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Noble Merchants

Tom Markakis
September 8, 2022 | Tom Markakis

2018 M

The M by Michael Mondavi Family is truly one of my favorite wines to serve and share with others. It reminds me of how the great Napa Cabernet Sauvignons once were – well balanced, dry and suitable for ageing. The M's excellence is recognizable to the most discerning palates and to novices alike and it is exceptional with food or marvelous on its own, there is rarely a time when this wine doesn’t fit the situation.

The first vintage was 2005 which marked Michael Mondavi’s return to winemaking after more than 30 years. The wine is stylistically similar to the legendary Mondavi Cabernets crafted by Michael in the 1960’s and 1970’s and evolving to embrace the influence of Rob Mondavi Jr and Sabrina Massola who have been crafting the wine together for several vintages.  The M has consistently scored 90 points or higher with all the wine writers and 100 points with me!

The 2018 M carries on the tradition and the scores, with a new look. The M label was designed by former Gucci designer, Karen Joyce, and captures the terroir of Animo through an artistic interpretation of the vineyard roots and soil. The new label is eye catching gold foil, and symbolizes the deep roots of the Mondavi family in Napa Valley, as well as those of the vines on Atlas Peak.

The 2018 growing season was mild, which led to overall high quality and quantity, much like 2016 did. The wine is fresh, with aromas of French plum and notes of roasted hazelnut at the core of the bouquet. On the palate, a medium body and soft textures mingle with delicate and refined flavors of dark red fruits and orchard blossoms to offer a seamless finish to this elegant and opulent wine.

M is a reflection of Michael’s vision for great wine – complex and subtle, made to be enjoyed with a meal, revealing itself slowly over time and inviting you back for a second glass.


Tom Markakis - Hospitality Manager & Estate Sommelier

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Time Posted: Sep 8, 2022 at 10:30 AM Permalink to 2018 M Permalink
Tom Markakis
May 27, 2022 | Tom Markakis

Sangiovese 3 Ways - Crazy!

I’m crazy for Sangiovese! I love its fresh tart cherry like acidity and its earthy coffee-esque undertones.  I love that it pairs so easily with a variety of meals and snacks. And I love the sense of style and whimsy that they can bring to my table, while still acknowledging tradition and offering high quality. Recently I brought three variations of Sangiovese from Tuscany produced by cult winemaker and abstract artist Bibi Graetz to dinner.

The bottles delighted everyone with their eye-catching labels, which are all original paintings by Bibi. We all loved the deliciously quaffable taste of the wines, and to everyone’s surprise (including mine) all of these wines are made from 100% Sangiovese.

We opened a bottle Bollamatta which means “crazy bubbles “in Italian to get things going. It’s a fun spumante with just enough fizz to wake up the palate and a pinch of sweetness that matched the medley of Castelvetrano olives and aged cheeses on the table. The Bollamatta is also certified organic.

As more bites began to appear at our family style meal, we segued into the 2019 Casamatta Rosato. Casa-Matta means “crazy house” in Italian. This wine is a refreshing dry rosé with delicate aromas of red fruit, white flowers, and roses. It was a perfect match for our grilled artichokes drizzled with lemon infused olive oil and tarragon aioli on the side for dipping.

And when it was time for the main course, traditional style Italian sausage and peppers, cooked in the skillet with yellow onions, tomatoes and garlic served with crusty ciabatta bread, we opened a few bottles of 2019 Testamatta Rosso - “crazy-head” in Italian – which is the best word to describe Bibi Graetz: a positive, creative, and passionate person. This old vine wine is perfectly balanced with deep layers of fruit, spice and incredible complexity.

We love these wines and hope that you will too!


Tom Markakis - Hospitality Manager & Estate Sommelier

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Time Posted: May 27, 2022 at 10:37 AM Permalink to Sangiovese 3 Ways - Crazy! Permalink
Tom Markakis
April 19, 2022 | Tom Markakis

White from Rioja? Red from Portugal?!

I have the enviable task of tasting through our portfolio of wines and curating menus to pair with them. Recently I hosted a small group of friends and colleagues for a tasting featuring two renowned wines from the Folio Fine Wine Collection.

The first was the 2019 Plácet Valtomelloso by Palacios Remondo, made from 100% Viura grapes which are native to Rioja. Paired with fresh pulled mozzarella served atop crostini with sea salt, olive oil and garlic, the Plácet showed floral aromas and citrus notes like that of Sauvignon Blanc. The wine’s bright acidity matched the tanginess of the garlic while a mid-palate creaminess reminiscent of Chardonnay complemented the richness of the mozzarella. This complex wine surprised and pleased our finicky group that often shies away from white wines!

Next, we tried the 2016 Quinta do Crasto Reserva Old Vines from the Douro, paired with tapas, including herb cured Castelvetrano olives, aged Gouda cheese, and Genoa salami. It was fabulous! We were all taken by the brilliant ruby color of this wine. The Reserva is complex and versatile, which was no surprise considering that it is a blend of nearly thirty grape varieties indigenous to the region. At times it showed spicy and floral notes, accentuated by the olives, while the salty crunch of the aged Gouda brought out juicy blackberry flavors in the wine. Silky and firm with well-integrated tannin, the wine balanced the meatiness of the salami. It’s no wonder that this wine was listed in Wine Enthusiast’s "Best of the Year" buying guide and scored 94 points!

We were unanimously captivated by these wines and hope that you will be too. We’re happy to offer these wines to you at a 15% discount.


Tom Markakis - Hospitality Manager & Estate Sommelier

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Time Posted: Apr 19, 2022 at 3:24 PM Permalink to White from Rioja? Red from Portugal?! Permalink