September 25, 2018
Wilson Foreigner Zinfandel


Tiny Napa producer Wilson Foreigner acquires old-vine Zinfandel from the town of Oakley and the sandy soils of the Sacramento Delta. Dark strawberry and blueberry compote, fried cinnamon, black pepper and anise smells and flavors are generous. It’s rich, balanced and goes down smooth and silky. Medium acidity, gentle tannins. This young Zin is ready to enjoy either with food or on its own. You get a lot for your $30 here. More Information Wilson Foreigner is a two-family-owned winery. David & Christine Wilson live on their family vineyard in Napa’s Wooden Valley. Chris and Suzaan Alheit live and work […]
September 25, 2018
Wilson Foreigner Valdiguie


Gamay body and Syrah smells & flavors best describes the Wilson Foreigner Valdiguie 2017. Get dark cranberries, red plums, wild cherries, ruby grapefruit, cloves, cracked black pepper, tarragon. High acid (showing more acid at time of tasting-it’s young!), modest tannins, very perky. Just released, so buy some 2016 Valdiguie to drink now and some 2017 to drink next year. Third vintage for this tiny Napa winery owned/made by two families (see below for details). The grapes are from David & Christine Wilson’s family vineyard, “Rancho Chimiles,” Wooden Valley, southeast Napa’s Valley. A popular grape to grow in Napa in the […]
September 25, 2018
Shane Pinot Noir The Charm

SHANE Pinot Noir “The Charm” 2016

A bright, grab-you-by-the-nose-hairs nose of wild red cherries, violets, blueberries and orange liqueur starts you off on the Shane Pinot Noir The Charm. That cool-climate nose moves to darker, deeper flavors and a rich, balanced, silky texture in the mouth. Taste plum sauce, cinnamon, blueberries, black licorice and kirsch. It’s all nicely framed by French oak…guessing around 1/3rd new. Great bottle of Pinot Noir for $42. More Information Owner/Winemaker Shane Finley is one of my top 5 California winemakers. His wines are consistently delicious in a richer style, but not by excessive ripening or oak. He just knows how. Oh […]
September 25, 2018
Shane Pinot Noir La Reine

SHANE Pinot Noir La Reine 15

Owner/Winemaker Shane Finley’s eponymous label consistently delivers some of the best “bang for the buck” Pinots in the premium price category. Shane Pinot Noir La Reine (“The Queen”) comes from 45 year old vines. Dark berries and cherries here with bits of pomegranate, black tea, lavender, cocoa and toasty oak (just 15% new French oak used). It’s full-bodied, nicely ripe and has pleasing texture and mouth feel. Thanks Shane for pricing this so reasonably for what you get. More Information Owner/Winemaker Shane Finley is one of my top 5 California winemakers. His wines are consistently delicious in a richer style, […]
September 25, 2018
Shane Pinot Noir Soixante Onze

SHANE Pinot Noir “Soixante et Onze” 2016

Dark red cherries, pomegranate syrup, dried red rose petals and coriander are your introduction to the Shane Pinot Noir Soixante et Onze. The coolness of Sonoma Coast brings out a core of acidity and an illumination of flavors. In other words, the smells and flavors are darker and the body is brighter and more structured. Borrowing from Shane’s tasting notes as I had this wine too quickly: “cranberry, rose petals, black tea, pomegranate, fennel, strawberry, Bing cherry, graphite, blackberry.” Indeed, this is one of the more complex California Pinot Noirs I’ve ever had. An incredible value for what you get […]
September 20, 2018
Skyhook Red Wine

SKYHOOK Red Wine, Sonoma County 2013

This “Rhone-y” red is 58% Syrah, 42% Grenache. Owner/winemaker Derek Beitler drew from three cool-climate Sonoma vineyards to make 500 cases of Skyhook Red Wine. I think the name Skyhook and the label take most down a path of expectation that requires a u-turn. Let me explain…an army of jammy, sweet-spice, soft red blends, a la The Prisoner, have taken the copy-cat highway to wine production and sales success. While Skyhook may look like one of these copy cats, it doesn’t taste like it. It has more in common with a spicy Paso Robles Cal-Rhone than an uber-ripe “modern red […]
September 20, 2018
Skyhook Late Harvest Sauv Blanc

