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 […]
August 17, 2020
Azur Sauvignon Blanc

AZUR Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Refreshing, citrus-driven acidity at first impression, getting a little rounder and more creamy as it warms in the mouth. A tasty array of fruits, from melon to apple to grapefruit to pear, combine with subtle floral and herb sensations. While light bodied, in the realm of Sauvignon Blanc I’d say it is medium/full (due to the quality fruit and lees contact). I put this in the top 5% of all California Sauvignon Blancs. And the bottle is spectacular-just don’t plan on stacking them on their side. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Rutherford and Oak Knoll District of Napa. Tank fermented and […]
August 4, 2020
Azur Rose

AZUR Dry Rose 2019

“Intentional Rosé” made from Syrah and Grenache. Sierra Foothills and Oakville, Napa Valley fruit. Yellow plum and watermelon rind nose suggest a very dry, tingly style of Rosé wine. Take a big sip and that’s exactly what you get: very dry and  bursting with acidity. With the tang are definitive flavors of cracked black peppercorns, pink roses, tangy raspberries, cotton candy and those yellow plums and melon rind. Azur absolutely nails the style they are going for, which is a very dry Provence style. The bulls-eye along with the fantastic packaging warrants the “luxury market” Rosé price. Azur Winery is […]
August 4, 2020
Coho Cabernet Sauvignon

COHO Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Earthy and savory aromas play with black currants and blackberries on the Bordeaux-ish nose. Dark berry/cherry fruits, baker’s chocolate, expensive cigars and cedar flavors play nicely on the palate with gently toasted oak (all French oak, 50% new) framing it all. Ripe, structured and layered with healthy acidity, the 2016 Coho Cabernet Sauvignon will age and improve for the next 10 years and stay at its drinking plateau for another 10. Makes me think of quality Left Bank Bordeaux in a very good vintage. Includes small percentages of  14% Petit Verdot and 10% Merlot in the blend. More information Since […]
July 1, 2020
Three Furies Pinot Noir The Angry One

Three Furies Pinot Noir The Angry One 2018

Ripe dark red cherry, bordering on kirsch, on the nose along with black licorice, plum tart and a kiss of toasty barrel. (“Very Santa Lucia,” says the wine geek.) Generous and easy to like, even in its youth. With all that simple goodness, there is also a steady light of acidity to bolster the Pinot Noir. Delicious now – so much so you could make a case to drink it all up now. But restrain yourself for greatest enjoyment from 2022-2028 in my estimation. Three Furies is a new(er) winery co-owned and made by Martin Mackenzie of Napa. Martin’s resume includes […]
June 30, 2020
Three Furies Pinot Noir Constant Vengeance

Three Furies Pinot Noir Constant Vengeance 2017

The Three Furies “Constant Vengeance” 2017 starts with earth-driven aromas of crimini mushroom, oiled leather and rare beefsteak. A few minutes in the glass opens the door for wild red cherries, raspberries and mandarin orange to join the party. The same fruits (along with some red plums), soil and spices team up on the currently wound up, structured palate. Impressive how it quickly evolves in the glass with the different flavors marrying up. Firm, youthful tannins that, while natural to the Santa Rita Hills vineyard from which it comes, can be attributed to the low yields of 2017. I expect […]
June 24, 2020
Brockmeyer Rose of Grenache

Brockmeyer Rosé of Grenache 2019

Orange/pink, peach skin color points to the dry, savory style of Rosé that this is. Cracked black pepper, light strawberry and fresh bread crust (from brief aging on the lees). The taste combines weight and a healthy acidity. Flavors of tarragon, red berries, peach pit, watermelon and light caramel – all in unison. Bone-dry, medium bodied, a bit creamy, spicy throughout and a pleasant tang of acidity. Because of it’s broader shoulder style I’d pair it with stronger flavored foods than most Rosé wines – red sauces, pesto, BBQ white meats, pepperoni pizza. Sourced from 125 year old (!) Grenache […]
June 22, 2020
Roche Paradis Saint Joseph

Roche Paradis Saint Joseph Bergerie 2018

Syrah from hillside, granite-heavy soils above Chavanay (the tenderloin of Saint Joseph). Deep, spicy, rich, seductive red wine, full of black licorice, peppercorns, blue and blackberry, mole and espresso smells and flavors. Concentrated and robust yet smooth with medium acidity and rounded tannins, this is a young Northern Rhone Valley Syrah to either drink or hold. Great value for a high-impact Syrah. Domaine de la Roche Paradis (“Rock Paradise”) is the creation of Yann Menager, whose day job is vineyard manager for the prolific Yves Cuilleron. Menager recently started purchasing special yet underappreciated vineyards in the Northern Rhone and making […]
June 20, 2020
Cottebrune Faugeres White 18

Cottebrune Faugères Blanc 2018

The blend is 1/3rd each Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Vermentino. From Faugères, 60 miles west of the Rhone Valley. Elevation and rocky schist soils make for wines of concentration and dimension here. This wine is mighty fine. Honeysuckle, orange zest and lemon custard on the nose, then taste peach purée, ripe grapefuit and mango, wrapping up with fresh ginger and chamomile on the finish. Medium body, creamy texture from neutral oak aging and stirring of lees, heartbeat of acidity. Drink this with or without food. Domaine de Cottebrune is owned, grown and made by Pierre Gaillard of Northern Rhone Valley fame. […]
June 20, 2020
Cottebrune Faugeres Red 16

Cottebrune Faugères Rouge 2016

This Grenache/Syrah blend blend from the high quality yet relatively unknown Faugères appelation is a real gem. Growing in high density vineyards in the foothills of France’s Massif Central, Cottebrune Faugères “Les Moulins” is pure and pretty with loads of red plum, raspberry, strawberry and peppery spice pleasure. A subtle floral component-fresh violets and lavender-lurks in the background. Medium bodied, gentle tannins, healthy acidity and no oak flavor (only the Syrah is barrel-aged – third use so pretty neutral) make for a wine that is both distinctive AND easy to enjoy. Domaine de Cottebrune is owned, grown and made by […]