Perhaps you’re looking for a singular bottle to dazzle your holiday guests. On the other hand, maybe you want a wine to savor by yourself in quiet reflection, in celebration of the holidays being over. In either case, for the rest of the year Paul Marcus Wines is offering a 15 percent discount on all red Burgundy wines priced at $100 or more. We offer a wide selection of standout wines from some of the world’s most prestigious pinot producers. Amaze your friends and family, or simply treat yourself after a long year.

In addition, we’ve extended our sale on all large-format bottles through the end of December! Get 15 percent off any magnum-sized (or even larger-format) bottle; receive 20 percent off if you buy two or more. Perfect for a last-minute gift. And remember: 1500 is the new 750.

Speaking of last-minute gift ideas, might you consider a membership in the PMW Wine Club? The PMW Wine Club offers three different courses, each at the same price of $75 per month, plus tax (and shipping, if required). Delight the wine lover in your life!

Ready or not, the holidays are upon us. In celebration of the festive season, your friends at Paul Marcus Wines are offering a discount on all large-format bottles for the entire month of November! Get 15 percent off any magnum-sized (or even larger-format) bottle; receive 20 percent off if you buy two or more biggies. Please visit us at the shop or online to learn more about our selection (whites, reds, rosés, bubbles) of large-format bottles. (In our online shop, use discount codes magnum15 for one bottle or magnum20 for two or more bottles at checkout.)

 

Wine is love; from production to consumption.

Let’s get this out of the way quickly: For most of us, 2020 was a uniquely difficult and depressing year. To 2020, we say, good riddance.

And yet, 2020 was also a year in which small pleasures and simple delights took on a greater significance than ever before. Perhaps it was a book, a film, an album, a meal, or, yes, a bottle of wine–these tiny lifelines helped sustain us when we most needed it.

At Paul Marcus Wines, we sincerely hope you found your way through these trying times. With that in mind, we are happy to share with you our favorite wines of the year. Sure, it’s only wine. But these are the bottles that brought us just a bit of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy year.

A Personal Selection, A Personal Position (Polemic?)

After 25 years working in the wine business, I have found that I am drawn to wines that excite my intellectual interest, but also provide both visceral and emotional response. Wines that are natural, wines that are products of the land–farmed and raised accordingly. Though it is always true that ethics and responsibility in our daily choices are vital at all levels of societal interaction, it seems to me that they are especially important as we look back on 2020.

So, in that spirit, to pick a single wine is, for me, impossible, and further not in line with my thinking at this juncture. So my favorite wine of the year is really my favorite producer of the year: Jean-François Ganevat. While I am always excited about his wines–no matter the region, variety, or blend–my subjective self is happily subsumed, though not lost, in the larger concern. I have tried to widen my perspective amid the concerns of the pandemic and worldwide racial and economic disparity.

Founded in 1650, Dom. Ganevat makes approximately 75 different wines, 57 of which are listed for sale at Kermit Lynch, Ganevat’s California importer. Furthermore, an unknown and perhaps unknowable number of additional cuvees do not make it out of France, and of the ones that do hit our shores, many with a 25 percent tariff, very few see the shelf. That said, we do have a few wines, about 15 or so–none of them, however, in any real quantity. But, wow, they are stupendously exciting. And delicious. Natural, yes, some include purchased fruit, but no matter if Jean-François is buying from similarly minded friends and neighbors.

Aside from being delicious, sensual wines, perhaps the greatest virtue of his wines is that so much is given to the drinker. It helps to be open-minded, to not go in expecting to find your absolute favorite wine. That is the way all “outdoor” wine works; we can’t always sell you your favorite wine. We all need variation. What I can tell you is that these are exactly what they should be, meaning no more than what was intended or hoped-for by M. Ganevat.

I only tasted with him once, around an old barrel in a deep cellar. He is kind, if overwhelmed with attention, and pours generously, and yes, it is difficult to keep them all straight. But it is certainly worth picking up a bottle or two–if you can find them!
–Chad Arnold

Island Charm

Patricia Perdomo’s eponymous wines are something to behold. At a scant 26 years of age, she already runs a bodega with her sister, Lucía, also a viticulturist and farmer. Their family has been growing vines in La Palma (Canary Islands) for generations, and, in my humble opinion, their knowledge of the land and its indigenous varieties certainly shows in the 2018 Perdomo ‘El Cantaro’ cuvee.

