Haut Brion

Does it get any better?  A vertical of Chateau Haut Brion with every vintage and bottle served showing exceptionally well, paired with some fantastic plates from Chef Sharon Hage. I think not.


A wonderful evening was had by all who attended, from the first glass of 1983 Haut Brion Blanc which was flat out brilliant to the ever so old but still kicking 1958 vintage this was one to remember.


The whole night was a highlight but special mention to the stunning 78 vintage still showing bags of fruit, the 90 was pure silk and the 82 standing head and shoulders above all others and getting better as the night progressed.


We even paired the wines with great music from each vintage, and at one point as the wine and conversation flowed we found ourselves doing Madonna’s’ Vogue’ from the great year in wine and music 1990.


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Like many of the best winemakers, Ehren didn’t go to oenology school.  In fact he started off as a tour guide at Joseph Phelps.  Soon though he was moonlighting at Marcassin under Helen Turley.  Helen recognized his talent and installed him as her assistant winemaker at Turley Wine Cellars.  About a year later Helen had a falling out with her brother Larry and Ehren was left to run the show at Turley Wine Cellars.  In short order, Ehren turned the winery into the best producer of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah on the planet.  He left Turley in 2013 (Turley Zins haven’t been the same since) to devote his energies to his own winery, Failla.

Somehow Aril coaxed Ehren to takeover viticulture and winemaking for their microwinery a few years back.  Since we’ve never had a bad bottle of wine from Ehren we agreed to sit down this week and taste through Aril’s wines.  We were absolutely blown away by their 2013 Estate Cabernet.  It reminded us distinctly of Eisele Cabernet (both Eisele Vineyard and Aril’s estate vineyard are in Calistoga). It’s a must buy in the legendary 2013 vintage.

2013 Aril Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 
$123.95 per bottle (lowest price in the U.S.); 48 in stock

Organically farmed vines located north of downtown Calistoga.  Naturally fermented and then raised entirely in French oak (60% new).  Very rare with just 10 barrels produced.

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Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (97 points Parker) at Best Price in the US!


Sometimes wine lovers and collectors (ourselves included) are entranced by the “Shock of the New”. The latest new wines or newly discovered wines take up all of our attention. But in getting caught up in that chase we forget about the fantastic wines that already exist and in fact are one of the reasons why the new producer is making wines from the region in the first place! In nowhere else is this phenomenon more apparent than in the Napa Valley where wineries even we’ve never heard of sprout up like mushrooms with price tags more suitable for Beluga.

Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is one of those oft overlooked legendary producers. We recently had a bottle of their 1987 and it forcefully reminded us how good this wine is especially in great vintages like 1987. 2013 is a superlative Napa Valley vintage and one of the best we can remember. In a great vintage like 2013 looking to the timeless producers who make wine that has the proven ability to improve over time makes imminent good sense to us. The fact that we have the wine at the best price in the US only makes it more so.



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Guigal is in!




One of the best things we do at Graileys is taste new wines (it’s also one of the worst: we taste A LOT of dogs so you won’t have to) so it was our pleasure yesterday to taste the 2012 Guigal Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde.  Of course, Guigal is best known for his famous Cote Rotie “La Las” (La Mouline, La Turque; and La Landonne; all three of which we dearly love) but he makes other great wines including the Brune et Blonde Cote Rotie.  The quality of the 2012 was so exquisite that we thought it was on par with his La Las and to test our theory we pulled the cork on a 2012 La Mouline to taste them side by side.  The La Mouline was of obvious high quality but very young and tight while the Brune et Blonde was open for business with all the hallmarks of a superb Guigal La La.  Frankly for drinking now and over the next couple of years the Brune et Blonde is better than the La Mouline.  Bottom line, this wine merits buying by the case!



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The Masters and Paul Hobbs

Last Friday we finished the week strong by watching the Masters while tasting through a lineup of Paul Hobbs’ Cabernets, generously hosted by our dear somm friend from Houston, Advanced Sommelier and Paul Hobbs ambassador James Watkins. James and our very own Master Sommelier candidate, Ryan Tedder, poured a stunning lineup of Paul Hobbs finest single vineyard Cabs from the ripe and rich 2012 vintage as well as Paul Hobbs’ Argentinian projects- Bramare Cabernets and Cobos Volturno Cab Blend and what an exciting party it quickly became!

Paul Hobbs 2017



While the 2013 Paul Hobbs Napa Cab is a complete stunner to keep around the house for less than $100, there were many highlights from the 2012 single vineyard range to praise! The crowd pleaser was the 2012 Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Cab (98RP- $225/btl)- had the most seductive texture and was loaded with plush black fruit and mouthcoating layers of spice.

