January 15, 2021
Cufflinks White Wine

Cufflinks White Wine Napa Valley

Cufflinks White is a blend of 72% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon, 6% Ribolla Gialla and 2% Chardonnay (mostly 2018 vintage). A high-end negociant wine (buy unbottled, blend it, bottle it), this truly unique white blend is an aromatic, textural delight. Honeysuckle, mango, Meyer lemon, Honeycrisp apples, blanched almonds and mandarin oranges come to mind from extroverted nose to the end of its 20 second finish. Round, rich texture in the same camp as a cool-climate Chardonnay (the winery compares it to White Bordeaux). Leaves me with a lemon bitters/almond skin finish. If anything, this wine has TOO much flavor and […]
December 18, 2020
Prima Materia Aglianico

Prima Materia Aglianico

Dark color, spicy ripe berry nose, strong flavor with low acid and soft tannins. The dark cocoa, wild mushroom and black licorice complement the oodles of concentrated blackberry, black currant and dried black fig flavors. While not so many wine drinkers know Aglianico, many do know strong red wine and like it. Such drinkers will very much like the Prima Materia Aglianico. Notes from Prima Materia owner/winemaker Pietro Buttitta: “Grown at 1450’ elevation on red, obsidian-strewn soil resulting from Mt. Konocti’s volcanic upheaval, Aglianico is Prima Materia’s most important bottling. Our biggest, boldest red. Black fruits with black cherry, licorice, baking […]
December 15, 2020
Jolie Laide GSM

Jolie Laide Grenache Syrah Mourvedre 2018

Ripe and sweet-smelling blueberries, black licorice, dry-aged beef, violets and lavender and earthy spices come to mind on the Jolie Laide GSM’s deep, complex nose. In the mouth, the wine is layered, intense and youthful. Red berry and plum fruits peek through along with mandarin orange, new leather and cracked black pepper. Built to last and evolve with its healthy acidity and fine tannins, the wine will reach its optimal drinking plateau around 2025 and stay there for 10+ years. Co-owner/winemaker Scott Schultz: “Shake Ridge is an undulating and diverse 46-acre vineyard nestled about 1750ft. up in the Sierra foothills, […]
December 15, 2020
Jolie Laide Gamay

Jolie Laide Gamay 2019

Stealing from co-owner/winemaker Scott Schultz, the Jolie Laide Gamay “Barsotti” 2019 is “Wild strawberry and summer herbs with cranberry tartness.” Running alongside the strawberry nose is watermelon Jolly Rancher, dried orange peels, violets and black tea. Tartness indeed, although I prefer tangy…same thing but sounds better. Because I know the vines grow in granite, I taste the rock (just like I do in Cru Beaujolais – nothing wrong with riding the power of suggestion) plus peach pit, white pepper and lots of baby strawberries and raspberry. Its healthy tannic structure unwinds with plenty of air – I find the wine […]
December 9, 2020
Poseidon Chardonnay The Bench

Poseidon Chardonnay The Bench 2018

Utterly delicious, the Poseidon Chardonnay The Bench possesses new world ripeness, cool Carneros acidity and deft winemaking that in tandem has created a bright, fruity, textured, quintessential California Chardonnay. Buttery croissants, crunchy pears, lemon cream and green tea smells and flavors delight from nose to finish. Round, creamy texture, mouth-watering acidity and comforting, warm sensation of fresh bread and nutmeg on the finish make for a complete, outstanding Chardonnay. “The fruit was pressed whole-cluster in small batches and then barrel-fermented in 20% new, 300-liter barrels that were lightly toasted specifically for this wine. These special, larger-format barrels provided all the […]
December 9, 2020
Poseidon Chardonnay Sea Change

Poseidon Chardonnay “Sea Change” 2019

Engagingly crisp fresh bread crust and textured nuance on the back end, the Poseidon Chardonnay Sea Change succeeds in their version of the oft-attempted tangy, naked “alternative style.” First impressions are yellow grapefruit, quince, lemon blossoms, lemon squeeze then bread crust and white chocolate flavors peek through at the end. Pleasingly tart and layered, this polished Chardonnay is an extremely versatile wine at the dinner table. Alex Beloz, Winemaker: “The fruit was harvested by hand in mid-September when we felt acidity was at its peak. The grapes were pressed whole-cluster into a stainless steel tank to preserve freshness, then allowed […]
December 8, 2020
Obsidian Ridge The Chief