‘El Cantaro’ is a field blend of 35 percent listan negro, 30 percent listan prieto, 25 percent negramoll, and 10 percent albillo criollo. The 85-year-old vines grow at 3,600 feet of altitude on volcanic soils, where the high altitude and dry weather provide conditions hospitable to practicing organic viticulture. The wine itself is highly reductive, with some sanguine notes and gravity-defying black fruits. This is a wine of Burgundian finesse made by two sisters from a wild, rugged island off the coast of Africa. Only 100 cases were produced, and the containers just came in. Get some while you can.
–Heather Mills

Slice of Sicily

My favorite wine this year is like a breath of fresh air sailing off the Mediterranean waters, near Noto, in the southeastern corner of Sicily.
The 2019 Mortellito Bianco Sicilia Calaiancu is a young-vine blend of mainly grillo and a bit of catarratto, naturally fermented in stainless steel and aged for only six months in stainless as well. It has a rustic edge, as you might imagine, since the person who made it is what some might call “salt of the earth.” Think mandarin and lemon blossoms, coupled with pistachios, melons, and olives.

This wine reveals such an unexpected kaleidoscope of smells and flavors. It has a subtle richness, or perhaps, generosity, while at the same time having a nervy spine of refreshing acidity. The limestone-rich soils lend the wine a lifted minerality and moderate alcohol–thankfully, considering the warmth of the climate. Drink this with anything from fresh seafood to pizza–maybe a white anchovy pizza with marjoram or grilled swordfish with lemon–and let the wine shine!
–Jason Seely

Deep Balance

My most pleasurable wine memory from 2020 was courtesy of a syrah from Pierre Gonon, an iconic producer in France’s Rhone valley. The 2017 Gonon Saint-Joseph was delicious and compelling in aromatics, texturally lush and rich and lifted and tannic all at once. It was young and buoyant and simultaneously had that deep balance and structure that communicates it would age with great grace.

But what made it memorable was how much pleasure it brought to all four of us at the table. The white-wine drinkers were confused that they liked it so much; the big red drinkers were just blown away. Wine is better with company, and great wines really demand it. It makes me look forward to next year’s great bottles.
–David Gibson

Love in Lirac

Any favorite wine of mine must meet two very important requirements: high quality and reasonable price. Yes, I might greatly enjoy a bottle of Pommard or Barolo; however, if I cannot afford to drink a bottle of great Burgundy or Barolo on a regular basis, why should it be my favorite?

As with every consumer good, the price of wine is not always delineated strictly by the quality of the product, but also depends on operating cost, R&D, and, of course, name recognition.

This brings me to Lirac, and the 2016 Château Mont-Redon Lirac. Everyone has heard of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but how many have heard of Lirac? Although Lirac is less than seven miles away from Châteauneuf-du-Pape–with almost identical soil types and a similar climate–Lirac remains in the shadows. So if you are ever looking for a dense, earthy, and complex wine similar to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but for half the price, look no further than Lirac.

This grenache-based wine begs for a steak pairing, with a fully tannic body that is powerful yet elegant, a medium nose that is dark and spicy, and subtle notes of blackberry and coffee. This is the perfect full-bodied yet unobtrusive wine to pair with a savory meal (or enjoy on a cold winter night). The oak influence gives the wine a smooth finish, with slight notes of vanilla. Best of all, it is drinkable this year! I recommend this bottle with a nice fat burger or rib-eye steak. It’s also quite enjoyable while watching a good movie by yourself, with the heater on.
–Hayden Dawkins

High in Chianti

Overshadowed by Montalcino and hampered by an outdated reputation, Chianti continues to fight back with a vengeance, consistently producing satisfying, versatile, relatively affordable wines. With Angela Fronti at the helm, Istine is at the forefront of Chianti’s renaissance.

Balanced, nuanced, graceful, and simply gorgeous, the 2016 Istine ‘Vigna Istine’ Chianti Classico is a single-vineyard sangiovese from a craggy, high-elevation (550 meters) plot in the forests outside of Radda. Fronti’s grandfather was in the business of vineyard construction, a business her family maintains today, but even her family had second thoughts about the four-hectare site, planted almost 20 years ago. Says importer Oliver McCrum, “Her brother told me that this vineyard site was so rocky and difficult to clear that they would have bailed on any other customer.”

