Winemonger Talk

  • La Quatrième Rosé

    St. Valentin, France

    I am going to give it to the French. Not the battle of the rosés, but rather that they do have a bit of a reputation for romance, and this did begin as an ode to Valentine's Day. So they've got that. They also have the sparking wine thing kind of nailed down, with the whole Champagne and all of that. So here, the fourth and last entry in our War of the Roses, the Chapuy Tradition Brut Rosé. And let's just leave it at that.

    The wine, as described by Wine Spectator when they handed it 91 points:"A spicy thread winds through the flavors of plum brandy, white cherry, bread dough and raw almond in this rosé, fleshed out by a hint of ripe watermelon. An open-knit and fresh Champagne, this has a lively bead and a juicy finish. Drink now through 2017." Don't wait until 2017. Just go ahead and drink now.

  • The Third Man - Austria Enters the Battle


    With two rosés from Austria entering the battle, thus making them the second and third, how could we not think of The Third Man? The famous scene where Harry Lime and Holly Martins ride the Riesenrad (that's the big ferris wheel in the picture to the right) on the Prater in Vienna, talking about taking out all the dots (aka people) down below... pretty cold stuff. These two Austrian rosés may take down their competitors just as coldly.

    A side thought about the Riesenrad, since we are rolling up on Valentines Day: You can rent one of the cars (they are actually more like little cabins) and have a sunset dinner. So romantic, and actually some wonderful views of Vienna. And the dinner will be especially great if you are drinking either the Umathum Rosa or the Alphart Rosé.


    The Umathum Rosa: From biodynamic producer Josef "Pepi" Umathum comes this cuvee from the three most important red wine grapes of Austria: Blaufrankisch, St.Laurent and Zweigelt. We love the spice that the Zweigelt lends balanced with the elegance of the St.Laurent, all hanging on the perfect backbone of Blaufrakisch.

    The Alphart Rosé : A very pure style, one that loses some of the aggressive edge that St Laurent can sometimes show, and tends toward the Pinot Noir end of the St Laurent's varietal spectrum (it is a spontaneous crossing of an unknown grape with Pinot Noir.) Crafted in stainless steel, the wine remains light, vivacious and elegant. One tends to forget to mention the Thermenregion when the subject of red wines comes up, but in Austria Alphart enjoys an excellent reputation for his Pinot Noir, and this wine certainly accentuates St Laurent's ties to the Pinot family.

    Saint Valentin is ready for battle. Which rose will he choose? Both are on sale thru 2/14/15...

  • The Valentine's Day Massacre

    St. Valentine in TerniSt.Valentine Basilica in Terni, Italy

    Our War of the Roses quartet would be incomplete without an Italian contender, so we are bringing this one out of the gate first. And of course (and with all apologies) as this is a battle of the rosés as we roll towards Valentines Day, and this one is Italian, a reference to the St.Valentine's Day Massacre of Al Capone was inevitable. But these things all come so neatly wrapped up together: Saint Valentine was Italian and is the saint for which Valentines day is named- he was buried on February 14th. While little is actually known about Valentinus, as you can see in this beautiful stained glass window which resides in the Saint Valentine Basilica in Terni, Italy, it is generally accepted that he was martyred for marrying "unsanctioned" couples, and here he is shown blessing these young lovers. Who happen to be passing a rose between them. The artist almost certainly meant for it to symbolize the rosé wine we are focusing on right now.

    The wine. This Rosato comes from Rosa del Golfo, a winery with ancient roots in the agricultural traditions of that distant part of the Puglia region known as the Salento Peninsula. The Salento is hailed as the best rosé producing area of Italy, a theory supported and widespread by Italians themselves. Indeed, Rosa Del Golfo takes its name from the rosé wine that made them famous and still to this day is considered the benchmark of Italian rose wines.

    Rosa del Golfo RosatoRosato

    The winery possesses two centuries of history, having always been managed by the Calo' family.The hillside vineyards have clay-limestone soils, with characteristic areas of red earth rich in iron, as well as a mild climate which makes the area ideal for growing grapes and olives. It is exactly this "Terra Rossa" (red soils) that are the secret to the structure and complexity of the wines.

    "The best rosé of Italy" is the way we have heard it described more than a few times. Fighting words? Perhaps. But this is our War of the Rosés and Italy has thrown down the gauntlet. And just as we prefer a rosé to a rose for Valentines Day, in the spirit of the pen being mightier than the sword, we also prefer it to a hail of bullets.

    Which brings us to the Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929. Perhaps more is known about the life of Al Capone than that of Saint Valentine, but it should be pointed out that Alphonse was not Italian: he born in Brooklyn. Had his parents stayed in Italy, he would not have been faced with the dark, dry days of prohibition which is surely what drove him over the edge.


  • The War of the Roses

    The War Of The Roses

    Bring it on. A quick bit of history first: Rather than being just one war, these were dynastic battles fought sporadically from about 1455 to 1487 between two rival branches in the royal House of Plantagenet, so should really be referred to as the Wars of the Roses. The name refers to the badges of the rivals: the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. All the big names were involved-  you've got your Henry's and your Richard's, and it wraps up when a Henry kills a Richard, then marries an Elizabeth, the daughter of an Edward, which actually then unites the two houses and ushers in the "Golden Age" of Elizabeth.

