Made from 70+ year old vine Carignane and 12% Valdiguie, Frog’s Leap “La Grenouille Rougante” (The Flying Frog) is an intentional rosé, i.e. made like a white wine: grapes pressed off with juice barely affected by the red skins. The result is a style of rosé that Frog’s Leap makes as well as anyone in California. Get mandarin orange, subtle plum and strawberry fruits, citrus blossoms, white pepper and orange zest. Very dry and very healthy acidity…this is a white wine drinker’s preferred style of Rosé for sure. Think Provence/Southern France style.
A Napa Valley “classic,” the Frogs Leap Merlot 2016 shows a slightly darker, stronger fruit and body profile than many previous vintages. Get dark red cherries, blackberries, French roast coffee, black pepper, lavender, cola and cigar wrapper. This is both strong and restrained, as the army of Frog’s Leap Merlot fans have come to expect of this wine. Good match with red meats, bold flavored white meats, mushrooms and most roasted vegis. The 2016 Frog’s Leap Merlot has 9% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. At 13.4% alcohol, it’s ripe but not overly so. Biodynamic and dry farmed vines, mostly from […]
Cool-climate Sonoma Coast sensations galore in this Peter Paul Pinot Noir. Get plum and cranberry sauces, sun-dried thyme and tarragon, ripe raspberries, white pepper and rosewater. As my taste buds focused on the spicy/herbal flavors, the ripe wild cherry and berry flavors got up and stood tall as I savored. The smells and flavors sing in harmony in this medium-bodied, bright, ripe, DDWA “Hall of Fame Value” wine. Peter Paul Wines is owned by entrepreneur/philanthropist Peter Paul and, managed by Martin Reyes, MW and in 2017 welcomed Jamey Whetstone as consulting vineyard manager and winemaker. The winery has made solid wines […]
I really like how this Peter Paul Chardonnay showcases the grape’s body and richness and simultaneously provides the mouth a bunch of lemony tangy pleasure. Get lemon zest, cinnamon-y green apple, honeydew melon, yellow pears and some cocoa (25% new French oak explains the toast, cocoa and spice). Medium weight, good intensity and an impressive 20 second finish. Way over-delivers in the Chardonnay realm for $25. Peter Paul Wines is owned by entrepreneur/philanthropist Peter Paul and, managed by Martin Reyes, MW and in 2017 welcomed Jamey Whetstone as consulting vineyard manager and winemaker. The winery has made solid wines since […]
Black ruby color, Rhone Valley-like aromas of berry liqueur, bittersweet chocolate, black pepper and lamb sausage. Taste begins with very ripe blueberries and blackberries, then crushed black peppercorns, smoked paprika, lavender and rosemary emerge. From mid-taste through the 20 second finish, the ripe fruit and savory spice/herb/floral flavor merge seamlessly. This Rhone-style Syrah, with the help of California sunshine, is a winner – on par with California Syrahs selling for much more. A DDWA “Great Value.” Lunar Ridge is a postage stamp-sized, northwest (setting sun) facing vineyard in Napa’s Coombsville District in Southeast Napa Valley. Owners Ray and Theresa Joske […]
Strong red cherry and dark pomegranate fruit flavors (in the red fruit spectrum for sure) with pleasing side smells and flavors of bay leaf, tarragon and blood orange. Light on the oak and ripe but not overly so, medium & fine tannins, acidity that elevates the flavors…I really like the unobstructed view (by taste) of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon here. This is super-flexible with food.
The Band of Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon represents the grand quality of Napa Cabernet at a fantastic price. Rich, full-bodied, accessible/ready to drink up now and through at least 2026, plenty of time to drink through your stash. No profound tasting notes for this wine, to be honest. Get black cherry liqueur, cinnamon stick, black licorice, cocoa, a little bit of cedar and cigar wrapper. The exceptional-ness of this Cabernet comes in all the pleasure you get for around $40 retail. 6% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 15 months aged in French oak, part new. The Band of Vintners are 8 Napa […]
Not your average Gewurztraminer, the tightly-spaced, hillside, low-yielding Gewurz vines used for “Deep End Blend” makes for an outstanding wine. Smell and taste grapefruit marmalade, orange zest, white pepper, mango, dried apple slices and tarragon. This is fermented dry to 13.9 alcohol, which is low by most measures for excellent California wine, but high for cool-climate Gewurztraminer. You have to go to Alsace to find a worthy comparison for the Deep End Gewurztraminer. Super-impressive. Buy some from Navarro Winery before it’s all gone.
