Wine Blog

February 26, 2018

2018 should turn out to be a great year as we celebrate one of the world’s greatest animals the Dog; man and women’s best friend.

The importance of Dogs in our life cannot be underestimated. During the course of our lives from a young age to our dying day, dogs are a big part of life and we fondly remember them all, big and small. Weather it is your own dog or your neighbors, dogs are almost always happy to see to and never talk back, which is why some people are more comfortable around dogs than other people!

 Almost all dogs have an aura of love that surrounds them and because of that almost everyone loves these loyal lovers. Dogs can of course be a lot of work but always worth it as they are wonderful conduits of love that warm our hearts and enhance our lives. We love them and they love us back and that is something we all need and they become loving members of the family.


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...

October 31, 2016

When we started PrimeCellar in 2008 we tasted hundreds of wines that we bought from local retailers and from trade tastings; our goal was to find exciting California wines of high quality, from small boutique producers that were just getting started, just as we were.

The wines from Kokomo Winery in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma immediately caught our attention, so we made an appointment to visit. We were warmly greeted by the young owner/winemaker Erik Miller and his partner, wine grower in Dry Creek for four generations, Randy Peters and after tasting their new releases, we were able to sign them up to represent them in Asia. Erik and Randy have teamed up to make many great wines in the last 8 years, from Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Rhone blends, Dry Muscat and of course the most famous grape from Dry Creek Zinfandel! As Erik’s family o...

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...

March 1, 2016

Wow, it is already March and time seems to be flying! For wine lovers it is already an exciting year with so much great wine being available from all over the globe and more coming on the horizon.

From California there continues to be a wide selection of Cabernet Sauvignons from the lush and plush vintage of 2012 that are drinking wonderfully right now and everyone loves them; but be aware that 2013 in my opinion is even better, featuring a darker core of stronger fruit with better freshness and acid. Many of the early releases from 2013 are available now. The 2013’s Cabernets from Lamborn Family, Somerston, Priest Ranch and Kelleher should be spectacular wines and I am very excited to taste them all. I did just taste the 2013 Zinfandel and Pinot Noir made by Erik Miller at Kokomo and they are indeed outstanding.

The 2010 Brunello vintage continues to dominate much of the w...

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...

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Mr. Ralph Sands

Wine Consultant

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