SKYHOOK Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013 375 ML

Derek Beitler of Skyhook “happened upon” Sauvignon Blanc raisins in late 2013 and, with them, made this fantastic Late Harvest wine. No botrytis, or “noble rot,” a la Sauternes. Rather, the dried grapes hung on the vine clean and intense as they held their natural acidity. 25% Late Harvest Semillon co-fermented for added roundness, texture and exotic flavors (blending the two is very Sauternes-like). So delicious! It’s honeyed, rich and luscious, all the while its natural acidity keeps the wine afloat on the palate. Smell and taste caramel, roasted peaches and pineapple, golden raisins, clover honey and a little bit […]
September 20, 2018
Bodega Rancho Grenache

BODEGA RANCHO Grenache “Jemrose” 2014

On the dark side of California Grenache. Smell and taste strawberry preserves, toasted black peppercorns and cloves, black olives, very ripe blueberries, dried lavender, bay leaf and toasty French oak…40% new according to owner/winemaker Derek Beitler. More oak than he’d prefer, but from many a wine drinker’s view it’s perfect. Strong and structured in the mouth with a grip of tannins that go away on the finish. Excellent concentration, richness, spice and marriage of sweet and savory. More Information Owner/winemaker Derek Beitler launched Bodega Rancho/JDB Wines in 2007, took a break for a while, then re-launched the label with the […]
September 19, 2018
Green & Red Zinfandel

GREEN & RED Zinfandel “Tip Top” 2014

At the “Tip Top” of Green & Red’s property is “Tip Top Vineyard.” Hillside, northeast facing, gravelly/rocky, 1700 feet elevation. All this points to wines of character & complexity. Full flavored for sure, but “Tip Top” wines set themselves apart by structure, complexity and savory complexity. 2014 Tip Top Zin, for example…smell and taste briar patch (red berries), red currants, wild cherry, herbs de Provence, lavender and wood fire-grilled marbled beef. Medium-full bodied, quite spicy (peppercorns and red curry), fine tannins, multi-layered for Napa Valley Zin. An excellent buy for a somewhat “serious” Napa Valley hillside red. More Information Jay […]
September 19, 2018
Green & Red Sauvignon Blanc

GREEN & RED Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Fresh lime zest and juice, riper Eureka lemon, grapefruit, green apple and lemon blossoms define the style of the 2016 Green & Red Sauvignon Blanc. Medium high acidity and fresh citrus basket fruits point to very light bodied wine, but not totally the case here. 2% Viognier, a recent addition to Green & Red Vineyard, adds aromatics and a texture. It’s nuanced…I noticed it only when I was told of the Viognier. This is a classic, mouth-watering aperitivo Sauv Blanc best enjoyed at the beginning of the meal. “Fish wine” for sure! More Information Jay Heminway purchased the property that […]
September 19, 2018
Green & Red Syrah Tip Top

GREEN & RED Syrah “Tip Top” 2015

From Green & Red’s Estate vineyard, 1700 feet elevation, above owner Jay and Pam Heminway’s home and winery. The elevation and meager soils make for a spicy, savory, brooding style of Syrah. The drought conditions made for, I’m hypothesizing, particularly small berries in 2015. You may see where I’m going with this. Northern Rhone-ish style! Smell and taste dark blueberries, bittersweet chocolate, black olive and peppercorns, anise, mint and sweet-smelling tobacco. Medium tannins and acidity that gives the wine verve, not tartness. Long 25 second finish of spice, soil and oil-cured black olive. I really want roast leg of lamb […]
September 18, 2018
Neyers Cabernet Sauvignon