Smells and tastes of fresh raspberries, red cherries, pomegranate, lavender, rosemary, black pepper and anise. Medium bodied…like a stronger Pinot Noir. Fine tannins cover the gums and palate, giving the wine body and force. Neither heavy nor light, this is right in the middle, making it ideal with a broad range of foods from roast chicken, pork loin, burgers, red sauces and even red-fleshed fish like salmon. Neyers Sage Canyon is a Rhone-style red blend of 45% Carignane, 25% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre and 15% Syrah. Napa vintners Bruce and Barbara Neyers and their winemaker Tadeo Borchardt get grapes for “Sage Canyon” from the Sierra Foothills, Contra Costa County, […]
On the tropical side with fresh mango, papaya and pineapple flavors standing out. Meyer lemon, fresh peaches and apricots and apple butter flavors sneak in there. This is more lush and rich than most Sauvignon Blancs, which comes from partial barrel fermentation and the 15% Semillon and Sauvignon Vert included. Really nice acidity…makes my mouth water and want grilled fish, fried foods and potato chips. It also has the richness to satisfy most Chardonnay drinkers. Cliff Lede Vineyards is incredibly consistent in making outstanding Sauvignon Blanc and selling it for a very reasonable price.
Lots of lip-smacking Sauvignon Blanc goodness to enjoy here. Classic fruit flavors like Granny Smith apples, fresh lemon (zest and pulp), tangerine and honeydew melon. Kiss of honey on the finish and a pleasing mouth-filling texture (6% Semillon and some lees-stirring accounts for this). No oak flavor-this wine is all about the bright, tangy citrus and orchard fruits. More Information Winemaker/winery owner Pam Starr utilizes her “AVA Napa Valley” brand to purchase barrels/tanks of wine, making a unique blend, and selling it for a very fair price. This is the evolution of the Bridesmaid Wine label owned and made by […]
A little jammy (raspberry, strawberry, plum) with provocative lavender, jasmine, cinnamon and cracked black pepper smells and flavors. Not at all shy in ripeness and alcohol (comes in over 15%) but you’d hardly know it by taste. It’s fruity, fresh, balanced and perfectly spicy. Tasty with food (grilled meats, tomato sauces, foods with lots of garlic and herbs) or all by itself. Turley Wine Cellars sources Zinfandel grapes from up and down California wine country to make over 15,000 cases of “Juvenile” and sell it for a great price. If you see it on a wine list or on a […]
A Carneros “classic,” Saintsbury Winery continues to make top-notch Pinot Noirs that marry California fruit and savory earth and spice flavors. The 2016 Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir smells and tastes of ripe cranberries, tangy red plums, strawberry, sassafras, briar patch and dark earth. Fine tannins coat the mouth. Just when you think it’s too drying and earthy, the tasty red fruits come on back. The term “Burgundian” is used too often to describe California Pinot Noir. It certainly applies with this wine! Very good now, will get even better through 2022 at least.
On the stronger, fuller-bodied side of Chardonnay. I get roasted pears, lemon custard, lemon zest, roast almonds and hazelnuts and apple butter. Made in a not-buttery, limited oak style. The strong fruit and lees contact account primarily for the richness. Super-satisfying – fans of California Chardonnay are sure to enjoy this. FARM Napa Valley is owned and made by John Anthony Truchard, who has also flourished with his labels JAM, BUTTER and John Anthony, amongst others. All the grapes for Farm Chardonnay are farmed and managed, and often owned as well, by John Anthony.
