A Book and its Cover

My Grandma always told me that you cant judge a book by its cover. She also always told me to never stick anything in my ear smaller than my elbow.

Snappy marketing is a must for new wines these days and I can tell you that the wines that grab the consumer’s eye are the ones that sell. It seems like clever, fun, and artsy wine labels have come into wider popularity in the last five years or so before that we had a boom of inexpensive wines branded with an entire arks spectrum of adorable animals surrounded by bright colors.
Unfortunately, since then a lot of people have the general conception that any fun labels hide uninteresting wines. Sometimes Ill recommend a bottle of wine with a particularly cartoony label and eyes will roll and Ill have to quickly make another recommendation.
 (Of course, other times people will buy up the well-marketed, focus-group labelled bottles with little regard for the juice inside.)
After reading Jay Millers 98 point review (in The Wine Advocate) of R Wines Chateau Chateau Island Grenache, I had to rush out and find a bottle. He uses phrases like alluring…full-bodied, powerful Grenache and Layered, long, and with enormous potential.  These are qualities I look for. Plus, I really liked the label part of a series by artist Istvan Oros, done is a style very reminiscent of M. C. Escher. 

I admit I’m a sucker for a pretty face.  I’ve bought lots of records because of the artwork.

I managed to track down a bottle and shelled out almost 80 bucks for it.  It was pretty good.  I didn’t take notes at the time, but I remember a slick New-World grenache with a bit of modern complexity, but not quite $80 worth.

Recently I got word that the same producer would be releasing another line, the Southern Gothic series at half the price of the Chateau Chateau series.  This series has even cooler labels this time by illustrator James Jean. I bought the R Wines Southern Gothic Poor Thing Grenache, sight unseen, review unread, wine untasted, for less than $40.  I figured it would have to be a good deal. I mean, I’d be getting the same producer using the same grape for half the price, and with a cooler label!

Then I got a chance to try its sister, the R Wines Southern Gothic Southern Belle Shiraz.  Knowing the producer well, I went into the tasting expecting the usual gobs of big fruit, good oak influence with cocoa and vanilla, essentially fruity chocolate milk.  I was very surprised.

The shiraz I actually tasted is Rhone-styled, with a nose of burnt bacon, dust, and a lot less fruit than I had anticipated. The palate shows a lot of complexity black olive, black pepper, burnt bacon, and dark raspberry under it all a far cry from the Barossa fruit bomb I was expecting.  The mouthfeel is perhaps a little thin, but this shiraz is very, very dry, without the tiny touch of residual sugar that is often present in Barossa shiraz.  The wine could use a little more tannin, and there is plenty of acidity and an herbal quality on the finish. 

It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. In fact, I think it’s better than what I was expecting.  I hope the grenache stashed away in my wine cooler at home is just as good I hope it is just as much not what I was expecting.

So I’ve once again learned that you shouldnt judge a book by its cover. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read the book at all.  Try these wines if you get the chance – but supplies are limited. And I dare you to stick your elbow in your ear.

Adventures In Consumerism, Ravioli, and Rosso di Montalcino


It’s Italian Wine Month at Binnys!

First of all, don’t forget to check outthe list of wines we’ve got on sale this month here.Some of the wines listed are in short supply and only available atsome stores. Also be sure to check the eventspage for information on upcoming tastings and other eventsthroughout the month.


Adventures In Consumerism, Ravioli, and Rosso di Montalcino

My girlfriend and I recently entered anew level of commitment in our relationship: together we joined oneof those membership-required, bulk-buy, warehouse-style superstores.After several hours of grueling shopping and waiting in line andcarrying 32-packs of soda up the stairs to our apartment, we lookedover our mountain of newly acquired foodstuffs, and she asked me, Well, what doyou want for dinner?


Both of us feeling exhausted, weagreed that cooking a little of the eighteen pounds of frozen raviloiwe had just purchased would be easy enough. After about six minutesof boiling, I handed her a plate of pasta. She was amazed, and said it looked like something froma restaurant. We agreed on two things: 1) we needed to raise ourstandards regarding dining out, and 2) we needed some wine to go with dinner. And what’s perfect with pasta? I grabbed a bottle of 2003Mastrojanni Rosso di Montalcino, pulled the cork, and saw this:



That red wine stain going up the sideof the cork always makes me cringe it’s a sure sign that thiswine is oxidized along with the orange tint the wine had takenon. But surprisingly, it was still solid and drinkable understated tart cherry fruit balanced with an earthy minerality. The finish was a little abrupt, probably from the oxidization. All inall, it was really pleasant to see that this sangiovese, produced ina delicate, restrained, old-world style, still had the body andbackbone to stand up to this flaw.


