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 […]
June 25, 2019
Merisi Red Wine

MERISI Red Wine 2016

The Merisi Red Wine 2016 is 95% Petite Sirah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Primarily from “Ceja Vineyard” in Sonoma Valley (a little bit of Lake County fruit included). Strong, powerful red wine, as expected from a (mostly) Petite Sirah wine. Get deep red berry liqueur flavors along with cracked black pepper, roast coffee beans, dried rosemary and tarragon. Very much a hearty red, that said the wine’s power is pulled back just enough. For fruit, power, concentration and spice, this wine competes with Napa Cabernets priced 2 or 3 times this modest price of $28. It’s a DDWA “Awesome Value.” […]
June 25, 2019
Leeuwin Riesling

LEEUWIN ESTATE Riesling 2017

Delicate, floral, high acid, dry Riesling from the cool-climate Margaret River wine region in southwest Australia. Get lime zest, chopped cilantro, Meyer lemons, fresh kiwi, Granny Smith apples, white peaches and lemon blossoms. The acidity tingles the mouth. Super-intense due to the ripeness of the grapes (resulting in 12% alcohol) and high-energy acidity. Very dry, very pretty, the Leeuwin Estate Riesling is a great match with fried foods and green salads with goat cheese. This is a DDWA “Hall of Fame” Value. See all my Hall of Fame and Awesome Value wines on my Best of the Best Value list.
June 24, 2019
Maison l'envoye Moulin a Vent

Maison l’Envoye Moulin a Vent 16

Deep red cherry and raspberry fruits with a peppercorn, dried thyme and orange rind gift wrap. Medium/light bodied on the red wine scale, full bodied on the Gamay scale, which is due to the 60 year old vines and the natural “bigness” of Moulin-a-Vent relative to the other Beaujolais crus. Showing intense berry fruits with undertones of rocky earth. I like how its long, lingering, structured finish. Appropriate drinking both on the patio and the table clothed-dinner table. This wine is imported and can be purchased from Old Bridge Cellars in Napa. Contact them to buy and, if you live in or […]
June 17, 2019
Peter Paul Pinot Noir

PETER PAUL Pinot Noir Gravenstein Highway 2017

Cool-climate Sonoma Coast sensations galore in this Peter Paul Pinot Noir. Get plum and cranberry sauces, sun-dried thyme and tarragon, ripe raspberries, white pepper and rosewater. As my taste buds focused on the spicy/herbal flavors, the ripe wild cherry and berry flavors got up and stood tall as I savored. The smells and flavors sing in harmony in this medium-bodied, bright, ripe, DDWA “Hall of Fame Value” wine. Peter Paul Wines is owned by entrepreneur/philanthropist Peter Paul and, managed by Martin Reyes, MW and in 2017 welcomed Jamey Whetstone as consulting vineyard manager and winemaker. The winery has made solid wines […]
June 17, 2019
Peter Paul Chardonnay

PETER PAUL Chardonnay 2017

I really like how this Peter Paul Chardonnay showcases the grape’s body and richness and simultaneously provides the mouth a bunch of lemony tangy pleasure. Get lemon zest, cinnamon-y green apple, honeydew melon, yellow pears and some cocoa (25% new French oak explains the toast, cocoa and spice). Medium weight, good intensity and an impressive 20 second finish. Way over-delivers in the Chardonnay realm for $25. Peter Paul Wines is owned by entrepreneur/philanthropist Peter Paul and, managed by Martin Reyes, MW and in 2017 welcomed Jamey Whetstone as consulting vineyard manager and winemaker. The winery has made solid wines since […]
June 13, 2019
Band of Vintners Cabernet

Band of Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

The Band of Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon represents the grand quality of Napa Cabernet at a fantastic price. Rich, full-bodied, accessible/ready to drink up now and through at least 2026, plenty of time to drink through your stash. No profound tasting notes for this wine, to be honest. Get black cherry liqueur, cinnamon stick, black licorice, cocoa, a little bit of cedar and cigar wrapper. The exceptional-ness of this Cabernet comes in all the pleasure you get for around $40 retail. 6% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 15 months aged in French oak, part new. The Band of Vintners are 8 Napa […]
June 13, 2019
Navarro Gewurztraminer Deep End