The 2012 Beckstoffer Las Piedras Cabernet (95RP- $275/btl) was the winner winner chicken dinner!! Powerfully structured, generous ripe fruit with multidimensional layers that lead to a striking long finish. The notes on this wine just never end. This beauty has a stunning life ahead of it!

The 2012 Beckstoffer To Kalon Cab (97RP- $375/btl) stole the show with its impressive depth, gorgeous rich fruit and tremendous power. “Undeniably sexy, voluptuous Cabernet” indeed!

New to the Paul Hobbs lineup was the 2012 Paul Hobbs Nathan Coombs Estate Cabernet (94V- $275/btl)-  was a hit with the crowd! Beautifully structured with more dark minerals of graphite and rich spice, the Nathan Coombs was impressive now and will continue to shine for decades to come. What a stunning first impression for the vineyard!





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James also shared with us the Argentinian Cabernets by Paul Hobbs- 2013 Bramare Lujan de Cuyo and Marchiori Vineyard Cabernets and the powerhouse Cab blend Cobos Volturno!

The 2013 Bramare Lujan de Cuyo Cab ($39.95/btl) is an impressive bang for the buck and its 2013 Marchiori Vineyard Cab delivers so much more for just a few more bucks at $69.95/btl. Black and red currant, blackberry and mocha race up and down the palate with layers of wild herbs and lovely spice seamlessly gliding within.

The 2013 Vina Cobos, Cobos Volturno Cabernet Blend ($225/btl) offered a much more powerful, serious showing with dense spice, licorice, leather, dark cocoa and concentrated black and purple berry fruit.

Paul Hobbs 2017 .2

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Highlight of the Week

It’s finally Friday! A great highlight this week was when Lisa Togni, daughter of Napa’s revered OG winemaker- Philip Togni- of Philip Togni Vineyard stopped by Graileys to share with us the terrific lineup of 2014’s. There was a new freshness and energy running through these classic Cabernets with rounder, fleshier textures, riper fruit and tremendous approach-ability. The flagship 2014 Togni Cabernet Sauvignon still holds its signature savory, deep mineral tones with vibrant fruit racing throughout the palate. Still very focused and in it for the long haul, this stunning Cab is for the deepest parts of any serious collector’s cellar to be awaken twenty plus years down the road… but then again, it is Philip Togni…



Togni 2014


2014 Philip Togni Vineyard Tanbark Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Philip Togni Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 Philip Togni Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Philip Togni Vineyard Ca ‘Togni

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A Burgundy Lover’s Dream

With much anticipation, the day finally came for the Burgundy night to never forget: our Leroy Wine Dinner! We were honored to host special guest Eric Espuny of Maison Leroy for this exquisite night as we discussed and tasted through the beautiful wines made by the queen of Burgundy, Madame Lalou Bize Leroy. We brought in Royal Chef Darren McGrady to prepare the fabulous dinner and the wines were incredible, as we wouldn’t expect anything less, but it was the company that really made the night as each guest explored and shared their own Burgundy and Leroy experiences while creating and bonding in this wine experience together. Needless to say, the night was epic, the wines were mind-blowing and the overall experience is unforgettable.


2017 Leroy Dinner


It’s always a very special treat when a bottle of Leroy gets opened at Graileys but to have multiple Domaine (wax top) wines tasted in one grand lineup is a Burgundy lover’s dream come true! You could really taste each vintage and each vineyard in this lineup as the terroir truly speaks through in each bottle!


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2017 Leroy .16 1999 Salon


We started the night with a bottle of 2004 Salon Le Mesnil Brut Champagne ($399/btl) and it was absolutely stunning! All of the signature notes of Salon were there; this is as omnipotent as Champagne gets with multidimensional layers of insane minerality. Towards the end of the night, we also opened a bottle of 1999 Salon and what a beauty it was with rich texture, rounded tones and beautiful, deep minerals that seems like it permanently stays on the tongue, which I would be completely ok with if it had.


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Not a single bad bottle in the bunch! It was difficult to pick out a favorite in a killer lineup like this, but there were a few that spoke to me a little more than the rest. From the reds the 1996 Leroy Nuits St Georges Aux Allots and the 2005 Leroy Gevrey Chambertin Les Combottes 1er Cru were gorgeous! (they all were but these really shined.) Both had beautiful red berry fruit that was fresh, bright and alive. The ’96 NSG Aux Allots was tremendously youthful and had this wonderful seamless, velvety near-Vosne-like texture with notes of wild rose, hints of mint, pomegranate, and warm baking spice with underlying layers of forest floor, aged leather and rich soil. The 2005 Les Combettes was a slight surprise. The table was just talking about 2005 Burgundy and how they need so much more time in the cellar to truly show the vintage’s power but when the 2005 Gevrey Chambertin Les Combettes came around, the wine was expressive with seductive red and black cherry, red plums, bright spice, potting soil, nutmeg, wild herbs and a touch of smoke.