NEYERS Cabernet Sauvignon “Neyers Ranch” 2015

“Estate” Cabernet for all intents and purposes (the winery is a 15 minute drive away, so not technically Estate) from the base of Howell Mountain, east side of Napa Valley. Bright, concise aromas of cassis, wild dark red cherry, bay leaves, cedar and dark plums. Bright, energetic fruitiness, layer upon layer of pure flavors that come from the fruit and the land. This wine expresses the character of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, and the cooler micro-climate of Conn Valley, like a champ. This exceptional value (for Napa Cab) will age gloriously. I’d say drink this 2023-2035. More information Napa winery Neyers […]
September 18, 2018
Neyers Carigane Evangelho

NEYERS Carignane “Evangelho” 2016

The Neyers Carigane Evangelho comes from 140 year old vines growing in the riverbed sand soils of the Sacramento Delta. Wild blue and red fruits, black pepper, fresh lavender, pomegranate, the faintest whiff of cigar wrapper (tobacco) and hung game. Reminds me of southern France Carignane, and that’s the goal! I would say that the natural California fruitiness steps forward, and no one’s complaining.  Neutral oak aged for development, not flavor. Pure, fruity, spicy and perfectly wild! More information Napa winery Neyers Vineyards ventures beyond Napa to keep their wine character up and the prices reasonable. Co-owned by founders Bruce […]
September 18, 2018
Neyers Zinfandel Vista Luna

NEYERS Zinfandel “Vista Luna” 2017

Slightly jammy/liqueur berry nose and a handful of crushed pie spices, peppercorns, tarragon and lavender describes the Neyers Zinfandel Vista Luna. Medium bodied, generous fruitiness, easy tannins, quite juicy. Super-satisfying Zinfandel here that’s ready to drink up. While this is a California AVA, the grapes are from Borden Ranch, a Lodi sub-AVA in beginning of the Sierra Foothills (beautiful area). More information Napa winery Neyers Vineyards ventures beyond Napa to keep their wine character up and the prices reasonable. Co-owned by founders Bruce and Barbara Neyers and the Trinchero Family (Neyers and Trinchero “partnered up” in 2017), made by Tadeo […]
September 17, 2018
David Clinton Zinfandel Mounts

DAVID CLINTON Zinfandel “Mounts” 2015

Earthy spices and a sliver of umami inject themselves into the briary, ripe, potent fruit that comes natural to these 50 year old vines in western Dry Creek Valley. As for the fruit in the David Clinton Zinfandel Mounts, smell and taste pomegranate syrup, dark raspberries, blueberries and cherry liqueur. More complex and “serious” than the average Zin: dry aged beef, nori, black licorice, roast walnuts and black olive and roast black peppercorns make this a wine better suited with food than without. I recommend drinking the David Clinton “Teldeschi” 2015 with or without food and this “Mounts” definitely WITH […]
September 17, 2018
David Clinton Zinfandel Teldeschi

DAVID CLINTON Zinfandel “Teldeschi” 2015

Deep dark cherries, a little jammy, black licorice and a whiff of Ruby Port introduce this bold, full-flavored David Clinton Zinfandel Teldeschi. In the mouth the liqueur-y fruit tasted darker and darker with air, moving to black cherry and blackberry after 30 minutes of “opening up.” More licorice, cracked black pepper, rocky earth and dark caramel/dark chocolate emerge. It’s a mouthful! Medium/light oak (American), firm tannins on the finish which lasts 20-25 seconds. I suspect this wine will evolve and improve a lot over the next year. More information Two Napans, first names David and Clinton, transformed their winemaking hobby […]
September 11, 2018
Cornerstone Cabernet Benchlands

CORNERSTONE Cabernet Sauvignon Benchlands 2015

Ripe, slightly jammy dark plums, Bing cherries and blackberries make up the core of Cornerstone Benchlands, a Cabernet from myriad vineyards in St. Helena, Howell Mountain, Oakville and Rutherford. This is juicy, briary and toasty, showing more sweet barrel flavors than other DDWA-reviewed Cornerstone wines. Healthy acidity, fine tannins, notes of dried French herbs, rich, medium/full body. If I am to choose one 2015 Cornerstone Cabernet to drink tonight, I choose this one. More Information The Cornerstone winemaking team of Kari Auringer and Charles Thomas blends their vast experiences and unique paths to make a super-duo of craftsmanship. Kari’s first […]
September 11, 2018
Cornerstone Cabernet Calistoga