Heady, rich, full-throttle red wine with no apologies for its big flavor. Fruits: ripe sweet blueberries, blackberries, chocolate covered strawberries. Black licorice and black pepper pop up as you savor and on the finish. So ripe and rich it’s almost sweet. Gentle tannins and not a lot of oak. This a real “bell ringer” of a red wine that fans of full-flavored Cabernets and red blends are sure to enjoy. Crazy-good deal at $25. Department 66 Others is old vine Grenache with Syrah, Carignane and Mourvedre accounting for 15-20% of the blend. From the Catalonia region at the bottom of […]
Almost 100% Grenache, most coming from “Bokisch Vineyard” Lodi. I call this a “Provence Style” Rosé because of its dryness and citrus/stone fruit/strawberry smell/flavor trifecta. Very dry and a low 11.8% alcohol, the 2018 Hogwash is set up to drink bottle after bottle. At $18/bottle it’s a DDWA Awesome Value and makes my “Best of the Best” Value list. Hogwash is part of Tuck Beckstoffer Wines/Seventy Five Wine Company.
A Bordeaux style blend of 37% Merlot, 37% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Hoxsey family’s estate vineyards in Yountville and Oakville. This is fruit-forward and rich with soft tannins and a sturdy frame of toasty oak. Chockablock has all the classic deep, rich flavors we seek from Napa Cabs and dark red blends. Boysenberries, black cherries, cola, cocoa, nutmeg, vanilla bean…all cohesive and integrated. This is a heck of a buy for a Napa Bordeaux-style red blend from Ghost Block Estate Wines.
Rich, lush, smooth and tastes like Syrah. Blackberry liqueur, smashed up black cherries, dark chocolate, a little black pepper and woodsmoke in there. This is a mouth-filling, medium-full bodied, seductive, easy for all to like red wine. Crazy you can get something this good from California for $15. This is a DDWA “Hall of Fame” Value. See all my Hall of Fame and Awesome Value wines on my Best of the Best Value list.
The workhorse grape of the Southern Rhone Valley, Grenache Blanc is an intriguing player, albeit a minor one, in California. This tiny-production, cool-climate Santa Barbara bottling shows off the grape. I think of fresh fruit cocktail: pears, peaches, pineapple and Mandarin orange. On the non-fruit side, jasmine, coriander and lemon balm peek through. Refreshing acidity, slightly creamy texture, a little nutty on the finish. Delicious on its own, even more tasty with ceviche of a fish fry. A DDWA Great Value and a great buy for seekers of alternative whites. 100% Grenache Blanc.
This grape of Gascony, France origin is sporadically planted in Northern California. These vines are REALLY spread out (see note below) in Mendocino’s Redwood Valley. The Trinafour French Colombard 2018 is loaded with fresh lemon/lime, nectarine, crunchy pears and lemon balm. It’s perfectly tangy and pure. Great choice for those who reflexively choose Sauvignon Blanc. More Information I have to say this is one of my favorite California wines because of its originality points (and it’s so darn good too). 230 old vine French Colombard vines are interplanted in a field planting of mostly red grape vines in Redwood Valley, […]
Already delicious at a very young age, the 2017 Newfound Carignane Colombini Vineyard is full of dark raspberry and plum flavors with lots of support from white pepper, tarragon and lavender sensations. This medium-bodied, structured, very flavorful and food-friendly red wine is very good now and will get even better with short term aging. Check out all the wines of Newfound, the creation of husband & wife Matt Naumann and Audra Chapman. They produce small lots of intriguing, provocative and very tasty “alternative wines” like this Carignane as well as Mourvedre, Semillon and more. This is a DDWA “Awesome” Value. […]
For decades Foxen Winery has produced consistently delicious Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and more. In the more department is their single-vineyard Chenin Blanc, a dry version with all the bells and whistles of the grape. Get jasmine, honeysuckle, citrus blossoms, fresh peaches & pears and orange zest. The slightly waxy texture and elevated acidity is a tasty combination. Slam-dunk tasty and an absolute bargain.
A solid California Chardonnay by any measure, the Textbook Chardonnay serves forth ripe green apple, buttered toast, fresh pineapple, lime, pears and grated ginger. It has the creamy texture so enjoyed by new world Chardonnay fans and a freshness coming from its bright acidity. Look for this by the glass at smart restaurants and case-stacked at wine shops and high end grocers. And winery-direct. A big chunk of these grapes come from the Carneros. 30% ML, 30% barrel-fermented (new French oak). A cool 13.3% alcohol. Textbook was created, is still owned and made by Scenic Root Winegrowers which includes the […]