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The white wines were the stars of the night! The 2002 D’Auvenay Auxey Duresses Les Boutonniers was mind-boggling with rich mouthcoating texture, deep flavors of sweet cream, toasted almonds, buttered popcorn kernel, creamed corn, golden apples, baked pear and crushed river rocks. Our most beloved Burghead member MJ also graciously opened a bottle of 1990 Leroy Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru and the 1996 Leroy Meursault Les Narvaux! For a 27 and 21 year old white wine, how incredibly and magically fresh and youthful these wines were! This is perfectly aged, white Burgundy at its finest! The 90 Corton Charlie was stunning with still very much bright and crunchy minerals, preserved meyer lemons and white blossoms. The ’96 Les Narvaux was on point!! Rich lemon, honeysuckle, honeycomb, bees wax, honeydew melon, wild yellow flowers, preserved pear, warm spice, I can go on and on and on and the finish was nearly infinite.


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The 2002 D’ Auvenay Auxey Duresses Les Boutonnières was absolutely perfect with the first course!


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2011 Leroy Savigny les Beaune Les Narbontons 1er Cru and the 2005 Leroy Gevrey Chambertin Les Combottes 1er Cru were perfect with the steak!


2017 Leroy .15 2005 Leflaive Batard

One of our top Burgheads also opened a bottle of 2005 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues Batard Montrachet that was simply lovely! Rich, loud and round, the Leflaive Bienvenue Batard Montrachet was showing at its perfect spot on this epic Burgundy night.


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2004 Salon Le Mesnil Brut Champagne

 2014 Leroy Bourgogne Blanc

2014 Leroy Montagny

2002 Domaine d’Auvenay Auxey Duresses Les Boutonniers

1990 Leroy Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru

1996 Leroy Meursault Les Narvaux

2004 Leroy Vosne Romanee

2011 Leroy Savigny les Beaune Les Narbontons 1er Cru

2005 Leroy Gevrey Chambertin Les Combottes 1er Cru

1995 Leroy Gevrey Chambertin Les Cazetiers 1er Cru

1996 Leroy Nuits St Georges Aux Allots

2005 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues Batard Montrachet Grand Cru

1999 Salon Le Mesnil Brut Champagne

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Graileys Welcomes One of Northern Rhone’s Finest: Domaine Georges Vernay

Without a doubt no other domaine has focused on the small region in Northern Rhone of Condrieu with as much love and quality driven effort as Domaine Georges Vernay. Georges Vernay has put Condrieu on the map of the fine wine world and continues to be the star of the region. Today the Domaine is managed by George’s daughter Christine Vernay and her husband Paul Ansellem and holds their family run estate as one of the top three owners of Condrieu. With tiny holdings in Cote Rotie and Saint Joseph, Domaine George Vernay also creates some of the purest reds of Northern Rhone. Last week, we were honored to host the owners of Domaine Georges Vernay- Christine Vernay and Paul Ansellem- at Graileys for an exciting evening that won’t be forgotten!


Vernay 2017


The Wines of Georges Vernay

2015 Condrieu ‘Terrasses de l’Empire’

2014 Condrieu ‘Chaillees de l’Enfer’

2012 Condrieu ‘Coteau de Vernon’

2014 Condrieu ‘Coteau de Vernon’

2014 Cotes du Rhone ‘Sainte Agathe’

2014 Saint Joseph ‘Terres d’Encre’

2013 Cote Rotie ‘Blonde du Seigneur’

2012 Cote Rotie ‘Maison Rouge’

2013 Cote Rotie ‘Maison Rouge’

Vernay 2017 .1

2014 Georges Vernay Cotes du Rhone ‘Sainte Agathe’ ($29.95/btl)- A stunning value! This is 100% Syrah from vines above the white wine region of Condrieu. This is where the value is at! Wonderfully perfumed with expressive notes of purple flowers, fresh cracked black pepper, black cherry, crushed raspberry and a lingering note of smoke. 

2013 Georges Vernay Cote Rotie ‘Maison Rouge’- This powerful Syrah was my wine of the flight! From the small lieu dit of Maison Rouge in Cote Rotie, this is as pure as Syrah can get! Intense spice, licorice, black cherry, black plums with infinite layers of dark minerals and herbs, charcoal, smoke, black pepper and black olives. 


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2012 Georges Vernay Condrieu ‘Coteau de Vernon’ ($169.95/btl)- The star of the night! The 2012 Coteau de Vernon Condrieu was showing at the perfect stage to my taste. Lively exotic fruits: yellow peach, pineapple, guava and notes of raw honey, white flowers and cream coated the palate in a rich, seductive texture. Coupled with heightened acidity and bright minerality, this beautiful Condrieu is impeccably balanced and simple out of this world! 

