October 14, 2019
Cellar Collections Pinot Noir

CELLAR COLLECTIONS Pinot Noir 2017

$50-ish per bottle quality level Pinot that Goldberg bought for a song, labeled it and sell for $22. Fruit’s from “Reuling Vineyard,” north of Sebastopol and 10 miles from the Pacific. The wine delivers the goods: dark red cherry and raspberry flavors, brown spices and a little vanilla from the barrel. It’s rich and full-bodied compared to most any other $22 California Pinot Noir. If you like Pinot Noir as your house wine, this is a good candidate. Stop by or call Cellar Collections and pick one up. You’ll probably come back for more.
October 1, 2019
Sleeping Giant Chardonnay

SLEEPING GIANT Chardonnay “Buena Tierra” 2016

60 year old vine, cool climate, high acid grapes and classic Grand Cru Burgundy winemaking* makes for an excellent and versatile Chardonnay. Honestly, I’m surprised this Sleeping Giant Chardonnay was made in this style as the green apple/quince, mouth-watering acidity and rocky “crunch” lead me tasting notes. While butter and toast do play a part in the wine, these two flavors are way in the back. I think the crisp, tangy style is to the wine’s benefit as so many eschew the oaky/buttery style of Chardonnay these days. Personally, I like both styles equally. *Indigenous yeast, barrel fermented, 100% malolactic, […]
October 1, 2019
Prima Materia Sangiovese

PRIMA MATERIA Sangiovese 2016

A beefier style of Sangiovese. Smell and taste dark red berry and cherry fruits, dry-aged beefsteak, sun-soaked thyme and tarragon. Smooth tannins and medium acidity contributes to its immediate pleasure at first taste, and still the wine opens up and improves as it breathes. A rocky earthiness, spice and beefy sensations come emerge with air. From an organic vineyard planted and owned by Prima Materia. Neutral oak aged, miniscule sulphur addition, unfined and unfiltered. A fantastic and “honest” Sangiovese. In the words of Prima Materia the wine “reflects our region while respecting its Italian heritage.” A real bargain at $25. […]
September 30, 2019
Grange des Rouquette Syrah Grenache

GRANGE des ROUQUETTE Syrah Grenache 2018

Rhone Valley producer Vignobles Boudinaud ventures outside the Southern Rhone for Grange des Rouquette. This is 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache all tank fermented and briefly aged before bottling. This delicious “quaffer red” is full of dark red strawberries, black pepper, black licorice and fresh violet smells and flavors. Perfectly ripe – neither jammy nor green – makes for good drinking for all. Roast chicken is a natural match, but it’s a friend for all types of dishes and cuisines. Worth having 6-12 bottles around and easy access.  
September 30, 2019
Sleeping Giant Pinot Noir

SLEEPING GIANT Pinot Noir “Dearden” 2017

As good of an example of Carneros Pinot Noir that you’ll find. The wine sports strong smells and flavors of dark red cherries and berries plus cocoa, tarragon and light toast. Soft tannins and bright, cool climate acidity complement the dark Pinot Noir fruit personality. At just two years of age, the Sleeping Giant Pinot Noir 2017 is already seamless and delicious drinking. That said, I expect it to get better over the next 3-5 years.  Owner/winemaker Chris Dearden planted his Pinot Noir vineyard on Carneros’ “Las Amigas Road” in 2006. This is the first vintage I’ve had of this […]
September 27, 2019
stellareese cabernet sauvignon

STELLAREESE Cabernet Sauvignon “Marcey’s” 2015

Generous, silky, long-lasting fruitiness sets the Stellareese 2015 Cabernet apart from its peers. I get dark red cherry, blue plum and strawberry preserves with bits of pomegranate, pink peppercorns, black tea with dried rose petals, cocoa nibs and cigar wrapper lending support. The flavors and textures are generous and long. This is a very good example of how a Cabernet can be full-flavored and rich while, at the same time, float on your tongue. Enjoy this delicious Cabernet now through 2025. More Information Rachel Stellareese Davies started Stellareese in 2007 while at T-Vine Cellars, working for Greg Brown. In 2013 […]
September 25, 2019
Andrew Murray Esperance