The ‘Vigna Istine’ is fermented in a combination of stainless steel and concrete before spending about a year in large Slovenian oak. Vibrant, floral, herbaceous, and brightly red-fruited, with a freshness that belies its depth, this is a prized example of expressive, supple sangiovese, anchored by ample acidity and a gentle tannic embrace.
–Marc Greilsamer

Bouzy Rouge

My favorite wine discoveries are often the underdogs, the unsung, the undeservedly obscure, the outliers. And so it is for my favorite wine of this year: the 2015 Georges Remy Bouzy Rouge ‘Les Vaudayants.’

Astute bubble-lovers will recognize Bouzy as a Grand Cru village in the Champagne sub-region of Montagne de Reims. Bouzy is famous for its pinot noir, most of which is made into Champagne. But luckily for us, the bouzillons (as locals are called) reserve a few bunches of their prized pinot for still wines. The formal appellation for un-bubbly wines made in Champagne is Coteaux Champenois (“slopes of Champagne”), but Bouzy Rouge is just so much more fun to say!

The wine is from a single parcel of organically farmed, 45-year-old vines. It’s aged for 21 months in used barrels and then bottled unfined and unfiltered. It’s elegant and even ethereal, while still having weight and presence on the palate. Imagine a vinous line drawn from the Côte de Beaune, through Marsannay, and then projected north a couple hundred kilometers to the latitude of Paris.

The 2015 vintage was exceptional in Champagne, as it was in Burgundy, and this wine now shows the benefit of several more years in bottle. The wine opens beautifully over time, so don’t rush it! Drink it over several hours, preferably in a Burgundy stem or other large wine glass, with duck, braised meats, or simply with gougères or a mild, semi-aged cheese. Then you, too, will be an honorary bouzillon.
–Mark Middlebrook

Cooperative Class

As the Italian buyer at PMW, I’ve made it a priority this year to recognize the brilliance of Barbaresco (in addition to its Barolo neighbor). I am pleased, therefore, to select the 2016 Barbaresco from Produttori del Barbaresco as my wine of the year. It is, pound for pound, price for quality, one of the greatest wines in the shop.

The Produttori is a venerable cooperative cantina with an important place in the history of the Langhe, dating back to 1894. The winery was forced to close during the fascist period of the 1930s, but managed to re-emerge in the postwar era. In 1958, the local priest helped restart production, with the first three vintages being made in the church basement across the old square where the Produttori stands today.

Nowadays, the Produttori enjoys a reputation as one of the very best producers in the region. If you are skeptical that a cooperative winery can achieve the heights of a great independent producer, these wines will quickly dispel that notion.

When Paul and I visited the Langhe a couple of years ago, we were excited to taste a good number of wines from the wonderful 2015 vintage, and they are indeed amazing. But we had several old-timers tell us that 2016 is the greatest vintage that they have ever experienced. The 2016 Barbaresco from Produttori certainly supports that contention. With beautiful fruit, and notes of cherry and anise, it is a lovely, inviting wine already. But it is also backed with a classic structure that will allow it to age gracefully for many years. Antonio Galloni, of the excellent publication Vinous, finished his laudatory review of the 2016 by saying simply, “What a wine!” I couldn’t agree more.

As an additional invitation, we would like to offer our customers a very special opportunity to check out the stunning 2015 Riserva Crus from the Produttori. The 2015 vintage is magnificent as well–so lush that they deliver immediate pleasure, yet capable of developing tremendous complexity over time. Through the month of January, PMW customers will receive 10 percent off of single bottles of these marvelous Crus and 15 percent off of six bottles or more. This will allow you to taste the Riserva wines for only a slightly higher price than the “normale.” Each Riserva is distinctive, and they are fascinating to compare and contrast.

(For more information about the various Crus, please visit the Produttori del Barbaresco website.)

–Joel Mullennix

Under the Volcano

My favorite wine of the year, the 2017 Monteleone Etna Rosso, comes from vineyards at the base of Sicily’s Mount Etna, on the north side at about 500 meters. The nose is beguiling; hard to define, but charming nonetheless. The nerello mascalese grape provides all the clean, earthy, mineral notes and red fruits of this light-colored wine, while a small amount of nerello cappuccio provides some depth to the hue. What I love about this wine is its vivacious life. The flavors sing on your palate; silky yet mildly gritty, it is an extremely versatile wine that matches well with duck.

