May 19, 2020
Cave Dog Godello

Cave Dog Godello 2019

Starts off with an engaging, controlled nose of dried flowers, candle wax and citrus zest. Tangy and rounded texture in the mouth as flavors of baked green apples, mangoes, Meyer lemons and river rocks take their turn. I really like the beeswax texture of the wine – I’d guess it is Semillon if tasted blind because who would guess Godello? Impressive how delicious this wine is at such a young age. This is 100% Godello (a grape native to the Iberian Peninsula) from Sonoma Valley. Grafted over from another variety in 2009, this was the first and maybe still the […]
May 12, 2020
Onward Malvasia Bianca

Onward Malvasia Bianca 2016

An “aromatic white” through and through, the Onward Malvasia Bianca 2016 smells of lemon verbena, wildflowers, coriander seeds and white pepper. The taste is intense, smooth and filled with fresh lemon zest, crisp pear and citrus bitters flavors. Medium/light bodied, pure and penetrating, it’s an ideal wine to pair with similarly light and strong flavored dishes. Thai and Vietnamese food both come to mind. Onward and Farmstrong Wines is the creation and passion of winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster. I very much like her vineyard-driven winemaking and affinity for the esoteric while not being too much “out there.” Oh yeah, and the […]
May 12, 2020
Olivia Brion Pinot Noir

Miss Olivia Brion Pinot Noir 2016

More savory and spicy than fruity, the 2016 Olivia Brion Pinot immediately impresses with dried red roses, oil-cured olives, dry-aged beef filet and concentrated dark cherries. In the mouth black truffle, black cherry, blackberry, warm spices and roast coffee, all nicely married, make for a lot of pleasure. Rich, textured and bold with classic Pinot Noir restraint and a long 15 second finish that I can see stretching out to 25 in a couple of years. This is the 40th and final vintage of “Heron Lake Vineyard” Pinot Noir for winemaker David Mahaffey. With this 2016 he is leaving on […]
May 6, 2020
Mi Terruno Malbec

Mi Terruño Malbec “Reserve” 2016

Strong red berry compote and toasty oak at first whiff quickly transforms to a layered, deep red fruit, strong yet balanced red wine. Get kirsch, fresh blueberries, licorice, mineral, crushed thyme and black pepper. Medium/full bodied with soft tannins and acidity that give the wine structure. I had this wine with grilled flap steak tacos. It was the bomb! Crazy good wine for $19. This wine is available for purchase from its importer, Copa Fina, who brings in the wines of 28 small family wineries from Spain, Italy, New Zealand and South America. Everything I’ve tasted from the portfolio is pretty, […]
May 5, 2020
Farmstrong Field White

Farmstrong “Field White” 2016

Three grape blend of Grenache Blanc, Albariño, Verdelho, all from Suisun Valley vineyards. Orchard fruits and honeysuckle on the nose. Taste ripe pears and peaches, Meyer lemon and honeycomb (sans the sweetness). Creamy texture like Chardonnay yet with distinctly different flavor profile. Long, 20+ second finish of floral, fruit and pleasant lemon bitters. Really classy and flat-out delicious wine. A real bargain for $20-22/bottle. Onward and Farmstrong Wines is the creation and passion of winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster. I very much like her vineyard-driven winemaking and affinity for the esoteric while not being too much “out there.” Oh yeah, and […]
April 21, 2020
Navarro Navarrouge

Navarro “Navarrouge” 2018

This blend of 46% Pinot Noir, 18% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petite Sirah is out of the ordinary when it comes to red blends. Pinot Noir is rarely a blending wine, let alone the base wine. But if anyone is going to make such a blend, it’s Navarro because A) they grow and make excellent Pinot Noir, and lots of it and B) they proudly dance to the beat of their own drummer. “Navarrouge” 2018 shows off ripe red and blue fruits, medium body and acidity, fine tannins, brown spices and savory, meaty flavors. While it […]
April 20, 2020
Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest

Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest Riesling

Botrytis-heavy, late harvest grapes from Navarro’s vineyards harvested primarily for their dry Riesling. Honeyed green apple, lemon-lime, mandarin orange, lemon verbena. High sugar, high glycerine, core of acidity to support the wine. This is a mouthful of fun. Navarro also bottles this wine in 750 ML bottles and sell it for $70. I base my value rating and value category on the 375 ML bottle. It’s true that dessert wines take longer to drink than dry wines. The good news is that the sugar is a preservative: Keep the open bottles in the wine and they stay almost as good […]
April 20, 2020
Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest

Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest Gewurztraminer

Awesome dessert wine. Harvested in mid-October with botrytis throughout the clusters. Honeyed pineapple, papaya, mango, heirloom apples, Meyer lemon. Very sweet and perfectly tangy too. May be the best California dessert wine I’ve ever had. I don’t care to fuss with food matches but prefer to drink it by its lonesome. If you do want a match, go for a high quality blue cheese or fried chicken livers. Navarro also bottles this wine in 750 ML bottles and sell it for $79. I base my value rating and value category on the 375 ML bottle. It’s true that dessert wines […]
March 9, 2020
Decoy Red Blend

