January 15, 2019
Apsara Sauvignon Blanc

APSARA Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Such a no-brainer for Sauvignon Blanc fans…owner/maker Robin Akhurst consistently nails it with this wine. 2016: rich ripe lemon, white peach, lemon tea, kiss of the tropical fruits. Lovely texture…more than most SBs (barrel ferment in neutral oak then tank aged for 6 months). “Fancier” wineries would sell this, easily, for twice the price. More Information Scotsman Robin Akhurst learned he loved wine while attending Edinburgh University. His wine journey took him to Provence, Burgundy, Barossa Valley and finally Napa Valley. Working next to and learning from great winemakers all along the way. He makes tiny lots of wine under […]
December 16, 2018
Campesino Alina 2016

CAMPESINO Alina White 2016

Equal parts Marsanne and Rousanne, making it a “Northern Rhone Valley-style white wine.” Really pretty smells and flavors of citrus blossoms, melons, apricots, pineapple, lemongrass and honeysuckle. It’s bright and lively with moderate alcohol and a fresh, crisp finish. For this category of wine (Rhone-style white) this is particularly versatile with food. Campesino Alina is an awesome buy for $28. More Information Campesino Cellars is owned and made by husband/wife Griselda and Macario Montoya (Macario is the winemaker). They honor their Mexican heritage by naming their winery in honor of the Campesinos, the field workers (most of whom are Mexican) who […]
December 11, 2018
Analemma Tinto 2016

ANALEMMA Tinto 2016

The Analemma Tinto, a blend of Tempranillo and Syrah, reminds me of a chewy Napa Valley Cabernet in its concentration of dark berry/cherry fruits, firm tannins, licorice and earthy spices and tobacco accents. It’s a mouthful of wine for sure as it brings together sweet and savory, a full body and layers of flavor. Youthful and chewy, a one hour decant does the wine a lot of good. If you cellar it, best drinking I estimate to be 2022-2030. More Information Analemma Winery launched in 2010 when two guys leased “Atavus Vineyard” in the Columbia Gorge (75 miles east of […]
December 10, 2018
Jean Diot Champagne Extra Brut

JEAN DIOT Champagne Extra Brut

Family vineyard and winery started in the 1960s, now made and run by the 2nd generation (the kids of Jean Diot). Vallee de la Marne, 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier. I like the pop of citrus and then white peach and Fuji apple flavor in here. For an Extra Brut (meaning less than 6 Grams/Liter dosage), this has a good balance of ripe fruit. Big thumbs up, and a good value for around $50/bottle. More Information Jean Diot is a family-run Champagne house started in the 1960s and going strong today. These are all very well-made Champagnes […]
December 10, 2018
Jean Diot Champagne Blancs

JEAN DIOT Champagne Blanc de Blancs

Vallee de la Marne producer gets Chardonnay from the Cotes des Blancs for their Blanc de Blancs Champagne. I like Chardonnay’s crisp lemon/apple character and “zip” character, followed by a round, voluptuous mouth feel and lightly toasty flavor that comes from the lees aging in bottle. This has something for fans of all styles of Champagne. More Information Jean Diot is a family-run Champagne house started in the 1960s and going strong today. These are all very well-made Champagnes selling for very reasonable prices.
December 7, 2018
Bedrock Riesling Wirz

BEDROCK Riesling “Wirz” 2017

I like this Riesling’s lemon-apple-honey character and classic Riesling lick-a-river-rock personality. High, pleasing acidity stands straight and tall from first whiff to the end of its 20 second finish. Lemon zest, yellow grapefruit and citrus blossoms smells and flavor pop out. More of an oily texture than most dry Rieslings made in California (partly due, I imagine, from the 50+ year old, own-rooted vines planted in decomposed granite and limestone). A great bottle of wine for $22. Here are all the Bedrock Wine Co. wines I’ve reviewed. 
December 6, 2018
Cochon Pinot Gris