CORNERSTONE Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga 2015

Single vineyard “Mountain Cab” sourced from an undisclosed winery. Get ripe, dark red cherries and berries, cassis, vanilla bean and whiffs of cigar wrapper & rocky soil. It’s pretty firm, pointing to its “mountain-ness.” Tannins coat the mouth on the finish. But, interestingly, the berry/cherry, earth and barrel flavors keep going. A classic, powerful, age-worthy Mountain Cabernet. 5% Merlot, 70% new French oak. More Information The Cornerstone winemaking team of Kari Auringer and Charles Thomas blends their vast experiences and unique paths to make a super-duo of craftsmanship. Kari’s first harvest was 2015: Charles 2017. They blended off the 2015 […]
September 11, 2018
Cornerstone Merlot

CORNERSTONE Merlot Oakville Station 2015

Valley floor, west of Highway 29 vineyard owned by the University of California system (UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology controls and runs it). Starts with a nose of fresh ripe raspberries, red apple, plums, bay leaf, cracked coriander seeds and lavender. Fruit flavors pop out in the mouth trailed by chocolate shavings, black olive and tea leaves. Medium acidity and fine tannins…in a good place to drink now and through 2023. In the fashion of world-class Merlot, the Cornerstone 2015 delivers pleasure like a jazz quartet rather than a rock band. More Information The Cornerstone winemaking team of […]
September 1, 2018
Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc

CORNERSTONE Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Bright-as-the-sky smells and flavors of tangerines, Granny Smith apple paste and lemon ice are your first impressions of the Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc 2017. Backing up this fruit-first wine is baked pie crust and a slight creamy texture (comes from partial concrete egg ferment, lees-stirring and gaining in a small amount of new oak and acacia barrels.) Medium-high acidity, medium body for Cal SB and a marriage of citrus and orchard fruit basket with that brown pie crust and fresh cream on the 20 second finish. Clean, crisp and inviting you back for more. More Information The Cornerstone winemaking team of […]
September 1, 2018
Selbach Oster Riesling

SELBACH OSTER Riesling Feinherb 2016

Smell and taste cilantro, lemon oil, fresh peaches, ripe Macintosh (crisp green) apples and lemon spray on the Selbach Oster Riesling Feinherb. The sweetness (around 15 Grams/Liter) is perceptible but subtle as there is plenty of acidity to counter-balance. The residual sugar, in fact, contributes more oily texture than sweetness. An absolute delight to drink, and I think a fine cross-over wine for those who say, “I don’t like sweet wines.” And hard to beat for value in the low $20s. Feinherb: “The best way to describe them is probably the same as halbtrocken, with sometimes a higher level of sweetness—but […]
September 1, 2018
Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling

SCHLOSS GOBELSURG Riesling Zobing 2016

An outstanding introduction, aka entry-level, wine from Schloss Gobelsburg winery. From vineyards in the village of Zobing, in the heart of the Kremstal wine region. This has a pure, crisp, citrus and green apple skin, petrol-laced aroma that is classic for dry Riesling. Lean and muscular throughout yet not lacking for flavor nor intensity. A slightly oily texture and a mouthful-of-pebbles earthiness continue it’s very (dry) Riesling theme. If you like high acid wines with less fruity character, this wine is for you. Terry Theise on the Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling Zobing 2016: “There’s a spring-onion sweetness; intricate and sapid green […]
August 31, 2018
Cornerstone Cabernet Franc

CORNERSTONE Cabernet Franc 2015

Valley floor, west of Highway 29 vineyard owned by the University of California system (UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology controls and runs it). A very intriguing and tasty wine that straddles the line of “Bordeaux Style” (darker, richer) and “Loire Style” (brighter, more red fruits) to me. Smell and taste ripe red plums, blueberries, sun-dried thyme and tarragon, black olives and cedar-lined cigar box. Equal parts intensity and heft, thus the Bordeaux-Loire straddle. Acidity elevates the flavors like a champ. 50% new French oak frames the vineyard & fruit-first wine. 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. More Information The […]