Sadly, the 2017 vintage is gone, but luckily, we do have a few bottles of the single-vineyard ‘Qubba’ cuvee, which has plenty of years ahead of it. Beyond that, we look forward to the 2018 vintage.
–Paul Marcus

If you’d like to know more about any of these selections, please call or visit us at the shop. And don’t forget, our entire inventory is available online (for curbside pickup or shipping) at shop.paulmarcuswines.com.

Happy holidays from PMW, and please stay safe!

You can read Part I of this essay here.

 

When B. sat down at the piano and made
A transparence in which we heard music, made music
In which we heard transparent sounds, did he play
All sorts of notes? Or did he play only one
In an ecstasy of its associates […]
–Wallace Stevens

Intimacy

I think we need intimacy every day. For me that happens when I hold my wife’s hand, even for a moment when we cross the street, or when my daughter curls up with me and asks me to read to her. I feel close to the world when I read a good poem or when I have a great glass of wine–when metaphor or image lets me in on my own life.

How We Know Where We Are

I remember the day we did nothing
but walk down Willow Glen Road
through fields of Queen Anne’s lace
and lavender thistle toward a pond
quietly leaking its algae scents
to the air. Two wagon wheels rolled
with rust are repaired by their place
in some history, details so smooth
that missing spokes speak like vertebrae.

A stone carriage house holds these
memories like fixed stars, ghosts
of a yellowed cosmology, the first
chapter in a book where the sky
supports the handmade walls, where
rainwater collects easily, puddling
the soft earth. This could be the day
your father said he was leaving ––be back
soon, he said, and you knew it didn’t
matter because you would always remember
how the smoke poured from his mouth
as he spoke, and ferried his words
across the great body of water between
you. It could have been any evening
somewhere in Pennsylvania when your son
asked if he could visit the stars, reach
out and grab hold, needing the moonlight,
it seemed, more than you ever had.

Somewhere near the center of every memory
is a single flower, forgotten in the scrapbook
your grandmother asks you to open
each time she stays. It could have been
any day when nothing special happened,
when children sat in the sun-baked streets
popping tar bubbles, celebrating the solstice,
the friendships that spiraled by the poolside,
the summer air thick with mosquitoes
and no-see-ums circling every gesture.

These have all slipped under the folds
of another calendar when some days
got circled in red ink to remember flowers
picked along backroads, constellations
thrown into place by stories we will
tell our children, and your eyes, impossible
to imagine without the context of these galaxies.

Partial

The glottal stop is not a word but is part of speech. The invisible is in us.

Life’s not a paragraph.

Quotidian Religion

The simple things are at the center. They are signposts, and remind us with every sip that flavor interacts with feeling. When the curl of ferrous sulphate in the rosato rises, or the pinch of spice in the Chinon takes us back to our backyards. The deep well of a Meursault takes us back to our gardens, to the roses, the losses, our fingers sticky with pine. Each bottle of wine, like each friendship, connects us to our lives. The simple things hold.

The Picture

There is this picture my uncle Hank took in April 1975 at Newark Airport. There’s a 707 in the air. It’s about 250 feet off the ground and rising. My mom and brother are on the plane with me. My dad had died two months earlier. We are on our way to Florida to see Walt Disney World. The picture proves he existed. As liftoff is proof of gravity.

The old, grainy, black-and-white picture is beautiful, but you can’t see me on the aisle of row 22, my hands gripping the arm of the seat. At times we’re all invisible. It’s not that my uncle captured us in the picture so much as he captured us in time. Maybe we all have more control than we think. He held his brother a last time and for all time, though this is harder for us to see.

There are so many disappearances. I disappeared first into the plane, then into the cloud, and then into the crowd at the recently opened Orlando International Airport, and finally back to our house on Taylor Road with a different family.

*

When my mother died, I flew back to New Jersey to clean out the house where I grew up. I was surprised to find the picture––surprised I’d kept it. One evening, with the smell of cleaning solutions in every room, I was sitting at the dining room table alone. I sat looking from the picture to the woods in our backyard, and back to the picture. The woods, in their waving, I now saw, had hidden so much.

How We Protect Each Other

I close my eyes
to crimson explosions
to remember watching you
plant iris bulbs
in the wormed soil,
your wife at the sink
rubbing gently the crystal
of your wristwatch
like a coin––
where the rubbing
was a few words
whispered secretly,
saying how much it meant
that you were out there
arranging the earth
before the next rain.

