January 24, 2020
Violet Green Petite Sirah

VIOLET GREEN Petite Sirah 2016

This wine garners the 3 Bs: big, bold and balanced. 100% Petite Sirah from the mountains of northwestern Napa Valley. I taste dark, very ripe blackberries and blueberries that stop short of cooked or jammy fruit sensations. Also smell & taste espresso, chocolate shavings, cracked black pepper and black licorice. Classic and classy California Petite Sirah in spades. Aged in neutral French oak barrels (a whopping three of them, resulting in 75 cases.) Just now, in January 2020, entering its prime drinking window, which will last for 5 years or more. Most Napa Valley red wines of this quality would […]
December 19, 2019
Mirabelle Sparkling Brut

Mirabelle Sparkling Wine Brut

Napa Valley’s iconic Schramsberg Winery also makes Mirabelle, a delicious, great value sparkling wine. Like the life of the party, it’s easy to like and mighty friendly. The flavors are creamy and fruity, a little like a pineapple/mango smoothy. Try the Mirabelle Brut with cream cheese wontons, easy to make at home or get the Cream Cheese Rangoon at Panda Express. Go light on the sweet & sour sauce as too much will overwhelm the wine. My Mirabelle Sparkling Wine write-up is included in my Napa Valley Register Column of 12/20/19 “California Sparkling Wine-Available and Affordable”
December 19, 2019
J Sparkling Cuvee 20

J Sparkling Wine “Cuvee 20”

This is the best “palate-perker-upper” of the lot. I call this fruity and tangy, like icy-cold Granny Smith apples, citrus spray and toothsome pineapple. J Winery is a national leader in cool-climate Sonoma County wines, especially sparkling. Look for the eye-catching, mustard-yellow swoosh of a J silk-screened on the bottle. For a matching snack, zest a lemon then squeeze its juice into a pint of light sour cream or plain yogurt. Serve with lightly salted potato chips. My J Winery Sparkling Wine “Cuvee 20” write-up is included in my Napa Valley Register Column of 12/20/19 “California Sparkling Wine-Available and Affordable”
December 19, 2019

Mumm Napa Sparkling Wine “Brut Prestige”

Mumm Napa sparkling seems to be everywhere. If a store sells wine, good bet they sell Mumm Napa. Might make you think it’s mediocre, understandably, but not the case. It’s tangy, toasty, and like a good dog you can count on it being there to make you smile. The tang and toast make the Mumm Napa an excellent match with cold-smoked salmon. Serve it on a slice of cucumber. My Mumm Napa write-up is included in my Napa Valley Register Column of 12/20/19 “California Sparkling Wine-Available and Affordable”
December 19, 2019
Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine

Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine, Brut

Find Boonville, California on a map and you’re looking at Anderson Valley. Less-known and less-traveled than Napa and Sonoma, Anderson Valley’s cool weather is ideal for making sparkling wine. To my taste, Roederer Estate makes the best. It’s fruity and tangy, like a lemon sorbet (without the sweetness). Cold poached shrimp, a mainstay of the appetizer world, is a great match. But not the cocktail sauce. Instead, stir some roasted garlic and lemon juice into a cup of mayonnaise. My Roederer Estate write up is included in my Napa Valley Register Column of 12/20/19 “California Sparkling Wine-Available and Affordable”
December 12, 2019
Marc Hebrart Champagne Brut

MARC HEBRART Champagne Cuvee de Reserve Brut

This is a very generous Champagne in its orchard (pear & apple) and citrus fruits, both nicely ripe giving impressions of sweetness. A smidge of breakfast pastry compliments the fruit. Think pear tart without the sugar. Creamy texture, a very “friendly” Champagne meaning all palates will like it. Not too dry, not too sweet. Just right. The Marc Hebrart Champagne “Cuvee de Reserve” is crafted from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay in Champagne’s Marne Valley, where the wines generally are both fleshy and particularly complex. 2013 through 2016 vintages in this cuvée. The wine has gone through malo for […]
December 11, 2019
Belharra Syrah Las Madres

