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  Sampler Archives
In the Archives section you can still find great deals on great wines that were offered in recent months. The wines listed below change often as the stock is depleted so get your sampler discounts while you can!
     
 

 

     
     
  Double Cross Vodka $39 with FREE Engraving  
     
  Bottle of AssClown Cabernet Sauvignon $19  
     
  6pk Minervois Madness for $179  
     
  100 Point Barolo for $179  
     
  12pk Mazzocco Sampler for $199  
     
  4pk Pio Cesare Single Vinyard for $349  
     
  6pk Pio Cesare Everyday Wine for $99  
     
  12pk Brassfield for $179  
     
  6pk Slutty Zin Sampler for $199  
     
  6pk Scarrone Sampler for $180  
     
 

6pk Neris Pinot Grigio Sampler $120

 
     
  8pk DONATI Sampler $139  
     
  6pk Heitz Sampler $169  
     
  6pk Ellena Sampler $139  
     

 

 

 


Double Cross everyone you know
this Holiday Season...

$39.99 with FREE Engraving!

Sample

4

Ideas:
Mommy's Juice
Dad's Stash
Congrats 26.2!
Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Cheers Neighbor!
Father Philip Florio
Good Luck!
Frank D. Pagliaro
#1 Barrista
Happy Birthday
The Big 5-0!
Yo... Don't Touch My Shit!

1

I'm not one to tout the gimmicky vodka flavors here on North Union Street. You'll never find ridiculous concoctions like Peanut Butter & Jelly, Whipped Cream or Fruit Loops at FranksWine, sorry. I think that segment of the business is just wrong... it's totally marketed for the just-at-21-year-old-if-not-younger demographic. I'll leave that to the big-box stores.

Call me a purist.

Double Cross Vodka starts with spring water drawn 200' below the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia and blended with estate-grown organic Winter Wheat. It's distilled 7 times and then filtered 7 times. Talk about a smooth... this one is smoof as butta!

2

Dr. Jan Krak is the master distiller behind Double Cross which gets it's name from the ancient double cross symbol in the Slovak coat of arms.

"Everybody is always looking for the next innovation in vodka that creates that boutique product," says Krak. "In the '70s it was Smirnoff and Absolut in the '80s. Now it's Grey Goose. But as these brands grow in size they begin to become too commercial. They have to make so much of it and move to so many different distilleries they lose that uniqueness. We think we have a real opportunity, while we're still small enough, to be a real boutique brand in the next few years."

Krak chose FranksWine to be the first in Delaware
to offer FREE ENGRAVING on your own bottle!

3

 

 

Engraving text is limited to 20 characters and 2 lines.
Now how awesome will it be when you walk into your office on Christmas Eve with a black gift bag for everyone on your list with their own personalized bottle of Double Cross!

Order 12 or more bottles and get a $100 FranksWine
Gift Card for you to spend anyway you wish...

It's best to pre-order to guarantee delivery!
FranksWine DOUBLECROSS!
FREE Engraving for Pre-orders!!
(specify 20 characters in "comments" section of order form)
$39.99 per bottle

Order Now!




 

 

 

 

 
AssClown Cab!

Impatient Assclown
Steals Wine for his Girl
on Valentine's Day!

assclown


Yes, you read it right! On Valentine's Day this now-famous - at least among my 3,520 facebook friends - assclown walked into Frank's Union Wine Mart on North Union Street to find a nice bottle of wine for his sweetheart. Scott and I both greeted the Phillies fan as he entered the shop and strolled into the wine room like countless others that day. Usually we'll give folks a few minutes to browse before we ask if they need help, but this classy wine aficionado had already picked out a bottle of Tuck Beckstoffer 2010 Est 75 Cabernet Sauvignon... nice selection, Mr Assclown! He proceeded to the counter with the bottle in his hand. Scott and I were both occupied with other customers at the time and we were not near the check-out counter. Mr Assclown waits impatiently for about 20 seconds, but decides that was too long... so he walks out with his girl's gift! How romantic. He didn't even stick around for his free Valentine's Day gift wrap. Scott followed him out only to see him hurriedly pulling out of the lot in his shiny white Volvo SUV.

suv

This obviously irked the hell out of us especially after reviewing the surveillance video. Hmmm, what to do? Well, I posted a picture of Mr Assclown on Facebook and within 24 hours it was LIKED by 64 friends, hilariously commented on by 66 and passionately shared by 46 AND the story was picked up by DelawareOnline.com where 195 others shared it from that site. This guy is certainly getting around town!

Posted on February 14, 2012 by Patricia Talorico
del

"Don't mess with Frank!"

READ ARTICLE

Impressed and amused by everyone's interest I pulled out my iPhone the next morning and made a video and posted it to YouTube which so far has been viewed by 502 people... oh boy! I'm sure that number will double by the end of the day today!

Poorly-dressed Assclown Steals Wine!

So, what about Mr Assclown's wine of choice? How is it? I popped a bottle in his honor Saturday night... glad he has good taste in wine! So good in fact that I decided to buy a bunch of it and slap a nice discount on it. The Tuck Beckstoffer 2010 Est 75 Cabernet Sauvignon will be our featured wine for the week... If we can track down Mr Assclown he'll be at the shop pouring it all weekend!


Tuck Beckstoffer 2010 Est 75
Cabernet Sauvignon

(Affectionately now known as "Assclown Cab")
(Regularly priced at $24.99)
$19.99 until it disappears!

label

The 2010 is a blend of vineyards from Lake and Napa Counties. Beckstoffer finds these diverse, high quality vineyards to compliment one another perfectly. The high altitude rocky vineyard sites in Lake County deliver angularity, complexity and austerity while the Napa Valley fruit provides deep concentration and focus.

This wine is dense and tremendously focused, with a wonderful nose and palate of cedar, blueberry, saddle leather and white pepper. The finish showcases a perfect balance of acid, tannin and sweet toasted oak. Meticulous, detail oriented winemaking and complete attention to detail has produced a wine of tremendous presence and complexity that must be tasted to be believed... just ask Mr Assclown!

AssClown Cab $19.99 per bottle!
Regularly priced at $24.99!!
You Save $5.00...That's 20% Off!!!

Order Now!

 

     

 

 

Rhone Valley
... Santa Barbara-style!

Read the follow-up to Stolpman Saga

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1

 

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Peter was just a young boy back in the late 80’s when his parent’s decided to purchase the 220 acre ranch just north of Santa Barbara that would later be known as Stolpman Vineyards. Peter and the developing vines have practically grown up together these past 20 years, and it is no stretch of the imagination that Peter’s life pursuits would eventually lead him back to his namesake roots-as Director of Operations of Stolpman Vineyards.

