December 15, 2018
Boheme Pinot Noir English Hill

BOHEME Pinot Noir English Hill 2015

Cool, wind-swept “English Hill Vineyard” is the source for this fantastic, tiny-production Pinot Noir. Deep wild red cherries, framboise, both black & green tea, red rose petals, crystallized ginger, dry-aged beef and pomegranate populate my tasting notes now. Just wait 3-4 years as the wine develops and you’ll get more. 2015, a drought vintage, could be tricky to make delicate wines. Owner/winemaker Kurt Beitler nailed it here. This is complex, strong, fruity and savory all in one. In the $50/bottle category of Pinot Noir from anywhere, this is as good as it gets. More Information From Kurt Beitler, owner/winemaker of […]
December 14, 2018
Campesino Syrah Las Madres

Campesino Syrah Las Madres 2016

Notice the exceptionally deep, rich, dark color. The smell and taste is quintessential Syrah with its black and blueberries, smoked lamb loin, black pepper, soy sauce, tarragon, rosemary and chocolate. Medium acid, fine tannins, fantastic concentration and mouth-coating extraction while, still, keeping everything about the wine in control. Drink the 2016 Campesino Syrah Las Madres now through 2026 and enjoy it with roast garlic, onion and pepper dishes, roast mushrooms, strong marinades, braises and stews. 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 […]
December 13, 2018
stellareese cabernet 2014

STELLAREESE Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Single vineyard, organic & dry farmed, Calistoga (Stellareese buys all the fruit…a monopole!) Generous fruitiness: dark red cherries, red currants and pomegranate syrup. Sturdy frame of French oak (“more new than we’ve ever used before” owner Rachel Stellareese Davies reports) gives the wine more sweetness and structure. The Stellareese Cabernet Sauvignon is a delicious, “showy” Cabernet. And as good as it is today, will get significantly better over time. Best drinking, I estimate, to be 2021-2026.  More Information Rachel Stellareese Davies started Stellareese in 2007 while at T-Vine Cellars, working for Greg Brown. The winemaking has since moved to Outpost, […]
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 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 […]
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 […]
October 28, 2018
H Goutorbe Champagne Special Club 2006

H GOUTORBE Champagne Special Club 2006

One of my top picks for special drinking Champagne for a great, under $100/bottle price. Facts are this: 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, all Grand Cru fruit, has gone through full malo, aged over 7 years on its lees. Get dried orchard fruits, both fresh and dried citrus zest, Gravenstein apples, sweet cream, etc. I really like the round, creamy texture and all the flavors I get in the 30 second finish. the H Goutorbe Champagne Special Club is great stuff. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
October 27, 2018
Goutorbe blanc de blancs Champagne

H GOUTORBE Blanc de Blancs Champagne

A total winner, especially for the price. All Chardonnay, all 2012 (a fantastic Champagne vintage). Went through full Malo, aged over 4 years on its lees before disgorgement. Super tasty, full of ripe lemon, green apple and crisp peach flavors. Great balance and delicious flavors start to finish. I want some Goutorbe Blanc de Blancs! Here are all my Champagne reviews.
October 27, 2018
Goutorbe blanc de blancs Champagne

DUC de ROMET Champagne Cuvee Prestige

We all need as much high quality, under $40 Champagne as we can possible get, right? Duc de Romet is made by Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy of R. Geoffroy. It’s Blanc de Noirs: ¾ Pinot Meunier, ¼ Pinot Noir, 70% from 2013, a good vintage for the area, and the rest “reserve wine” from earlier vintages. 4 years on the lees, which is impressively long for a $35 Champagne. Sports ripe, bright fruit, a ying/yang of tart & sweet, a clean rocky finish and a juicy friendliness. Don’t think too hard about this wine as you enjoy. Just enjoy.
October 27, 2018
Goutorbe blanc de blancs Champagne

R GEOFFROY Champagne Cuvee Volupte

Mark this down as a special Champagne to drink, which means for under $100 it really is an excellent value. It is 69% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir from what Geoffroy considers their best plots in Cumieres, Vallee de la Marne. No malo…8 years on the lees before disgorgement. Solid vintage 2009: “Plump and approachable,” writes Jancis Robinson. I love how the Geoffroy Champagne Cuvee Volupte hits all my sensation spots. Jolt of acidity, fresh fruit basket, doughy frame. And long as a winter night. Here are all my Champagne reviews.