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. […]
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 unique white blend has a little bit of just about everything. While lemony citrus holds the throne, honeysuckle, mango, mandarin oranges, Honeycrisp apples, crushed almonds and mandarin oranges contribute in this refreshing, versatile white wine. On the long, 20 second finish a leesy richness blossoms as well as kiss of lemon bitters and almond skin. The Cufflinks white has a little something for most every palate. Imbibe at cellar […]
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, […]