Having 220 acres as your own private playground inspired dirt wars and quad racing. When the boyhood rabble rousing finally wore off and Peter found himself in his teenage years he became involved in the more serious side of wine production, participating in pre-bottling blending sessions & punch downs (pictured below).

2

After high school, this astute young man found himself on the opposite coast, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Georgetown University. He immediately entered into management at an industrial supply company back in Los Angeles, always feeling the lure of his family’s vines just a couple hours away. Pete felt compelled to spend his weekends on the Central Coast soaking up as much knowledge of the industry as he could with Winemaker Sashi Moorman and Vineyard Manager Ruben Solorzano.

3

Peter awakened to the magic of the wine industry and informed his parents of his yearning for a career within the family business. Both hesitant and delighted by Peter’s growing passion in wine, Tom Stolpman was weary about just handing over the reigns of the vineyard to his hardworking son. Peter was encouraged to learn the ins & outs of this heart run industry - from production to sales. This propelled Pete on an adventure of a lifetime - making Shiraz in the Barossa Valley, Sangiovese in Chianti Classico and returning to California to work under Master Sommerlier Peter Neptune at the Henry Wine Group, one of the largest wine distributors on the West Coast. It was here that Peter was awarded Fine Wine Specialist of the Year in 2008 at 26 years old, the youngest salesman to receive this award to date. More importantly, he also met his fiancé, Jessica Simmons, here during training!

4

Today, leading with youthful passion and dedication, Peter is partner of Stolpman Vineyards, with his parents, Tom & Marilyn. He manages the day to day happenings, all wholesale markets and coordinates Sashi, Ruben and the Tasting Room, inspiring the pursuit of extraordinary vineyard crafted wines specializing in Rhone varietals... these are about as close to Rhone Valley that you’ll find outside of France, in fact, they’re more Rhone-style than California-style!

sold

Stolpman 2010 Estate Syrah
Regularly Priced at $29.99
$19.99 with 6-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

5

2010 was one of Stolpman’s most challenging vintages (the most challenging, being the 2011!). A long, cool growing season over Spring and Summer was abruptly upset by a heat storm that pushed the mercury into the triple digits for consecutive days at the end of September. It was a real test of their dry farming, and fortunately, the vines passed the test with flying colors. The vineyard experienced some sun burn on the berries and a few scorched leaves, but the vines pulled from their very deepest roots to find water and keep themselves hydrated. It was miraculous to behold!

Glass-staining purple color! Deeply pitched aromas of black and blue fruits, incense, olive tapenade and fruitcake, with smoke and violet notes gaining power with air. Rich and broad but almost shockingly energetic, offering sweet, liqueur-like blackberry and boysenberry flavors and exotic spice and floral pastille qualities. Intense and focused on the extremely long finish, which strongly repeats the floral and spice notes. Although this wine will be enjoyable upon release, Peter is confident it will continue to give pleasure for 10+ years. 5,000 cases produced.

FranksWine STOLP 6-pack Sampler Case!
You Get 2 Bottles of Each Wine for Only $99.99!!
You Save $49.89... That's 33% Off!!!
Order Now!

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Stolpman 2010 La Cuadrilla
Regularly Priced at $24.99
$16.49 with 6-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

6

This 2010 vintage is a beautiful wine for early drinking... yum! 42% Syrah, 34% Grenache, 22% Petit Syrah and 2% Viognier are blended to tank before bottling to make this extremely versatile and delicious offering. Classic Southern Rhone aromas of sage brush, red & black fruits, fresh tilled earth and hint of summer jasmine.

It delivers a classic array of bright black cherry, black currant, violets, garrigue, and licorice on the nose. Beautifully intense and rich aromatically, it doesn’t lose a beat on the palate and is medium to full-bodied and loaded with fruit, showcasing notable purity, a voluptuous texture, and big, mouth coating tannin that emerges on the finish. 1,200 cases produced.

FranksWine STOLP 6-pack Sampler Case!
You Get 2 Bottles of Each Wine for Only $99.99!!
You Save $49.89... That's 33% Off!!!
Order Now!

sold

Stolpman 2010 Golden Point
Regularly Priced at $19.99
$13.49 with 6-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

7

This is Stolpman’s first release of Golden Point, an really cool blend of 64% Roussanne, 21% Chardonnay and 15% Sauvignon Blanc from their Estate vineyards. Inspiration for this wine comes from the white wines of the iconic
Domaine de la Grange des Peres in the South of France. This French winemaking estate was started just a few years before Stolpman, and shares many similarities: limestone soils, maritime climate and luminous sunlight filled days in the summer.
Laurent Vialle, the proprietor of Grange des Peres, and another fellow pioneer like Tom Stolpman, sums it up perfectly, “Nature gave us a partition of land. It is up to us to interpret it.” At Stolpman, this wine is one of the best interpretations of terroir - abundant sunlight (golden fruit), cool nights (vibrant acidity) and concentration with restraint (limestone soils).
This beauty is bright and fresh, displaying a classic profile of white peach, mineral, lime peel, and hints of flowers to go with a medium-bodied, pure, focused palate. This continues to build in the glass, and while there is beautiful richness and depth, it stays very classy and overall elegantly constructed. Copious notes of tangerine oil, ripe melon, honeysuckle and caramelized grapefruit jump from the glass of this wine with zesty acidity as well as purity... a gorgeous white! 380 cases produced.

 

FranksWine STOLP 6-pack Sampler Case!
You Get 2 Bottles of Each Wine for Only $99.99!!
You Save $49.89... That's 33% Off!!!
Order Now!


 

 

 

 

 

Pat, Susan and I recently tasted through a lineup of insanely delicious Minervois reds with Jeff and Debra from one of our smaller wine suppliers - Lanterna.

I know when I see Jeff Sarfino walk through the door with a wine bag we're gonna taste the good shit! He doesn't waste our time - ever - with mediocre wines of which I have no interest.

9a

Minervois is my new favorite wine region for big, gutsy reds that you want to drink in the Fall and Winter months. This area which is part of Languedoc - Roussillon is located in the countryside west of Montpellier. To enter this wine country choose to drive through the beautiful fortified town of Carcassonne. Going north you will feel like as if you were in Tuscany with wide open landscapes filled with olive trees and vines in a limestone soil.

2

The winery is Chateau Sainte Eulalie located near the Canal du Midi. Here the sun, exposure, climate and soil types have come together to give life to these unique wines.

Minervois red wines are deep and rich. Most of the time Syrah prevails, but when old Carignan are found there they can be the prominent grape. Blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, a light barrel aging will let them soften their tannins.

3

If you like licorice you will enjoy Minervois wines. I like to say that they remind me of those black sticks that I loved as a kid. I think it's so cool when you can put your nose into a glass and childhood memories shoot into your head!