BELHARRA Syrah Las Madres 2016

Retasted December 2019:  Ripe, brooding blueberry and blackberry fruits injected with smoke, peppercorns, licorice and black olive. Over time the fruitiness has stood up more, now going toe to toe with the natural Syrah spiciness I always get from “Las Madres Vineyard” Syrah. Full bodied, suave tannins, medium acidity. This drinks great without food but still belongs on the dinner table. Earlier this year I suggested Pulled Pork with a Cider/Vinegar Sauce.  Today, I suggest a classic Syrah dish – Coffee-Braised Beef Short Ribs. (add a half cup of the Belharra Syrah to the pot.)   More Information Belharra is a […]
December 10, 2019
Taille aux Loups Triple Zero

La Taille aux Loups “Triple Zero” Brut

There’s hip wine and then there’s really really good hip wine. Jacky Blot and his son “J.P.” grow Chenin Blanc in Montlouis, Loire Valley. 40+ year old vine fruit picked at perfect maturity. A “Pet Nat” or Petillant Naturel: single fermentation (in barrel), transferred to bottle to finish its single ferment. Triple Zero as in zero chaptalization, zero liqueur de tirage and zero dosage. (email me if you need definitions on these.) I love this wine. Chenin’s pear and tropical fruits peek through with white dusty earth, crisp seaside air and peach skins. It’s very dry and very flavorful, which […]
December 10, 2019
Pierre Gimonnet Champagne Gastronome

GIMONNET Champagne “Gastronome” 2014

“Crunchy” Chardonnay grown in the chalky Cotes des Blancs, 3 years on its 2nd fermentation lees (“sur latte”) and low dosage. The result is damn good. Nothing terribly surprising, frankly, as Gimonnet makes solid if not spectacular Champagne every time. This vintage of “Gastronome” is very generous in its green heirloom apple, white flower, ripe lemon and quince flavors along with buttered biscuits, white chocolate and hazelnut. So good, I wouldn’t mind another taste of this right now. A relative value at $70/bottle. Read all my Pierre Gimonnet Champagne reviews HERE.
December 10, 2019
Dancing Crow Zinfandel

DANCING CROW Zinfandel 2018

Just barely enough Zinfandel to be called such and 1/4th a field blend of Alicante Bouschet, Cinsault, Touriga Nacional and more. Surpisingly delicious for such a young and hearty red wine. Deep, dark red berry smells and flavors that venture into the blueberry zone. Particularly spicy, especially on the finish. Roast coffee beans, clove, cinnamon and Pernod (anise). The black licorice is especially pronounced when first opened and enjoyed. Purity of flavor, careful use of oak, fine tannins and a healthy thread of acidity make this a complete, high quality wine. Once again, Dancing Crow WAY over-delivers for the price! […]
December 10, 2019
Dancing Crow Sauvignon Blanc

DANCING CROW Sauvignon Blanc 2018

From Dancing Crow’s vineyard where Clear Lake meets Mount Konocti, a 40 minute drive north of Napa Valley. Meager soils challenge the vines, resulting in Sauvignon Blanc of character, intensity and ripeness…at 12.3% alcohol. Snappy citrus sensations throughout, including lemon zest and lemongrass (expect to pick up myriad lemon flavors in lower alcohol white wine, especially Sauv Blanc). White peach and mango poke their heads from around the corner. Long, leesy finish that reminds me of feta cheese. This winery-owned single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from a small winery based in Napa is unique for its quality and remarkable value. I’m […]
November 21, 2019
Navarro Pinot Noir Methode a l'Ancienne

NAVARRO Pinot Noir “Methode a l’Ancienne” 2015

Rose-perfumed wild cherries, talc, raspberry sauce and a light touch of toasty oak on the nose. In the mouth the wine is fresh, generous, medium bodied and perfectly ripe. Natural acidity, typical of Navarro and quality Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs, perks up the wine on the back palate and 20 second finish. In a great place right now. The fact that most Navarro wine is sold direct to consumer and cases made of this wine (over 4,000) means they have it available to buy now as a library wine of sorts…but at the same price as when it was released […]
November 21, 2019
A Margaine Champagne

A MARGAINE Champagne “Cuvee Le Brut”