COCHON Pinot Gris “Cuvee Sophie” 2017

Northern California winery Cochon is used to looking beyond the horizon for their grapes, so bringing a few tons of Willamette Pinot Gris down is no big deal for them. In the realm of super-tasty Oregon Pinot Gris, Cochon “Cuvee Sophie” fits right in. Loads of citrus and orchard fruit (pear, apple, apricot) flavors with an apple blossom and white pepper aroma happily hanging around. Vibrant acidity, dry fruity finish. Almost too easy to drink a whole bottle of this over a couple of hours. More Information I highly recommend you get to know the three labels under the Cochon […]
December 6, 2018
Poe Pinot Noir Manchester Ridge

POE Pinot Noir “Manchester Ridge” 2016

The cool “Manchester Ridge” vineyard, 2000 feet high, above the fogline, and within eyeshot of The Pacific, makes bold and bright Pinots. I love what Poe does with these grapes. Red fruits dominate: raspberry and not-too-tart cranberry. Then a little coriander, violets, red roses and green tea. Plenty of acidity for sure, but firmly in the bright and perhaps tangy category. The ripe core of fruit takes care of the acidity. Lightly framed by toasty & spicy oak. Definitely buy some of this before it’s gone.
December 6, 2018
Poe Chardonnay Manchester Ridge

POE Chardonnay “Manchester Ridge” 2016

Chardonnay’s rich side comes through alongside cool climate crisp and tangy qualities in the Poe Chardonnay Manchester Ridge. The vineyard is 2000 feet high yet within eye-shot of the Pacific in the Mendocino coastal range. This has it all: poached pears, baked Granny Smith apples, lemon custard, sweet butter, lemon zest, toasted pastry. There is richness and impressive intensity in this wine. This is an absolute steal for $38.
December 4, 2018
Ancien Pinot Noir Haynes

ANCIEN Pinot Noir “Haynes Old Block” 2016

Open the cliché suitcase because it’s suitable to use them on the Ancien Pinot Noir Haynes 2016. Power and elegance, Burgundian, concentration and grace. From 50 year old vines in Coombsville…one of Napa Valley’s great Pinot Noir vineyards. Fantastic smells and flavors throughout. Red rose petals, cherry preserves, Earl Grey tea, wild strawberry, licorice and toasted wheat toast. Rich, round, smooth texture and a long 30 second finish that will only get longer with time in bottle. So good now, yet I suspect it will get in the next few years if you can wait. Tiny, tiny production. It’s a […]
November 29, 2018
Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer

Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer 2017

First off, the Navarro Vineyards Dry Gewurztraminer smells awesome. Honeydew melon, fresh ginger, peach, grapefruit, orange blossoms and white pepper. The taste moves on to orange zest, more melons and fresh-cut flowers. (Steers away from the honey/lychee/oily style of Gewurz). Medium/high acidity, typical of cool Anderson Valley wines and a ballerina-like strength and lightness. Fuji apples, green tea and a dash of peppery spice on the finish. Could drink this wine all day and night. Navarro only sells their wine retail winery-direct. It is one of the few wineries that I purchase wine from on a consistent basis. Amazing values, […]
November 29, 2018
Merieau Gamay Bois Jacou

Merieau Gamay “Le Bois Jacou” 2016

I really like this wine for its combination of Gamay-bright berry fruit, rustic character, light body, intensity of flavor and great price. Gamay, while not associated with Touraine (mid-Loire Valley, France) is definitely a “player” in the area, and rightly so. The cool climate, chalk/limestone soils and rich wine history make it a natural. Jean-Francois Merieau makes an honest, delicious, nervy style. Get raspberries, dried red cherries, tarragon, black tea and cola. A natural food wine. That said, I shared a bottle with my wife watching a film, sans food, and we were very happy. Opens up quickly. Jean-Francois Merieau […]
November 27, 2018
Occasio Chardonnay

