August 7, 2018
Coho Headwaters

COHO “Headwaters” Napa Valley 2014

“Most representative of Coombsville wine I’ve released,” states owner Gary Lipp. Ironic, since it’s not labeled as Coombsville (sometimes Coho Headwaters doesn’t hit the 85% AVA threshold – it does in 2014). The blend is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot. Speaking of Coombsville style, you get the savory character of the southeast Napa AVA. The likes of dark tobacco, bittersweet chocolate, espresso and truffle shake hands with ripe blueberry and black cherry. Vibrant acidity, medium/full body, careful use of French oak. It’s all there. This is a sleeper wine for the cellar. Pull this out in 2030, […]
August 7, 2018
Y Rousseau Colombard

Y ROUSSEAU Colombard 2017

Napa Valley Winery Y Rousseau ventured up to Ukiah, Mendocino County to procure these Colombard grapes. Why Colombard, see my next paragraph. Drink as you would a Sauvignon Blanc – bright acid, no barrel flavor, citrus and orchard fruit-heavy and pleasing green notes. The Y Rousseau Colombard is similar yet different to Sauv Blanc: lemon & lime zest, jasmine, fresh celery and green banana on the nose at first. As it warms a little, ripe pear, mango and kiwi come out as well as a round, pleasing mouth feel. You can just drink and drink and drink this crisp white […]
August 7, 2018
Frog's Leap Zinfandel

FROG’S LEAP Zinfandel 2016

Co-ferment with 20% Petite Sirah and 2% Carignane (the Petite, interestingly, lightens the wine due to its growing season in conjunction with the Zin). Frog’s Leap Zinfandel is “Old Style” Zin in the best sense. Under 14% alcohol, bright and concise berry flavors, especially dark raspberry and strawberry, with potpourri, dry Asian spices, white pepper and gentle complexity. Funny how this is “new California wine” before the term was even created. We’ve come full circle. More Information I am so glad to have tasted the current releases of Frog’s Leap recently. They are so consistent in their quality and purpose, […]
August 7, 2018
Mike Molly Hendry Zinfandel

Mike & Molly Hendry Zinfandel “Moore” 2015

Husband/Wife owned wine…only wine they make. It is “Estate Grown” Zinfandel: owned by Bill Moore, Molly’s uncle. Farmed by Mike Hendry.  Planted in 1905, “R.W. Moore” is head pruned, dry farmed and sprinkled with Petite Sirah, Carignane, Mourvedre and Valdiguie (5% combined of these four). I totally dig this wine (as Greg Brady would say). Ripe, briary berry core with dried thyme, anise, black pepper and cinnamon dusted over. The balance of ripe fruit, savory earth and winemaking is superb. Old vine Zin spice kicks in on the finish. So good, and worth every penny of $40 in the realm […]
August 7, 2018
Grey Stack Sauvignon Blanc

GREY STACK Sauvignon Blanc 2017

The Grey Stack Sauvignon Blanc captures the entire fruit spectrum of Sauvignon Blanc. Citrus, tropical, orchard fruits all team up to make a delicious drink. Lemon zest, kaffir lime and cilantro peak through if you open your mind to them. I dig the acidity – mouth watering without being tart. About Grey Stack Grey Stack Cellars focuses on wines from Bennett Valley, a cool-climate AVA south of Santa Rosa. Winemaker (and co-Owner) Patrick Sullivan’s resume includes Rudd, Spring Mountain Vineyard, Paul Hobbs, Lewis and Peter Michael. Look for more stellar wines to come from Grey Stack Cellars in the near […]
August 7, 2018
Coho Pinot Noir Stanly

COHO Pinot Noir Stanly Ranch 2014

Warm and cozy, this vintage of Coho Pinot Noir Stanly Ranch is showing off its generous dark cherry/berry fruits, pie spices, cocoa, licorice and toasty barrel smells and flavors. Obviously a California Pinot Noir UNTIL the finish, when a handful of dark soil and amaro-like bitter quality makes an appearance. Almost 4 years removed from harvest now, this has really hit its stride. A relative bargain for killer, single vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir. More information Since 2002 Coho Winery has produced small lots of delicious red wines full of character and generosity. Owner Gary Lipp took full ownership of Coho in 2014 […]
August 7, 2018
Steady State Red Wine

STEADY STATE Red Wine 2015

Steady State Red Wine is a blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. Put this in your Cabernet Sauvignon section as the dark fruit flavors and the chewy texture point to Napa’s “King Grape” in style. Smell and taste black cherries, blueberries, some mint, vanilla bean and cocoa. I call this a “generous” wine as it shows everything its got. Still, it has just enough restraint (i.e. not sweet nor jammy) with acidity and tannins to support the wine. More Information Collusion is one of the wines owned/made by Grounded Wine Co […]
August 7, 2018
Torre Zambra Cerasuolo