Only connect.

It is, after all, the conversation under the fig tree. The figuring out, the pursuing of:

(       ) or (     ) (  ) or (  ) and (                 )

Chemistry

The Problem of Describing Trees

Of Films & Memories

In 1971, Pauline Kael reviewed The French Connection, starring Gene Hackman (maybe the only actor to have been in every film ever made), and in her review she says, “There’s nothing in the movie (for me) you can enjoy thinking over afterward” ––I think wine reviews that invoke that thinking will benefit wine drinkers everywhere.

*

My uncle Don died this morning.

Tradition

In the opening credits of the 1994 film Star Trek: Generations, starring both Patrick Stewart and William Shatner, we follow, as the names appear in some Hollywood sequence, an unopened bottle of Dom Perignon, Vintage 2265, as it tumbles through deep space to crash on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-B.

There is much clapping inside the ship when the bottle explodes—and the ship doesn’t.

You can see them raise their glasses. Begin to talk…

After Work

I’m sure the stained-glass makers laughed
as they made mistake after mistake. Tracing
the cartoon while only occasionally looking
up. Trying to stay within the lines. All the
curves. An arm only later, clearly too large,
after the lead had cooled. A chest that could
in no human way support all that light. An
extra leg, a joke, noticed just before the evening
meal. The father, after the long day, telling
how the day went. The stories he took home.
Variations from the Word. The spiral of
blue where the earth should have continued.
The children still washing and laughing.
Repeating the variations, and for the first time
knowing the story is not so much a window
as it is a panel of light. As it is a story.

You can read Part I of this essay here.

We tell ourselves stories in order to live.
– Joan Didion

I’ve been thinking about what to say during the pandemic when someone walks into the shop and asks what wine they should drink with dinner.
Something different, I say, as “different” seems to describe most of our lives right now, and I think most of us want something different because we want at least that consistency.

The Central Paradox

It seems to me that we are sharing the experience of the pandemic, but we often feel alone. So open that bottle of Pommard, Gevrey-Chambertin, or Barolo you’ve been saving and sit on your porch–if the Air Quality Index allows–and open it. Say hello to the neighbors you didn’t know you had.

I’ve been thinking about what words to use to tell you…
…that the wine you drink today will chart more than your future. That each bottle you drink and think about will give you more language. That you’ll be able to talk about Rothko and the Faiyum mummy portraits.

Pavane

Silence is a shape that has passed.
-Wallace Stevens

Every glass is a shape, a still life, a piece of music, the curl of green in the tree outside your window. The last plum.

What Do We Really Want to Talk About When We Talk About Wine?

We want, it nearly always seems, to talk about love or the garden. Or the moon dervishing in her scarves.

Say…
…you’re at my house for a dinner party. We’re on the deck. It’s about 7:15, and the Champagne is, sadly, though not tragically, nearly gone. And while everyone is enjoying it, some of us are sort-of-secretly hoping a brave soul will socially distance the bottle and save the remaining third until we’ve had time to try the trousseau. Surely, the Champagne will taste different after a glass of snappy fall-fruit red from the Jura.

I never want to get in the way of anyone’s enjoyment, but too often we don’t try out new ideas, or revisit old convictions. Making alterations in our accepted patterns seems especially important during these times because we might find better solutions or even see problems for the first time.

So why not save the Champagne for a while and see how it goes with the entrée? Or–open a bottle of Ulysse Collin’s Blanc de Noirs ‘Les Maillons’ Extra Brut NV Champagne to go with that piece of grilled rib eye.

Explanations (i)

The drinker is part of the wine. Q. E. D.

Explanations (ii)

We tell ourselves stories because we need to follow a narrative to make sense of the weeks; we tell ourselves stories because we need to lie to ourselves to deal with the pandemic, the fires, the inevitable shifts in our country’s foreign and domestic policies.

since feeling is first
We want, it so often seems, to say what we’re thinking. It takes practice to articulate what our bodies want.

A Lakeside Cabin
All worthwhile subjects exist in part and in paradox.

The less we understand about a subject, the longer the conversation can be about that subject. That’s a good thing. We want to talk about things we want to understand more about, like wine, cosmology, or the price of furniture–though the letter involves rickety logic. Each bottle is its own story, its own beginning, seemingly isolated but sipped along the same shore, our toes trailing the cold clear water.

