APSARA Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Apsara Sauvignon Blanc

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 […]

CAMPESINO Alina White 2016

Campesino Alina 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

JEAN DIOT Champagne Blanc de Blancs

Jean Diot Champagne 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 […]

BEDROCK Riesling “Wirz” 2017

Bedrock Riesling Wirz

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, […]

COCHON Pinot Gris “Cuvee Sophie” 2017

Cochon Pinot Gris

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 […]

POE Pinot Noir “Manchester Ridge” 2016

Poe Pinot Noir Manchester Ridge

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 […]

POE Chardonnay “Manchester Ridge” 2016

Poe Chardonnay Manchester Ridge

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 […]

ANCIEN Pinot Noir “Haynes Old Block” 2016

Ancien Pinot Noir Haynes

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 […]

Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer 2017

Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer

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 […]

Merieau Gamay “Le Bois Jacou” 2016

Merieau Gamay Bois Jacou

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 […]

OCCASIO Chardonnay “Del Arroyo” 2017

Occasio Chardonnay

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 […]

STEVEN KENT Cabernet Sauvignon “Ghielmetti” 2015

Steven Kent Cabernet Ghielmetti

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: […]

RAGBAG Albarino Terra Alta 2017

Ragbag Albarino

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 […]

Murrieta’s Well Merlot 2015

Murrieta's Well Merlot

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 […]

MURRIETA’S WELL “The Whip” 2016

Murrieta's Well The Whip

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 […]

McGRAIL Cabernet Sauvignon “James Vincent” 2015

McGrail Cabernet James Vincent

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 […]

BOHEME Pinot Noir Taylor Ridge 2015

Boheme Pinot Noir Taylor Ridge

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 […]

BOHEME Chardonnay English Hill 2014

Boheme Chardonnay English Hill

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 […]

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 […]

DOSNON Champagne Recolte Blanche

Dosnon Champagne 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, […]

FRANCOISE BEDEL Champagne “Dis. Vin Secret”

Francois 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 […]

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 […]