Snob Wine of the Month | Wine Reviews

Quit being such a damn cheapskate. Some wines are worth it. Great bottles for over $15.

Seghesio Rockpile Zinfandel

Cost: Average price $35

Where buy now: Pairings – $21.99, France 44, North Loop

Grapes: Zinfandel

Region: Sonoma, California

Vintage: 2010

Seghesio Rockpile Zinfandel

Nothing says, “Happy Birthday, America” like a big Middle Eastern feast, right! I kid, but really, it was great fun to pair different wines with ample amounts of delightful gyro meat, beef samosas, lamb kofta, grilled veggies and saffron rice. After we began the night with my choice of Prosecco [see this week’s white wine review for more about it], it was time to sit down and englut. My friend whom you may remember from the Merlot tasting, Mr. Encyclopedia, and his wife brought a couple reds, a Bordeaux and this gem of a Zinfandel from Seghesio, which he chose specifically to pair with lamb.


Seghesio Family Vineyards established itself as a winery in 1895. Throughout the years, they bought other vineyards and that is why you’ll see Seghesio wines labelled “Old Vines Zinfandel”, “Home Ranch Zinfandel”, “Rockpile”, etc. I won’t go into details, so you can read up more here

I’d had Seghesio Zinfandel a couple years ago and I remembered that it was great but couldn’t recall which vineyard it hailed from. However, Mr. Encyclopedia brought the Rockpile-grown Zinfandel, which proved to be exceptional. Rockpile is a narrow ridge about 1200 feet above Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County. This area along the hillside has well drained vines with shallow, rocky topsoil. What’s the big deal? Well, this terroir creates an intense and smokey Zinfandel that begs to be paired with BBQ and lamb.

The Rockpile Zin was opened for about an hour ahead of time. We poured glasses and clinked “To America!”

Cheers America

We piled meat upon meat and sprinkled said vittles with a smattering of hummus, baba ganouj, hot sauce and tzatziki. Each of us remarked how delicious it not only tasted but also how well it stood up to all the exotic grilled meats.


This wine is bold, but not in a “smack you on the face” sort of way. It has major fruit action, deep cherry and raspberry flavors, with smoke and spice. It wasn’t overly dry or tannic, just balanced and flavorful. I love Zinfandel but usually don’t buy one for more than $15. This one  is typically around $25, but it is sooooo worth it.

Fritz Russian River Valley Chardonnay

Cost: Average price $23.99

Where buy now: Byerly’s Ridgedale

Grapes: 100% Chardonnay

Region: Russian River Valley in Sonoma, California

Vintage: 2007

Fritz Chardonnay

The Fritz Chardonnay

Golden glowing in my glass

Lemony smooth love

This wine is so delightful that it made me write a haiku. Remember writing haikus in school? I loved it. What a great exercise to tell a story within a concise 5/7/5 phrasing. I believe the haiku once was the Japanese equivalent to Twitter.

I could wax on and on about this but instead, let me introduce you to one of my favorite wines. First, a disclosure: I’m not a huge Chardonnay drinker. Perhaps this is why I hold this special wine so near and dear to my heart. Second, I don’t know ONE person who doesn’t love this wine. I’d even go so far as to say that this wine was the impetus to start this whole Savvy Lush endeavor!

Flashback almost three years ago, I was perusing the St. Anthony Village Municipal’s (aka “The Muni” or “SAV”) aisles when I saw wine sale signs proclaiming, “Only store in Minnesota who has this wine!”. (Insert car tire screech sound effect.) Hmmmm… $14. Go out of my $10 comfort zone, and for what? A bottle of *gasp* Chardonnay? Hey, you gots to roll the dice sometimes, folks.

That night will forever go down in history as “The evening I fell in love with Fritz”.