FranksWine MINERVOIS 6pack Sampler Case!
You Get 2 Bottles of Each Wine for Only $179.99!!
You Save $69.95... That's 28% Off!!!
Order Now!


Chateau Sainte Eulalie 2012
Minervois Rouge Plaisir

Regularly Priced at $19.99
$14.99 with 6pack Sampler Purchase!

b1

Terroir
Pebbled top soil, with a high percentage of clay and limestone, rich in manganese. Exceptional "terroir" due to the nature of its soils and its exposure (terraced vineyard at 600' in altitude, facing south and sheltered from northwinds).

Grape Varieties
30% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 40% Carignan

Vinification
Maturing in tank for 18 months

Tasting Notes
Beautiful color, deep and honest. Nose straight and precise, with notes of black fruit and licorice. The palate is dense with silky smooth tannins. Elegant with notes of black licorice and slightly spicy.

Cellaring Potential
3 to 5 years

FranksWine MINERVOIS 6pack Sampler Case!
You Get 2 Bottles of Each Wine for Only $179.99!!
You Save $69.95... That's 28% Off!!!
Order Now!


Chateau Sainte Eulalie 2011
Minervois Rouge Cantilene

Regularly Priced at $34.99
$24.99 with 6pack Sampler Purchase!

b2

Grape Varieties
55% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 25% Carignan

Vinification
Long maceration of 15 days then maturing in new oak barrels for 12 months

Tasting
A beautiful intense and deep color. Delicately oaky with ripe fruits and toasted nose. A fat attack that evolves a fine and powerful tannins, full-bodied. Lingering finish... full, rich and fleshy.

Cellaring Potential
8 to 10 years

FranksWine MINERVOIS 6pack Sampler Case!
You Get 2 Bottles of Each Wine for Only $179.99!!
You Save $69.95... That's 28% Off!!!
Order Now!


Chateau Sainte Eulalie 2011
Minervois Rouge Grand Vin

Regularly Priced at $69.99
$49.99 with 6pack Sampler Purchase!

b3

Grape Varieties
Cuvée from old vines (80-100 years) Carignan 40%, with 35% Syrah and 25% Grenache

Vinification
20 days of fermentation, bottling in the Spring to preserve the flavor of the fruit. Aging in barrel for 18 months then in the bottles for 12 months.

Tasting Notes
Beautiful dress with purple highlights. Explosive nose of black fruit (blackberry, black cherry) and spices. Great mouthfeel with silky tannins and warm. Good persistence on the finish. Racy wine, very harmonious of black licorice and slightly spicy.

Cellaring Potential
12 to 15 years

FranksWine MINERVOIS 6pack Sampler Case!
You Get 2 Bottles of Each Wine for Only $179.99!!
You Save $69.95... That's 28% Off!!!
Order Now!

 

 

 

 
 


Here are a few beauties that just arrived!

2

You'll want to put these in your cellar and just forget about them... OR you can decant the hell out of them for hours on end until they open up. We're the only shop in Delaware to get these... so scoop them up soon!

Sandrone 2010 Le Vigne Barolo
$179.99 per bottle ~ Limit One

Order Now!

3

100 Points ~ Antonio Galloni - Vinous
"Sandrone's 2010 Barolo Le Vigne is one of the wines of the vintage, hands down. Rich, layered and utterly impeccable, the Le Vigne boasts stunning depth and richness. This is the second year in which Le Vigne includes fruit from Baudana which gives the wine a sense of volume and pure breadth it has never had before. Dried rose petal, tar, mint, wild flowers and cinnamon flow through to the multi-dimensional finish. The 2010 is a blend of fruit from Vignane and Merli, two historic sites for Le Vigne, while Cerretta and Conterni have been replaced by Baudana, a site in Serralunga that confers a level of depth, darkness and masculinity that has not been present in the past. Villero is the next vineyard that will appear in Le Vigne, starting in 2011. In the meantime, readers will not want to miss the 2010 Barolo Le Vigne, an epic achievement from the Sandrone family."

96 Points ~ Robert Parker - Wine Advocate
"The 2010 Barolo Le Vigne is composed from an assembly of fruit sourced from the townships of Barolo, Novello and Serralunga d'Alba. It reflects Barolo tradition in which, years ago, this noble wine was made from a wide assembly of fruit instead of single cru sites (as is the custom today). Bright cherry fruit, blackberry and creme de cassis segue to profound layers of licorice, spice, cola and anisette. It feels strong and tonic in the mouth with a pleasingly velveteen texture and a fresh dose of zesty acidity. Drink: 2017-2030."


Sandrone '10 Cannubi Boschis Barolo
$199.99 per bottle ~ Limit One

Order Now!

4

99 Points ~ Wine Enthusiast
"Structured but extremely elegant, this magnificent Barolo opens with an intense fragrance of violet, rose, wild berry, leather, underbrush and balsamic notes. The delicious, focused palate delivers crushed black cherry layered with notes of exotic spices, licorice, sage and black pepper, perfectly balanced by assertive tannins and vibrant energy. It already boasts gripping depth, but this has serious aging potential."

97+ Points ~ Antonia Galloni - Vinous
"Tar, smoke, licorice, incense, blood orange and sweet spices are some of the many notes that emerge from the 2010 Barolo Cannubi Boschis. Today the 2010 is firing on all cylinders. The flavors are broad, rich and ample, with fabulous delineation, energy and class. A creamy, resonant finish laced with exotic floral and citrus notes only adds intrigue in this drop-dead gorgeous Barolo."

97 Points ~ Robert Parker - Wine Advocate
"The single-vineyard 2010 Barolo Cannubi Boschis speaks in confident tones at high volumes. First produced in 1985, Cannubi Boschis is among the first single vineyard cru expressions made in Barolo. Thirty-five-year-old vines enjoy south and southeast exposures at 250 meters above sea level. The long 2010 growing season has favored optimal tannin ripeness and fine complexity on the bouquet. This is one of the standout wines of this celebrated vintage. It is well worth putting this wine at the back of your cellar where it will be untouched for years. Drink: 2017-2030."

Sandrone 2012 Valmaggiore
Nebbiolo d'Alba

$59.99 per bottle ~ Limit Three

Order Now!

5

Valmaggiore is the product of Luciano's incredible passion for the Nebbiolo grape variety and the desire to show just how its expression can vary depending on the soil in which it is cultivated. Just 15 miles away from Barolo, in the Roero region, Nebbiolo produces a lighter structure and ripe, smooth tannins that are not unlike those of Pinot Noir. The wine drinks well from about age 6 to 12 but will easily last longer in the best vintages. This is not a "baby Barolo" or a second wine at all - it is a distinct interpretation of a completely different geographic winemaking zone. The wine shows delicious floral elements and red fruits, wrapped around a medium-weight structure with a long, delicious finish and modulated, ripe tannins.