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Graileys Welcomes Cherie Melka of Melka Wines!

What a whirlwind it has been at Graileys so far this year. Earlier this week, we welcomed in Cherie Melka of Melka Wines, and wife of rockstar winemaker Philippe Melka, who came by to share with us their personal Cabernet project and showcase the stunning 2014 Melka Jumping Goat Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon! The wines were multifaceted, rich and powerfully structured and each wine has a lengthy life to look forward to. Check out the lineup below and grab a few of the flagship Jumping Goat for the deepest parts of your cellar and load up on the CJ Cabernet and make it your go-to Cab! These are no-fail Cabernets to please all crowds. Take a look at our tasting notes below and grab what you fancy. kim@graileys.com


2017 Cherie Melka


2013 Melka Mekerra Sauvignon Blanc- $114.95/btl- 94AG- “Round, Voluptuous, Inviting.” If you want a serious white wine of “real personality and class”, Melka’s Sauv Blanc is perfect for you. Exotic fruits, dense spice, luscious texture and full-bodied, this is not your typical crisp and crunchy porch-pounder Sauvignon Blanc. 


2014 Melka CJ Cabernet Sauvignon- $74.95/btl | 94RP-  We had a good run with the 2013 and the 2014 delivers that much more! Stock up on this beauty, soft and silky tannins here makes for an easy everyday drink. This has been one of our go-to Cabs at Graileys and I cannot stress enough that this is a great one to have on hand at all times.


2013 Melka Mekerra Proprietary Blend- $149.99/btl | 94RP- Killer Right Bank Blend, the Cabernet Franc really shines in this one and was my personal favorite from the lineup. Powerful, Dense, Concentrated, yet beautifully approachable with plush textures- you’re going to love it’s floral and chocolaty notes here. It’s absolutely stunning. Only 425 cases made of this beauty!


2013 Melka Metisse Jumping Goat Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon -$164.95/btl | 95AG- This one hit all the right spots for me. Vibrant and fully loaded with rich flavors, infinite layers, commanding structure, with wonderful richness that we all crave in a killer Cab.


2014 Melka Metisse Jumping Goat Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon- $164.95/btl | 96RP- This is only for the strong and one to lay down in the cellar and forget about it for a few decades.  Snag a case if you want to be knocked to your knees by this dense, multidimensional hell of a Cab. Even with its refined tannins, this is a beast and is glorious now, but will only get better as each decade passes. I look forward to the day I revisit this wine 30 years later.


2012 Melka CJ Cab, in MAGNUM- $134.95/1.5L- 6 MAGNUMS Available!!  This is a no brainer to please any crowd. Grab this magnum, grab your friends and fire away. It’s an absolute steal for the quality you are getting in the bottle.

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A Night with Bordeaux Royalty

Last week we were honored to host Bruno Borie of Second Growth Classified Bordeaux Ducru Beaucaillou and what an epic night it was! For a night this grand, we brought in Royal Chef Darren McGrady to prepare a fabulous meal to pair with these incredible wines and this was one of the best meals we’ve yet to experience from the Royal Chef. A marvelous time was had by all and we thank our members and the guests who took part in this amazing wine dinner.


Ducru 2017 .8


The lineup for the night:

JM Labruyere Prologue Brut Champagne

2014 Chateau Ducluzeau

2012 Croix de Beaucaillou

2010 Croix de Beaucaillou

2006 Ducru Beaucaillou

2005 Ducru Beaucaillou

1985 Ducru Beaucaillou

Ducru 2017



The 1985 Ducru Beaucaillou stole the show! Beautifully complex and with excellent length, the 1985 grand vin was ready to roll straight from the bottle, got better with an hour in the decanter and at the end of the night, it was straight up righteous. Wonderfully expressive aromas and a palate as lively as its nose, notes of perfectly preserved blackberry, red currant and dried rose melted with dried tobacco, eucalyptus, dried bay leaves and turned soil. Softened leather, a touch of black pepper, elegant florals, a silky texture and a finish to remember, this was the jewel of the night.


Ducru 2017 .1



Of the two younger grand vins: 2006 and 2005, the 2005 took the lead with more approach-ability with powerful fruit, multiple dimensions of earth, deep minerals and dense spice.



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Of the two wines from younger vines: 2012 and 2010 Croix de Beaucaillou, the 2012 Croix de Beaucaillou was bright and fruit forward but the 2010 Croix de Beaucaillou was ABSOLUTELY STUNNING! The wonderful 2010 vintage made a great impression to this second wine. It was powerful and compelling. This is the wine you want in your glass as an everyday wine, but could be poured to impress for any special occasion.



Ducru 2017 .5



Ducru 2017 .6




Ducru 2017 .7




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