TORRE ZAMBRA Cerasuolo d’Abbruzzo 2017

A Rosé with a darker hue…Cerasuolo is the grape (the name comes from cerasa, which is cherry in the local dialect…gives you an idea of the taste). Yep, the wild red cherry pops out along with fresh raspberry, pomegranate, fresh violets and a little black pepper on the Torre Zambra Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. Very fine tannins rub the gums on the finish. I’ll drink the very dry, peach skin colored Provence Rosés morning noon and night. But to pair with food (almost any food – honest), I want to drink THIS. This is an incredible value and should be purchased by […]
August 7, 2018
d'or et gueules Rose Les Cimels

d’Or et GUEULES Rosé “Les Cimels”

Southern Rhone Valley, very dry Rosé made from Cinsault, Mourvedre mostly, with a little Grenache and Syrah. Smell and taste dried orange zest, dried pink rose petals, white pepper, crushed thyme & tarragon on the Chateau d’Or et Gueules Rose Les Cimels. Has higher acidity (I call it mouth-watering acidity) and a less fruit/more earthy finish. In the whole realm of Rosé styles, this is more Provence style (less fruity, very dry) than Rhone style (more berries and not so acidic).
August 7, 2018
Gibbs Sauvignon Blanc

GIBBS Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2017

I like a fresh & fruity Sauv Blanc just as much as the next guy. That’s why I like the Gibbs Sauvignon Blanc so much. I feel like I get my daily RDA of fruit with a couple of glasses! Smell and taste nectarines, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, pineapple and green apple. In classic Sauvignon Blanc fashion, also taste lemongrass and coriander (but no grass). A fun drink, and for a quality Napa Valley wine, a heck of a bargain. More Information “Centa Vineyard,” owned and farmed by Gibbs Family, is on Lodi Lane north of St Helena (where the sand […]
August 7, 2018
Le Marchesina Franciacorta

LE MARCHESINA Franciacorta Brut

The Le Marchesina Franciacorta cuvée is 70% Chardonnay followed by Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. It’s fresh and lively with floral (jasmine) and fruit basket (peach, nectarine, apple, Meyer lemon) smells and flavors. Light texture, dry, very easy to enjoy. I’m definitely going to buy some of this for my home…delicious Franciacorta (which is a Mèthode Traditionelle sparkling wine DOCG (region) in Lombardy, northern Italy) that is not cost-prohibitive.
August 6, 2018
Localism Torrontes

LOCALISM Torrontes 2017

Napa winery Localism ventures out to Lodi (“Silvaspoons Vineyard,” although this is not stated on the label) for their Torrontes, a wine grape most associated with Argentina. The Localism Torrontes sports awesome aromas of citrus blossoms, grated fresh ginger, lemon cucumbers and honeysuckle. Light and easy-going in the mouth. Bright acidity, very light bodied (I’d like a little more body) and very refreshing. Delicious with sashimi, green salads and spa treatments. 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 […]
August 6, 2018
Il Borghetto Monte de Sassi

IL BORGHETTO “Monte de Sassi” 2013

The Il Borghetto Monte de Sassi is 100% Sangiovese from Estate property within the Chianti Classico region (see below). Delicious, quite rich and ready to enjoy. Smell and taste dark red cherry liqueur, violets and red roses, nutmeg and new leather handbag. Fruity, round and gratifying in the mouth with just enough old world savory flavors to pin it as Italian. More Information While Il Borghetto is located in the Chianti Classico DOCG, disagreements between winery and “The DOC System” usually result in the Toscana IGP designation. No big deal as the wines are delicious and special. I did not […]
August 6, 2018

CUVAISON Chardonnay “Kite Tail” 2016

From a small block of Cuvaison’s Estate Vineyard, “Kite Tail” sports refreshing perky acidity to complement its rich ripe orchard and citrus fruit, buttery side and toasty oak (50% new French barrels). Smell and taste fresh Meyer lemons, white peaches, crisp pineapple, buttered wheat toast and honeysuckle. While it’s a Chardonnay for fans of the stronger style (like me…I love them all), it pulls back from the “big flavor” just a notch. More Information Their Syrah is only available winery direct from Cuvaison. Contact them, or better yet, arrange a visit and tasting at the winery. It’s a great visit. […]
August 6, 2018
Cuvaison Syrah

CUVAISON Syrah “Estate” Carneros 2015

Cool Carneros Syrah from a warm, dry vintage equals a very tasty, spicy, deep red wine that’s honest to the Syrah grape but not “too much.” Get blueberries, black cherry, cracked black pepper, smoked bacon, licorice and bittersweet chocolate. Medium acidity, creamy texture and notably lush, this Syrah will please both lovers of the grape and those new or unsure of it. More Information Their Syrah is only available winery direct from Cuvaison. Contact them, or better yet, arrange a visit and tasting at the winery. It’s a great visit. I wouldn’t quite call it “undiscovered,” but it is under-used […]
July 29, 2018
FROG’S LEAP Cabernet Sauvignon

FROG’S LEAP Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

All Valley floor vineyards owned and organically/dry farmed by Frog’s Leap. 22% Merlot & Cab Franc combined included. Dark red and blue fruit-focused backed up by cassis, cigar wrapper, black tea leaves, mocha and bittersweet chocolate. Medium/high acidity for Napa Cabernet and smooth tannins that support the wine but don’t make it dry. The winery suggests you cellar this for 10-15 years. You can go either way…frankly many will drink and enjoy this sooner than later. If you do imbibe now, decant and swish it around for an hour or two beforehand. More Information I am so glad to have […]
July 29, 2018
FROG’S LEAP Merlot