 

 

 

 

 

Look what Karen brought back
from SONOMA!

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Bill Green, Lisa Short and Karen Stauffer on a sunny Sonoma
day during a wine-buying trip in June


Many of you have seen Karen here on North Union Street and she's likely recommended one of her favorite beverages to you: Champagne! She's been a long-time part-timer at FranksWine which nicely compliments her full-time job at the Delaware Restaurant Association.

A few months back she asked me if I'd be able to hook her up with some tasting appointments for her first visit out to wine country with her friend Lisa who she worked with at Dogfish Head back in the day. I put her in contact with Bill Green who manages trade hospitality for a group of wineries under the Wilson Artisan Wineries umbrella - including deLormier, Pezzi King, Mazzocco Sonoma and
Jaxon Keys which I wrote about last week.

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Well, it looks like Karen now has some new favorites to recommend after spending 4 days out there... her top pick is Mazzocco Sonoma. I hadn't tasted their wines for many vintages, so I requested some samples, popped the corks, and I 100% agree with Karen's assessment... well done, Karen, thanks for the re-introduction!

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Mazzocco Sonoma is a labor of love for Ken and Diane Wilson. When the opportunity arose for them to take over this undulating vineyard and winery sitting on a saddle between Dry Creek and Alexander Valley, there was no turning back.

Once again Ken's passion for vineyards and growing grapes brought him to this place. It was Ken's wisdom and vision that created the diversity of vineyard sources over the years and this was another piece of property not to be missed. The Lytton Springs vineyards (made famous by Paul Draper at Ridge Winery) provide premium quality fruit that allowed for the growth of single-vineyard Zinfandels to be created.

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Winemaker Antoine Favero has a colorful personal history. He was born in the Champagne region of France (maybe that's why Karen likes these wines so much?!), but at an early age moved with his family to a Peruvian coastal fishing village in South America. When Antoine was nine years old, he and his family relocated to Northern California's wine country.

While attending the University of California at Davis, Antoine discovered enology and quickly developed a passion for the art and science of creating exceptional wines. He further honed his winemaking skills by working at several premier wineries, specializing in Bordeaux and Rhone varietals and Zinfandel. Over the last five years Antoine has made Mazzocco literally the talk of the town for his flavorful and unique Zinfandels.

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Mazzocco 2012 Dry Creek Zinfandel
Regularly Priced at $29.99
$17.99 with 12-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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Brambly flavors of blackberry, boysenberry and raspberry with a drop of spice greet the nose while the palate is loaded with dark berry fruit, cherry cola, and a smidge of pepper. At a whopping 15.5% abv this Zinfandel's core is framed with ripe tannins, accented with toasted almonds and cacao. It's blended with 4% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in French Oak for 17 months. 1,700 cases produced.


Mazzocco 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Regularly Priced at $27.99
$16.79 with 12-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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Deliciously balanced even at 14.5% abv! Essence of black currant and Bing cherry with dabs of chocolate truffle excite the nose while blackberry, raspberry and leather embrace the palate. This fruit-driven Dry Creek Cabernet is packed with fleshy tannins finishing with hints of French vanilla, cardamom, and vanilla notes. The wine is blended with 5% Cabernet Franc and barrel aged in French Oak for 18 months. 1,000 cases produced.

 

Mazzocco 2013 Chardonnay
Regularly Priced at $24.99
$14.99 with 12-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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100% Chardonnay from Alexander Valley aged in both stainless steel and French Oak. Vibrant flavors of pear, honeysuckle and vanilla bean lead the way to melon, key lime and French oak notes in the mouth. This delightfully crisp Chardonnay finishes with tropical fruit, kiwi and hints of lychee. 2,150 cases produced.

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The Single Vineyard Wines

Click onto each wine for individual tasting notes

Pio Cesare 2012 Piodilei Chardonnay
Regularly Priced at $49.99
$36.49 with 4-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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Pio Cesare 2010 Fides Barbera d’Alba
Regularly Priced at $49.99
$36.49 with 4-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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Pio Cesare 2000 il Bricco Barbaresco
Regularly Priced at $199.99
$145.99 with 4-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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Pio Cesare 2003 Ornato Barolo
Regularly Priced at $179.99
$131.39 with 4-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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You Get 1 Bottle of Each Single Vineyard for Only $349.99!!
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The Everyday PIO Wines

Click onto each wine for individual tasting notes

Pio Cesare 2013 Cortese di Gavi
Regularly Priced at $24.99
$17.99 with 6-pack Sampler Case!

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Pio Cesare 2012 Dolcetto d'Alba
Regularly Priced at $24.99
$17.99 with 6-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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Pio Cesare 2012 Moscato d'Asti
Regularly Priced at $29.99
$14.39 with 6-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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Frank, Jason Mantis of Bacchus, Chris Laveglia of Brassfield and Pat

If you want to be entertained free of charge Take a Drive over to North Union Street on any Tuesday and pop in on our weekly 2pm blind tasting.

Don't expect a quite and sterile setting with glasses lined up on a white table with us seated in classroom fashion. Here at FranksWine we're all about multi-tasking... in between customers, phone calls, and deliveries you'll find in-house somm Patrick Travis, long-time staffer Michael Marsh, myself and any other of our brave crew (Siobhan Gannon and Lori Amada have been known to join in on occasion) in our back receiving room swirling and sniffing our solid black Riedels holding yellow sticky pads to write down our guess. You'll hear raunch, expletives, razzing and a lot of name-calling going on.

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23-year industry veteran Jason Mantis from Bacchus Importers is our staple wine rep who gets things going as he walks in with his bag-ful of wine. It's pretty amazing how at times I'm trying to make an initial determination whether the wine is white, red or pink. You think you know your shit until it's poured in a black glass!

We've had some customers and crew hang out to see and hear the raucous. I hear is pretty entertaining to watch and hear us hypothesize. I mumble to myself:

"it's not Cabernet, it's not Merlot, it's not Zinfandel, it's not from California or Australia. It's earthy, it's leathery, it's European. It's not Sangiovese, it's not Nebbiolo, it's not Italian. It's French. It's definitely not Burgundy, it's not Bordeaux. It's Syrah from the Rhone Valley... Northern Rhone...
St. Joseph."

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So I throw my Sacagawea on the table (oh yeah, did I skip that part? Of course we're gambling here... GREAT, now we'll likely get busted!) and scribble down a producer I know Jason sells and assume it's current vintage: "Nicolas Perrin 2012 St. Joseph" goes on my post-it note and I hand it to Jason. He shakes his head and says "fuck, thought I had this one!" I collect my $3.

This usually goes on for a good 1 ½ to 2 hours. It drives Susan crazy because she's the only one working. Pat says she's afraid to participate, but I just think she doesn't want to embarrass us. There's a lot of love here.