Rosso di Montalcino

For those looking for wonderful wine ata reasonable price (and requiring less patience) a great choice isRosso di Montalcino. From the same grapes and region as Brunello diMontalcino, but legally requiring less barrel aging, this more moreyouthful expression of sangiovese is usually much less expensive, somuch so that you won’t feel bad popping one open on a Sundayafternoon to pair with bulk-buy frozen ravioli, butclasically-oriented and solid enough to withstand some aging.


A few weeks earlier, I had tasted the2005Mastrojanni Rosso di Montalcino, and knowing that I had the 2003waiting in the cellar (by ‘cellar’ I mean a little wine fridge from ahardware store) I was stoked. A friend was very excited about thiswine about how the wonderful aromatics gave it the presence of aminiature Brunello. The nose was indeed quite interesting. In thefinish was a hint of copper that I didn’t care for, probably a matterof taste.


After the Rosso, I compared the 2003Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino, which was bigger, dustier and hada little of that metallic note, but not as much. Binny’s doesn’tcurrently have this one in stock, and while bigger, more complex andbalanced, I don’t think I’d be able to drop twice as much cash on it.


I also tried the 2006Ciacci Rosso di Montalcino, which I can’t recommend enough tothose looking for a great deal. This month it’s on sale for $16.99(down from $25) so I suspect it won’t last long. A compact wine,with tart cherries and a little more depth than some sangiovese,balanced with tight tannins, this wine is all about finesse. Seriously, try it while we have it.



Have you had a Rosso Di Montalcino youlove? Think that they just can’t compare to Brunello di Montalcino,or other Tuscan wines? Share your opinion!


Expect more charming commentary soon, and be sure to check out the events page and specialpricing offered this month. Oh, about the bulk-buy superstore: afterfinally overcoming the existential horrors of our mass-consumerismsociety, I did get a really sweet deal on a fifteen pack of canned,organic, diced tomatoes. So, you know, if anyone needs sometomatoes….


Notes From a Kosher Tasting

For years, I worked as a wineconsultant on the sales floor at the Highland Park Binny’s store. This time of year, I’d find myself repeating this same conversationmany times a day:


Where is the Kosher wine section?acustomer would ask.

Right over here, sir. I’d reply.Let me show you.

The customer would then ask: Are anyof these Kosher wines any good?


The customer would pause,take in the wall of kosher wines, side to side, and then ask:




There are a lot of good wines out therethat happen to be kosher. Recently, I was able to sit in on a shortseminar focusing on some wines from the Royal Wine Corp. portfolio a major importer and distributor of kosher wines. With passoverquickly approaching, here are a few wines you might want to try. There’s something for everyone, from the once-a-year wine drinker, tothe nerdiest wine nerd (that’s me).


Easy to Drink Wines From California

A great wine for the casual drinker isthe BaronHerzog Cabernet Sauvignon Jeunesse (I’m told Jeunesse meansyouth in French). This soft, slightly sweet red is designed foreasy sipping, and lacks that tannic bite that people who don’t drinka lot of wine don’t like. We have a lot of customers whoaren’t Jewish that love this wine because of its light, easy to drinknature. We also tasted the BaronHerzog Old Vines Zinfandel, a much deeper wine showing rich, darkraspberry and just enough tannic support to keep it solid anothergood value.


New to Binnys are two new blends byWeinstock simply called Redby W and Whiteby W. Both are light and soft. The red, a blend of zinfandeland syrah, is an especially good value. My tasting notes include thephrases baking spices and pie filling. Both of theseblends usually sell for $10.99, but they’re being launched at Binny’sat the crazy low price of $7.99 through April 7th.



Interesting Reds From Spain

We tasted two reds from producer CellerCapçanes, from the Montsant DO in Spain. Capcanes offers a widerange of wines, just a couple of which are kosher. The 2006Peraj Petita, a grenache-based blend, is made in a modern style,with good jammy fruit and tight underlying tannins. Its biggersibling, the PerajHa’abib Flor de Primavera, is less compact the fruit on thenose submits to a layer of vanillan oak influence, and the deeperfruit on the palate is intertwined with herbs like anise andtobacco. These wines are impressive, if a little priceycompared to non-kosher Montsant peers.