OCCASIO Chardonnay “Del Arroyo” 2017

High quality, rich and voluptuous style of Chardonnay from Livermore Valley. Cool climate plus rocky and meager soils point to Chardonnay grapes full of flavor and character. Barrel ferment and aged with lees stirring and full malolactic, so strong winemaking to match the intensity of fruit. It works, provided you’re in the mood for a creamy, toasty, luscious Chardonnay. Smell and taste roasted pears, spiced apple butter, nutmeg, fig paste, whipped cream and lemon custard. Very young at time of tasting, which I think explains its short finish. I look forward to trying this again come spring 2019 as it […]
November 27, 2018
Steven Kent Cabernet Ghielmetti

STEVEN KENT Cabernet Sauvignon “Ghielmetti” 2015

A bright, red-fruited, snappy expression of Cabernet Sauvignon. Smell and taste ripe red plums, raspberries and red currants plus tarragon, bay leaf and white pepper. Walking a fine line between elegant and too-green, this wine artfully maintains balance and tasty focus. That said, the Steven Kent Cabernet Ghielmetti 2015 is recommended for a certain palate: one that enjoys a pure expression of the Cab Sauv grape. More Information Steven Mirassou launched Steven Kent Winery in 1996. Then and now, he is a worthy leader and ambassador for the quality and uniqueness of Livermore Valley wine. The Steven Kent wines are […]
November 27, 2018
Ragbag Albarino

RAGBAG Albarino Terra Alta 2017

Here’s a tasty, dry, no-oak Sauvignon Blanc-alternative white wine to check out. From the hills east of Lodi where Spanish varietals, like Albariño, have established a strong foothold. Smell and taste lemon verbena, grapefruit, fresh sliced peaches and a whisper of chalk dust. Medium acidity. Orange wedges and citrus blossoms on the finish. Have with whitefish ceviche or French Fries & mayo. More Information Ragbag Wines is a new label owned and made by Steven Mirassou, owner/maker of Steven Kent Winery in Livermore Valley. This Albariño is indicative of the Ragbag mission: tasty, pure and pretty weekday wines, well-priced and meant […]
November 27, 2018
Murrieta's Well Merlot

Murrieta’s Well Merlot 2015

The dark rich color and big nose of cocoa and black cherries starts you off. Smoky blackberries, dried French herbs, red curry and toasty oak flavors. A pleasant pop of acidity as you swish the wine around in your mouth. It’s rich, well built, gentle tannins, loads of flavor. Drink it with a roast pork tenderloin finished with a strong garlic/mushroom sauce. More Information I’m a big fan of Murrieta’s Well, especially since Robbie Meyer (of Peirson Meyer Winery) came on board as winemaker in 2014. All the wines are fruit-forward and rich while showing appropriate restraint in alcohol and […]
November 27, 2018
Murrieta's Well The Whip

MURRIETA’S WELL “The Whip” 2016

Five grape blend, in order, of Sauvignon Blanc (33%), Semillon, Chardonnay, Orange Muscat and Viognier (10%). The aromatics of Muscat and Viognier pop from the glass. Satisfying, creamy texture of Semillon and Chardonnay. The tang of Sauvignon Blanc keeps it all fresh and lively. Really well done…fun drink. Fermented dry, which, by nature of the blend and the flavor profile, surprises some. Enjoy it with fish tacos. More Information I’m a big fan of Murrieta’s Well, especially since Robbie Meyer (of Peirson Meyer Winery) came on board as winemaker in 2014. All the wines are fruit-forward and rich while showing […]
November 27, 2018
McGrail Cabernet James Vincent

McGRAIL Cabernet Sauvignon “James Vincent” 2015

Rich, round voluptuous Cabernet from estate vineyards in Livermore Valley. This has a dark berry fruit profile, showing lots of ripe blackberry and currant flavors along with some black olive, roast French herbs, vanilla extract and toasty oak. Medium acidity, fine tannins and a smooth 20 second finish. Compares stylistically to a Sonoma Valley or Alexander Valley Cabernet. Excellent steak house Cab. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in all new French oak. More Information McGrail Vineyards makes small lots of a variety of wines but focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon. They are all estate and farm their vineyards to keep complete quality […]
October 29, 2018
Boheme Pinot Noir Taylor Ridge