As Jason leaves he says "get ready for Thursday, I have a supplier with me." Thursday arrives and he walks and introduces us to Chris Laveglia from Brassfield. We have no idea what Brassfield is... a winery? a importer? a wine broker?

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Turns out he's from Brassfield Estate Winery in Lake County CA. We taste through his entire lineup of 4 wines. The first was his 2012 Pinot Gris... Pat and I both guessed it as a Pinot Gris from Alsace. Next was the Brassfield 2013 Serenity Reserve (a blend of Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Riesling)... again we both agreed (separately mind you!) on Alsace white blend.

Then we realize he's likely an importer with some stellar European wines. Chris pours us his third wine 2013 Pinot Noir and we both scribbled "French Burgundy"... I furthered my guess by noting "Gevrey Chambertin". Last in the bag was the 2013 Eruption (a blend of Malbec, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre)... Pat guesses Vacqueyras and I guessed Cahors. It was was draw.

When he finally showed us all 4 bottles Pat and I were utterly blown away that they were from California... and then I guessed them to be in the $30 - $50 price point.

They're not $30 - $50.

These are likely the most well-made and undervalued California wines that grace our racks here at FranksWine.

 

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Brassfield Estate 2012 Pinot Gris
Regularly Priced at $19.99
$12.59 with 12-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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100% Pinot Gris from Brassfield Estate's home ranch, on the west side of High Valley Appellation, has been known as "High Serenity Ranch" for over one hundred years. The fruit from their 2012 Pinot Gris comes from two vineyard blocks on the valley floor of High Serenity Vineyard. Both of these blocks are comprised of gravelly, sandy loams and are located in one of coolest vineyard sites in all of Lake County.

These Pinot Gris grapes were harvested during the night, so they arrived to the winery cold and were processed using minimal handling. After a gentle whole cluster pressing, the Pinot Gris juice was fermented with native yeasts in a combination of neutral French oak barrels (50%), stainless steel tanks (20%), small stainless steel barrels (15%), and concrete tanks (15%). The barrels and tanks were then aged sur lie with battonage (lees stirring) every 2-3 weeks to create additional body, texture and viscosity in the wine. This wine was bottled unfiltered.

The 2012 Pinot Gris gushes with aromas of sweet honeydew melon, Gravenstein apples, apricots, and spice box. A long and elegant mouthfeel balances bright flavors of green figs, golden raisins, Bartlett pears, and a touch of tangerine zest. The wine has brilliant minerality and a refreshing finish. This Pinot Gris is capable of pairing with grilled quail; ricotta stuffed ravioli, or seared salmon.

 

Brassfield Estate 2013 Serenity Reserve
Regularly Priced at $24.99
$15.69 with 12-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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68% Pinot Gris 20% Riesling 12% Gewürztraminer

The 100% certified Alsatian clones that produce these grapes are planted in the gravelly loam soils on Brassfield Estate's valley floor at 1,800 feet above sea level. The grapes are harvested at night or in the very early morning and arrive in the cellar cool and pristine. Fermentation in small lots in a combination of concrete, stainless steel and neutral oak barrels creates the full, rich mouthfeel that is the hallmark of consulting winemaker, David Ramey.

The grapes are harvested into late September at night when the fruit is the coolest. The grapes are then whole-cluster pressed and fermented separately to maximize varietal character. The wine was aged on the lees in stainless steel tanks and concrete vessels. During this time on lees, they are mixed weekly to add body and texture.

The 2013 Serenity Reserve is a distinctive proprietary blend that displays bright fruit-forward aromas of dried apricots, apples, and star jasmine with a touch of minerality. The flavors are rich and deep, showing Anjou pears, white nectarines, honeydew melon, and lime zest on the finish. The wine is balanced, leaving a long, clean and well-textured finish.

 

Brassfield Estate 2013 Pinot Noir
Regularly Priced at $24.99
$15.69 with 12-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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Fruit for the 2013 Pinot Noir (100%) was grown from three estate vineyard blocks, planted to a mix of Dijon and Pommard Burgundy clones. The location of each of these blocks was chosen because they are the coldest sites on the High Serenity Ranch vineyard. The low gap in the ridge above the vineyard allows cooled lake air from Clear Lake to spill into High Valley producing Pinot Noir with more intense varietal character, better color extraction and excellent acid retention.

The 2013 Pinot Noir was harvested at the peak of ripeness, hand-sorted, and fermented with 15-20% whole clusters to enhance varietal complexity. Each separate lot was then cold soaked for 3 days, in order to extract more color and flavor. Then, each vessel of Pinot Noir underwent a native yeast fermentation with twice-daily pump-overs. Once fermentation is finished the wine is aged in 30% new French oak barrels and 70% once-used French oak barrels for 8 months sur lie aging.

Aromatically the wine offers seductive notes of Bing cherries, pencil shavings, dried red plums, and a hint of hay. The mouthfeel is classic David Ramey: plush, round and silky-smooth. The forward fruit character of red raspberries and bright cherries are well supported by a finish of toasted bread, walnuts, and vanilla. The balance of all these components, along with its refreshing acidity, shapes this Pinot Noir into an exceptional hedonistic experience. This wine behaves equally well when paired with roasted chicken; seared salmon, mushroom risotto; pan-fried lamb chops with rosemary garlic; or pasta alla vodka.

 

Brassfield Estate 2013 Eruption
Regularly Priced at $24.99
$15.69 with 12-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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38% Malbec 36% Syrah 16% Mourvèdre 10% Petite Sirah

Volcano Ridge Vineyard is located on the steep slopes of an extinct cinder cone at 2,200 feet above sea level on the eastern end of High Valley. The pure volcanic soils are ideal for vine stress, restricting crop yields, and making wine that has both intensity and elegance.

David Ramey and his winemaking team is fanatical about quality and the use of traditional handcrafted techniques. It creates wines with both style and finesse. Fermented in small lots using native yeast, the wine is then aged in French and American oak barrels (30% New) for 8-10 months before being blended and bottled without filtration.

The 2013 Eruption is rich and intense. The wine exhibits aromas of blackberries, fresh baked bread, stewed plums, and a touch of tar, giving way to flavors that are jammy, ripe and unctuous. The palate explodes with ripe blueberries, mixed berry tart, fresh tobacco leaf, and toasty vanilla notes. The texture of Eruption is perhaps its most distinguishing trait - mouth-coating with an endless finish. Be certain to have a second bottle on hand, the first won't last very long. Assuming you have to pair this wine with food, it will enhance slow-roasted lamb with cinnamon and fennel, filet mignon, or pasta alla puttanesca.