Dynamite fresh, juicy green apples, white peaches, mangoes and melon. Love the fruitiness and the fresh white flowers and rocky earthiness that complement that fruit. Fresh, tingly texture from the Chardonnay, low ML and short time on its lees (sur lattes). Roundness and depth from the terroir of Montagne de Reims. Has it all, and ready to drink too. For me, as good as it gets in Champagne for under $50. Made from 88% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir from Champagne’s Montagne de Reims region. Base wine went through 1/3rd malolactic. 48% 2016 vintage, 52% “Reserve” wines going back to […]
November 21, 2019
Carboniste Octopus

CARBONISTE “Octopus” Sparkling Albarino 2018

Albarino’s fresh floral, peach and citrus flavors are showcased in this methode traditionelle sparkling wine. Very tangy, floral/citrus basket aroma, loads of fruity, electric flavor. I love the balance of ripe fruit and energetic acidity. Made to capture every ounce of freshness possible. Carboniste makes a variety of sparkling wines out of different grapes (Albarino, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir bottlings in their current release with more to come). I like the Carboniste wines I’ve tasted a lot, and I really like their forward-thinking attitude of understanding the changing wine market and creating artisan sparkling wines to satisfy these customers. I […]
November 19, 2019
Marc Hebrart Brut Rose

MARC HEBRART Champagne, Brut Rose

I like Marc Hebrart Champagnes because you can’t put them in one stylistic box. I love the obvious orchard fruit and citrus flavors but their not fruity, per se. There is a definitive earthy component but it’s not earth-driven either. I find them, overall, quite friendly, but without sacrificing complexity. The Marc Hebrart Champagne Brut Rosé is 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. 7% of the cuvee is still Pinot Noir that was vinified in neutral oak. Brilliant salmon-flesh color, smidge of wild cherries and raspberries sensations with ripe lemon, blood orange and red apple flavors taking the lead. Smooth, […]
November 18, 2019
David Clinton Zinfandel Teldeschi

DAVID CLINTON Zinfandel “Teldeschi” 2016

Napa’s David Clinton Wine Cellars is a Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Zinfandel house. Unique, and pretty darn cool. Their “Teldeschi” Zinfandel vines are up to 130 years old. What do you get with age? Think of it as rings on a tree, and each ring adds another smell or flavor. Vine age translates to wine complexity rather than concentration. What do 130 years of dirt time mean for David Clinton “Teldeschi” Zinfandel? Spice! Licorice, mint, black pepper, cumin, clove and espresso coat the brambly raspberries and blueberries. I know what you’re thinking: Do I have 120+ more descriptors to reach […]
November 15, 2019
Wilson Foreigner Zinfandel

WILSON FOREIGNER Zinfandel “Del Barba” 2018

Very tasty Zinfandel, coming from old vines growing in the sandy vineyards of the Sacramento Delta. Loads of fruit smells and flavors: finger-staining raspberries and blackberries, cherry compote, candied orange peel. Spices galore too such as allspice, black pepper and cinnamon. Very concentrated, smooth tannins, rich but not over-the-top. A good drink now-enjoy anytime. 15.7% alcohol and still everything’s in balance. Skilled winemakers are able to create not-hot wines from very ripe grapes – wasn’t often the case 10-20 years ago. More Information Wilson Foreigner is a two-family-owned winery. David & Christine Wilson live on their family vineyard in Napa’s […]
November 15, 2019
Favia Carbone Chardonnay

FAVIA ERICKSON Chardonnay “Carbone” 2018

The complaints I usually hear about Chardonnay has to do with the oak. Sometimes it’s the butter, but usually the oak. Best parts of Chardonnay by most accounts, including mine, are the complexities of fruit and the texture. The best parts and complaints are addressed in this uniquely delicious Napa Valley Chardonnay. Lemon curd, Asian pears, mangos, almond paste and fresh pie crust. Refreshing acidity, layered, a little creamy and juicy. There are plenty of quality Chardonnays made like the Favia Carbone in Napa Valley. Somehow, this wine is more delicious than its peers. $48 stretches the limits of value […]
November 13, 2019
Jolie Laide Trousseau Gamay Poulsard Valdiguie