Obsidian Ridge The Chief 2017

Ideally ripe, structured and complex, the Obsidian Ridge The Chief is an outstanding, limited production Cab-based blend. The estate vineyard in Lake County’s Red Hills AVA is over 2500 feet high planted in obsidian/volcanic rock. Decant at least two hours (important) then taste roast herbs de Provence, wild blueberries, dried black cherries, dried cedar and sweet pomegranate seeds. Structured and bright from its natural acidity, the wines attributes are cohesive and harmonious. Again, you must decant well prior to imbibement for the full effect. Better yet, cellar until 2030 and enjoy through 2040 and beyond. % of Malbec and Petit […]
December 8, 2020
Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon

Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

The 2017 Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon has a Cabernet Franc-esque aroma of fresh bay leaves, sage and thyme. Black currants, dried blueberries and dark pomegranate make a pointed entrance on the mid-palate. Structure and vibrancy persist start to finish, attributable to the 2600 feet high, sloping vineyard on deep volcanic soil. Bittersweet chocolate and black cherry liqueur are at the core of the wine, showing themselves on the back palate and early finish before mountain tannins take over. A meat-eater’s wine, it would make a great foil with a grilled ribeye or New York strip. 2% each Malbec and Petit […]
December 8, 2020
Poseidon Rose

Poseidon Rosé For The Bay 2019

The Poseidon Rosé for the Bay is an altruistic venture and a damn good wine to boot. 100% Pinot Noir from Poseidon’s Carneros Estate vineyard, picked intentionally for Rosé. Wild red cherry, watermelon Jolly Rancher, lime sqeeze and dried orange peels come to mind in this crisp, vibrant Rosé that is both restrained yet not lacking in any way. True it’s a “summer wine” at heart…in MY heart it’s a 365 day wine (366 in leap years). From the winery: “Poseidon Rosé for the Bay is vinified in support of the San Francisco Baykeeper. Peter Molnar, Co-Founder of Poseidon Vineyard, […]
December 1, 2020
Olivia Brion Taquine

Olivia Brion Taquine 2019

The Olivia Brion Taquine 2019 is a unique blend of 50% Viognier, 38% Gewurztraminer and 12% Chardonnay. Fruit sources are Amador, Russian River and Wild Horse Valley respectively. A tart, cutting aroma of Meyer lemon zest, Kaffir lime leaf, orange blossoms and white peach points to its racy, aperitif style. Taste grapefruit, blanched almonds, Macintosh apple (skin on) and lemon verbena. The slightly pinched finish softens with briny, just-shucked oysters (winemaker Kira Ballotta says “go Kumamoto”).  13.4% Alcohol. More Information Best known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their Estate “Heron Lake Vineyard” in Napa & Solano’s Wild Horse […]
December 1, 2020
Olivia Brion Pinot Noir Willamette

Olivia Brion Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2016

Bright, ethereal and snappy, the Olivia Brion Pinot Noir “Sunny Mountain” captures the classic light and intense Pinot Noir style that made Willamette Valley famous. Get bay leaf, raspberries, tarragon, cranberry pastry, ruby grapefruit and a savory, salty finish. This is a Pinot Noir I drink happily on its own – and with a mouthful of fatty fish (salmon typically) I drink it with great joy. A la Burgundy, this is a “food wine” first and foremost. More Information Best known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their Estate “Heron Lake Vineyard” in Napa & Solano’s Wild Horse Valley, Olivia […]
November 29, 2020
Prima Materia Arcanum III

PRIMA MATERIA “Arcanum No III” Red

“Arcanum” is a Dolcetto-based, non-vintage red blend. This dark berry fruit, brooding, earthy/spicy quality is not what you expect from Dolcetto (I wonder what % is Dolcetto? Guessing around 50%.) Smell and taste black figs, blackberries, dry aged beef, pipe tobacco, tea leaves. Ripe core of fruit in the middle with savory flavors all around it. Reminds me of a Southern Italian red: nice and rustic. $21 is a great deal for this wine. More Information Prima Materia’s vineyard is in western Lake County. Volcanic soils, 1500 feet elevation, continental climate (very hot days and cool nights). Not your typical […]
November 24, 2020
Becheur Mourvedre

