July 2, 2021
Stellareese Cabernet Sauvignon

Stellareese Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Loaded with ripe, dark, enthusiastic cherry and pomegranate flavors, the Stellareese Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 leads with the fruit and follows it up with spice and sweet barrel. Cola, musk, vanilla bean and clove frame all its fruitiness: that cherry & pomegranate plus blackberry and plum preserves. Smooth, ample tannnins, vibrant core of acidity and a harmonic finish make for a delicious, quintessentially new-world style of Napa Cab. 100% single-vineyard Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in 40% new French oak. More Information Rachel Stellareese Davies started Stellareese in 2007 while at T-Vine Cellars, working for Greg Brown. In 2013 the winemaking moved […]
July 2, 2021
Stellareese Grenache

Stellareese Grenache 2018

Loads of cracked black pepper, black licorice, caramel and berry liqueur smells introduce the Stellareese Grenache 2018. Spice and intense red fruits continue on the strong, high-octane palate. Wild mini-strawberries, hard raspberry candies, jasmine, lavender, grated ginger root, cinnamon and anise flavors dominate. With fine and firm tannins, good acidity and a 15 second spicy finish, the wines shows particularly well with full-flavored but not spicy hot white meats. I served Asian chicken & pork lettuce cups with this wine to my guests’ great satisfaction. Whole cluster ferment to showcase the spice. Aged in previously used French oak. More Information […]
June 29, 2021
Katnip Rose

Katnip Rosé 2020

An intentional Rosé made from Sacramento Delta Mourvèdre and Tempranillo, the Katnip has a brilliant, rusty peach skin color, a peppery wild strawberry, jasmine & melon nose and a spicy, dry, barely-fruity flavor. A dead-ringer for Bandol/Provence Rosè (no kidding) at a 2010 price for one of this quality, this is an easy pick-up for fans of this style. I’m particularly impressed by the combo of laser-focus, glowing acidity and pleasing flavor and texture…many say they have all this but not always the case. Raised in stainless steel barrels for 6 months. 13.3% alcohol. Only 50 cases made. Use the […]
June 15, 2021
Read Holland Pinot Noir

Read Holland Pinot Noir “Deep End” 2018

Snappy, bright cherry and raspberry pre-breathing soon turns to summer-ripe red cherries and raspberries, cherry liqueur, black truffle, black tea, dried red rose petals and minerally earthiness. The wine gets richer and more layered as the wine hangs out in the glass…gets better over 5+ hours of ample air exposure. Medium bodied, high intensity, youthful tannins…at 13.5% alcohol the balance of ripeness, acidity and alcohol is spot-on. Great now with lots of breathing time, but it will drink at its very best, I’m guessing, around 2025. More Information Winemaker/Co-Owner Ashley Holland crafts tiny amounts of Pinot Noir, Riesling (both from Anderson Valley) […]
June 15, 2021
Read Holland Chardonnay

Read Holland Chardonnay Peter Martin Ray 2018

First pass, just-opened and poured, has the roasted nut/roasted peach and lemon nose. With air the fresh citrus and orchard fruits jump out. Macintosh apples, white peaches, Meyer lemons, touch of grapefruit: classic. Gets more and more viscous as the hours pass. Caramel, clover honey, river rocks, sweet butter. So much texture and complexity. This is special. More Information Winemaker/Co-Owner Ashley Holland crafts tiny amounts of Pinot Noir, Riesling (both from Anderson Valley) and this Chardonnay from the mystical “Peter Martin Ray Vineyard” overlooking the Silicon Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Ashley’s resume includes winemaking and production at Three Sticks […]
June 3, 2021
Belharra Rose of Syrah

Belharra Rose of Syrah 2020

This “intentional Rose” made from 100% Syrah from “Las Madres” smells of raspberries, yellow plums, cracked peppercorns and pink rose petals. Textural and a little creamy in the mouth, it reminds me of the more substantial Provence Roses in this way. I taste red apple, apricots, blood orange and tarragon along with perky acidity and just a little creaminess that coats the roof of my mouth. I’d love to drink this with a summertime BLT, full of smoky thick-cut bacon, crispy lettuce and garden-ripe tomatoes. From the winery: “The seventh edition of our direct-press Rosé carries a structured stonefruit on […]
June 3, 2021
Belharra Syrah