JOLIE LAIDE Trousseau (Plus) 2018

Bright, very aromatic, fresh red wine, skillfully blended to add layers of flavors and textures. On the bright red spectrum of flavors: pomegranate, raspberries, cranberry and cherry. On the savory side, get crushed garden thyme, green tea, white pepper and bay leaf. Light bodied, high intensity, long mineral-driven finish. I’ve tasted this once so far, without the pleasure of food to accompany. I will fix this in the near future – probably on Thanksgiving.   Following was taken from the Jolie-Laide website:  “Likely the most ‘Outré Vin’ in the lineup, a vinous Californian pastiche inspired by our reverence of the […]
November 13, 2019
St Romedius Red Wine

ST ROMEDIUS Red Wine 2017

From a tiny hillside vineyard north of the East Bay Area town of Lafayette in the relatively unknown Lamorinda AVA. About half each Petite Sirah and Syrah. Big red wine – deep, dark ruby-red color. Smells and tastes of blackberry and blueberry preserves, cracked black pepper, cloves, bittersweet chocolate, anise and roasted mushrooms. The St Romedius Red Wine 2017 is robust and extremely concentrated. It sets itself apart by keeping its big tannins in check and carrying its 15% alcohol with ease. I recommend it with full flavored bean dishes, slow-cooked stews and roasted or grilled red meats. Also read […]
November 13, 2019
St Romedius White Wine

ST ROMEDIUS White Wine 2018

3/4 Grenache Blanc from the Sierra Foothills (near Placerville), 1/4 Muscat Canelli from Sacramento Delta (near Brentwood). Pre-fermentation skin contact time on the Muscat. Reminds me of Dry Muscat wines from Southern France’s Roussillon region in its lemon zest, lemon verbena, crushed coriander and lemongrass sensations (and less honeysuckle/floral perfume). Light haze from the skin contact and being unfined/unfiltered. Above average acidity gives the wine a pleasant tang. Lite tannins coat the gums on the long, tangy finish. The delicious, “Awesome Value” St Romedius White Wine walks a fine line of being different but not strange. This is a DDWA […]
November 8, 2019
Jolie Laide Trousseau Gris

Jolie Laide Trousseau Gris 2018

Subtle yet obvious aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle, honeydew melon and Meyer lemons. All this continues on in the taste along with some peaches and white pepper. High acidity makes it almost tangy, lots of fresh-cut melons and pear-apple (papple). Restrained right now. I think the fruit/floral/spice trinity will come forward over the short term, like by spring of 2020. I’ve enjoyed this wine since its first vintage in the early 2010s. This is the first one I have found to be wound up upon release. Goes to show that this is not a cookie-cutter wine, but one that the vintage […]
November 8, 2019
Navarro Zinfandel

NAVARRO Zinfandel “Old Vine Cuvee” 2017

Made from 60-90 year old vine Zinfandel from Ukiah and Redwood Valley. A dollop of other grapes come from a field blend block within one of the two vineyards sourced for the Navarro Zinfandel Old Vine Cuvee. Warm aromas of black cherry preserves, black pepper and allspice transitions to tastes of smushed up blackberries and very ripe raspberries + bay leaf, Thai basil and black tea. I love the generosity of fruit and sturdy frame of spice & exotic herbs. Medium acidity and smooth tannins…I think this is drinking fantastic now. Navarro only sells their wine retail winery-direct in California […]
October 23, 2019
Chiron Chardonnay Nectar Dance

CHIRON Chardonnay “Nectar Dance” 2017

An outstanding Chardonnay from the Sonoma County side of the Mayacamas mountain range, The Chiron “Chuy’s” Chardonnay is a complex, textural, tangy, intense wine. You’ll smell and taste fresh lemon custard, white peaches, fresh pineapple chunks, oven-warm scones and buttered wheat toast. These are descriptors many top-notch Chardonnays share. The Chiron is unique in that it carries the richness of Chardonnay while keeping an unmistakable citrus-flavored tang. Made in the fashion of high end White Burgundy: barrel fermented, native yeast ferment, aged on its lees in barrel for 15 months with no racking. One difference is the light use of […]