Becheur Mourvedre 2018

100% 100+ year old vine Mourvedre from the Sacramento Delta (vineyard is near the town of Pittsburg). Generous amounts of dark plum, blueberry and blackberry fruit, nicely complemented by Mourvedre’s black licorice, earthy truffle, crusty cigar wrapper and black pepper flavors. Good, brightening acidity and fine, firm tannins. Ready to enjoy now…fantastic choice for a “house wine” because of its versatility with food as well as its tastiness on its own. The value speaks for itself. One of my highest ever Value Ratings of 5.6 – Hall of Fame Value. If you know Mourvedre a little bit or a lot, […]
November 2, 2020
Priest Ranch Coach Gun

PRIEST RANCH “Coach Gun” Red 2015

The Priest Ranch “Coach Gun” is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Petit Verdot and 20% Malbec from the Priest Ranch, and now “Somerston Estate” vineyard and winery, on the eastern edge of the Napa Valley AVA. The 2015 Coach Gun is pretty awesome. Dark berry flavors everywhere with loads of dark chocolate, black licorice, oil-cured black olive and black mole flavors adding impressive complexity. It’s rich, lush and surprisingly velvety for such an extracted “mountain wine.” This wine is drinking like a champ now and will stay on top for the next 15 years easy. Somerston Estate (formerly […]
October 29, 2020
Coho Petit Verdot

Coho Petit Verdot Chinn Vineyard

Mostly 2016 Petit Verdot. 2017 Merlot/Cab Sauv and about 10% 2018 vintage PV in the blend. Typical of Petit Verdot, pours out blackish-ruby-purple. The berry fruit flavors are super-strong and intense. Ripe, lip-staining blackberries, pipe tobacco, mocha, roast Mediterranean herbs and black truffle flavors galore from first sip through the long, 25 second finish. (And well worth noting the flavor grows on the palate…Petit Verdot often loses its luster in the mouth. Deft blending and longer barrel aging contributes to this.) All the flavor is matched by brilliant acidity. Everything is turned up here, except the alcohol which comes in […]
October 27, 2020
Coho Headwaters

Coho Headwaters 2016

The Coho Headwaters, always a Bordeaux-style blend, is different in 2016 with its large portion of Petit Verdot. The blend, 39% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Petit Verdot, all from the cooler Napa region of Coombsville, makes for a Napa red that could be confused for Bordeaux. Savory sensations such as bittersweet chocolate, roast coffee beans and garden thyme, bay leaf & rosemary join black currants, blackberries, black cherries and pomegranates. Structured, multi-layered, great mouth-feel. Marriage of fruit, earth, spice and complimentary oak on the long, satisfying finish. Coho owner Gary Lipp stays true to his mantra of full […]
October 27, 2020
Read Holland Pinot Noir

Read Holland Pinot Noir Deep End 2017

Gorgeous, wild cherry dominant nose with red apple, ripe raspberry, vanilla and garden thyme sneaking in as well. In the mouth the bright, bold cherry/berry/plum flavors are supported by a little toasty French oak, black licorice, bay leaf and black tea, with the licorice jumping out more than the others in the 20 second finish. Flavors, textures and balancing acidity are all turned up high which is testament to the quality of fruit and the winemaking. Very good now, best 2023-2030. Anderson Valley’s “Deep End” is the western-most and most coastal influenced section of the AVA. Vineyards are planted on […]
October 26, 2020
Read Holland Chardonnay

Read Holland Chardonnay Peter Martin Ray 2017

Intense, penetrating Chardonnay from start to finish, showing off loads of acidity, crushed rock-driven earth and a wound up yet humongous core of citrus and orchard (pear, apple, peach) fruitiness. Like a racy, formidable White Burgundy, the Read Holland Chardonnay “Peter Martin Ray” touches on all the flavors: sweet, salty, sour (I call it tangy), bitter and umami. They all interweave to make a unique, special Chardonnay. This is still a pup. Cellar and drink it in 2025 and beyond. While it doesn’t rate highly on value system, it IS a great value for the customer who buys high-end, cellar-worthy […]
October 26, 2020
Sleeping Giant Chardonnay