Explanations (iii)

We are at times only essence.

Two Concepts to Help You Learn About Wine

  1. There is a relationship between what you know and what you like.
  2. It is the strangeness of Goodnight Moon that appeals most.

What We’re After, After All

An accurate application of language to experience. Something new, perhaps? A glass of kadarka or jacquere? Lamb chops at 1:00 AM?

[Stay tuned for Part II of this essay, coming next month.]

If you need recommendations and suggestions, we’ll be happy to walk you through the process and help you build a custom order to fit your tastes and your budget. On the other hand, if you don’t feel like making any decisions, we’re pleased to offer a special selection of six-pack options. Each six-pack includes a sparkling, a rosé, two whites, and two reds, with a 10 percent discount on the set. This easy, no-fuss approach is perfect for Easter–and beyond.

—–

The Sweet Spot Six-Pack ($20-$25)

2016 Rimarts Cava Brut Reserva $21.00
2018 Richard Walzer Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben $21.00
2017 Maurer Serbia Furmint $21.00
2018 Jamain Reuilly Pinot Gris Rosé $22.00
2018 Guímaro Ribeira Sacra Tinto – Amandi $21.00
2018 Castellinuzza e Piuca Chianti Classico $24.00

$117.00 with 10 percent discount (Normally $130.00)

Value Six-Pack ($15 and under)

NV Bohigas Cava Brut Reserva $13.99
2018 Gassac Picpoul de Pinet $13.99
2018 Centopassi Sicilia – Giato Grillo-Catarratto $15.00
2018 Bojador Alentejano Portuguese Rosé $13.99
2015 Château des Gravières Bordeaux Rouge $15.00
2018 Valle dell’Acate Nero d’Avola – Tenuta Ibidini $15.00

$78.27 with 10 percent discount (Normally $86.97)

Giro d’Italia Six-Pack

2018 Vigne di Alice Prosecco Valdobbiadene – Doro Brut Nature $22.00
2018 I Favati Fiano di Avellino – Pietramara $22.00
2018 Cavalchina Bardolino Rosato $15.00
2018 Gojer St Magdalener Classico $21.00
2016 Benanti Etna Rosso $24.00
2016 Castello di Verduno Barberesco $44.00

$133.20 with 10 percent discount (Normally $148.00)

French Classics Six-Pack

NV Tassin Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs $45.00
2018 Château Val d’Arenc Bandol Rosé $32.00
2014 Gitton Sancerre – Les Herses $33.00
2017 Domaine de Montille Bourgogne Blanc – Le Clos du Chateau $44.00
2016 Maurice Charleux Maranges – Fussière 1er Cru $30.00
2015 Chateau Larruau – Margaux $47.00

$207.90 with 10 percent discount (Normally $231.00)

Domestic Six-Pack

2018 Beaver Creek Pet-Nat Sauvignon Blanc $23.00
2019 Loella – Pinot Gris $15.00
2016 Handley Anderson Valley Chardonnay $25.00
2019 Bedrock Rosé – Ode to Lulu $24.00
2018 Minus Tide Syrah – Valenti Vineyard $27.00
2016 Lioco Anderson Valley Pinot Noir – La Selva $40.00

$138.60 with 10 percent discount (Normally $154.00)

 

Order now through our Order Form. We will get back to you and take payment over the phone and you can drive up and we will bring it out to you. If you have shopping to do in Market Hall, we can also place one of our six-packs aside for you to pay in-store.

Even as Paul Marcus Wines embarks on its 33rd year serving the friendly folks of Rockridge and the greater Bay Area, Paul doesn’t spend a lot of time celebrating milestones. Instead, he is always focusing on the moment at hand, which means searching for and tasting another wine to thrill and delight his clientele.

With the shop’s prime location–inside the European-styled Market Hall and across from the BART station–Paul never doubted his business would be a success, thanks to what he affectionately refers to as its “captive audience.” If you put out high-quality wines, he knows, the customers will follow along. However, with that built-in opportunity comes great responsibility. It requires steering your clients in new directions while simultaneously listening to their feedback and keeping them satisfied. PMW has been building that trust for three decades, and it remains the shop’s most valuable asset.