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Winemaker Eric Miller

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Most of you know this guy as the winemaker at Chaddsford Winery. You also know that I've always been a huge supporter of local wines... mainly because of thisguy. I've known him for 28 years and he's tops on my list of really cool people in this great wine industry.

Eric Miller's lifelong career in wine has covered the spectrum from winemaker and grape grower to winery owner and wine personality. He pioneered two important East Coast wine regions, and co-founded New York State's first farm winery, Benmarl Vineyards, and later, Pennsylvania's largest and best known winery, Chaddsford Winery. Along the way he and his wines have been acclaimed by every major national and international wine writer and publication, and he has been awarded numerous awards and distinctions, including the American Wine Society's prestigious "Award of Merit" - given to just one American wine professional annually.

In 2011 Eric and his wife Lee Miller sold their interest in Chaddsford Winery and he expanded his career into consulting, teaching, and writing about wine, including his book, The Vintner's Apprentice. In 2013 Eric began his latest wine venture, the production of the [Ee'z] Napa Valley Zinfandel from Howell Mountain, in partnership with his step-son eric Stauffer.

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Back on March 6th of this year I got an email from long-time customer Mike Schubert:

Rumor has it that Eric Miller and his winemaking son are going to release a small batch of zin from grapes grown on Howell Mountain (I think that's correct). Maybe 40 cases. Are you getting any of it?

So I quickly shot Eric and email and this was his reply:

The Zin project is one we are doing with number 2 son, eric, who went to UC Davis, got his eno-degree and decided to stay. Got a job as cellar master at Domaine Carneros, where his wife is a big cheese. But he complained that he only makes bubbles and Pinot Noir, so we decided to make some Zin. I love mountain Zin (but I really love any kick ass Zin) and found some Howell Mt stuff; thus a small winemaking partnership and tax deduction for visiting the west coast kids came into being. For him it's building a brand. For him and me it's inhaling the drug of Zin we both love. For Lee it's doing the horrible, miserable, shoot-me-now office stuff. For eric's wife, Erin - or Bubbles O'Grady as we call her - it's a way of keeping him out of trouble. So how about if we get together for lunch and drink some?

Obviously I jumped on Eric's lunch offer, so we met at Xavier Teixido's Harry's Savoy Grill with wine writer Roger Morris and their better halves. We geeked out on the details of his Zin over a 2 hour lunch.

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(Left to Right: wine writer Roger Morris, his wife Ella, Lee & Eric Miller,
restaurateur Xavier Teixido, and Frank Pagliaro)

So 9 months and 13 days later 15 cases - total production was a mere 74 cases - of Eric's wine rolls through my door on North Union Street!

I'm happy to say that my good friend Eric Miller chose FranksWine to be the exclusive retailer of his [Ee'z] 2013 Howell Mountain Zinfandel.

Here's what Eric has to say about it:

To make the 2013 vintage, we started with perfectly ripe, beautiful fruit from 80 year-old Zin vines at the Beatty Ranch on Howell Mountain. They smelled of fresh fig and blackberries. This vineyard produces surprisingly high acid fruit at peak ripeness, so no acid additions were needed. We started the fermentation with a non-saccromyces yeast to enhance the fruitiness, then at 10° brix we added a special saccromyces to finish the wine up to the higher alcohol we desired. Malolactic fermentation was performed in new French oak barrels to integrate the fruit, alcohol, oak, acid and tannins together over the 18 month period of aging. The result is this rich, powerful, juicy wine, with just the balance we wanted to achieve to be able to call it a truly "Slutty Zin".

[Ee'z] 2013 Howell Mountain Zinfandel
Regularly Priced at $49.99
$33.33 with 6-pack Purchase!

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FranksWine SLUTTY ZIN 6-pack Sampler!
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Scarrone


6-pack Vertical
2006 ~ 2007 ~ 2008

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The conventional wisdom nowadays is that most people are unwilling or unable to age wines for long periods of time. They no longer have the money, the storage or the patience to wait years. Nor do most restaurants. As a result, many wines are made differently today than they were 30 to 40 years ago, partly so that they will not require prolonged aging to become enjoyable.

But Barolo, made entirely of the nebbiolo grape from Italy's Piedmont region, still demands years in the cellar. In its youth, it is classically tannic and austere, but given time - often a decade or more - the tannins soften, releasing a gorgeous perfume and flavors often described as licorice, tar, truffles, violets and roses. Back in the 1980s and '90s, a stylistic war ensued between traditionalists who sought to preserve time-honored methods for making Barolo and innovators who explored ways to make a softer, more approachable wine, sometimes at the cost of what made Barolo distinctive.

In the last 15 years, many producers including Scarrone have gravitated toward a middle ground, making wines in a range of styles that are still distinctively Barolo. Regardless of style, one thing is clear: Good Barolo still require many years of aging, at least to my taste.

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Scarrone has taken it one step further for all you impatient wine drinkers out there! They have aged the wine for you and put together a 6 pack sampler case packed in wood of 2 bottles each of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages... and just wait until you see the price!

FranksWine SCARRONE 6-pack Sampler!
You Get 2 Bottles of Each Wine for Only $179.99!!
You Save $179.95... That's 50% Off!!!
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The following are notes from Antonio Galloni of Vinous, formerly of
eRobertParker/Wine Advocate

Scarrone 2006 Barolo
Regularly Priced at $69.99
$34.99 with 6-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

The 2006 Barolos are big, powerful wines the best of which reveal extraordinary balance as well as significant potential to improve in bottle. There is no shortage of fine bottles - reveal a modern expression of ripeness married to a firm sense of structure that readers are likely to find immensely appealing, although many of the top wines will require cellaring.

Scarrone 2007 Barolo
Regularly Priced at $59.99
$29.99 with 6-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

The 2007 Barolos are some of the most exciting, electrifying and viscerally thrilling wines I have tasted in over a dozen years of visiting Piedmont. The 2007 Barolos will be immensely appealing on release due to the relatively low acidities and sheer density of fruit.

Scarrone 2008 Barolo
Regularly Priced at $49.99
$24.99 with 6-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

2008 Barolos are utterly magnificent, profound wines that represent a new paradigm for Italy's most famous and collectible red. Simply put, today's Barolos no longer require decades of cellaring to deliver the fireworks that make Nebbiolo such a singular grape. The late harvest in 2008 yielded a set of beautifully perfumed, sensual wines that are all about finesse.

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Most Pinot Grigio just ain't all that.

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Poor old Pinot Grigio:-(

Being an obliging and productive old fruit he has fallen in with some rather undesirable types. She's been compared to the Coors Light of the wine world. I like to say that Pinot Grigio is the Coldplay of white wine - blandly industrial stuff with an inexplicably wide appeal.