Good Stuff from Israel

Domaine du Castel holds a certain levelof respect in the wine world as one of the most solid producers inIsrael today. The Blancdu Castel, 100% Chardonnay (I tasted a mature 2003) is done in avery Burgundian style, with a presence of baking spices that don’toverwhelm the brightness of fruit. The 2003 is still vibrant andyouthful. The PetitCastel shows a lot of good fruit on the nose. It’s done in asurprisingly modern style, and is lighter than I was expecting (whichisn’t to say it’s light, just lighter than I was expecting) with asolid tannic foundation. The winery’s flagship wine, the GrandVin, (I tasted 2005) has more restrained tannins; the fruit andearth also seem a bit reigned-in. While not necessarily subdued, thefocus of this wine seems to be on balance and finesse.


Finishing up the tasting were the winesof Yatir: the Yatir Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot,and the YatirForest (a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz). I alwaysconfuse these wines (can you blame me?) so it was good to get thechance to finally taste them. The ‘self-titled’ blend is a heavymodern blend, with good fruit and great weight, closer in style to anAustralian blend than to a French one. The Forest is deeper still,impressive with layers of complexity cocoa, blackberry, tealeaves and other herbs, and medium tannins on the finish. These winesare interesting enough that I hope they draw notice from fans of allwine and not just those seeking kosher wine. Still, I worry that theprice tag might be a touch high compared to similar, non-kosherwines.



This list of good kosher wine is by nomeans exhaustive. And of course, the Binny’s wine staff has tried most of these wines and is always eager to offer assistance. Don’tforget to check the listof Kosher wines Binny’s has on sale through April 7th.

Bottle Shock and New European Restrictions

Last Saturday night was movie night at my apartment. We watched the 2008 film Bottle Shock,” which retells the story of the 1976 Judgment of Paris, essentially California’s entrance into the global wine markets. What I thought might become required viewing for anyone in the world of wine turned out to be a copy/paste love-triangle romance tied in with a classic underdog story which references the world of 1976 Napa instead of existing within it. Apart from Alan Rickman playing Steven Spurrier, the acting is lame. At least it’s pretty they get their money’s worth out of the helicopter they rented with all the swooping through the air above the vineyard shots. From a wine-guy perspective, you’ll get more from the 1976 Time Magazine article than from this film.


But then, I’m not a film critic; I’m a wine bloggist.


One of the main themes of Bottle Shock is the sense of old-world disdain for these American bumpkins and their lack of tradition in making wine. It’s probably got a lot to do with that unfortunate classist perception wine carries with it and probably a bit to do with trade protectionism and competition as well. It made me think of this blog entry I saw about a month ago. This issue has gone largely unreported in wine periodicals, but was brought up in this recent article on Decanter.com.


In short, it seems that the European Union is heightening regulation on the importation of US wines labeled with such terms as Chateau and Clos and vintage and Sur Lie. It was years ago that they restricted US wines using location-specific labeling such as Chablis and Champagne, which makes sense, but now they’re taking the restrictions a bit farther. I mean, vintage and Sur Lie actually refer to traits in wine and wine making. And a “Chateau” is a castle. They’re going to refuse to import US wine because of the word “castle”?


Also in recent wine news, the European Union is preparing to relax their restrictions on the production of rosé wine, allowing the mixture of white and reds. The traditional method, of course, involves using red grapes and limiting the juice’s contact with the skins, resulting in lighter colored and lighter flavored wines. The story as reported hasn’t been about the expansion of new possibilities so much as traditional French producers’ indignation at the idea. Maybe it exposes my own naivete, but it makes me cringe whenever those holding on to tradition have to use the law to do it. If tradition is so valuable, then surely the wine market will reflect the superiority of their rosé.  …Right?


I don’t know if these issues are a huge concern to us in the US or just a cause for petty Internet bickering. I suspect that US imports aren’t a significant portion of the European wine market anyway. I mean, if I lived in Italy or France, I’d be sure to drink lots of Italian or French wine. But if that’s the case, why impose this regulation at all? In this uneasy period of declining auction prices and undersold futures, it seems like we should all be embracing global wine trade and spreading international good will, not hunkering down toward exclusivity and protectionism.