Not surprisingly, PMW has always placed an emphasis on European wines, offering ideal counterparts to the meat, fish, produce, and specialty foods sold by its neighbors. In the beginning, when it was just Paul and Joel each working six days a week, the shop featured at least 60 percent imports, and that proportion has only increased since then.

Though Paul was initially attracted to the wines of Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley, he’s developed over time an enormous affection for the grapes of Burgundy, Piedmont, and Tuscany–namely, pinot noir, nebbiolo, and sangiovese. These are grapes that proudly display their terroir, that distinct sense of place; they boast balanced mouth feel and are structured yet elegant. As any PMW regular knows, these wines represent the backbone of the store.

Along with his selection of splendid bottles, Paul also takes enormous pride in the quality of his staff. From the beginning, he has tried to hire people with diverse interests and full lives outside of the shop: artists, musicians, actors, writers, professors, etc. If you allow your employees freedom to pursue outside interests, he believes, they’re better workers in return because they’re content.

It’s worth noting that Paul often enjoys hiring novices who are willing to learn and might bring a different perspective to the store, in addition to people with wine-industry experience. (He relishes shaping the palates of the newcomers.) Employees are encouraged and incentivized to take home wine; by experimenting with food pairings at home, they can better serve the customers and respond to their tastes and tendencies.

An owner who is guided by intuition as much as anything, Paul has always looked to hire self-motivated people with a strong curiosity and a desire to develop new ideas, concepts, and approaches. Already in 2019, PMW has launched the Wine League, improved and expanded its online presence, and installed a new state-of-the-art inventory system. Even after more than 32 years, the shop is moving boldly into the future while still retaining the homespun qualities that have helped make it a Rockridge stalwart.

To be sure, Rockridge has changed dramatically over the years. As the neighborhood has become a little denser, and its denizens perhaps a little younger, the average PMW customer has shown a bit more sophistication. Pleasing them all is a challenge that Paul and his staff embrace with gusto. Wine is food, after all, and few pleasures in life can match a perfect wine pairing, whether it is for a simple weeknight pizza, special occasion, gourmet feast, or anything in between.

THE FRIULIANS ARE HERE! – VILLA JOB AT PAUL MARCUS WINES

One of the great perks to selling wine is the opportunity to discover, learn about, and taste new wines from across the world. Case in point, last month the PMW team had the opportunity to meet with Alessandro and Lavinia Job and taste the wines from Villa Job, their family winery located in Friuli Venezia Giulia.
This 6.5-hectare domaine is located on the Friuli Pozzuolo plateau, at an altitude of 90 meters above sea level. The organically farmed vineyards are surrounded by dense woods and the Cormor River. The influence of this body of water contributes to the soils of the area, which are largely composed of sand, silt, clay and marl.
The vineyards at the domaine are planted to ribolla gialla, friulano, sauvignon, pinot grigio, refosco and schioppettino. All the farming at Villa Job is done via organic practices. In the cellar, Alessandro and Lavinia seek to produce wines with minimal intervention. Fermentation takes place via native yeasts, and no new oak is used. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered, and with minimal amounts of SO2.

Family owned for generations, Alessandro remembers playing in the estate vineyards as a child on vacation and growing up amongst the vines. Fast forward to adulthood, when he and Lavinia met in Milan. At the time, Alessandro was working in business management engineering, and Lavinia in marketing. When Alessandro officially inherited the domaine, he and Lavinia made the life changing decision to exchange their city jobs for the life of a farmer and winemaker.
Their devotion and passion are paying off, as exemplified by a select range of wines that showcase their commitment to understanding the complexities of the land and vineyards, while producing wines that proudly represent the region of Friuli.
The following four wines from Villa Job have recently arrived at PMW and are ready to go!

2017 Villa Job “Sudigiri” Venezia Giulia Sauvignon Blanc

Sudigiri, which translates loosely to “elated” comes from 15-year-old sauvignon blanc vines planted on a combination of marl, clay and silt. The grapes undergo two days of skin contact before fermentation begins via native yeast in open top barrels. The wine then ages in concrete tank for six months, followed by an additional three months in old mulberry barrels. It is bottled unfiltered, and then spends 2 additional months aging before release. Sudigiri is not your typical sauvignon blanc, as it displays hints of celery, lemon oil, ginger and light clove on the palate.

