With all of that in mind, we wanted to give you some wines that you could slow down and relax with as this month’s Selections.

How many times have Keegan and I told you that we’re always looking for unusual wines and unheard of grapes? Well, this month, in the two blends we’ve collected, there are 7 different grapes used with 6 of them being (to our count) completely new to Shamrock Selections.

So, sit back and relax and enjoy these wines. They’re superstars on their own, but in tandem, as part of a meal, they really shine.

 

Prats & Symington Post Scriptum de Chryseia Douro 2013

Who knew they made wine in Portugal that wasn’t Port? Well, you probably did, but have you actually had any of it? If not, you’re in for a treat.

This month’s wine is an interesting blend of 4 grapes: 59% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca, 5.5% Tinta Roriz, and 5.5% Tinta Barroca. The blend really hangs its hat on Touriga Nacional (tor-REE-ga na-see-o-NAL). This is the grape most commonly used in Port production, but here it’s presented in a dry style. The result is big, bold wine with lots of grip and tannin. There are lots of violet, date, and plum notes with a strong hint of blueberry pie crust on the finish.

The second most prominent grape in the blend, Touriga Franca, is where this wine gets is ink-like color. This is definitely a wine that will leave your lips a shade or two darker. On its own, Touriga Franca can best be compared to Zinfandel with its dark color and milder tannins. Here it delivers a very strong note of black cherry.

The remaining two grapes are popular blending grapes for Portuguese wines, both dry and fortified. Tinta Roriz is the Portuguese name for the Spanish grape Tempranillo which you got to experience in your January selection.

If you’re like me and you’ve been finding excuses to use your backyard grill, this is the wine for you. It’s big and bold enough to handle almost anything you might want to pair with it, from steak to brats. This wine is cravings a hearty meal and company.

Lightning CDP Blanc 2015

CDP stands for “Chateauneuf du Pape,” a wine-growing region along France’s Rhone river. Châteauneuf du Pape is generally known for its red wines, but they also produce a rich white wine that I absolutely love. This isn’t that. But it’s close and it’s delicious!

This is the same blend that you’d find in France, but produced in Napa Valley. The blend here is 55% Grenache Blanc, 30% Piquepoul Blanc, 15% Marsanne.

Piquepoul Blanc is light-bodied grape common in southern France. In many ways, it’s quite similar to Pinot Gris, but with a more herbal character. For me, it’s the two full-bodied grapes in the blend that make this wine so interesting.

As the name suggests, Grenache Blanc is the white version of the red grape Grenache. Here it adds the wine’s tropical notes; papaya, pineapple, guava. Marsanne, on the other hand, gives the wine its unique texture, a subtle viciousness that makes the wine seem heavier or more mouth-coating than many others.

We recommend serving this wine only slightly chilled as many of its herbal aromas are so light that they’ll be easily hidden by a colder temperature. The high acidity of the wine means that it will pair nicely with most foods. I imagine it going well with salads and fish. The herbal notes in the wine would go especially well with a herb roasted chicken.

As always, we hope you enjoy this month’s wines. We’ve already started hunting for June’s selections and we think we’ve found something you’ll love.

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!


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!

The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Blanc

Where has this wine been all my life? I’m a long time member of the Pinot Blanc fan club, but wheeeeeew, was this a welcome sight: a light-bodied wine with tropical notes that wasn’t a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Let me tell you – I. AM. HERE. FOR. IT. [insert praise hands emoji] This is what I’m drinking all summer long. Get your bottle before I buy them all.


– Seth

Catherine & Pierre Breton Trinch!

It’s about to be 10,000º outside and I just can’t handle a big Napa Cabernet when I’m dinning al fresco. This is when I turn to Cabernet Franc, one of Cabernet Sauvignon’s parent grapes, for relief. This wine comes to us from France’s Loire Valley and, here’s the kicker, you can serve it chilled. Yes, really! Pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes and thank me later.

-Keegan

O'Looney's + Loblolly Creamery Limited Edition Flavors

We’ve partnered with the amazing Loblolly Creamery to produce a line of alcohol-flavored ice creams and sorbets that are available exclusively at O’Looney’s. We’ll have two flavors all summer long: Double Chili Chocolate and Sparkling Elderflower. We’ll also have flavors that we’ll rotate in and out. Currently we have a delicious margarita sorbet!