    What does this have to do with wine? Absolutely nothing. But with Valentines Day around the corner, ones thoughts do tend to turn to roses. We don't sell roses. We sell rosés. So we are inviting you to skip the flowers and have yourself a V-Day Rosé Smackdown.

    4 rosé wines from 3 different countries in 2 different styles (still and sparkling.) Add in discounts that range from 10% on up to 30% off and you can afford all the ammunition you need. We'll be posting more information about the history and qualities of each of these contenders, but you can preview (and buy) all four of them right here right now.

    So, are you a Lancaster or are you a York? Let's tear down this House of Plantagenet.


    For your orders of Wine or Zalto Stemware, please see below for the approximate transit times. The maps are clickable for a larger view.

    Zalto orders received by 12:00 PST ship out the next day, excluding weekends or holidays.
    Wine orders received by 1:00 PST ship out the next day, excluding weekends or holidays.

    Zalto orders ship out of our warehouse in New Jersey.
    Approximate Transit Times via Ground Service:
    ONE DAY: CT, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY(Eastern), PA, RI, VT
    TWO DAY: GA(Northern), IN, IL(Northern), KY, ME, MI, NC,NH, NY(Western), OH, PA(Western), SC, TN, VA, WV
    THREE DAY: AL, AR, FL, GA(Southern), IA, IL(Southern), KS, LA, MN, MO, NE(Eastern), OK(Central), TX(North-Eastern), WI
    FOUR DAY: AK, AZ, CA(Southern), CO(Eastern), MS, ND, NE(Western), NM, NV(Southern), OK(Outer), SD, TX(Central-Southern)
    FIVE DAY: CA(Northern), CO(Western), ID, MT, NV(Northern), OR, TX(Eastern), UT, WA, WY



    Wine orders ship out of our warehouse in Napa, California.
    Approximate Transit Times via Ground Service:
    ONE DAY: CA (Northern)
    TWO DAYS: AZ, CA (Southern), ID, NV, OR, UT, WA
    THREE DAYS: CO, MT (Western), NM, WY
    FOUR DAYS: AK, AL, AR, GA, IA, IN, IL,KY, KS,LA, MI, MN, MO, MS,MT (rural parts of Eastern), ND, NE, OH, OK, SD, TN, TX, WI, WV





    Winemonger Imports
    San Anselmo, CA
    o: 415.747.8404
    f: 415.462.9862

    The Harvest Wine Company
    Denver, CO
    o: 303.241.1039

    Lanterna Distributors
    o: 877.890.9020
    f: 877-890-9021

    Lanterna Distributors
    o: 877.890.9020
    f: 877-890-9021

    Sour Grapes

    Chicago, IL

    Lanterna Distributors
    Baltimore, MD
    o: 877.890.9020
    f: 877-890-9021

    Little Guy Wine Co. / Great Lakes Distributing
    o: 313.791.5959

    World Class Wines
    Minneapolis, MN
    o: 612.623.1594
    f: 612.217.5197

    Winemonger Imports
    San Anselmo, CA
    o: 415-747-8404
    f: 415-462-9862

    Sour Grapes

    Favorite Brands
    Everywhere in Texas
    972.943.0263 (Houston)

    Sour Grapes

    Lanterna Distributors
    o: 877.890.9020
    f: 877-890-9021

    Elliot Bay Distribution
    Seattle, WA

    Winemonger Imports
    o: 415.747.8404
    f: 415.462.9862

  • Introducing Tornesi le Benducce from Montalcino



    The Tornesi family has owned their estate, known as Le Benducce, since 1750: long before Brunello di Montalcino became known as a wine and even before Italy became a unified nation.

    The winery is still family operated, with Maurizio Tornesi at the helm of both viticulture and winemaking. He is a true Tuscan farmer-  as authentic as they come. Maurizio knows the land of Montalcino and the Sangiovese Grosso grape like the back of his hand.

    The estate has 7 hectares under vines, more than half of which is Sangiovese Grosso- the Brunello clone- used for Brunello di Montalcino as well as Rosso di Montalcino. Also in production are some 600 olive trees. Vineyards are worked fully by hand, and yield-reduction is a primary tenet of vineyard practice, as well as high density planting.

    His winemaking is traditional, with no use of small oak or new oak in his Brunello and focusing on both native yeasts and minimal intervention.

    The first time we sat down with Maurizio we of course tasted through many (spectacular) vintages of his Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino, but we also spied a jaunty looking bottle sitting on the shelf behind him next to his lunch. When asked, he shrugged and said it was "just" his Rossa da Tavola (table red.) He pulled it out, we passed it around, and while it was simple to be sure we were knocked out by the quality of such a humble bottling! It's an absolute steal at $15.50. All of his wines are a steal, frankly, and we couldn't be prouder to have this great estate as one of the latest additions to our growing Italian portfolio.


