January 31, 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.
January 31, 2019
Alma de Cattleya Sauvignon Blanc

ALMA de CATTLEYA Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Really, really tasty  – perfect for what it is, a dry, fruity, food-friendly, drink-me-up, Hall of Fame Value California Sauvignon Blanc. Nothing out of the ordinary in the flavor profile. It’s exceptional-ness stems from it having all the flavors of Sauv Blanc and they are already in harmony (note this is a 2018). Got your green apple, Meyer lemon, honeydew melon, fresh herbs, chalk. Has great acidity for dryness, delicious fruit that you can’t help buy love. I think I just convinced myself to get a case of this. About Alma de Cattleya Cattleya Winery is owned & made by the […]
January 15, 2019
Apsara Sauvignon Blanc

APSARA Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Such a no-brainer for Sauvignon Blanc fans…owner/maker Robin Akhurst consistently nails it with this wine. 2016: rich ripe lemon, white peach, lemon tea, kiss of the tropical fruits. Lovely texture…more than most SBs (barrel ferment in neutral oak then tank aged for 6 months). “Fancier” wineries would sell this, easily, for twice the price. More Information Scotsman Robin Akhurst learned he loved wine while attending Edinburgh University. His wine journey took him to Provence, Burgundy, Barossa Valley and finally Napa Valley. Working next to and learning from great winemakers all along the way. He makes tiny lots of wine under […]
January 9, 2019
Trimbach Riesling Alsace

TRIMBACH Riesling Vin d’Alsace 2015

Very impressive how much character, typicity and deliciousness is in this “entry level” Trimbach Riesling, considering the amount made and the reasonable price. Fermented dry, ample stuffing (or mouth-feel), burst of citrus and orchard fruits on the palate and an unmistakable Riesling personality (rocks, petrol, lemon zest, quince, lemongrass, etc). This is a wine I think the entire spectrum of wine drinkers (wine geeks to “just drink to think”) will wrap their arms around. If you live in Northern California and have a Raley’s Supermarket nearby, see if they carry this wine. It’s in my local Raley’s and I buy […]
January 8, 2019
Blacksmith CLRT Cabernet

BLACKSMITH Cabernet Sauvignon “C.L.R.T.” 2016

This DDWA Great-Value red boasts spot-on Napa Cab smells and flavors of dark red cherry liqueur, vanilla, toasty barrel, cocoa and boysenberry. Its fine tannins and healthy thread of acidity make it an outstanding match with red meats and well-seasoned, protein heavy dishes. In the ever-escalating price of Napa Valley Cabernet, a quality one for $25 (or less!) is harder and harder to find. If you love to have Napa Cabernet around the house for casual drinking, I suggest you buy a case of this. More Information Winemaker Matt Smith is based in Alameda on the San Francisco Bay. His […]
January 7, 2019
Lucien Albrecht Brut Rose

Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose

Highly regarded winery Lucien Albrecht was a pioneer in the production and sale of Cremant d’Alsace (which is methode traditionalle sparkling, or bubbles-made-in-bottle as I like to say), making it in 1976 when the French AOC for Cremant d’Alsace was established. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. Nicely on the very dry side of Brut, showing bits of plum, cranberry and red melon flavors. It’s austere in a good way. On a personal note, in my house the Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose has usurped our long-beloved Allimant Laugner (also a Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose) as the house bubbles. The […]
January 7, 2019
Halcon Pinot Noir Oppenlander

Halcon Pinot Noir Oppenlander 2016

It’s doubtful you will happen upon Oppenlander Vineyard. It’s in, or part of, the census-designated place (step below town) of Comptche, 12 miles from the Pacific and 25 mile drive from the nearest town, Mendocino. Yes, it’s a cool vineyard, ideal for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that grows there, so brightness in wines from here is a given. Other factors make Oppenlander Pinots, the ones I’ve had anyway, denser and more earth-driven than most from cool coastal vineyards. The clay-loam soils and exceptional sun exposure has something to do with that. Sum-up: I dig Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noirs. Yet […]
December 16, 2018
Campesino Alina 2016