Belharra Syrah Las Madres 2017

A big nose of smoky, peppery, licoricey blackberries and violets introduce you to the 2017 Belharra Las Madres Syrah. Berries galore in the mouth, yet Syrah’s distinctive character is the star: bittersweet chocolate, smoked strip steak, leather handbag and anise. This cohesive, intense, “very Syrah” Syrah is a delicious, rich red wine. French oak aged…20% new. 14.5% alcohol. From Belharra: “Sonoma had an ideal growing season in 2017, and Las Madres showcases a fantastically rich Syrah. Rendered fat and beef broth intensify the classic crushed violets on the nose. The richness and roundness continue on the pallet with elements of […]
May 27, 2021
David Clinton Zinfandel Mounts

David Clinton Zinfandel Mounts 2017

The David Clinton Zinfandel “Mounts” 2017 is a warm, rich, cuddly wine full of cocoa, kirsch and pie spice flavors. It leads with fruitiness and the spice backs it up (their 2017 Teldeschi is the opposite – spice then fruit). It has soft tannins and pretty low acid, making it a particularly delicious now, ready to drink Zin. The cocoa and cinnamon toast flavors blossom on the finish. This is an easy wine to enjoy and understand. 15.4% alcohol, aged in all American oak, 25% new. More information Two Napans, first names David and Clinton, transformed their winemaking hobby into […]
May 26, 2021
David Clinton Zinfandel Teldeschi

David Clinton Zinfandel Teldeschi 2017

Exceptionally spicy from start to finish, the David Clinton Zinfandel “Teldeschi” comes from 130 year old vines on the Dry Creek Valley’s east side. Amaro, black licorice, black pepper and musk permeate the raspberry/cherry liqueur, wild strawberry and pomegranate fruitiness. Such spice, from black pepper to Moroccan spices to brown pie spices. Juicy, healthy and integrated tannins, refreshing acidity. So well put together. Love this Zin.  Aged in previously used American oak barrels, 15.2% alcohol. More information Two Napans, first names David and Clinton, transformed their winemaking hobby into a business in 2010 and have steadily improved the quality and […]
May 10, 2021
Coho Cabernet Sauvignon

Coho Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

The Coho Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 starts with a Bordeaux-ish earthy-minty spice and warm berry fruitiness. In the mouth the Cab is medium/full bodied, carefully extracted and layered. Deep red berry and pomegranate fruits, crushed bay and mint leaves, sassafras and toasty vanilla bean (50% new French oak aged). Exceptionally delicious at its relatively young age, and also built to age and improve up to, probably beyond, 2030. In a difficult vintage for Napa Cabernet, this is one of the best I’ve had to date. The Coho mantra is on the back label: “Swim against the flow. Lightning glimpsed through water; […]
May 10, 2021
Coho Merlot

Coho Merlot 2016

Sweet, rich aromas of black cherry liqueur, black licorice, cinnamon sticks and roast coffee. In the mouth the 2016 Coho Merlot Michael Black moves to the dark red fruit spectrum with pomegranates, deep raspberry and very ripe plums on the fruit side & five-spice, cola, cinnamon toast and mocha on the non-fruit side. Pleasing core of acidity and super-fine tannins. This is a real winner from Coho that you should pluck up before it’s too late. Coho owner Gary Lipp is approaching 20 years of owner and operating Coho Winery. Since his Day One he’s insisted Coho prioritize grace & […]
May 1, 2021
Localism Sauvignon Blanc

Localism Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Meyer lemon, peach and mango smells and flavors are my first and lasting impressions of the 2019 Localism Sauvignon Blanc. Lemon zest, garden thyme and lemongrass aromas easily identify it as Sauvignon Blanc. Biting acidity and softened texture from oak aging makes for a strong, impressive bottle of Napa white. More Information This is Mom & Pop Winery through and through. Ryan and Nicole Knoth do it all. Ryan is the winemaker (his moonlighting job and he makes high-end Napa wines for others) and Nicole runs the sales and business. Their wines are consistently tasty and interesting. Seek them out!  […]
May 1, 2021
Localism Cabernet Sauvignon