But then, I’m not an expert on international trade regulations; I’m a wine bloggist.


Announcement: Oberon has Arrived!


Attention beer lovers! Bell’s Oberon has been released! The blue and orange six pack sparks memories of going to the cottage with a cooler full of ice cold Bell’s Oberon and Three Floyd’s Gumballhead. It is still pretty chilly outside, but to me Oberon being released is a sign that good times are ahead. Gumballhead is available year round (thank goodness) and tastes better and better as the weather gets warmer and warmer.


The king of wheat beers in my book, Oberon is the ideal beer for a hot summer day. It is relatively light, clean, crisp, citrusy, and most importantly exremely refreshing. Oberon can be a gateway beer into the craft beer world; I have seen this firsthand. People who drink all the regular stuff tend to like Oberon, and this may make them realize that there are bigger and better things out there.



Many other summer beers are arriving at Binny’s also. Some that have already arrived include Goose Island Summer, Brooklyn Summer, and Victory Whirlwind. It is pretty obvious that my favorite summer beers are Bell’s Oberon and Three Floyd’s Gumballhead. What are yours?


Old School Old Style’s Comeback Attempt

Old Style

Throughout most of the 1900s, Old Style krausened their beer, but ditched this traditional German brewing process in the early 90s, only to recently return to krausening their beer. Old Style has seen a decline in sales, and hopes that their new krausening campaign will spark sales and elevate their beer to premium status alongside Bud and Miller products. The only problem is that premium status will carry a premium price tag, causing the used to be $14.99 Old Style 30- pack to now be a $16.99 24- pack.


In my eyes, Old Style took a huge gamble in changing the face of their brand and created a double edged sword. In talking to customers at Binnys and reading several articles on websites like beeradvocate, I have come across mixed reviews. Some say that the “new” Old Style is much better than the old stuff, and they are content with the change. Others say that they have compared the “old” and “new” Old Style side by side and say it tastes exactly the same, and it was just an excuse for Old Style to take out 6 cans from the package and raise the price by a couple bucks.


I have enjoyed the “new” and “old” Old Style on a number of occasions. Every Monday night, a group of us hits the local bowling alley, and the Old Style pitchers start flowing. Old Style is the cheapest pitcher there, but did go from $6 to $6.50 since the krausening. And then of course there is the cubbies games; for some reason nothing can compare to an Old Style at the ballpark.


The company says that re-employing the krausening technique will give Old Style a smoother finish, and I totally agree with this statement. The only problem is that part of what I liked about Old Style, believe it or not, was the bite on the finish. This gave Old Style a unique flavor, and set it apart from other massively produced American light lagers. Now on Mondays at the bowling alley, it will be tough to distinguish a pitcher of Old Style taste wise from the other mass produced American light lagers they have on tap.


There is good news for people who like the “old” Old Style though. La Crosse lager uses the “old” Old Style recipe, and is available in 30 packs for $14.99. I have heard from some die hard Old Style drinkers that the “new” Old Style tastes watered down, and these devoted life long Old Style drinkers are now switching to others beers like La Crosse as their daily choice. These guys are no doubt used to and enjoy the bite on the finish that Old Style used to encompass, and arent huge fans of the smoother finish that comes along with the krausening of the new product.


I know one thing for sure, and that is that I will continue to enjoy Old Style at the bowling alley and at cubs games. Time will tell whether or not Old Styles bold move will attract new drinkers without losing to many of the long time devoted ones. I am pulling for Old Style, I like their old recipe, I enjoy their new recipe, they are a local brewery, and I hope the move works out for them. So I pose a couple of questions to you. Economically, do you think this move will work out for Old Style? More importantly, what do you think of the newly krausened beer compared to the non- krausened Old Style that is now a thing of the past?

The Mysterious Case of Old Stock Ale

Yesterday night I did a four vintage vertical of North Coast Brewerys Old Stock Ale with Don Niestrom, a sales associate from Binnys in Willowbrook. The funny thing is that neither Don nor I were involved in any sort of aging or cellaring when it came to these beers. What happened is that a case of Old Stock Ale sent to Binnys in Willowbrook had a four- pack of the 06, 07, 08, and two 09 four-packs. We did a simple switcheroo and suddenly there were four four-packs loaded with four vintage verticals. This is a dream come true for beer lovers, and the four-packs were all accounted for before the end of the day. We were hoping the case we ordered for the following week would be loaded with different vintages, but it came with all 09s in it. I dont know the story of the mysterious case, but I do know it was a gift from the heavens. So Don stopped by after work, I popped a pizza in the oven, and we got to work.