CAMPESINO Alina White 2016

Equal parts Marsanne and Rousanne, making it a “Northern Rhone Valley-style white wine.” Really pretty smells and flavors of citrus blossoms, melons, apricots, pineapple, lemongrass and honeysuckle. It’s bright and lively with moderate alcohol and a fresh, crisp finish. For this category of wine (Rhone-style white) this is particularly versatile with food. Campesino Alina is an awesome buy for $28. More Information Campesino Cellars is owned and made by husband/wife Griselda and Macario Montoya (Macario is the winemaker). They honor their Mexican heritage by naming their winery in honor of the Campesinos, the field workers (most of whom are Mexican) who […]
December 10, 2018
Navarro Pinot Noir

NAVARRO Pinot Noir Methode L’Ancienne 14

From first whiff you know this is a wine you, and everyone with you, is going to love and drink up. Just make sure to pour yourself a full glass. The nose is warm holiday spices, mocha and cherry preserves. More of the same in the mouth: ripe, soft, gently spicy and comforting. This has a natural richness to it, and being Pinot Noir it doesn’t go too far. Pinot Noir’s gentle grace persists. Way to go, Navarro. A rare Hall of Fame Value by Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor. For all my Navarro wine reviews, GO HERE. Here is my […]
November 29, 2018
Merieau Gamay Bois Jacou

Merieau Gamay “Le Bois Jacou” 2016

I really like this wine for its combination of Gamay-bright berry fruit, rustic character, light body, intensity of flavor and great price. Gamay, while not associated with Touraine (mid-Loire Valley, France) is definitely a “player” in the area, and rightly so. The cool climate, chalk/limestone soils and rich wine history make it a natural. Jean-Francois Merieau makes an honest, delicious, nervy style. Get raspberries, dried red cherries, tarragon, black tea and cola. A natural food wine. That said, I shared a bottle with my wife watching a film, sans food, and we were very happy. Opens up quickly. Jean-Francois Merieau […]
October 23, 2018
Allegrini Palazzo della torre

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2014

A home run for sub $20 red. But not surprising as Allegrini Palazzo della Torre wine has over-delivered for the price for many years. This Veronese red (from near Verona, Veneto region, northeast Italy) is a blend of local grapes Corvina, Rondinella plus a splash of Sangiovese. Ripe dark cherries, sweet spices, pick-me-up acidity, gentle tannins. Easy wine to drink and drink. I know – I’m drinking it as I write on a calm Sunday evening. Buy this 2014 while it’s still around. Allegrini “Palazzo della Torre” is on my “Best of the Best” list of Awesome and Hall of […]
September 25, 2018
Wilson Foreigner Zinfandel

WILSON FOREIGNER Zinfandel 2017

Tiny Napa producer Wilson Foreigner acquires old-vine Zinfandel from the town of Oakley and the sandy soils of the Sacramento Delta. Dark strawberry and blueberry compote, fried cinnamon, black pepper and anise smells and flavors are generous. It’s rich, balanced and goes down smooth and silky. Medium acidity, gentle tannins. This young Zin is ready to enjoy either with food or on its own. You get a lot for your $30 here. More Information Wilson Foreigner is a two-family-owned winery. David & Christine Wilson live on their family vineyard in Napa’s Wooden Valley. Chris and Suzaan Alheit live and work […]
September 25, 2018
Shane Pinot Noir La Reine

SHANE Pinot Noir La Reine 15

Owner/Winemaker Shane Finley’s eponymous label consistently delivers some of the best “bang for the buck” Pinots in the premium price category. Shane Pinot Noir La Reine (“The Queen”) comes from 45 year old vines. Dark berries and cherries here with bits of pomegranate, black tea, lavender, cocoa and toasty oak (just 15% new French oak used). It’s full-bodied, nicely ripe and has pleasing texture and mouth feel. Thanks Shane for pricing this so reasonably for what you get. More Information Owner/Winemaker Shane Finley is one of my top 5 California winemakers. His wines are consistently delicious in a richer style, […]
September 20, 2018
Skyhook Red Wine

SKYHOOK Red Wine, Sonoma County 2013

This “Rhone-y” red is 58% Syrah, 42% Grenache. Owner/winemaker Derek Beitler drew from three cool-climate Sonoma vineyards to make 500 cases of Skyhook Red Wine. I think the name Skyhook and the label take most down a path of expectation that requires a u-turn. Let me explain…an army of jammy, sweet-spice, soft red blends, a la The Prisoner, have taken the copy-cat highway to wine production and sales success. While Skyhook may look like one of these copy cats, it doesn’t taste like it. It has more in common with a spicy Paso Robles Cal-Rhone than an uber-ripe “modern red […]
September 20, 2018
Skyhook Late Harvest Sauv Blanc