When it comes to Italian white wines, if Pinot Grigio is the first thing that you think of, you are not alone. It's that country's most popular white, and understandably so. Millions of cases are imported into the United States each year and they range in quality from just so-so to some pretty freakin' bangin' juice... like these below.

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The most polite thing we could say of the wines as a group is that they are "delicate." I have nothing against delicate wines. Actually, I'd venture to say that I probably drink more delicate white wines than anything else. Enough with the rich, warm, dense and heavy fruit bombs that round up the highest point scores and the most lavish praise among the more influential wine critics. They also tend to win the highest awards at competitions. "Delicacy" merely suggests a wine of restraint and refinement; it doesn't mean you have to sacrifice vigor and character.

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Here at FranksWine we tend to seek out wines of varietal integrity. I've had Pinot Grigios that have been sweet & fruity, dry & fruity and dry & minerally. These 2 gorgeous wines are on the dry and minerally side of the spectrum. The Pinot Grigio from Lis Neris are without a doubt the best I've had in quite some time. They are explosive with beautiful fruit and minerals and perfectly balanced.

 

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Lis Neris 2013 Gris Pinot Grigio
Regularly Priced at $29.99
$21.99 with 6-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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The 2013 Gris is a single-vineyard Pinot Grigio from wind-swept vineyards near San Lorenzo in Friuli. It is barrel fermented and matured in the same barrel on the fine lees for almost one year with frequent battonage (stirring of the lees). One sip and your opinion of Pinot Grigio will be changed forever!

Very unusual aromatics. Apricot, peach, melon, papaya, spice. Silky palate and full-bodied. Very intense texture and body. Sweet fruit and lots of citrusy acidity. This is a BIG Pinot Grigio and would probably be hated by many PG lovers - atypical. Has real freshness and life with tons of mineral and a mouthwatering long finish. Finishes, eventually, with a touch of spice and minerality. Like a concentrated Pinot Grigio. Aging potential is 6 - 10 years!

Lis Neris 2014 Pinot Grigio
Regularly Priced at $24.99
$18.29 with 6-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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Pale lemon color with lots of aroma - a very different style. Very floral, with pink peppercorn spice - almost like a restrained Gewürztraminer with all those pink grapefruit and lychee notes. Full-bodied, well balanced, with good acidity to back it up. Intense mineral, too. A stellar wine, but is it a great Pinot Grigio? I'd say it's closer to a Pinot Gris. Lively, rich, and pretty damn good. Lots to enjoy here for the next 4 - 6 years!

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~ Immigrants ~
Where would the wine biz be without 'em?

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As a young boy, Ron Donati grew up in South San Francisco, the son of a first generation Italian-American family. One of his fondest memories was the sights and smells of his grandfather making wine in his basement. I can relate to that because my Dad is right off the boat from Italy, and my Mom from Brazil. Like most Italian immigrants, Albino Donati made his own wine for the family dinner table. As an adult, Ron became a successful entrepreneur with a penchant for making quality products that were attainable to all, not just a select few. This same passion serves as the foundation and guiding mission of Donati Family Vineyard today. These guys make some pretty stellar wine at prices way below where they should be. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they're not from Napa or Sonoma.

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Paicines is located in the center of coastal California, a little over an hour from San Jose to the north and Monterey to the west. Years after the early Mission vineyard plantings were long abandoned, the Paicines growing region was rediscovered 35-40 years ago by Almaden (one of the many crappy jug wine producers of the early 80's, ew!) It was again deserted as a bulk brand growing region for more lucrative areas, and is now being reclaimed, this time as a high-end grape growing region. Donati Family Vineyard is the only brand located in the Paicines appellation, although there are approximately five other vineyards located in the appellation, growing primarily Bordeaux varieties. Neighboring appellations are home to Calera Wine Company, Chalone Vineyard, Leal Vineyards and DeRose Vineyards.

The quaint town of Paicines, population 204, consists of a country store, restaurant, and post office, all in one convenient building. Sounds like the Donati's have a lot of time on their hands... maybe that's why they're making such great wine?!

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Donati 2012 Ezio Cabernet Sauvignon
Regularly Priced at $29.99
$25.49 with 4-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French, American and Hungarian oak for 23 months. Black cherry, leather, and toast aromas explode from the glass, but not in an over-the-top Napa way. So incredibly balanced with a rich mid-palate, lush tannins and soft acidity. If this Cab was from Napa Valley it would easily be twice the price! 1,246 cases produced.


Donati 2014 Cabernet Franc
Regularly Priced at $24.99
$18.79 with 4-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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82% Cabernet Franc ~ 11% Merlot ~ 7% Grenache

Aged 20 months in French & American Oak. It has a bursting bouquet of boysenberry and dark chocolate and those flavors come right through on the palate of berry, tannins and not even a hint of green-ness that you get in a lot of Cab Franc. I don't know how they do it?! 535 cases produced.

 

Donati 2013 Claret
Regularly Priced at $17.99
$13.49 with 4-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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48% Cabernet Sauvignon ~ 30% Merlot ~ 9% Malbec
12% Cabernet Franc ~ 1% Petit Verdot
2,816 cases produced.

Critical Acclaim
91 Points


Wine Enthusiast - "All five Bordeaux varieties are blended into this wine that offers boysenberries, violets, black pepper and sweet tar on the nose. The palate is decorated with a complex mix of blackberry, purple florals, dark chocolate and espresso bean, proving meaty and well spiced. Editor's Choice"

 

Donati 2015 Pinot Blanc
Regularly Priced at $19.99
$14.99 with 4-pack Sampler Case Purchase!

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100% Pinot Blanc (not to be confused with Pinot Grigio OR Sauvignon Blanc!) fermented in stainless steel. Aromas of banana and honeydew melon prep your palate for the tropical notes... BAM, Springtime in a glass! It has a creaminess to it which cleans up nicely with a crisp, crunchy-acid finish.

248 cases produced.

 

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Oldie but goodie!

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It seems that every week we hear about a winery that has been sold to some massive company for millions of dollars and we think - wouldn’t it be nice to be one of those guys. That being said, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find high quality, family-owned wineries that, most importantly, have some sort of historical significance in the wine industry. Lucky for us, all of that can be found in Heitz Cellars of California.

As most of our customers know, we are the first to toss the idea of brand loyalty in favor of the new, the interesting, the exotic, and the exciting. We haven’t carried Heitz wines in quite a few years and every now and then they’ll come in conversation while we’re tasting through some other outstanding California wines. After tasting through a line up of their wines this winter we knew we absolutely had to bring them back! And knowing how incredible these wines are, we want to open the whole line-up and let you judge for yourself. They say the proof is in the pudding, in this case, it’s at the bottom of a bottle of wine... so grab your favorite corkscrew and let’s get ready to
chug-a-lug some Heitz!

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Some quick history...

