Category Archives: Paul’s Picks

Paul's Pick: 2009 Attems Cupra Ramato

Ask a dozen people to name an Italian white wine and I’ll bet the majority of them will offer Pinot Grigio as their first answer. Recently, I tasted a Pinot Grigio that was so unique it caught my attention.

Northeast Italy is home to Italy’s greatest white wines, and within this region Friuli-Venezia Giulia is the best. This cool, hilly area is ideal for Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Bianco. Attems wines are world famous and are grown in the renowned Collio DOC region, bordered by the Alps and the Adriatic Sea. The Attems estate was founded in 1106, when the Bishop of Salsbury donated the land to Corrado Attems. In 2000, Attems decided to widen its horizons, and allied itself with one of Italy’s great wine dynasties, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi. Attems and Frescobaldi, two families united by centuries of winemaking experience, share a deeply-rooted conviction that quality and distinctiveness in a wine are the result of its local terroir.

There is a multitude of Italian Pinot Grigio on the market and the styles and flavors vary as well as the quality. The 2009 Attems Cupra Ramato
is distinctive not only in its aromas and flavors but also in its appearance. Cupra Ramato continues a tradition of the Republic of Venice, since “ramato” was the term that referred to Pinot Grigio in contracts. A special vinification practice led to the use of this term: the must remains in contact with the skins for 36 hours, and this practice gives the wine a very distinctive coppery hue.

The multi-layered nose of the 2009 Attems Cupra Ramato is impressively rich, with floral scents of lime blossom combining with fruitier notes of wild strawberry and sour cherry, then tapering off at the end with hints of fresh-picked almond. Although firmly-structured, the palate is remarkably smooth and rounded. It is perfect when paired with fish, delicate or vegetable-based antipasti, is delicious as an aperitif, and the ideal companion to summer dishes. $18.99.

To purchase this wine, please call PlumpJack Wines on Fillmore at: 415.346.9870 or visit us on the web.

Paul’s Pick: 2010 Speare Chardonnay

The new Speare Chardonnay has finally arrived! After being delayed (due to government cutbacks-we needed label approval), the new bottling of our very own “house” Chardonnay is available. The 2010 Speare Chardonnay is a departure from the past.

I have always been an advocate of blending Chardonnay from both the Central Coast and North Coast of California (something I learned from

my good friends at ZD). I love the balance of the rich tropical fruits that the Central Coast offers combined with the bright apple and pear flavors of North Coast Chardonnay. But, 2010 was a challenging year for Chardonnay, due to unusually cool temperatures and a difficult growing season. As a result, I passed on the North Coast

Chardonnay that was available and went entirely with Central Coast fruit. Because of the cooler vintage, the 2010 Speare is brighter and more vibrant than what you would expect from a barrel-fermented Central Coast Chard. While it still has the aromatic tropical fruit aromas, the wine also offers high tone citrus notes, is medium-bodied with bright acidity, and a whisper of oak.

It is a wine designed to be enjoyed on its own, or will pair nicely with a variety of foods. The 2010 Speare Chardonnay is made from 100% Central Coast Chardonnay and is a great value at $10.99. It’s the perfect wine for your summer parties or special events. Only 1,000 cases were bottled, and the wine is available only through PlumpJack Wines or can be enjoyed at any of the PlumpJack resorts and restaurants.

To purchase this wine now, call: 415.346.9870 or visit us on online.

Paul’s Pick: 2009 Armantes Garnacha Tempranillo

In a recent tasting of some Spanish wines I came upon an extraordinary value. The wine is the 2009 Armantes Garnacha Tempranillo from Calatayud. Bodega San Gregorio is a co-op founded in 1965 that has 250 members. It is located in the Ribota River Valley, some 20 miles north of the city of Calatayud. The Calatayud D.O. is located in Aragon, a province with a magnificent variety of landscapes (lush river valleys, mountainsides and semi-desert areas.) The name Calatayud derives from a Moorish governor named Ayub who built a castle (qalat) at the confluence of the Jalon and Jiloca Rivers.

The 2009 Armantes is made from 50 year old vine Garnacha (90%) & Tempranillo (10%). The aromas are powerful and rich with concentrated blueberry, blackberry and raspberry fruits. In the mouth, the wine is rich, fruity, juicy, and shows great depth, ripe tannins, and length. This wine has power, intensity, freshness, concentration, loads of lovely, complex and ripe, fresh fruit, spices and minerals. I don’t understand how a wine of this quality can sell for only $8.99! This is a great wine to stock up on, and can help in preventing you from digging into your special wine collection that you should be aging and not drinking.