This vintage was just released, and comes in at 11.5% ABV. It is a beautiful red color, and the only one of the four vintages that was clear enough to see through. A good amount of carbonation was evident. It was very sweet on the nose, palate, and finish. The finish also had an alcohol burn, but not an overpowering one.




This one was an orange cidery color, a vast change from the 09 vintage. You could not see through this one at all, as it was very cloudy. There were vanilla and sherry notes on the nose and palate, as well as a noticeable amount of alcohol. This vintage was not sweet at all compared to the 09. The prominent characteristic of this vintage was the exceptionally dry aftertaste. We came to the conclusion that this was not a great characteristic as the dryness lingered for a conspicuous amount of time.


The 07 retained the orange cidery color and cloudy nature that we observed in the 08, but these characteristics were even more prominent in the 07 vintage. It had some vanilla and sherry on the nose and taste. Some English type malts and a bit of alcohol were also evident on the palate. Everything in this vintage blended together perfectly, creating a smooth beer at a deceivingly high 11.7% ABV.



The color on this one was more towards the reddish side than the 07 or 08, but not as red as the 09. This beer was just what the doctor ordered, so much so that I barely wanted to take any tasting notes as much as I just wanted to sip and take pleasure in it. It was extremely mellow for the style yet still complex enough to stifle the most experienced of palates. A bit of alcohol was detectable on the finish, but was faint compared to the previous three vintages.


I asked Don to rate the vintages from worst(not that any of the vintages were bad though) to best, and after some serious thought, he came to the conclusion that the older the Old Stock Ale, the better. I totally agreed with him, and marveled at the way this beer aged. The 06 aged brilliantly, and while the 09 was a high-quality brew, we can only imagine how superb of a beer it will develop into with some cellaring. North Coast Brewery brews Old Stock Ale with intentions to lay it down. They recommend cellaring for a year to let the complex flavors develop, but like Don and I, acknowledge that the longer you wait the better.


Has anyone ever seen or heard of a magical case like the case of Old Stock Ale that Binnys in Willowbrook received? Better yet, has anyone ever had the self-discipline to lay down bottles for a lengthy amount of time?

Focus on Paso Robles

In the spirit of California month, I attended the Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour’s Chicago stop last night. Twenty four wineries were represented, presenting wines from this growing AVA, situated halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.


Wines styles from the area generally have a focus mostly on Rhone grape varieties from petit sirah, to Rhone-style blends (both red and white) to stranger non-traditional kitchen sink blends, and a little bit of zinfandel. They come across as new-world in nature, showing lots of velvety fruit, vanilla, cocoa and baking spice without the overwhelming tannin and gamy qualities of their old-world counterparts.





I have always felt that Paso Robles wines offer a good value, so my first stop was the Under $20 table. The blends stood out the Clayhouse Adobe Red grabbed my attention with deep raspberry fruit and agood, balanced finish. Also the Schoolhouse Recess Red, showing similarly but a little lighter and with a little more earth. Both of these are worth checking out at the $15 price tag.


What was a bit disappointing were the varietal reds – J Lohr, Liberty School, Clayhouse – some seemed a bit light, approaching varietal inaccuracy. Still a value, I might recommend these more youthful wines as a beginner’s step into the world of wine, but maybe not to a customer more interested in complexity.


The inexpensive whites showed mellow, spicy, woody qualities with fruit-cocktail and melon. Not overly complex, but easy and pleasant. Unfortunately, most of these aren’t available to us.





A lot of the Rhone blends - Adelaida Version, Tablas Creek Cotede Tablas and Esprit de Beaucastel, and some others unavailable in Chicago – balance fresh, bright berry fruit with spice and earth. The Four Vines Peasant GSM also followed these lines, with a little more depth, richness, and intensity. Some of these fall into the lower $20′s, representing great values. I found, as a general rule, that bigger price tags don’t always suggest proportionately higher quality.