Alice and Joe Heitz purchased their first vineyard in 1961. Once upon a time, Joe was destined to become a veterinarian, and although the animal lover in me can’t even begin to image what he would have done for that particular field, what he did for California wine is nothing to scoff at. After changing his mind about working with animals, Joe got a Master’s Degree in enology at UC Davis, worked alongside the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff of Beaulieu Vineyards,and started the Enology Department at Fresno State. He did all of that, and then he went on to create one of the great icon wines of California! And now, his son, David Heitz, runs the winery with his wife, which has grown to over 1,100 acres. Sadly Joe is no longer with us, but his wife Alice continues to consult with the winery while her son and grandson have kept the dream going for 57 years.

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Heitz original barrel cellar built in 1898

In 1965 Alice and Joe started a partnership with Tom and Martha May of Oakville, California. The wine that was created from that partnership would forever cement the Heitz name in the history books of wine and in the minds of wine consumers the world over.

In 1999 Wine Spectator picked 12 wines for their Wines of the Century issue; Heitz 1974 Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet was on that list. For some context, other wines deemed worthy of such a prestigious title included Chateau Petrus, Penfolds Grange, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, and 1921 Chateau D’Yquem, incredible company for a California wine with less than 40 vintages to show. For 52 years now, Martha’s Vineyard has been the flagship of Heitz Cellars.

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FranksWine HEITZ 6-pack Sampler Case!
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Heitz Cellars 2015 Sauvignon Blanc
Regularly Priced at $26.99
$20.99 with 6-pack purchase!

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The Sauvignon Blanc captures the liveliness of the grape with its bright, crisp flavors. Refreshing and light, this wine has the joie de vivre to make every occasion a bit more exciting.

Heitz Cellars 2015 Chardonnay
Regularly Priced at $34.99
$27.29 with 6-pack purchase!

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The Heitz name is the deeply ingrained in the culture of Cabernet connoisseurs that some people are surprised to discover that Heitz has been making Chardonnay since the wineries founding. The 2015 Chardonnay has a classic, lively fruitiness and richness on the palate that captures the essence of the varietal.


Heitz Cellars 2014 Grignolino

Regularly Priced at $29.99
$23.39 with 6-pack purchase!

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Previous owner of the Heitz’s original vineyard, Leon Brendel, christened the property “The One & Only”, an homage to the only varietal he planted - Grignolino, often referred to as ‘the little strawberry’ in its native Italy. Heitz’s Grignolino lives up to its namesake with intensely aromatic strawberry, lychee, and peach aromas - California’s own Beaujolais.

Heitz Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauv
Regularly Priced at $64.99
$50.69 with 6-pack purchase!

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From the quality of their fruit to the execution of every detail in the cellar, Heitz sets the highest standard for Napa Valley Cabernet. Superbly crafted from estate-grown grapes, their Cabernet is consistently noted for its incredibly flavor that exemplifies the 100% varietal wine.

Heitz Cellars 2013 Zinfandel
Regularly Priced at $34.99
$27.29 with 6-pack purchase!

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The Heitz Zinfandel is a medium-bodied wine that delivers the unadulterated characteristics of the varietal. Marvelously balanced and softly rounded, the delicious core of wild berry flavors picks up a touch of spice before building to an elegant finish.

Heitz Cellars Ink Grade Port
Regularly Priced at $24.99
$19.49 with 6-pack purchase!

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Inspired by his travels to Portugal, David Heitz planted eleven indigenous Portugal varietals in the early 90’s. In the 1994 Heitz introduced Ink Grade Port, an American take on a classic dessert wine with amazingly smooth, rich flavor.

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For the sake of argument, I’d like to think that you could boil winemakers down into two different categories - those that sell wine, and those that farm. Some people are born salesman and get into the business of making their own product that they’re passionate about, e.g. wine. Some people are born farmers, they grow grapes and make wine because that’s what they’ve grown up doing, and they’re damn good at it.

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Matteo Ellena, the third generation wine maker of the Ellena family, took a hand in the family business in 2009 when they finally crushed their own vintage after 43 years of working with a cooperative. Matteo is a soft spoken, passionate, traditionally minded wine maker. He never sought out to change everything about the family winery and continues to focus on only indigenous Piedmont varietals. He explained to us how he made a custom punch down tool out of old barrel staves specifically to make sure the wine comes into contact with as much natural material as possible during maceration and has learned to repair the large foudres that his family uses because there are too few people in the region that know how to work on the ancient barrels. He seemed a little overwhelmed with our non-stop, semi-frazzled, over the top running around and buoyant exaltations at his wines. But the final two Barolos stopped us in our tracks!

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Ellena 2014 Langhe Nascetta
Regularly Priced at $17.99
$13.85 with 6-pack Sampler Purchase!

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A must-try for lovers of textural dry whites. Nascetta is a very rare variety native to the Langhe region, only recently saved from extinction and back on the rise. This particular expression is straw-yellow in color with golden highlights. The nose is fine and elegant with just the right intensity. It exudes complex, lingering scents of wild flowers, herbs, citrus, and exotic fruits. The bouquet suggests acacia honey, sage, and rosemary. There are only 20 acres planted throughout the world. Nascetta is known to get better with age but there is no reason not to drink this right now.

Ellena 2015 Barbera d’Alba
Regularly Priced at $19.99
$15.39 with 6-pack Sampler Purchase!

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The 2015 vintage selected from a single vineyard - Paradiso. It is bright, rich ruby in color with intense purplish highlights. The aroma is enveloping, aromatic, and deep with noticeable spices on first impact and raspberry, strawberry, and ripe cherry notes. Finishing with pleasant harmonies of wild flowers. On the palate, it is well structured, fresh, and has a supremely balanced acidity. The tannins are enveloping and the flavors are reminiscent of sour cherries, blackberries, and prunes.


Ellena 2009 Ascheri Barolo

Regularly Priced at $52.99
$40.79 with 6-pack Sampler Purchase!

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Barolos are a tricky lot, some are still destined to be cellared for decades, waiting patiently until they have relaxed enough to drink. Some have gone the way of the new world, aging in new oak with less skin maceration, appealing to a larger audience, easier to drink in their youth. None of them are made easily. The Ascheri Barolo seems effortless and we were almost upset at Matteo for not seeming outright pompous about how good this wine is. It grips like a good Barolo should, but without being so dense and drying that you can’t enjoy it as it is right now. Its aromatics are absolutely classic, dried fruits, rose petals, mushrooms, and tar, but they are so delicate and inviting. The wine is seamless, made with all of the traditional touches - 60 days of skin maceration and aged for 30 months in foudre, and just a little modern flair with a few new barriques to help soften the edges during blending. Words can not do this wine justice but it is hard to find a better Barolo that you could justify having around for every single meal.

 

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