ANDREW MURRAY Esperance 2016

This GSM (60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre) from Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley is big-time winner for $25. A rich and spicy red through and through, get dark strawberry preserves, cocoa, cinnamon, black pepper, licorice, lavender and smoked beef jerky. It’s round and luscious in the mouth with a long finish that combines ripe, dark fruitiness and spice. Not to be confused with a Rhone Valley, France GSM as the California sunshine shows in the Andrew Murray Esperance 2016.
September 24, 2019
Pestoni Sangiovese

PESTONI Sangiovese 2017

Red snappy fruits, dusting of white pepper, crushed thyme leaves and tobacco leaf point to a very Italian-style of Sangiovese. Coming from the heart of Napa Valley, it’s a pleasant surprise. Fine tannins and healthy acidity, this is a food wine through and through. The wine’s 18 months in barrel (all French, small % new) adds structure while staying in the background in flavor. This is delicious outlier of a Napa Valley red wine to be enjoyed with red sauces, pork and chicken sausages and roast pork shoulder with root vegetables. Pestoni Sangiovese is sold exclusively at the winery from the […]
September 24, 2019
Pestoni Family Rose

PESTONI FAMILY Rose, Rutherford 2018

Merlot and Sangiovese from Pestoni’s vineyard between their winery and Highway 29 is the source for this dry, spicy Rosé wine. All saignée, which is surprising based on the peach skin color. Lite spice, fresh strawberries, blood orange, peppercorns, etc. You know, all the good Rosé smells and flavors. Very dry and nicely fruity too. This is sold exclusively at the winery from the tasting room and to Pestoni Family wine club members, so buy online or visit Pestoni Family’s winery & tasting room in Rutherford to get this. Andy Pestoni returned to the family business, Pestoni Estate (previously called […]
September 18, 2019
Dirty & Rowdy Familiar

DIRTY & ROWDY Familiar Mourvedre 2018

A bottle of Dirty & Rowdy Mourvèdre is a look into the future of California winemaking. A champion of the grape, co-owner and winemaker Hardy Wallace has put the grape on his shoulders and introduced it to the next generation of wine lovers through his engaging use of social media. “Familiar” Mourvèdre tastes like ripe smoky raspberries and dry French herbs. Lightness a la Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Hardy says it’s “like yacht rock for space pirates.” Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing! I haven’t nailed down my perfect food pairing but it includes roasted eggplant and cremini […]
September 18, 2019
Truchard Roussanne

Truchard Roussanne, Carneros 2018

Truchard’s vineyards are on the outskirts of Napa on north side of Highway 12. Called the “Banana Belt” of Carneros as it’s noticeably warmer than just 2 miles south where bay influence is more consistent. The warmer weather makes for a greater variety of grapes: Truchard has 11 varieties planted, including 3 acres (out of 200 acres planted) of Roussanne. The 2018 Truchard Roussanne smells and tastes of coriander, white pepper, dried wildflowers, fresh pears and dried mangos. Medium/high acidity and a red wine-like structure make this baby one to let rest a while for full enjoyment. While some vintages […]
September 18, 2019
Poseidon Chardonnay

POSEIDON Chardonnay Carneros 2017

The Poseidon Estate vines grow next to the Napa River: the wide part where the salty waters and ocean breezes from the San Pablo Bay waters make for an environment very different than the narrow Valley to the north. The cooling breezes and lower temps make this land golden for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The owners of Poseidon Vineyard figured this out before most, planting their vineyard in 1973. They’ve made wine from their grapes since the early 2000s. The 2017 Poseidon Chardonnay is a winner at twice the price. It’s rich and satisfying for the full-bodied Chardonnay camp and […]
September 17, 2019
Art House Pinot Gris