 – Alex

Charles & Charles Riesling

This excellent, single vineyard Riesling is everything one can want from a Washington wine. Its sweetness is held in balance by a taut acidity. The resulting wine is gorgeous and full-flavored with aromas driven by stone fruit, mineral notes, wet rock, citrus, and floral scents. Its palate has a beautiful focus with lingering notes of honeysuckle and lime.

– Spencer

Broadbent Vino Verde

Vino Verde isn’t actually green like the name suggests. “Green” is meant to signify that it’s a young wine. This is the perfect thing to sip on during a hot afternoon. It’s very light and slightly spritzy. It has a low ABV, which means you don’t have to worry about drinking too much throughout the day.

– Dominique

Bouvet-Ladubay Signature Brut

Bouvet-Ladubay is a sparkling wine from France’s Loire Valley. The limestone subsoil is ideal for the cultivation of Chenin Blanc, and the mild climate coupled with the excellent drainage of the clay creates the natural acidity needed to produce a balanced sparkling white wine. This wine is full of bright acidity and the flavors of baked apple, brioche bun, and pear.

– Mr. Baker


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!

Round Pond Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc

Warm weather means one thing to me: dinner on my back porch, and trust me, this wine tastes 1000% better when it’s drunk outside on a warm afternoon. This is everything I want from a wine this time of year. Lots of bright fruit notes including lime, peach, pear, and honeydew melon. Pair with a salad or any spring vegetable you get from your garden.


– Seth

Bell Winery Canterbury Vineyards Syrah

This wine is full of baked plum, fig and date aromas. Maraschino cherry and kirsch liqueur both come to mind, along with the aromas of ample baking spices. A deep, inky purple color, over time the wine will paint your glass a delicate shade of pink. Delicious now, with cellaring it will evolve and grow into the seductive wine it promises to become.

 Ty

Azur Rosé

Did someone say rosé?! It’s that time of year again, and there’s no better way to kick off the summer than with this amazing wine. Notes of strawberry and watermelon are prevalent here, but they’re combined with a lovely scent of fresh air. This beautifully colored wine has slightly copper tints that make it sparkle in the glass. Cheers to the return of warm weather!

-Keegan

Jordan Winery Chardonnay

Higher acid makes the fruit in this wine seem crisp and fresh with notes of white peach, pear, and apricot. The oak treatment is balanced and serves to elevate the fruit without overpowering it. Hints of vanilla and caramel are a wonderful compliment. I think this wine is ideal for pairing with seafood or chicken and will be a wonderful wine to enjoy in the warmer weather to come.

– Spencer

Eric Chevalier Fié Gris

“If you’re a fan of either Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris, you’re going to like this wine, as it tastes like a unique blend of the two. It’s actually a relative of Sauvignon Blanc, but with light pink grapes. Light and crisp, this wine is full of herbal notes like dill, celery, and fennel. It would make a great pairing with salads, appetizers, and shellfish.

– Walker

Screen Door Cellars Asern Vineyard Chardonnay

We’ve been fans of Screen Door Cellars for a while now. They’re producing some of our favorite small-batch wines coming out of Sonoma. This is their first ever bottling of Chardonnay, and it’s quickly become a constant presence at my dinner table. A mature oak program lends notes of lemon pound cake and crème fraiche. On the palate, you’ll find yellow apples, pie crust, and vanilla mouse.

– Mr. Baker


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.


Some months, choosing the wines for Shamrock is one of best parts of our jobs here at O’Looney’s. We get to dig deep into the portfolios of our distributors and find the hidden gems that no one else has found. It’s really fun to imagine your reactions to what we hope will always be a new and, at the very least, interesting bottle of wine.

Unfortunately, April wasn’t one of those months. This time, finding the wines was like pulling teeth. As is common when people discuss things they’re passionate about, some disagreements can arise, and we had a lot of…passionate deliberations about this month’s selections. We didn’t like the idea of a third bottle of Chardonnay in a row. And though we agreed that it would be an interesting selection, we couldn’t find a distributor who carried any of the Listan Blanco wines grown on the Canary Islands. We briefly toyed with a few ideas from Washington state and New Zealand, but we eventually found inspiration in our own recent trip to Napa.

 

2014 Round Pond Estate Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

As I mentioned in last month’s Shamrock blog, Keegan and I recently spent a week in California drinking all the wine we could find. We’d both tell you that one of the highlights of our trip was our visit to and lunch at Round Pond Estate. Located in the heart of Rutherford, Round Pond is almost in the exact center of Napa Valley.