BOHEME Pinot Noir Taylor Ridge 2015

Sappy red berries and cherries, coriander, orange zest and fresh violets quickly emerge from the glass. The tiny yields (2/3rd of a ton per acre!) and the drought vintage of 2015, which partly explains the low yields, makes for an especially concentrated Pinot Noir. With more and more air, the fruit keeps going while the clove, cola, dried violets and coriander slowly emerge. So tasty now I suspect many will drink it soon. Best, however, to wait and start enjoying the 2015 Boheme Pinot Noir Taylor Ridge in 2021 or thereabouts. More Information From owner/winemaker Kurt Beitler: “Taylor Ridge Vineyard […]
October 29, 2018
Boheme Chardonnay English Hill

BOHEME Chardonnay English Hill 2014

A very cool, windy vineyard under 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean makes for a strong, intense “Burgundian” style Chardonnay. Smell and taste lemon custard, fresh sweet butter, ripe grapefruit, nutmeg and lightly roasted almonds & hazelnuts. Flavors are strong as can be with tingly acidity to back it up. This is the best style of California Chardonnay in my opinion: cool climate coast site, low yields, barrel-aged (no new oak on this bottling), full malolactic. Ka-boom. The cool 2014 vintage also lends itself well to this style. The winery is almost out of the Boheme Chardonnay English Hill 2014. […]
October 29, 2018
Henri Dosnon Champagne Brut Rose

HENRI DOSNON Champagne Brut Rose

Tiny producer in the Côte des Bars, southern end of Champagne. The Brut Rosé is 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Mid range on dosage for Brut at 10 Grams/Liter R.S. The dosage plus the Pinot Noir extraction makes for a red-berry heavy, fruity, off-dry sensation that is A) delicious and B) not everyone’s first choice of Champagne style. Get wild red cherries, raspberries, cranberry nut bread, blood oranges and then toasted pie crust, nutmeg and black licorice on the end. This soft, fleshy, lush style is quite different than the other Dosnon Champagnes. I love it, and it’s a fantastic […]
October 29, 2018
Dosnon Champagne Blanche

DOSNON Champagne Recolte Blanche

All Chardonnay from the Cote des Bar, southern end of Champagne. Unsweetened apple sauce, lemon zest and quince paste, classic for Blanc de Blancs Champagne, is here in spades. Less chalky than Blanc de Blancs from the Cotes des Blancs. The Henri Dosnon Champagne Blanche is rich, textured mouthfeel and a 25 second long soft, creamy finish. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
October 29, 2018
Francois Bedel Champagne Dis Vin Secret

FRANCOISE BEDEL Champagne “Dis. Vin Secret”

Friendly, perfumed, intense and bold aromas of peaches, dried apricots and pears, roasted almonds and marzipan. And it keeps on going straight through its 25 second finish – fresh and dried orchard fruits, toasted pastries, wild red cherry peaking through now & then. Aged 5+ years en tirage. Mostly Pinot Meunier with a small amount of Chardonnay. A low 5.5 Grams/Liter dosage on the Francoise Bedel Champagne dis vin secret. More Information I’ve found a new favorite Champagne producer. Francoise Bedel is on the western edge of Champagne, just 60 miles from Paris. Their wines are predominantly Pinot Meunier. Farming is […]
October 29, 2018
Francoise Bedel Champagne Origin'elle

FRANCOISE BEDEL Champagne Origin’elle

Friendly aromas of ripe peach & apple plus cooked cream and pie crust. The taste is more crisp and dry than the nose suggests. Get red plums, citrus and quince. Then on the finish it gets rich again! Round texture, wheat toast, dry herbs come to mind. I like how this $50 Champagne is an adventure as well as a delicious drink! The comment below re. letting it breathe may change the crisp palate into something richer. Blend is 75% Pinot Meunier, 15% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir. Aged 3 years en tirage. A very low 3.6 G/Liter dosage. Francoise Bedel […]