Wine Blog

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...

July 1, 2015

I often refer to the weather in Bordeaux as turbulent and erratic and this always seems to surprise people. The famous worldwide reputation this region has earned leads people to believe that the weather is always great. The reality is that Bordeaux deals with weather adversity almost every year; this can come in the form of early season frost’s that can kill vines, uneven flowering from rain and wind, blistering and unrelenting summer heat (remember you can’t water your vines in France!), thunder storms and hail that can badly injure vines and rain in September and October that can swell and compromise quality. On the other side of the pond here in California these conditions almost never happen.

 

2011, 2012 and 2013 all experienced different combinations of these challenging conditions. 2014 started great but a gloomy July and a cold August was cause for great worry; in almo...

June 1, 2015

Words can hardly express how excited I was to hear that PrimeCellar would be representing the iconic Napa Valley wines from Grgich Hills Estate in Asia.

 

You don’t often get the chance to sell an estate whose wine literally changed the entire landscape, industry and perception of California wine around the world and forever.

That is exactly what happened when the 1973 Ch. Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay made by Miljenko “Mike” Grgich was judged by 9 esteemed France palates to be the best white wine beating out 4 of Frances greatest Chardonnays from Burgundy and 5 other California Chardonnays in the now famous “Judgment of Paris”.

 

The tasting put on by British wine merchant Steven Spurrier stunned the wine world; no one expected this result and the French experts were not happy. Mr. Spurrier invited numerous members of the press but they showed no interest, obviously feeling th...

May 1, 2015

Where do you start when describing a love affair that started almost 40 years ago and changed your life forever; I suppose at the beginning. The year was 1978 and I was 23 staring at the wine selection at K&L Liquors in Millbrae California which at this time was 3 by 5 feet in size and today features over 4000 wines to choose from. The previous week one of the employees and I decided that we would explore this “wine thing” and that we would buy one bottle every Friday night and taste it in the parking lot.

Wine was definitely not the rage back then and most wines were consumed in huge 4.0 liter bottles we called jug wines. Our venture into wines bottled in .750ml started with white wines like Wente Grey Riesling and Charles Krug Chenin Blanc and they were interesting but we soon moved to the King of Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon. We tasted now legendary wines like 1974 & 1975 Robe...

March 31, 2015

When I received the news that the Kelleher Family 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, “Block 21” and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon both won Gold medals at the American Fine Wine Competition my first thought was; it’s about time, what took them so long!

 

From my first taste of the Kelleher wines was at the Family Winemakers Tasting at Fort Mason in San Francisco over 7 years ago when we were starting Prime Cellar and looking for wineries to represent; I knew right away we had stumbled on to something very special.

 

Family Winemakers is a huge event with over a hundred wineries, there is no way you can taste everything in one day, so I decided to taste wineries the wines that I was not familiar with. So we were indeed a bit lucky to meet Valerie Kelleher sitting behind her two wines. At the end of this long day of tasting the Kelleher wines were rated at the top of our list and we rushed up to the N...

October 5, 2014

 

As you most likely know by now the drought stricken Napa Valley got a very strong wakeup call on August 24th at 3:20 am when a 6.0 earthquake rolled thru northern California. While we are used to a little rock and roll here in the San Francisco bay area, this was the largest quake since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and aftershocks continued for 11 days.

 

Napa took a direct hit and it caused one death and around 80 million dollars in property damage in Napa alone with many wineries loosing many barrels, tanks and bottles in storage. Downtown Napa is loaded with charming old buildings and its original residential neighborhoods have blocks of lovely old Victorian houses, many of these have been badly damaged and have been red tagged, which means they will have to be completely rebuilt and retrofitted. That of course is terrible news but as far as wineries are concerned; Napa...

September 5, 2014

On my visits to Hong Kong some of my fondness memories have come at the fantastic race courses of Happy Valley and Sha-Tin where I have experienced some very good luck. That luck was in the winning of a few Trifectas, a wager where you have to pick the first 3 horses in the exact order of finish. Exotic wagers like this are fun and can pay off very well but the reality is that the odds of winning are very long and the chances of winning are not good; but when you do cash one in, it is a lot of fun!

 

Baring any freakish late season storms, which is extremely unlikely at this point we are experiencing Mothers Natures Wine Trifecta here in California with 2014 shaping up to be another great vintage following 2013 and 2012. All three vintages are abundant and outstanding so we at PrimeCellar, our estates and winemakers are very excited!

 

The 2014 crop is about two weeks ahead of no...

August 5, 2014

Dear Prime Cellar members and friends, I hope you and your families are enjoying the warm summer weather. I have just returned from a two week vacation with my 11 year old son Alton, it was a father and son trip to get away from the rigors of busy city life, and spend some quality time together.

 

We had a wonderful time in the majestic Mountains of Livingston, Montana and in the incredible Lake Tahoe National Forest here in California. As I return to the business of wine on this warm Sunday afternoon at 4pm, I realize it's the perfect time for a for glass a glass of Kelleher 2012 Sauvignon Blanc!

 

While my vacation was to avoid big crowds I can just imagine the thousands of vacationers pouring out of the wineries in the lovely Napa Valley after day of tasting in 85 degree weather and looking for their next glass of wine. Most likely that wine will be white and chilled! A fantas...

July 5, 2014

 

As we move into the month of July one of the most critical aspects of the 2014 vintage has just occurred in the vineyards and that is the flowering of the vines. The little white flowers that will eventually become the grapes have opened up in fine weather conditions in both California and Bordeaux this June and that is fantastic news. Both quality and quantity can be judged by the “grape set” and flowering in cold and wet conditions as well as heavy wind can greatly compromise the vintage and is a huge worry to vineyard managers around the world. After a good flowering and grape set the harvest is under 100 days away and the wineries can relax a bit.

 

In Bordeaux where the weather is far more turbulent and inconsistent than California the flowering is met with great celebration. The bi yearly VinExpo trade fair brings the world to Bordeaux for a week of exquisite and exclusi...

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Mr. Ralph Sands

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