The Estate has been growing grapes for decades and has long been one of the most sought after producers of fruit on the valley floor, but it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that the MacDonnell family, owners since the 1980’s, decided to start making their own wine.

You may have had “Kith & Kin,” their entry level wine, as it’s one we all try to recommend to clients because of its excellent value, but this is their estate wine (hence the photo of the eponymous round pond on the label). Made entirely of fruit grown right on the winery grounds, this is 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Petit Verdot.

While you might think that 12% isn’t much, it’s that small percentage of Petit Verdot (PV) that makes this wine so special. PV originated in southwestern France, near Bordeaux during the time of the ancient Romans. It was planted in Bordeaux long before Cabernet Sauvignon, and up into the mid-1700’s, was a leading grape in most of the region’s wines. Today, PV is most commonly used as a blending grape, with usually less than 10% making its way into the finished product. PV is added to wines for any of three main reasons: to add a deep purple, almost black color, to increase tannins, and to add its uniquely spicy yet floral flavors to the blend.

As you’ll see in your wine this month, the PV is doing all of those things and more. PV is one of most tannic wines in the world, and those tannins, especially when combined with the solid tannins coming from the Cabernet Sauvignon, provide a huge springboard for the wine’s fruit flavors while also creating a solid backbone that will allow this wine to age for years. Don’t worry if you don’t get around to cracking this one open anytime soon. I’d say you’ve got until the early 2030’s before this one even starts to head downhill.

Now, I’ve talked a lot about the PV, but I don’t want to ignore the Cab, here. It is, after all, the real star of the wine and that’s because the quality of the individual berries that went into this wine is just so ridiculously high. Of all the parts of Napa Valley, there may not be a region that produces Cab as well as Rutherford. Most people will say it’s a product of the “Rutherford dust,” the red, dusty soil the area is known for. What does that actually mean? Well, on the palate, you’ll notice key notes of cocoa powder, eucalyptus, and mint, while the tannins are a bit more subdued, more rounded, more “dusty” than the “kick in the face” tannins you’ll find in other parts of the valley. In fact, it’s these dusty tannins that the PV’s brash tannins hold up over the many years of aging.

When you open this wine, you’re going to first notice how deep and dark the color is, so purple it’s almost black. That comes from the PV, though if you age this bottle for a long time, you’ll notice a significant color change. You’ll also pick up the aromas of ripe blackberries, black currant, cassis, and just the faintest hint of lavender (another telltale sign of PV). On the palate, black cherry and raspberry are most noticeable, with notes of pepper, coffee, and dark chocolate on the finish.

For a wine like this, you’re going to need a meal that can stand its ground against such a powerful wine. I had this wine with steak recently for my birthday and it was perfect. If you’re doing beef, I recommend a cut with a bit more fat like filet mignon, hanger, or New York strip.

Also, please do the world a favor and decant this. Thirty minutes will do wonders but ninety will make your life better, I promise.

Lago Cerqueira Vinho Verde Rosé

So, I know what you’re probably thinking: “How you have a rosé from a “green” wine?”

Well, to explain, we have to delve into one of the many misnomers in the wine world. Portugues Vinho Verde isn’t actually green, well, at least not really green. Though literally translated as “green wine,” the more correct meaning is “young wine.” Also, Vinho Verde is not a specific grape, but a large growing region in northwestern Portugal along the Atlantic coast. In Portugal, it’s quite common to see the Vinho Verde label on wines that are either red, white, or pink, though white Vinho Verde is most commonly imported into the US. And yes, depending upon which white grape the wine is made from, there can be a slightly green tint to the juice.

Your rosé this month is made from the grape Vinhão (veen-HOW), a rare grape outside of Portugal where it’s typically made into red Vinho Verde. The interesting thing about Vinhão is that it’s a teinturier or a red grape whose flesh is also red. This is actually quite rare among red grape varieties, and it’s the factor that produces such a vivid hue in this wine. While the juice of many red wines is left in contact with the grape skins for several days or weeks in order to impart a deep red color, this rose’s color was imparted straight from the juice, as the skins were removed from the juice immediately after pressing. To give you an idea of the color of a true Vinhão wine, look for a bottle of Port. Vinhão is often added to Port wine blends to add an inky purple color.

Color aside, this wine is bright with fruit notes of strawberries, watermelon, and cherry. It just tastes pink! We recommend pairing it with a light salad or an afternoon spent outside. This is a no-frills wine meant for enjoying on the beautiful weekends we’ve been having.

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