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 […]


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 […]

SHANE Pinot Noir “The Charm” 2016

Shane Pinot Noir The Charm

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 […]

SHANE Pinot Noir La Reine 15

Shane Pinot Noir La Reine

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 […]

SHANE Pinot Noir “Soixante et Onze” 2016

Shane Pinot Noir Soixante Onze

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. […]

SKYHOOK Red Wine, Sonoma County 2013

Skyhook Red Wine

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 […]

SKYHOOK Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013 375 ML

Skyhook Late Harvest Sauv Blanc

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 […]

BODEGA RANCHO Grenache “Jemrose” 2014

Bodega Rancho Grenache

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 […]

GREEN & RED Zinfandel “Tip Top” 2014

Green & Red Zinfandel

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 […]

GREEN & RED Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Green & Red Sauvignon Blanc

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, […]

GREEN & RED Syrah “Tip Top” 2015

Green & Red Syrah Tip Top

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! […]

NEYERS Cabernet Sauvignon “Neyers Ranch” 2015

Neyers Cabernet Sauvignon

“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 […]

NEYERS Carignane “Evangelho” 2016

Neyers Carigane Evangelho

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 […]

NEYERS Zinfandel “Vista Luna” 2017

Neyers Zinfandel Vista Luna

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 […]

DAVID CLINTON Zinfandel “Mounts” 2015

David Clinton Zinfandel Mounts

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 […]

DAVID CLINTON Zinfandel “Teldeschi” 2015

David Clinton Zinfandel Teldeschi

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 […]

CORNERSTONE Cabernet Sauvignon Benchlands 2015

Cornerstone Cabernet Benchlands

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, […]

CORNERSTONE Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga 2015

Cornerstone Cabernet Calistoga

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 […]

CORNERSTONE Merlot Oakville Station 2015

Cornerstone Merlot

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 […]

CORNERSTONE Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc

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 […]

SELBACH OSTER Riesling Feinherb 2016

Selbach Oster Riesling

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, […]

SCHLOSS GOBELSURG Riesling Zobing 2016

Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling

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 […]

CORNERSTONE Cabernet Franc 2015

Cornerstone Cabernet Franc

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, […]