What did I fall in love with? This is a superlatively balanced Chardonnay: not too citric, not too oaky, not too buttery, but a solid bit of all three! Aromas of lemon zest, hints of guava, and the a minor touch of vanilla keeps this wine smooth and supple whilst magic carpeting your ass to Happy. Where is “Happy”? I don’t know, but when you’re already floating on a magic carpet, and you’ve got Fritz in tow, it’s always around the bend. Oh, and it never hurts to throw Javier Bardem in there somewhere.

I rushed out the next day, bought another couple bottles, and took one to a dinner party that night. My friends loved it so much, the host called a week later asking about it. Not long after, I bought another bottle and took it to yet another dinner party. They fell similarly smitten, and called up the next day to ask where I purchased it. In fact, they loved it so much, they bought a whole damn case of it! The REAL coup de tat was with crab legs on my b-day. I have trouble discussing that experience without fits of nostalgic tears. Salty, buttery tears.

And so, this love affair continued for a few months, until one day, The SAV Muni sold out of it. I found out from the friends who bought a case, and who wisely bought the remaining bottles. Even though they brought us a bottle, it seemed like the end of an era. (BTW, that bottle sat in the fridge gathering ogling glances for almost two years! That is the longest a bottle has sat in my house.)

A wine this good surely would show up at some other fine spirit peddling establishment, right? But alas, I could never find it. Finally,curiosity and pure longing prompted me to contact the winery. They sent me to the distributor. The distributor told me about a couple restaurants that _may_ be serving it. Ugh, no. This is not working for me. So, I turned to the social media airwaves, calling upon the [cyber] Wine Gods for anyone local to please, please stock the Fritz Chardonnay! My pleading call to action was answered by Byerly’s in both Ridgedale and Eagan.

Three years later this wine runs for $23.99, but it is sooooo worth it. I’ve gathered that there’s going to be a slight shortage of premium California wines from this vintage. Rodney from Byerly’s Ridgedale made me privy to this article: Spectator

The evil trifecta of lackluster crops, depleted vines and increased consumption will likely result in increased prices. In the meantime, Byerly’s Ridgedale stocked up so there is Fritz Chardonnay for everyone to enjoy! Pick up a couple bottles. Enjoy one now and save one. Head down to Sea Salt Eatery in Minnehaha Falls Park with a bottle in tow. For a mere $5 corkage fee, sip it alongside some fish tacos and a crab cake sammie, or perhaps some salmon (the other pink meat).

Happy carpet riding, indeed.

Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir

Cost: Average price $40

Where buy now: France 44 – $39.99

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Central Coast, Santa Maria, California

Vintage: 2010

Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir

If you are looking for a splurge or need to find a great gift, I must send you to France 44 for this lovely bottle of Pinot Noir. The packaging alone is magnificent! If you love the melty-wax goodness look of the Maker’s Mark seal, this bottle won’t disappoint. It, too, has a sexy, waxy closure. But, unlike the April “Skank of the Month” I reviewed, this bottle is much more than just a pretty face.

Belle Glos Clark and Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir comes from a single vineyard in Santa Barbara, California. The vines sit at a lower altitude and this warmer climate produces more concentrated berry-fruit flavors. The strands used to make this wine are some of the oldest and largest in California.

Quite simply, it’s just a kick ass Pinot Noir. I had the pleasure of assisting a wine tasting host out at France 44 a month ago and this was one of said bottles. It was a favorite amongst the shoppers and definitely one of mine. Expect tastes that are both smooth, and yet complex. Flavors of tart ripe berries and sweet baking spices swirl with what seems like flavor of the ocean air lends itself to mouth-full of scrumptiousness.

Last, but not least: this is a wine you’ll want to stick your nose in- what a bouquet! Don’t be shy with this one, and retrieve scents of berries with a touch of cinnamon. And, oh yeah, the flavor on the tongue ain’t too bad, either.

I really don’t have much else to say [for once], and you know what? That’s just OK. Some wines just leave you with little more than a warm, fuzzy grin.