Decoy Red Blend 2017

I really like this wine. Smells and tastes of fresh red berries, French toast (just the smell), black licorice and pomegranate. This is ripe buy stays away from the popular over-ripe red blend style. I prefer the non-jammy character of the Decoy Red Blend. This can be found for under $20/bottle in some retail outlets in and around Napa. If you find it for $17-18/bottle, buy a bunch and share it for most any occasion, casual or kind of fance. The blend is 49% Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah and Syrah. Decoy Wines are part of the […]
March 5, 2020
Quigley Family Pinot Noir

Quigley Family Pinot Noir “Hicks” 2018

New winery based in Napa buys two barrels worth of Pinot Noir from a vineyard near Aptos and the Pacific Ocean. The wine brims with fresh wild cherries, kirsch and blood orange with savory flavors of white mushrooms, fresh violets and light toast complimenting. A young pup, no doubt, and one that is best to wait until holidays 2020 to try your first bottle then judge from there. I’ll call this a “budding beauty.” Patrick Quigley, co-owner (with his dad and brother) and winemaker for Quigley Family recently released his first three wines: this Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Syrah. The wines […]
February 24, 2020
Quigley Chenin Blanc

Quigley Family Chenin Blanc 2018

The Quigley Chenin Blanc starts off with smells of crisp green apples and crunchy pears, lemon blossoms and oyster shells. The taste is full of citrus with some kiwi and honeycomb in there, too. What REALLY sets this wine apart for me is the expansive texture (“volume” is the word Patrick Quigley uses) this has on the back palate…not unlike the best Chenin Blancs of Touraine, Loire Valley. Dynamite acidity throughout, especially in the long, “stony” finish. As an avowed Loire Valley Chenin fanatic, this wine hit me with all the best sensations from the Loire. And I tasted it […]
February 17, 2020
Mas des Flauzieres Gigondas 15

le Mas des Flauzieres Gigondas Grande Reserve 15

A robust, spicy red from Gigondas in France’s Southern Rhone Valley. Just opened I get briary raspberries, strawberries and blueberries and with resuscitation out comes the five-spice, cinnamon, black pepper, dark soy sauce and roasted red chili pepper. It gets bolder and stronger with each passing minute of air. You get a whole lot of wine for your money here. The blend in the Mas de Flauieres Gigondas Grande Reserve is 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 25% Mourvèdre. 
February 17, 2020
Decoy Sauvignon Blanc

Decoy Sauvignon Blanc 2018

A solid California Sauvignon Blanc start to finish, showing off smells and flavors of honeydew melon, papaya, lemon-lime and lemongrass. Pleasing tang of acidity in the mouth and a finish that fleshes out, leaving you with lemon zest garden herbs on the finish. Decoy’s umbrella-winery Duckhorn knows a thing or two about making premium Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot. As a premium-value label, Decoy aims to delivery exceptional value. It sets up to bring us an exceptional $20 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, You’d be well-served to keep a stash of this wine for pop-in guests and weekday fish nights. It is […]
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 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
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 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 […]
October 18, 2019
Navarro Riesling Deep End

NAVARRO Riesling “Deep End” 2018

Gorgeous wine, starting with its smell of honeyed Granny Smith apple, mango and green tea. Taste is fresh, ripe tropical, citrus and stone fruits with a little honeycomb and lemongrass sneaking in there. Rich and lush with a long, expansive, slightly off-dry finish. I couldn’t stop sipping this wine it’s so good. Compares nicely with Riesling from Germany’s Pfalz region: warmer than the Mosel, making for a little more body and texture. 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, top to bottom. […]
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 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
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 […]
July 8, 2019
Fontsainte Gris de Gris

Fontsainte Gris de Gris 2018

Made from 90% Grenache Gris, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Carignan. Grapes destemmed, combined and later either drained off or lightly pressed. The wine sports a Bandol/Provence-like orange color and tastes less berry and more blood orange, orange zest, white pepper and dry herb in style. Bright citrus-heavy fruit, snap of acidity and satisfying finish of crushed rocks, light strawberry and orange tea. Epic wine importer Kermit Lynch has imported Domaine de Fontsainte wines for 30 years. The rosé is the workhorse wine of the bunch: larger production, consistently good and a fantastic value. This is a sure thing winner for fans […]
June 27, 2019
J Pinot Gris

J Pinot Gris 2018

As good as it gets for a fresh, fruit-driven, easy to drink white wine. Top four (out of 8+) fruit flavors I get are green apple, peach, pineapple and Meyer lemon. Acid’s fresh and lively, no oak. A little “sneaky sweetness” elevates the fruitiness, meaning you don’t taste sweet but you like the wine more because it’s there. Get a case…can be found for under $15/bottle (check out Total Wine). This is a DDWA “Awesome” Value. See all my Hall of Fame and Awesome Value wines on my Best of the Best Value list.
June 27, 2019
Aerena Rose 2018

AERENA Rosé 2018

Provence-style Rosé by recipe: 1/2 Mourvèdre, 1/2 Carignane. Grapes pressed off. Stylistically, it straddles France and California. Reddish hue, raspberry/strawberry smells and flavors along with some black pepper, mandarine orange and pink roses. Fermented dry to a modest 12.9% alcohol, making for a pretty, berry-laden Rosé with ample acidity and spice. This is a Rosé to enjoy when you want more fruitiness in your pink. Like me! AERENA Wines, one of the wines from Bespoke Collection, are made by the super-skilled and accomplished Aaron Pott. The Mourvèdre and Carignane comes from 135 year old vines in Oakley, Sacramento Delta. This […]