Sleeping Giant Chardonnay “Buena Tierra” 2017

Rich golden, brilliant color. Honeyed, ripe green apple, lemon custard aroma move seamlessly to the flavor which is strong and luxurious. I also taste freshly baked biscuits, roast almonds and hazelnuts, caramel apples and lemon zest. It’s round and voluptuous in the mouth. In a word: WOW. This is top of the line Chardonnay in the rich and luscious category. As an aside, my wife doesn’t particularly like the bold Chardonnay style. This – she likes. If you want to go classic food & wine pairing, pan-seared scallops on potato/celery root puree and browned butter is the way to go! […]
October 23, 2020
Argus Pinot Noir

Argus Pinot Noir 2018

Fruit-focused Pinot Noir with concentrated, dark red cherry and raspberry flavors and a gentle touch of sweet, toasty oak. Black licorice, cherry bitters and garden thyme flavors kick in as the wine gets more savory in the second half (i.e. back palate and finish). I found the grip of tannins when first opened quickly softened and integrated with a few minutes of good breathing. For me the Argus Pinot Noir 2018 is equally good drinking on its own and with a meal. It rightfully deserves its “Hall of Fame Value” status. The fruit comes mostly from Argus owner/winemaker Chris Dearden’s […]
October 21, 2020
Read Holland Riesling

Read Holland Riesling “Wiley” 2019

Micro-production Riesling made from mature 40+ year old vines. Introduction of tangy green apple and Meyer lemon…dry as a sun-soaked stone. As the wine breathes and quickly opens, out comes flavors of peaches, kiwis, tangerine, chamomile and chopped fresh ginger. Has the round texture and unapologetic acidity that makes Riesling the great grape that it is. Drink this delicious wine with fresh goat & sheep cheeses, fried chicken, poke bowls and potato chips. About 8% Muscat co-fermented with the Riesling. No doubt it adds aromatics, but you wouldn’t know it’s in there. 12.7% alcohol.
September 17, 2020
Peter Paul Pinot Noir Gravenstein Highway

Peter Paul Pinot Noir Gravenstein Hwy 2019

The Peter Paul Pinot Noir Gravenstein Highway has a brilliant, translucent scarlet color. Smell tree-ripened red cherries, lavender, roses and blood oranges, then taste the cherries, some raspberries and black tea. With air the wine gets more fruity and layered (note it’s a 2019…not even a year has past since harvest). It’s light, but it’s not simple, and will get markedly better with each passing month. Value rating of 5.6 is one of my highest ever…a Hall of Fame Value and then some! Peter Paul Wines is owned by entrepreneur/philanthropist Peter Paul. Martin Reyes, MW, oversees winemaking and manages sales and […]
September 17, 2020
Peter Paul Cabernet Sauvignon

Peter Paul Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

The Peter Paul Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 sports deep smells and flavors of blackberries, black currants, rosemary, black tea and dark chocolate. It’s rich, smooth and mouth-coating with a firm core of ripe Napa Cab goodness, elevated by a pulse of life-giving acidity. Napa richness with a Bordeaux-ish edge of savory tobacco and bittersweet chocolate. Enjoy this now through 2035, preferably with some gamy roast red or white meat, or earthy vegetables. Sourced from two super-high end Napa estates, one on the Valley floor, one in the eastern mountains. 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. 40% new French […]
September 17, 2020
Peter Paul Chardonnay

Peter Paul Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2018

The Peter Paul Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2018 straddles the style-line between crisp/refreshing and rich/round. The difference between this and most others in this Chardonnay middle ground is cohesion. What’s that mean? Often, crisp and rich don’t work together. You get a mouthful of tang then a wallop of rude oak flavor. Or the other way around: brown buttercream followed by a shriek of acidity. Not happening here. What IS happening is a top-notch, cool Sonoma Coast Chardonnay vineyards lock arms with partial malolactic and aging in 20% new French oak (rest relatively neutral). I get a boatload of citrus, especially […]