Navarro Gewurztraminer “Deep End” 2017

Not your average Gewurztraminer, the tightly-spaced, hillside, low-yielding Gewurz vines used for “Deep End Blend” makes for an outstanding wine. Smell and taste grapefruit marmalade, orange zest, white pepper, mango, dried apple slices and tarragon. This is fermented dry to 13.9 alcohol, which is low by most measures for excellent California wine, but high for cool-climate Gewurztraminer. You have to go to Alsace to find a worthy comparison for the Deep End Gewurztraminer. Super-impressive. Buy some from Navarro Winery before it’s all gone.
June 1, 2019
Hogwash Rose 2018

HOGWASH Rose 2018

Almost 100% Grenache, most coming from “Bokisch Vineyard” Lodi. I call this a “Provence Style” Rosé because of its dryness and citrus/stone fruit/strawberry smell/flavor trifecta. Very dry and a low 11.8% alcohol, the 2018 Hogwash is set up to drink bottle after bottle. At $18/bottle it’s a DDWA Awesome Value and makes my “Best of the Best” Value list. Hogwash is part of Tuck Beckstoffer Wines/Seventy Five Wine Company.  
May 23, 2019
Andrew Murray Syrah Tous les Jours

ANDREW MURRAY Syrah “Tous les Jours” 2016

Rich, lush, smooth and tastes like Syrah. Blackberry liqueur, smashed up black cherries, dark chocolate, a little black pepper and woodsmoke in there. This is a mouth-filling, medium-full bodied, seductive, easy for all to like red wine. Crazy you can get something this good from California for $15. This is a DDWA “Hall of Fame” Value. See all my Hall of Fame and Awesome Value wines on my Best of the Best Value list.
May 22, 2019

NEWFOUND Carignane “Colombini” 2017

Already delicious at a very young age, the 2017 Newfound Carignane Colombini Vineyard is full of dark raspberry and plum flavors with lots of support from white pepper, tarragon and lavender sensations. This medium-bodied, structured, very flavorful and food-friendly red wine is very good now and will get even better with short term aging. Check out all the wines of Newfound, the creation of husband & wife Matt Naumann and Audra Chapman. They produce small lots of intriguing, provocative and very tasty “alternative wines” like this Carignane as well as Mourvedre, Semillon and more. This is a DDWA “Awesome” Value. […]
May 1, 2019
Haut Plaisance Saint Emilion

Haut Plaisance Montagne Saint Emilion 2015

On the northeast flank of Saint-Émilion, the home of luxury wines like Ausone, Pavie and Valandraud, is Montagne Saint-Émilion. The soils, a mixture of clay, limestone and sand, are similar and the wines are too. Unbelievable values can be found in Montagne Saint Emilion, and here’s one that has earned my highest value status, a Hall of Fame Value. Chateau Haut-Plaisance Montagne Saint-Émilion 2015 is 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dense, dark fruit and expressive flavors of soil (terroir) take the lead with the barrel in the back (no new oak used). I get black currants, dried blueberries, dark chocolate, […]
March 25, 2019
Dancing Crow Sauvignon Blanc

DANCING CROW Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Easy to pick this out of wine line-up as Sauvignon Blanc…lemon zest, grapefruit, lime juice, honeydew melon, lemon thyme. Light bodied, strong intensity of flavor. Shiny-bright with healthy acidity and a leesy richness on the finish. If you’re a fan of crisp, taut California Sauvignon Blanc, I guarantee you’ll like the Dancing Crow SB a lot. 100% Sauv Blanc, steel tank fermented and aged. More information Dancing Crow Vineyards is based in Napa Valley while sourcing their grapes from (and energetically promoting) Lake County. The accomplished David DeSante, winemaker. In four vintages (2014-2017) Dancing Crows has successfully positioned themselves as […]
March 25, 2019
Dancing Crow Cabernet Sauvignon

DANCING CROW Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Very satisfying Cabernet Sauvignon that’s ready to enjoy anytime. Dark red, ripe cherries, blueberries and pomegranate flavors are obvious and generous. With the fruit, honest and transparent Cabernet flavors of cassis, sandalwood and cedar compliment nicely. Fine tannins, medium acidity and kiss of toasty oak make for a rich, ripe mouthfeel and sensation. This is an outstanding choice for a “House Cab” or restaurant by-the-glass Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet comes from two AVAs: Red Hills and Big Valley – both over 2000 feet elevation where the growing days are hot and the nights are cool. 11% Merlot from Mendocino blended […]