  • 10th Annual Marin Winemaker Celebration! Sunday June 1 from 2-5

    Taste the best of the best from Marin County's top winemakers, while enjoying delicious snacks set out by La Loggia cafe in San Anselmo. This is the place to be on Sunday June 1 2014 from 2-5PM!



  • Cantine Garrone: Welcome to the Val D'ossola and Prunent

    We are very excited to present the wines of Cantine Garrone. Our in-house Italian specialist, Diego Meraviglia, shares with you the history of this new Winemonger direct import:

    "The Val D'Ossola is the absolute Northern-most area of Piemonte, right in the Alps and right on the border with Switzerland in a closed valley, and it is absolutely gorgeous.


    Historically, Pliny the Elder (the Roman historian, not the beer) wrote about the Celtic tribes of Northern Piemonte having a grape that they were cultivating which he referred to as 'Prunus Spinosa', or, the "wild prune". This is common knowledge and also Jancis Robinson talks about it in the 'wine varietals' book.
    Prunus Spinosa has always been thought to be the original Nebbiolo, or should I say simply Nebbiolo. Spanna, which is the name of Nebbiolo in the more recently popular and exploding appellations of Northern Piemonte (Ghemme, Gattinara, Boca, etc.) was always thought to be the oldest biotype of Nebbiolo in existence.
    However, in this mountain valley where I come from, not so long ago, Celtic remains were discovered related to wine. This has always been an area of archeological sites of Celtic heritage, but for the first time a special wine container was found, demonstrating that the "barbarians", as the Romans called them, were actually making wine. Commonly, the wines here were traditionally made with either Barbera and Bonarda, or Nebbiolo, but there were a few patchwork vineyards up in the high slopes of the mountains that were somewhat abandoned but possessed 100+ year old vines. The local mountain farmers typically and commonly called these vines "Prunent".

    Cantina Garrone (the ONLY winery in Val D'Ossola) pioneered an association of mountain organic growers that made massive efforts to restore and clone these vines and restart production on a more modern and professional manner.


    This took place a handful of years ago and DNA analysis was done on the varietal. Aside from the curious etymology of "Prunent" related to Prunus Spinosa that the ancient Romans talked about, it has now been proven that Prunent is indeed a very particular, very peculiar, very basic and "wild" biotype of Nebbiolo, and it has been stated with almost certainty that this is indeed the Celtic grape that the local tribes were cultivating and from which all Nebbiolo types subsequently spawned from and spread throughout Piemonte, Lombardia and Vale D'Aosta.

    So...this is the forefather of Nebbiolo...the ancient one...

    The younger, more quaffable and simple wines here are made from blends of regular Nebbiolo, not Prunent type, and Bonarda + Barbera...this is the Munaloss. Munaloss is a play on the word Ossolanum, the ancient Roman name of the valley. The Celts called it Osolan (high ground) before Roman conquest and incorporation into Roman civilization. If you go here, the Munaloss is the tavern wine that all restaurants, osteria, and taverns have...the "house wine".  The other is that rare, true Prunent.

    Prunent is a piece of history."

  • NEWS: Winemonger and TexaCali Wine Co. Partner Up!


    Marin County based TexaCali Wine Co. and Winemonger Form Strategic Partnership to Enhance National Exposure

    (SAN RAFAEL, Ca and San Anselmo Ca) ­­– February 5, 2014 – TexaCali Wine Co.. and Winemonger today announced the formation of a strategic partnership to advance sales & marketing efforts for Winemonger imports, wholesale and online retail properties. This new partnership builds upon wine sales expertise and innovative branding from both companies to enhance exposure of the highly sought after Winemonger portfolio of wines and Zalto glassware.

    Owner Alison Smith-Story “TexaCali Ali” of TexaCali Wine Co. has a proven track record of increasing national exposure for superior domestic and international wineries and will be assisting Winemonger with both off and online strategies, DTC management, and widening Winemonger’s successful wholesale distribution networks.

    “After a decade of helping family wineries, top importers and key retailers to achieve sales & marketing goals, I’m thrilled to be working with Winemonger, who I consider to be on the cutting-edge of the wine industry with their sales channels & portfolio offerings. While their fabulous wine selection & Zalto stems caught my eye at first, I’ve admired their business model for years and consider owners Emily & Stephan Schindler true innovators who I also call great friends.” says Ali.

    “Our commitment has always been first and foremost to the winemakers we work with and together we have organically grown US distribution. Now is the perfect moment for us to extend that reach. As anybody who knows Ali also knows her endless energy, depth of wine business experience and loyal following will make that possible. We couldn’t be more excited about the future. “ says owners Emily and Stephan.


    Media Contacts: / 214.437.9100 / 415.747.8404

    About TexaCali Wine Co.

    Established in 2005 in Austin, Texas, TexaCali Wine Co. is now headquartered in San Rafael, California specializes in sales and marketing strategy for independent and family owned wineries and importers.

    About Winemonger

    California and New York based Winemonger is a wine importer, wholesaler and online-retailer specializing in premium estate wines from Austria, France, Germany, Italy and the United States. Winemonger is also the US importer and national distributor for Zalto Glassware.







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