Wine Blog

November 30, 2016

My 2015 Wine of the Year is 2013 Lamborn Family Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

After returning from Hong Kong last week my wife Kim and I enjoyed a special dinner together and we shared a bottle of 2013 Lamborn Family Cabernet Sauvignon; after a few sips I turned to her and said “this is phenomenal wine!” This is my #1 wine of the year from California. I receive thousands of phone calls this time of year from people looking for that  very special gift bottle for family, friends and clients, and most often people ask for the exact same old handful of expensive Napa wines.  These conversations bore me to death as do most of those wines. In fact I just tasted 13 of the greatest and famous California Cabernets some that cost a $100-150 more than the Lamborn wine, and the Lamborn wine blows them away.

Here is my Lamborn Story…

Howell Mountain is a long way from my beloved Bo...

July 1, 2016

“Taste the Greats of Bordeaux Tour with Ralph Sands”

I’ve just returned from yet another amazing tour of some of the greatest estates in the storied history of Bordeaux with 18 customers, something I have been privileged to do so many times now and sometimes I still have to pinch myself!

After a full week of breakfast every morning, great lunches and dinners at a different Chateau everyday and many great wines I definitely came home a few extra pounds heavier but with a lifetime of memories, so it was all worth it. My customers got a firsthand experience of being in the wine business; it rained all week but it did not dampen our sprits! Here are the highlights; I hope you can join me on my next tour.

Sunday June 12th- All 18 customers arrive on the same plane from Paris. Check in at Hotel Relais Margaux before are welcome dinner at Ch. Cantemerle where Director Philippe Dam...

May 31, 2016


As always we kept a crazy busy schedule tasting over 1000 wines from the new baby vintage of 2015. We stayed in the Medoc, at Ch. Beauragard in Pomerol and at Ch. Le Thil in Leognan. The hard work was well worth it, I know the wines inside and out and the comparison vintage is an easy answer for me; very much like 2005.
Now that the scores are in and some prices are out we are indeed having our first real Pre-Arrival Campaign since 2010 and everyone who loves Bordeaux is happy with the opening prices, at least so far. I’m thrilled with the wines across the board, the absolute natural beauty the wines feature, and the great purity of fruit, the tremendous freshness and above all, their great taste.
This vintage is the perfect vintage for young people to lay the foundation of a great wine cellar and if you are up there in age it is important to know that this is not a vintage...

May 1, 2016


After a few quiet months in the business of wine the month of May really kick starts an exciting year for wine. In Hong Kong May 24-26 is VinExpo Asia and PrimeCellar will have a booth pouring our fantastic California portfolio so be sure to stop by. I have just returned from Bordeaux where I tasted over 1000 wines from the fine 2015 vintage; more on that later.

At PrimeCellar we are in our eighth year of business in Asia and as I reflect on this time and the wineries we represent I am very proud of the entire group, as the wines keep on improving and the winemakers are really hitting their stride. We keep in close contact with them all year round to see what is new and what they are excited about; here is the latest information.

On Howell Mountain my buddy Mike Lamborn is excited about the beginning of Organic Farming at Lamborn Family in 2016. Mike is honest and straightfo...

December 1, 2015

It has been two long years since my last trip to Asia for PrimeCellar so I was even more excited than usual. My trip started with a midnight flight Monday on China Air direct to Taipei; it was a rough


flight with lots of turbulence so sleeping was difficult. After a transfer to Hong Kong I arrive Tuesday at the Regal Hotel in HK and my room of course is not ready. So I head out in the heat of the day with wobbling legs up Hennessy Rd. for a few hours of window shopping from Causeway Bay to Central and back.

I finally get in my room, grab a quick workout and I’m off to “Under the Bridge” for some famous Spicy Crab. No rest for the wicked on Wednesday as PrimeCellar welcomed members of the Hong Kong Sommelier Association for a “Taste of California” at the fine Yee Tung Heen located in the Excelsior Hotel. We are now our 8th year of business in Hong Kong and after greeting ever...

November 1, 2015

Wine lovers around the world will be very pleased with the 2015 vintage from California and Bordeaux. It does not happen often that the more difficult growing season occurred in California, but that was the case in 2015 with both regions reporting outstanding quality. Below are the candid comments from my friends, the winemakers and growers that lived thru the entire vintage and we will start in California.


Mike Lamborn from Lamborn Family reports from Howell Mountain 1600 feet above the Napa Valley floor: Howdy Ralph. I call 2015 a "quirky" growing year. Early bud break, cool LONG bloom, and fruit set was awful (75% loss for some) for many. We were off 10-15% tonnage wise with the Zinfandel, but the Cabernet Sauvignon had no shatter and was average in tonnage.

From a growers perspective the fruit was good, however it's the chemistry which will matter in the final analysis...

October 1, 2015

(Photo from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat)


As I reported in this column in July, the 2015 vintage in California has indeed turned out to be hot year with an early harvest and lighter than average production.  Warm to hot weather vintages in California are pretty much the norm producing the style of wines that have made Napa and Sonoma famous; wines with flamboyant ripe fruit and silky textures but just not as much of them in 2015.

Unfortunately 2015 will be a sadly remembered year by the thousands of people tragically affected by the Valley Fire that came so dangerously close to northeastern Napa Valley. The Valley Fire is the third largest fire in the history of California burning over 76,000 acres of land and destroying over 2000 homes and structures while causing 4 deaths.

The wine regions ravaged by the fires and devastation are not your world famous, expensive brands of wi...

September 1, 2015


Customers have asked me this question over and over again for a few decades now; if you could choose just one wine to drink on your last day of life and last dinner what would it be? My answer is any vintage of Ch. Latour.




During my almost 40 years in the wine business I have been blessed to visit, taste and enjoy many of the world’s greatest wines. Some of my most memorable have been 1982 Cheval Blanc, 1982 and 1986 Mouton Rothschild, 1986 Ch. Margaux, 1982 Pichon Comtesse de Lalande  and the entire line of 1985 DRC wines. These are all legendary wines that I would love to drink on my last day, but because of my experience with the great wines of Ch. Latour, Latour trumps them all. At a Ch. Latour dinner in San Francisco in one evening we enjoyed 1985, 82, 70, 61, 59, 58 and 1945. That tasting alone is a life changer!


We have a close relationship with Ch. Latour and its p...

Please reload

Featured Posts

Reflections on a Quick Trip to Asia…

December 1, 2015

Please reload


Mr. Ralph Sands

Wine Consultant

Recent Posts

July 3, 2020

October 30, 2019

Please reload

Follow Us
  • Facebook Classic
  • Instagram




Suite A, 8/F, Rice Merchants Building,
77-78 Connaught Road West, 
Hong Kong


Tel: (852) 3690-8630
Head Office: (852) 2523-2111

© 2015 by Prime Cellar (H.K.) Limited. Proudly created by Showplace (H.K.) Limited

Hong Kong Pioneer, California Wine Specialist, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, USA Wine, Prime Cellar Hong Kong