To order this wine now, call: 415.346.9870 or visit us here.

Paul’s Pick: 2009 Ridge Ponzo Vineyard Zinfandel

I have been a Ridge Winery fan for as long as I can remember. Their Montebello Cab has always been considered one of the true California pedigrees in the super-premium Cabernet category, and for good reason. But it is their stunning array of Zinfandels that always has kept me loyal to this winery, to the point that at one time I subscribed to their ATP (advanced tasting program) Club and accumulated over 200 bottles of various Ridge wines! Ridge has always maintained a signature style and a level of consistency that is admirable. I recently tasted through some new releases and one particular Zinfandel grabbed my attention (although I liked all the wine tasted). The 2009 Ridge Ponzo Vineyard Zinfandel is a stunner! Bob Ponzo’s vineyards are in the Russian River Valley on deep gravely loam soils four and a half miles south of Lytton Springs. The Russian River Valley’s cooler microclimate ripens this fruit shortly after Lytton Springs and Geyserville. Small amounts of Ptite Srah are interplanted with zinfandel in the oldest block. The 2009 Ponzo Zinfandel is reminiscent of Zins from times past. It is not an over-extracted, high-octane knock you over the head Zin, but instead, has an elegance infused with bright red fruits, tart plum, white pepper, dried herbs, and crushed stone. It’s the perfect wine for pizza or barbecue, or just sipping on its own. $27.99

To order: Please call (415) 346-9870 or visit us on the web.

Paul’s Pick: 2009 Val del Prete’s Serra de’Gatti Barbera d’Alba

I’m on my way to Italy! I’ll be traveling south of Rome for the first time enjoying the food and wines of Campania and Basilicata. As excited as I am, I can’t help but feel a little remorse that I won’t be returning to Piemonte up North (where I’ve visited close to 20 times).

Some of my favorite wines come from this region where Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo are produced. We have carried a Barbera from Mario Roagna’s Cascina Val del Prete for years. It consistently amazes me how delicious this wine with its’ intense red fruits, exotic spices and incredible complexity. For Pinot lovers, this Barbera offers the same weight and intensity as a Central Coast Pinot, but at a fraction of the cost. It’s the perfect wine to enjoy by itself, or have with any pasta dish, risotto, or pretty much anything at anytime. $17.99.

To order this wine now, call: (415) 346-9870 or visit PlumpJack Wines located at 3201 Fillmore Street San Francisco, CA 94123.

Paul’s Pick: 2008 Marco Felluga Refosco "Ronco dei Moreri"

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find a wine that had rich, mouth-filling fruit, complex flavors intermingled with spice, some toasty oak, good acidity, soft tannins, and all that for a reasonable price? Wouldn’t it be great if there was peace on Earth? Well, I can’t predict when peace on Earth will become a reality, but I’ve found a wine that delivers all the qualities mentioned above. The 2008 Marco Felluga Refosco “Ronco dei Moreri” is the type of wine I always want to have a stash of at home. The wine is made from 100% Refosco dal peduncolo rosso, a very old varietal, which originally came from the area between Carso and Istria in Venezia Giulia, in north east Italy. The wine’s name comes from the vineyard’s position. “Ronco” in Friulano language refers to a section on the hill and “moreri” to the mulberries that surround the vineyard. Marco Felluga controls over 250 acres of vineyards, most of which are family owned and operated, within the Collio, an important DOC area. The 2008 Refosco is the perfect wine for lovers of Rhone and Spanish style wines. In the nose the wine offers aromas of ripe raspberries and blackberries. In the mouth, the fruit flavors are intense and complex, and even though you think it’s going to be a big juice bomb, the tannins keep the fruit in check, and the wine finishes with ample acidity to make it a great wine to pair with a variety of foods. A little bit of aging will soften the youthful edges of this 2008, but the delicious, vibrant fruit is what makes this wine so inviting. $21.99.

To purchase this wine now, call: (415) 346-9870 or visit us online.