ART HOUSE Pinot Gris 2016

Cool San Pablo bay breezes shoot up the Napa River and cover the vineyard on Carneros’ Las Amigas Road. This is the coolest part of Napa Valley and ideal for making dry, racy Pinot Gris. Strong smells and flavors of grated lemon zest, grapefruit ice, crisp pineapple and lemon balm point to a unique Napa Valley white wine. With lots of texture and high acidity, the Art House Pinot Gris pushes the flavor envelope when enjoyed without food. I started sipping it on its own and compare it to a jump into a cool pool on a hot day: quick […]
September 17, 2019
One Iron Meritage

One Iron Meritage 2015

The One Iron Meritage 2015 blend is 64% Merlot, 27% Malbec, 9% Petit Verdot. The Merlot: 70 year old, dry farmed “Frediani Vineyard” in northern Napa Valley. Fantastic fruit, on the dark side of the spectrum: blueberries, black cherries and blackberries. Merlot’s kitchen herbs (rosemary, bay leaf, tarragon) and dark cocoa smells and flavors waft through. Rocky earth sensation on the 25 second finish. The tannins are fine, making for a silky, medium/full bodied wine. I totally dig the character and soul of this wine. The Iron Series of wines are owned and made by long-time Napa winemaker Chris Dearden.  […]
September 12, 2019
Argus Pinot Noir

Argus Pinot Noir 2017

Fantastic smelling aromas of ripe wild cherries and red plums with garden thyme and fennel sneaking in. The red fruits stand out in the mouth before cinnamon, cola and those garden herbs join the party. Medium body and healthy acidity – just what I want from a cool climate Pinot Noir (Argus comes from vineyards near the San Pablo Bay, the coolest part of Carneros.) A long 30 second finish: exceptional for a $32 Pinot. Everything is perfectly placed and proportioned. Argus is one of the five labels owned and made by long-time Napa winemaker Chris Dearden. He has a […]
August 27, 2019
Farm Cabernet Sauvignon

FARM Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2017

Lush, supple and sexy, the 2017 Farm Cabernet Sauvignon pours out dark purple. Its smells and flavors  are straightforward blackberry liqueur, kirsch, dark chocolate, toasty cinnamon rolls and black licorice. With loads of big rich flavors, full body and smooth tannins, this is a perfect bottle for Napa Cabernet fans looking for satisfaction at under $50/bottle. FARM Napa Valley is owned and made by John Anthony Truchard, who has also flourished with his labels JAM, BUTTER and John Anthony. All the grapes for Farm Chardonnay are farmed and managed, and often owned, by John Anthony.
August 27, 2019
Yves Cuilleron Syrah vigne da cote

YVES CUILLERON Syrah “Les Vignes d’a Cote” 2017

100% Syrah from a single vineyard somewhere in Northern Rhone Valley. (It’s IGP Collines Rhodaniennes, a broad designation covering a lot of the Northern Rhone.) Quality fruit and precise winemaking makes for a fruit and spice-driven, medium bodied, ready to drink Syrah. Start to finish you get ripe blueberries, black raspberries, cracked pepper, anise and black olive. Medium acidity, fine tannins. Combo of steel tank and neutral barrel ageing for around six months: not oaky. I poured this wine at a Cuilleron wine class and the room went nuts over it. I suggest finding some of this before it’s all […]
August 27, 2019
Cuilleron Rose Syrah Sybel

YVES CUILLERON Syrah Rose “Sybel” 2018

The inimitable, prolific Yves Cuilleron makes a few thousand cases of this saignée Rosé, all Syrah from his hometown of Chavanay (which is the southern end of Condrieu in the Northern Rhone Valley.) The wine’s prettiness and relative delicacy doesn’t make me think saignée. Get the raspberries, strawberries and cherries along with a lime-y citrus and, naturally, cracked black pepper. It’s very dry and easy to like, especially on the finish when an earnest berry flavor kicks in. I poured this wine at the Yves Cuilleron tasting I led. It won the room over – all 20 of us. The […]
August 27, 2019

