June 29, 2021
Katnip Rose

Katnip Rosé 2020

An intentional Rosé made from Sacramento Delta Mourvèdre and Tempranillo, the Katnip has a brilliant, rusty peach skin color, a peppery wild strawberry, jasmine & melon nose and a spicy, dry, barely-fruity flavor. A dead-ringer for Bandol/Provence Rosè (no kidding) at a 2010 price for one of this quality, this is an easy pick-up for fans of this style. I’m particularly impressed by the combo of laser-focus, glowing acidity and pleasing flavor and texture…many say they have all this but not always the case. Raised in stainless steel barrels for 6 months. 13.3% alcohol. Only 50 cases made. Use the […]
May 27, 2021
David Clinton Zinfandel Mounts

David Clinton Zinfandel Mounts 2017

The David Clinton Zinfandel “Mounts” 2017 is a warm, rich, cuddly wine full of cocoa, kirsch and pie spice flavors. It leads with fruitiness and the spice backs it up (their 2017 Teldeschi is the opposite – spice then fruit). It has soft tannins and pretty low acid, making it a particularly delicious now, ready to drink Zin. The cocoa and cinnamon toast flavors blossom on the finish. This is an easy wine to enjoy and understand. 15.4% alcohol, aged in all American oak, 25% new. More information Two Napans, first names David and Clinton, transformed their winemaking hobby into […]
April 4, 2021
Dancing Crow Rose

Dancing Crow Rosé 2020

83% Syrah, grown intentionally for Rosé, 17% Sauvignon Blanc for cut and dimension. On the nose this could easily be mistaken for Provence with it’s savory, spicy, orange zest, not fruity nose. In the mouth it tastes like California with apparent ripe red berry/plum and mouth-filling texture. Yet dry – very dry, with the spice taking the lead start to finish. Touch of black pepper-dusted peach and mandarin orange on the finish. This could be the only Rosé I drink all summer with no complaints. Winemaker Notes: This 2020 wine was grown and harvested specifically to be a Rosé. By […]
March 11, 2021
Post & Vine Rose

Post & Vine Rosé 2020

Old-vine Carignane was whole cluster pressed after a short soak on the skins. Dark-ish salmon skin color, peppery watermelon, raspberry and blood orange and herbs de Provence smells and flavors, all neatly packed in a dry, vibrant Rosé that’s equally fruity and spicy. I tasted this in early March 2021 and, typical of early release Rosé wines, will taste even better (significantly better) this summer. With 61 cases made and an $18 price tag, it won’t be available come summertime. Plan ahead. Post & Vine Owners/Winemakers Rebekah Wineburg and Erica Kinkaid launched with their 2012 Old Vine Field Blend. In […]
February 17, 2021
Becheur Syrah

Becheur Syrah, Mt Veeder

Deep, purplish-red color. Savory aroma full of Syrah goodness: dry aged beef, black peppercorns, oiled leather, black olive. Don’t forget the blackberry/blueberry…it takes a couple of minutes to emerge then BAM you get a basket of berries too. Everything’s integrated, soft tannins, dandy acidity, seamless transitions from nose to taste, taste to finish. Is this really “just” $20? More or less, yes (see Becheur’s dynamic pricing system). Get this while you can. It’s Syrah from Mt Veeder, made and raised by a winery that accidentally topped off this 2016 with 2015 wine, making it non-vintage and sinking that wine’s battleship. […]
November 24, 2020
Becheur Mourvedre

Becheur Mourvedre 2018

100% 100+ year old vine Mourvedre from the Sacramento Delta (vineyard is near the town of Pittsburg). Generous amounts of dark plum, blueberry and blackberry fruit, nicely complemented by Mourvedre’s black licorice, earthy truffle, crusty cigar wrapper and black pepper flavors. Good, brightening acidity and fine, firm tannins. Ready to enjoy now…fantastic choice for a “house wine” because of its versatility with food as well as its tastiness on its own. The value speaks for itself. One of my highest ever Value Ratings of 5.6 – Hall of Fame Value. If you know Mourvedre a little bit or a lot, […]
October 23, 2020
Argus Pinot Noir

Argus Pinot Noir 2018

Fruit-focused Pinot Noir with concentrated, dark red cherry and raspberry flavors and a gentle touch of sweet, toasty oak. Black licorice, cherry bitters and garden thyme flavors kick in as the wine gets more savory in the second half (i.e. back palate and finish). I found the grip of tannins when first opened quickly softened and integrated with a few minutes of good breathing. For me the Argus Pinot Noir 2018 is equally good drinking on its own and with a meal. It rightfully deserves its “Hall of Fame Value” status. The fruit comes mostly from Argus owner/winemaker Chris Dearden’s […]
September 17, 2020
Peter Paul Pinot Noir Gravenstein Highway

Peter Paul Pinot Noir Gravenstein Hwy 2019

The Peter Paul Pinot Noir Gravenstein Highway has a brilliant, translucent scarlet color. Smell tree-ripened red cherries, lavender, roses and blood oranges, then taste the cherries, some raspberries and black tea. With air the wine gets more fruity and layered (note it’s a 2019…not even a year has past since harvest). It’s light, but it’s not simple, and will get markedly better with each passing month. Value rating of 5.6 is one of my highest ever…a Hall of Fame Value and then some! Peter Paul Wines is owned by entrepreneur/philanthropist Peter Paul. Martin Reyes, MW, oversees winemaking and manages sales and […]
September 17, 2020
Peter Paul Chardonnay

Peter Paul Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2018

The Peter Paul Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2018 straddles the style-line between crisp/refreshing and rich/round. The difference between this and most others in this Chardonnay middle ground is cohesion. What’s that mean? Often, crisp and rich don’t work together. You get a mouthful of tang then a wallop of rude oak flavor. Or the other way around: brown buttercream followed by a shriek of acidity. Not happening here. What IS happening is a top-notch, cool Sonoma Coast Chardonnay vineyards lock arms with partial malolactic and aging in 20% new French oak (rest relatively neutral). I get a boatload of citrus, especially […]
June 20, 2020
Cottebrune Faugeres Red 16

Cottebrune Faugères Rouge 2016

This Grenache/Syrah blend blend from the high quality yet relatively unknown Faugères appelation is a real gem. Growing in high density vineyards in the foothills of France’s Massif Central, Cottebrune Faugères “Les Moulins” is pure and pretty with loads of red plum, raspberry, strawberry and peppery spice pleasure. A subtle floral component-fresh violets and lavender-lurks in the background. Medium bodied, gentle tannins, healthy acidity and no oak flavor (only the Syrah is barrel-aged – third use so pretty neutral) make for a wine that is both distinctive AND easy to enjoy. Domaine de Cottebrune is owned, grown and made by […]
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
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 […]