Localism Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2018

Cut from the same cloth stylistically as Heitz and Chateau Montelena, but from a different part of Napa, the Localism Cabernet Sauvignon is super-aromatic, layered and classy. Smell the blueberry, pomegranate, bay laurel, leather handbag and toasty five grain bread. The taste quickly evolves into ripe blackberries, cocoa, earthy tobacco and pomegranate. Like an outdoor rock concert that starts before dusk, Localism Cabernet starts solid and relaxed before building up to rolicin’ good time.  Best drinking starts in 2028 (my best guess). 5% Cab Franc/Petit Verdot, 60% new French oak, 40% once used. From “Schwartz Vineyard” in Napa’s Coombsville District, […]
April 14, 2021
Dancing Crow Cabernet

Dancing Crow Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Smell cassis, fresh blackberry, plum compote and crushed garden herbs. In the mouth the 2018 Dancing Crow Cabernet Sauvignon, albeit young, is mouth-filling and flashy. Doses and dabs of cedar, cigar box included, all with a warmth from careful use of French and Hungarian oak. Tasty now, but the takeaway is the delicious future of this outstanding-value Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet comes from two AVAs: Red Hills and Big Valley – both over 2000 feet elevation where the growing days are hot and the nights are cool. 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendocino and 15% Malbec blended in. Dancing Crow Vineyards is […]
April 4, 2021
Dancing Crow Rose

Dancing Crow Rosé 2020

83% Syrah, grown intentionally for Rosé, 17% Sauvignon Blanc for cut and dimension. On the nose this could easily be mistaken for Provence with it’s savory, spicy, orange zest, not fruity nose. In the mouth it tastes like California with apparent ripe red berry/plum and mouth-filling texture. Yet dry – very dry, with the spice taking the lead start to finish. Touch of black pepper-dusted peach and mandarin orange on the finish. This could be the only Rosé I drink all summer with no complaints. Winemaker Notes: This 2020 wine was grown and harvested specifically to be a Rosé. By […]
April 4, 2021
Dancing Crow Old Stake

Dancing Crow Old Stake 1901 2018

Eight principal grape (+ a couple dozen other red and white grapes) field blend, co-harvest, co-ferment. The old vines date as far back as 1901.  Refreshing, briary red berry fruits and sun-dried garden herbs the initial impressions. Starts quite tight, almost light. An hour of splashing or open bottle overnight brings deeper color, darker fruit profile, more brooding, deep spicy and rich character. The transformation was amazing. Dark raspberry, mocha, cocoa, black pepper and pomegranate flavors come at you all at once after it has stretched a bit. Rich, distinctive, versatile wine that has a long life ahead of it. […]
March 20, 2021
Olivia Brion Tempranillo

Olivia Brion Tempranillo “Shake Ridge” 2016

Napa winery Olivia Brion stretches out by acquiring Tempranillo from the outstanding “Shake Ridge Ranch” near Sutter Creek in Gold Country, Sierra Foothills. Smells great, like red cherry compote, dark pomegranate, dried red rose petals and cracked black peppercorns. Medium-bodied, loads of fruit yet not overly fruity because of the floral/spicy/earthy flavors going on. Its fine tannins make the wine stand tall. Really lovely…full-flavored yet with a graceful restraint. Fantastic food wine. Pair as you would a structured, complex Napa Valley Merlot. More Information With a history focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from “Heron Lake Vineyard” in Wild Horse […]
March 11, 2021
Post & Vine Rose

Post & Vine Rosé 2020

Old-vine Carignane was whole cluster pressed after a short soak on the skins. Dark-ish salmon skin color, peppery watermelon, raspberry and blood orange and herbs de Provence smells and flavors, all neatly packed in a dry, vibrant Rosé that’s equally fruity and spicy. I tasted this in early March 2021 and, typical of early release Rosé wines, will taste even better (significantly better) this summer. With 61 cases made and an $18 price tag, it won’t be available come summertime. Plan ahead. Post & Vine Owners/Winemakers Rebekah Wineburg and Erica Kinkaid launched with their 2012 Old Vine Field Blend. In […]
March 11, 2021
Post & Vine Red 2017