PRIMA MATERIA Zinfandel Bianco 2018

A Provence-like orange and peach skin hue followed by a crisp, blood orange, faint cherry/rasperry and white pepper flavor makes me think more Southern France than Zinfandel Rose, quite frankly. No complaining. It’s tasty, and I think it’s a style and quality that will make the majority of Rose drinkers happy. It’s tangy not tart, with fruit but not fruity. Gets a smiley face for texture. Drink with or without food. It’s a perfect lemon/garlic grilled chicken wine, I imagine. My family and I cruised down to the recently opened Prima Materia tasting room in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. Very cool […]
August 22, 2019
Oakville Ranch Field Blend

OAKVILLE RANCH Field Blend 2016

83% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah from Oakville Ranch Vineyard which looks down on The Valley on the east side…best view of the Napa Valley you’ll ever get. This wine is huge. Pours out black-ruby with some purple in there. Black licorice, nutmeg and cinnamon hit the nose along with the blackberry pie and black cherry preserves. The taste is more of the same with a dark chocolate thing moving in and lasting through its 30 second finish. I like its structure, in other words how the firm tannins and the concentration of fruit blend together. Too bad there are only […]
August 22, 2019
Prima Materia Tocai Friulano

Prima Materia Tocai Friulano 2017

California needs more wines like this! Tocai Friulano, aka Friulano in its homeland of Friuli, Italy and Sauvignon Vert in California (unless it’s Muscadelle…yeah, it’s confusing) has about 50 acres planted in California. That number recently went down when THIS vineyard, “Graziano” in Mendocino’s Potter Valley, was converted to Vermentino. Quoting Prima Materia’s Pietro Buttitta, it’s “probably a good idea, but a wistful one as this bottling has great tension and complexity.” This is true. Good Tocia Friulano needs to breathe and stretch. And enjoyed chilled not cold: 60 degrees is good. My Prima Materia Tocai Friulano 2017 tasting notes […]
August 16, 2019
Olivia Brion Tempranillo

Olivia Brion Tempranillo “Shake Ridge” 2016

Napa winery Olivia Brion stretches out by acquiring Tempranillo from the outstanding “Shake Ridge Ranch” near Sutter Creek in Gold Country, Sierra Foothills. Smells great, like red cherry compote, dried pink rose petals and black peppercorns. It’s medium bodied, fruity (berries/cherries mostly) and nicely perfumed. Its fine tannins make the wine stand tall. Really lovely…full flavored, perfect restraint. Fantastic food wine. Pair as you would a stronger Pinot Noir and elegant, complex Merlot. More Information With a history focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from “Heron Lake Vineyard” in Wild Horse Valley, Olivia Brion Winery has expanded in recent years to small […]
August 15, 2019
Wilson Foreigner Albarino

WILSON FOREIGNER Albarino “Rorick Vineyard” Sierra Foothills 2017

The Albariño grape, native to the cool Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal, interestingly makes good wine at “Rorick Heritage” outside the town of Murphys in the Sierra Foothills. Interesting because it’s HOT here. David Wilson, the Wilson of Wilson Foreigner, explains to me “the Albarino we get from Rorick grows in schist rock (schist is a high-mineral metamorphic rock) and there’s limestone next to our vines. And the vines are east-facing for morning sun, afternoon & evening shade.” These factors, the cool Sierra nights and natural acidity in Albarino, explain the tang in the Wilson Foreigner. It’s loaded with […]
August 7, 2019
Keep Delta White

KEEP “Delta White” 2018

Cortese and Falanghina: two grapes of Italian origin (Cortese in Piedmont-northern Italy, Falanghina in Campania-southern Italy). They are two of the many lesser-known (you could say esoteric) grapes grown at “Lost Slough Vineyard” outside the town of Rio Vista (on Highway 12 west of Lodi). Made to drink young and bright like a lot of California wines…Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc two leaders in this category. The “Delta White” takes a turn from the norm, aiming for an old world, traditional Italian style of less fresh fruit and more rocky/salty smells and flavors. My tasting notes include green apple skins, watermelon […]