FROG’S LEAP Merlot 2015

In classic Frog’s Leap style, the 2015 Merlot is about bright, fresh berry/plum and pomegranate flavors backed up by dry bay leaf, tarragon, cocoa, and vanilla bean/toasted bread from the barrel. Medium/high acidity (for Napa Merlot), fine tannins and a long fresh summer berry finish. This will age like a champ. Surprising for some, it will be at its very best, I’m guessing, in 2025-30. I like Frog’s Leap’s food match recommendation: a well-seasoned pork roast with fall root vegetables. Let’s make a date! Has 19% of “our best Cabernet Sauvignon.” More Information I am so glad to have tasted […]
July 29, 2018
Frog's Leap Chardonnay

FROG’S LEAP Chardonnay 2016

All the grapes for Frog’s Leap Chardonnay come from the “Truchard Vineyard” in Carneros. 37 year old vines, organic and dry-farmed. Unique winemaking process: barrel fermented almost to dryness, then moved to concrete tanks and sealed for months to complete first and partial second fermentation. On the crisper side of Chardonnay. Smell and taste ripe lemons, peaches, the outer skin of a pink grapefruit and ever so lightly toasted wheat bread. A little “wound up” (holding back on all its flavor goodies at first) and bright acidity, this will age gracefully. More Information I am so glad to have tasted […]
July 29, 2018
Frogs Leap Sauvignon Blanc

FROG’S LEAP Sauvignon Blanc 2017

All Rutherford Valley floor, organic, dry farmed vineyards used to make Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc. Steel tank fermented and aged. Lees contact during its short rest in tank before bottling. Harvest spanned early August to early September: perfectly ripe grapes, not raisins, with bright acidity = lower alcohol, refreshing, crisp and multi-layered white wine. Smell and taste fresh mango, slightly green pineapple, lime zest, passionfruit and a spoonful of lemon crème brulee (and creamy texture) from its lees contact. It’s like Loire Valley SB visits Napa Valley for some fun in the sun. More Information I am so glad to […]
July 28, 2018
Massican Gemina

MASSICAN Gemina White Wine 2017

¾ Pinot Grigio, ¼ Greco (Wine geeks, think Greco di Tufo white wine from Campania, Italy). Massican Gemina is an intense wine, full of palate-tickling acidity and all parts of the lemon (zest, juice, seed, and don’t forget the lemon blossoms!). It’s bright acidity/nervy energy and food-friendly mineral edge is what we’ve come to expect and want from Massican wines. More Information Owner/winemaker Dan Petroski launched Massican with the 2009 vintage (and I’m proud to say I was one of the first retailers to carry it when I owned Back Room Wines). The wines, all white, are made in the […]
July 28, 2018
Neyers Sage Canyon

NEYERS Sage Canyon Red 2016

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, Sonoma Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey. I totally dig this wine: it captures a Southern French character as it embraces the style that California sunshine offers. Smell and taste dark pie spices, blueberry jam, ripe raspberries, kirsch, black licorice and peppercorns. It sports medium acidity that elevates the flavors and easy-going tannins. Being card-carrying member of the Rhone-Head […]
July 28, 2018
Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon

LARKMEAD Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2015

These are the heights Napa Valley Cabernet can reach. “Estate” Cabernet between St Helena and Calistoga. (Worth paying a visit, by the way). Get fruit flavors of black currants, boysenberries and blueberries. The Larkmead sets itself apart, as it usually does, with vineyard-driven sensations of roast fennel and rosemary, musk, black olive, oiled leather and mint leaf. Acid is just right – supports the wine as it stands behind the curtain. Super-fine tannins make the framework. If you’re going to buck up $120 for a bottle of Napa Cab, this is a very good choice. Insider knowledge (not so insider […]
July 28, 2018
Seventy Five Cabernet Sauvignon

SEVENTY FIVE WINE Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

This Tuck Beckstoffer owned & produced wine is mostly Lake County fruit owned and farmed by the winery. The Seventy Five Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon is very ripe, dark, a little sweet, creamy and super-lush. The oak pops out on the nose then melts into the fruit as you taste. Has a solid 20 second finish with a little black olive and cocoa peaking through. It’s a heck of a good formula and a fantastic value for California Cabernet.
July 28, 2018
Coutier Champagne Blancs

R.H. COUTIER Champagne Blanc de Blancs

A bit of an oddity as it is made from 100% Chardonnay in Ambonnay, a village in the Champagne region Montagne de Reims: definitive Pinot Noir country. (It’s Pinot country because the soils lend themselves to making great Pinot-based Champagne.) Get pear/apple, ripe citrus, stone fruits (apricot, peach), fresh tarragon and lemon balm. Burst of acidity, just what’s needed, in the mouth and going down. Since it’s a little “rounder” because where the grapes come from, it drinks great alone – better than most Blanc de Blancs Champagne. And the price! For $44 it demolishes the big Champagne houses and […]