Post & Vine Old Vine Field Blend 2017

The 2017 Post & Vine Old Vine Field Blend is a blend of Zinfandel (34%), Carignane (32%), Petite Sirah (30%) and Grenache (4%) from 65 year old vines in Mendocino’s Redwood Valley. In true field blend method, all four varietals are harvested and fermented together. The old vines give the wine its spicy, earthy soul. Skilled farming and winemaking explain the layers of fruit and texture. The Post & Vine 2017 is brambly, brushy with smells & flavors of violet candies, ripe dark plum, raspberry sauce, cinnamon, garden thyme and crushed black peppercorns that are first shy then blossom and […]
March 8, 2021
Boheme Pinot Noir Taylor Ridge

BOHÈME Pinot Noir Taylor Ridge 2018

The Bohème Pinot Noir Taylor Ridge 2018 has an honest Burgundy-like savory-ness from start to finish. Wild red cherries, blood orange, bone broth, cracked peppercorns, cola, black tea and cooking herbs please the senses and take me on an olfactory journey. Is it Sonoma Coast? Is it Old World? Texturally Bohème Taylor Ridge Pinot is strong and fit with fine tannins and mouth-watering acidity. It’s young and shows it. A wonderful sensory exploration now for sure, yet you’re cheating yourself a bit by drinking it now. I suggest drinking 2024-2034. From Kurt Beitler, owner/winemaker of Bohème: Taylor Ridge Vineyard is […]
March 8, 2021
Boheme Pinot Noir Occidental Hills

BOHÈME Pinot Noir Occidental Hills 2018

The Bohème Pinot Noir Occidental Hills comes from an undisclosed vineyard farmed by Kurt Beitler. The site’s particularly cool micro-climate allows for extended hang time, resulting in a nicely developed, ripe and beautifully balanced Pinot Noir. Ripe red cherries, brown pie spices, anise, blueberres, black tea and cola flavors are generous and expressive even in this wine’s relative infancy. Either drink now or hold for 10+ years: either way you’re a winner here. From Kurt Beitler, owner/winemaker of Boheme: “The components of this reserve coastal cuveé include six Pinot Noir selections grown on three distinct soils. Averaging 34% stem inclusion, […]
March 8, 2021
Boheme Chardonnay English Hill

Bohème Chardonnay English Hill 2017

The Bohème Chardonnay “English Hill” 2017 immediately grabs the nose with caramelly lemon, roast hazelnuts, bright green apple slices, freshly cut pears and a sqeeze of lime. In the mouth it’s both vibrant and voluptuous with all the aforementioned aromas translating to flavors with an extra hit of caramel and apple butter. The rich Bohème English Hill Chardonnay is full of vigor due to its core of cool-climate acidity ringing through. Yep, I’m a big fan of this wine. I would easily recommend it if it were $70, so at $49 it’s a crazy-good value. The numbers don’t “work” particularly […]
February 20, 2021
Fortunati Pinot Noir 2018

Fortunati Pinot Noir 2018

2021 addendum to April 2020 posting: Re-tasted with Gary Luchtel then took it home to make video below. Youthful glow remains. Has the same arousing aromatics noted last year as well as its bright, intense berry/darker citrus and herbal tea flavors. It was a most enjoyable drink. That said, I’ve recalibrated my optimum drinking zone to 2023 and beyond. April 2020: Grabs you with its sweet, ripe dark red cherry nose, quickly moving to framboise, blood orange and red roses. More of the same in the taste along with coriander, black licorice and a careful touch of French oak (2/3rd […]
February 17, 2021
Becheur Syrah

Becheur Syrah, Mt Veeder

Deep, purplish-red color. Savory aroma full of Syrah goodness: dry aged beef, black peppercorns, oiled leather, black olive. Don’t forget the blackberry/blueberry…it takes a couple of minutes to emerge then BAM you get a basket of berries too. Everything’s integrated, soft tannins, dandy acidity, seamless transitions from nose to taste, taste to finish. Is this really “just” $20? More or less, yes (see Becheur’s dynamic pricing system). Get this while you can. It’s Syrah from Mt Veeder, made and raised by a winery that accidentally topped off this 2016 with 2015 wine, making it non-vintage and sinking that wine’s battleship. […]