The Treana Red is always a stand out – this blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah offers heavier fruit with a sense of burnt bacon, or maybe dark-roasted coffee. Also immediately capturing my attention were the two wines by L’Aventure – the Optimus and the Estate Cuvee, both blends of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and petit verdot. Both showed deep, rich cocoa and heavy fruit, balance dwith solid tannin. While it shows a bit more heft, the Estate Cuvee costs an extra $35. At under $50 each, both the Treana and the Optimus are values compared to some higher-priced Napa Cabs, with the interesting twist that blends can offer. These wines are ready to drink in their youth, modern-styled with balanced tannins and fruit showing right now.





As for whites wines spicy, mellow Rhone styles dominate in Paso Robles. The viognier, rousanne and marsanne blends tend to be more honeyed or oily than vibrant or acidic, with mellow fruits like melon or pear. They have a quality of vanilla and baking spice, often aged in neutral oak or stainless steel.


The Treana White caught my attention – good with lots of melon, Adelaida’s Version White was rich with spice (nutmeg?) and the white wines from Tablas Creek suggested dried fruits and orange peeland honey, both are excellent.



All said, I do think these are interesting wines at reasonable prices, especially those in the $15-$30 range. The producers seem to be mindful of the fact that for a little more money, customers can get Rhone-styled wines that actually are from the Rhone, and are working within the formula to achieve something new. They’re drinking wonderfully right now, so if you’re as bad as I am at delaying gratification, give some wines from Paso Robles a try. And let us know what you think.

More California Deals

I’m sure you know that March is California Wine Month here at Binny’s.  Be sure to check our events page to see upcoming events at all 21 Chicagoland Binny’s locations – California themed or not – and don’t miss out on our huge California Wine Adventure event at Drury Lane coming up on Sunday, March 15th.  And of course, take a glace at our March Members Specials.  Some of the items listed are available in limited quantities.

Values from Vinum Cellars

This week, I was able to taste a couple of wines from Vinum Cellars, a small producer in California putting out some decent juice for a reasonable price.  These wines are all about value and fun:

It sounds cliche, but the 2007 CNW Chenin Blanc would be a great white to sip out on the porch on a breezy spring afternoon.  Light and floral with citrus fruit, it has a mellow quality without the bracing acidity of other white wines in the price range.  The CNW stands for “Chard-No-Way,” and with nine months barrel aging, this really does come across as a nice altrenative to the ocean of so-so California chardonnay out there, and at $10.99, it’s all the better.

Another great value from Vinum Cellars is their 2006 Pets Petite Sirah.  A little vanilla from the wood on the nose, then tight berry fruit with less tannin than you might expect from a petite sirah.  This wine delivers LOTS of bang for the buck.  Plus, a portion of the proceeds are donated to the San Francisco SPCA animal shelter Tanker Memorial Fund.  Usually $10.99, Binny’s has the 2006 Pets on sale for $9.99 all month.

New from Napa

Toward the end of a recent recent tasting, I looked up over a glass of particularly fantastic wine, and to a friend – seated across the table, whose opinion I value and respect I said, Wow, this is a particularly fantastic wine. His quick response was, For sixty five dollars, it had better be good. And of course, he is completely right.


Napa Station

New to Binny’s is Napa Station a brand new venture by wine industry veteran Peter K. Huwiler. Though the press I’ve found surrounding Napa Station uses phrases like sustainably farmed and food friendly, I would describe them more like this: Napa Station makes affordable, immediately drinkable wines with enough complexity to remain interesting. The fruit for these wines is sourced from throughout Napa County.


At $13.99, the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc is refreshing and light, showing lemon citrus and maybe a little pear, with balanced acidity. It seems like a lighter version of some of the other California sauvignon blanc I tasted that same afternoon, only at half the price.


The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent value at $19.99. Plum and berry fruit set the foundation for this wine, but don’t dominate the fruit is balanced with black olive, a touch of cocoa, and a subtle herbaceousness leading into solid, mouth-drying tannin on the finish. What’s great is that these austere components are present but still in balance, so the wine is ready right now. Try it with a few pieces of mellow, creamy cheese.


Does Napa Station make wines under $20 that taste like they’re $65? Not quite. But they do make wines under $20 than are better than what I usually expect at that price. They should arrive at most Binny’s locations this afternoon. Try a bottle if you get a chance.