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The North American Inquirer

This is an almost perfect definition of supermarket wine. I don’t know how this aligns with the Society’s original objective, which was to introduce foreign wines hitherto unknown’.


Dark Horse Wine is a [California]wine brand owned by the beverage giant and wine exporter, E. & J. Gallo.


Oh I see! I tend to steer clear of those. However, I rest my case. Are we doomed?

I wouldn’t call a wine that is mass-produced and can be found nationally across major supermarket chains without any difficulty what I signed on to when I joined TWS.

But then again, I consider myself a minority these days. And it gives the wrong message on inclusivity. This is a place for everyone, and anyone, after all.


Looks like @Sarah put together a new US line-up for the Autumn edition of the magazine. Interesting to see some familiar names on the list, such as Cline Cellars (https://clinecellars.com/) and Bogle Vineyards (https://boglewinery.com/), and some lesser known varietals.

Marked absences include Broc Cellars (who is making some of the most exciting blends - white, red or rose - anywhere in the world at the moment), Sandhi Chardonnays and Tatomer Rieslings and Gruners, part of the new wave of California winemakers.

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I saw this as well and couldn’t really fathom it. I’ve never tried this wine but I have tried the Cabernet Sauvignon sold under the same brand, which was one of the few wines available in a little local grocery shop while I was on holiday once. It wasn’t a wine of much distinction but was drinkable in an emergency. I’m not really sure what the point is of the wine society selling something that seems to be an archetypal supermarket wine.


Speaking of US-wines, I managed to grab the last case of this from my local wine warehouse.


J Vineyards has a lovely terrace where you can take their superior sparkling wine and appreciate expansive views of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.

This particular wine scored 96 points on Decanter and it’s just lovely.

“A splashy Brut created to celebrate J’s 20th anniversary, the J Cuvée 20 is an assemblage from the winery’s best cool-climate vineyard sites in the Russian River Valley. Lemon zest, honeysuckle and faintly yeasty aromas dominate the nose, with crisp apple and tart grapefruit underpinning the palate. Light toast, caramel and almond flavors round out the mid-palate. There’s balanced acidity and fruit on the finish. An excellent display of depth and complexity, proving that J’s still got it after 20+ years. 1.40% residual sugar. 50% Chardonnay, 49% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Meunier. 12.5% abv.”


Hi all,
Delighted that you have spotted a few of the new American listings, 8 in total, in the 1874 feature, there are a few more online too… And as a insider tip - look out for a pretty special one off coming in a few weeks from Ridge by email…
I understand the questions around the Dark Horse listing, however I tasted this wine blind as part of a larger range tasting, and it stood out as offering fantastic value, so I was delighted to give it a spot, there was no other motive, it really was as simple as that.
The same was true for instance of Longevity Chardonnay, also new to the offer this time, and, by contrast, to my knowledge exclusive to us in the UK.
Having stocked Sandhi and Broc relatively recently, the “New Cali” flag is being flown by the likes of Piedrasassi, Stoney Hill and Radio-Coteau (County Line) all currently available and definitely worth a punt if Jon Bonné’s recommendations line up with your taste (as they so often do mine!).
I really hope you enjoy the selection and that this clarifies my thinking behind the range you see.


The US list is looking more enticing than I can ever remember, thanks for putting the effort in. Sorry you can’t get over there this Autumn.


Thanks @Sarah , it looks great. Are there any plans to re-stock Sandhi wines in the near future?

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That just shows the strength of the winemaking behind it.

Piedrasassi has been on my radar for a while. Maybe it’s time to give it a try. The other two are new to me. Thanks!

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Yes, I am tasting new vintages from Sandhi in the next week or two, but they have very small allocations, even with a direct relationship, and the current predictions of a small harvest this year wont help… Great wines though (and Domaine de la Cote) so I am sure we will find a way again soon.


I trust that’s the case for several of these New Cali wines, except for something like Broc, where the “Love” blends are likely more widely available.

It is from early picked grapes and a proportion is whole bunch fermented and so it is a very perfumed, fresh style - violets, blood(!) and pepper - its not to everyone’s taste but I love it!


Do you / have you been to Mustard’s Grill on any of your trips to Napa? I love that place. And the wine selection at the Williams Sonoma shop nearby is not too bad either.

I have been - its a great place.
I also love the Rutherford Grill for a club sandwich, Long Meadow Ranch also has a great shop and restaurant and I also always end up popping into the Oakville Grocery which has a great take away selection which is often what I really need to eat in the car!
My other fav when in Napa or Sonoma (or honestly anywhere in California) is to find the local taco truck for lunch - usually the winemakers let me know which is the best at the time, and the queue usually confirms it!



Thanks, Sarah! That’s an enticing description. Would you say it is similar in style to the 2015 Piedrasassi Rim Rock the society sold a couple of years back? Or is this a different kettle of fish?

Yes similar in style and same vintage, Sashi definitely has a signature but both wines express their vineyard too - with perhaps the Rim Rock being more savoury to the Sebastiano which also has a plum/mulberry depth (for me)


I remember snapping up the Rim Rock a couple of years back, we did a Christmas Day Syrah battle with Clusel Roche. Ended up being a very divided table