Paul's Pick: 2006 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

There have been times when I’ve tasted a wine without seeing the label, and the impact of the flavors hitting my tongue made me instinctively reach out to grab the bottle and see what was so delicious, (or sometimes so unpalatable.) It happened recently (the delicious experience) when tasting the 2006 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from Valdipiatta. This Italian gem, composed mostly of Prugnolo Gentile (the local name for Sangiovese), has power and depth, with all the necessary components to make it stand out as exceptional—rich mouthfeel, intense fruit, complex elements of terroir, firm structure and sweet oak. The Valdipiatta estate comprises 100 acres of land, at an average of 1,200 feet above sea level, in the very heart of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano appellation in Tuscany. Their wines are made exclusively from estate-grown fruit. The grapes from 7 different crus, are harvested and vinified separately, then
blended together. Put this wine up against any Brunello at $15-$50 more in price and the Valdipiatta will stand its ground. Fantastic now, but this is a good one to tuck away for a few years. Have it with rich pastas, grilled red meats, game, roasts and aged cheeses. $25.99.

To purchase this wine please call: 415 346-9870 or visit PlumpJack Wines located at: 3201 Fillmore Street (at Greenwich).

Paul's Pick: 2007 Cimarossa "Rive di Cimarossa"

Attention all Cabernet lovers! (Wait, did I just say that?)

Check this one out. 2007 Cimarossa “Rive di Cimarossa” Howell Mountain Cabernet. This 100% estate-fruit Cab comes from vineyards planted in a natural amphitheater, at elevations of 2,100-2,400 feet, on Howell Mountain,

in the Napa Valley. And, typical of Howell Mountain Cabernets, it has a firm structure to frame the delicious, saturated, mouth-filling blackberry fruit. Winemaker Sean Capiaux, who has worked as assistant winemaker at Peter Michael Winery and Pine Ridge Winery, has crafted a
Cabernet that gives all the elegance and structure of Bordeaux, but with the delicious fruit from Napa Valley. The 2007 raises eyebrows now, but if you can wait, the wine will drink like velvet 3-5 years from now. Small production-only 850 cases. $59.99

Call our Fillmore Wine store to purchase this wine at: 415.346.9870 or visit us at 3201 Fillmore Street.

Paul's Pick: Mercurey "Vielles Vignes"

For a wine lover there is really nothing that compares to sticking your nose deep into a glass of Pinot Noir from the Burgundy Region of France. To oversimplify things, red Burgundy can only be made from 100% Pinot Noir. For many, red Burgundy is the Holy Grail of
Pinot Noir. No two Burgundies are alike, and even the same wine tasted on different occasions can offer a completely different experience. The curse, (don’t worry, your first born will not turn into a toad,) is once you have experienced the wonders of a delicious Burgundy, you are always on the lookout for another wine that will give you the same delight. Generally, quality red Burgundies have pretty steep prices attached (i.e. Comte Georges de Vogue Bonnes Mares $438.00).

I found this 2006 Mercurey “Vielles Vignes” from Jean-Pierre Charton for $22.00, and while it is not a Vogue Bonnes Mares, it offers an authentic Burgundy experience at an affordable price. From 30-55 year old vines planted on limestone and clay soils around the village of Mercurey, this wine has bright cherry and strawberry fruit, with some earthy and mineral notes. Once it has been in the glass for a while, it takes on richer more complex aromas and flavors. This wine is by no means a juice bomb, but instead, a delicate, and restrained red that is a classic example of Pinot Noir from the region, and a perfect wine to accompany a great meal.

To order, please call Paul at (415) 346-9870.

Paul’s Pick: La Follette

PlumpJack wine expert Paul Birman shares his favorite weekly wine buy! Sonoma Pinot Noirs are popping up like spring flowers, but every once in a while, one crosses our path that deserves close attention. Greg La Follette has an impressive resume when it comes to making California Pinot Noir. He is best known for his rise to stardom as the first winemaker for Flowers Vineyard along the Sonoma Coast. He left Flowers to form a partnership with another talented vineyard manager and winemaker, starting a label called Tandem, creating a beautiful array of wines.

Now Greg has his own label, La Follette, and we have just brought in his 2008 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. It has all the qualities that make Pinot lovers swoon–Rich aromas of red fruits framed by some toasty oak in the nose, followed by a lush mouthfeel and lingering fruit flavors. At $29 this Pinot compares to other wines twice and three times the price. Production is small, so don’t wait too long to try this gem.

To order, email or call 415.346.9870.

PlumpJack Wines (Fillmore St) I San Francisco I CA I 94123