2017 Villa Job “Untitled” Venezia Giulia Friulano

Untitled comes from 15-year-old friulano (tocai) vines planted on a combination of marl, clay and silt soils. Considered the most classic variety and vinous expression from the region, the grapes undergo two days of skin contact before fermentation begins via native yeast in open top barrels. The wine then ages in concrete tank for nine months, followed by an additional three months in old mulberry barrels. It is bottled unfiltered, and then spends 2 additional months aging before release.

2017 Villa Job “Piantagrane” Friuli Grave Pinot Grigio

Piantagrane is Villa Job’s pinot grigio cuvee, with vines from different parcels and soil types found on the domaine. The average vine age here is 15 years, and planted on a combination of marl, clay and silt soils. The grapes undergo two days of skin contact before fermentation begins via native yeast in concrete vats. The wine then ages in concrete vat and old barriques before being bottled unfiltered. This unique Friulian white displays notes of wet stone, mineral, yellow peaches, and a slightly salty finish.

2017 Villa Job “Serious” Venezia Giulia Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso

Villa Job’s “Serious” is a not so serious but seriously delightful take on this native variety. The average vine age here is 15 years, and planted on a combination of marl, clay and silt soils. Fermentation takes place in open tonneau vats via native yeast. The wine then ages in concrete vat and old barriques for approximately 12 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Subtle notes of strawberries, raspberry, peppercorn and light spice make for an intriguing rendition of refosco.

We’ll see you at the shop!

As many of our loyal customers already know, 2019 marks the 32nd year of Paul Marcus Wines setting up shop at Market Hall. To recognize this milestone, PMW published our first ever Wine Zine earlier this spring. In it, we highlighted several new wineries that we are excited about, as well as recipes, and a fun chronicle of the early years at the shop. For this month’s newsletter, we decided to reprint Part 1 of the history of PMW – from 1987 up through the late 1990s. We hope that you enjoy this wine trip down PMW memory lane!

Yes, it’s true, Paul Marcus Wines recently celebrated our 32nd anniversary! It has been a remarkable journey, filled with wonderful customers, and of course, thousands of bottles of wine. As most folks who frequent the shop know, Paul Marcus Wines champions the notion that “wine is food”.  But how did our guiding principle come to pass?

Let’s rewind to 1974, when Paul embarked on a four-month trip through France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The voyage was both a blast and life-changing.  His experiences with the people, cuisine and

European landscape crystalized the notion that food and wine go hand in hand, and that at their best, are connected to a sense of place. For years, Paul remembered each wine he tasted on this trip, and returned stateside with a deep curiosity to learn more.

Over the next decade, and while working at Leopold Records as the main buyer, Paul immersed himself in wines from the Rhone Valley, Italy and Burgundy. At the request of his friends, he began to select wines from these regions to enjoy with their meals. Unbeknownst to Paul at the time, opening a wine shop to share his passion for wine and food was in his future.

Fast forward to Saturday March 14th, 1987, when Paul Marcus Wines opened its doors in Market Hall, the European styled marketplace in the heart of Rockridge. The shop featured several hundred wines from Europe and California, and Paul and his two employees were thrilled share their journey of food and wine with their neighbors. At the time, Rockridge was a sleepy little neighborhood, and not considered part of the East Bay food and wine scene. However, things began to change.

Throughout the 1990s, Market Hall and PMW became fixtures of the Rockridge community.  Folks from the area and beyond were thirsty for food friendly wines to pair with the remarkable products available at Market Hall. Of course, PMW was thrilled to help slake their thirst. Paul’s wine team grew to four employees in order to assist customers at the busy Oakland wine shop.  “Wine is food” continued to inform all activities at Paul Marcus Wines, and continues to this day.  Please Stay tuned for Part II coming soon!

Over the past several weeks and on your way into the shop, you might have already noticed a new addition right outside our doors. Meant in part to peak curiosity and put a little spring in your step, we’ve come up with a fun PMW chalkboard to do just that!

Whom, might you ask is responsible for this breath of fresh vinous air and inspiration? We are very fortunate to have the very talented Heather Mills creating this beautiful signage and artwork for PMW! Many of our customers know Heather, having enjoyed her wine pairing recommendations and expertise here at the shop over the years. She is an integral part of the PMW wine team, and might we say, our current “artist in residence”. Thank you, Heather!

Thus far, the feedback has been  wonderful, which makes us very happy! We’ll be updating the artwork, inspirational messages and wines regularly, so please be sure to swing by and take a look.