SKYHOOK Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013 375 ML

Derek Beitler of Skyhook “happened upon” Sauvignon Blanc raisins in late 2013 and, with them, made this fantastic Late Harvest wine. No botrytis, or “noble rot,” a la Sauternes. Rather, the dried grapes hung on the vine clean and intense as they held their natural acidity. 25% Late Harvest Semillon co-fermented for added roundness, texture and exotic flavors (blending the two is very Sauternes-like). So delicious! It’s honeyed, rich and luscious, all the while its natural acidity keeps the wine afloat on the palate. Smell and taste caramel, roasted peaches and pineapple, golden raisins, clover honey and a little bit […]
September 19, 2018
Green & Red Syrah Tip Top

GREEN & RED Syrah “Tip Top” 2015

From Green & Red’s Estate vineyard, 1700 feet elevation, above owner Jay and Pam Heminway’s home and winery. The elevation and meager soils make for a spicy, savory, brooding style of Syrah. The drought conditions made for, I’m hypothesizing, particularly small berries in 2015. You may see where I’m going with this. Northern Rhone-ish style! Smell and taste dark blueberries, bittersweet chocolate, black olive and peppercorns, anise, mint and sweet-smelling tobacco. Medium tannins and acidity that gives the wine verve, not tartness. Long 25 second finish of spice, soil and oil-cured black olive. I really want roast leg of lamb […]
September 1, 2018
AVA Napa Valley White

Crocker & Starr AVA Napa Valley White 2017

“White Blend of Sauvignon Blanc” states the front label. The blend is 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Semillon. Smell and taste fresh white peaches, lemon/lime, honeydew melon, salty sea air and kaffir lime leaf. Medium/high acidity, no barrel flavor, texturally pleasing (from the Semillon and, I imagine, some lees-stirring. A DDWA Awesome Value (and member of my “Best of the Best” list) if there ever was one. Expect to see this by the glass in many quality restaurants in the Bay Area and beyond. More Information Winemaker/winery owner Pam Starr utilizes her “AVA Napa Valley” brand to purchase barrels/tanks of wine, […]
August 22, 2018
Venditti Sannio Bianco

MASSERIA VENDITTI Sannio Bianco 2015

This esoteric white wine is from Campania, southern Italy (the shin-Mediterranean side). It is 70% Grieco di Castelvenere, 30% Cerreto. Cold soak for 3 days, then pressed off for a 2-3 week fermentation. Really cool wine…lemon zest, candied orange peel, fresh green olives, grapefruit, coriander, white pepper. It has medium/high acidity and an oily texture. For $19 it’s rare to get something so good and interesting.
August 19, 2018
Anne Amie Dry Riesling

ANNE AMIE Dry Riesling 2014

Top 10 best American Dry Rieslings I’ve ever had. the Anne Amie is full of red & green apple, dried lemon peels, dried and crushed herbs, lemon tea, river rocks and petrol smells and flavors. Authentic and delicious. There are nearly infinite food pairings with the Anne Amie Dry Riesling, yet my mind goes to the traditional. Grilled sausages* and German potato salad. *Try to get the Bruce Aidell’s spicy mango with jalapeño sausage. I haven’t had it, but I bet it’s a great match! More Information I’ve become well acquainted with Anne Amie wines from tasting them frequently with […]
August 14, 2018
Barbadillo Sherry Solear

BARBADILLO Manzanilla Sherry “Solear”

A staple of Spanish wine bars, Barbadillo Solear is all Palomino aged under flor for around six years. This is particularly aromatic, showing crushed seashells, day-old bread crust, chamomile, lemon cookies and blanched almonds. The taste is intense. Includes preserved lemon, dried peach slices, crushed almonds and chamomile (Manzanilla is Spanish for chamomile). More Information Barbadillo is a big operation with many arms (different wines and labels, including private label wines) but you don’t see too often in the U.S., especially in California. While it’s very popular in Spain, Japan, the U.K and Belgium particularly, the U.S. is not “hip” […]
August 7, 2018
Torre Zambra Cerasuolo

TORRE ZAMBRA Cerasuolo d’Abbruzzo 2017

A Rosé with a darker hue…Cerasuolo is the grape (the name comes from cerasa, which is cherry in the local dialect…gives you an idea of the taste). Yep, the wild red cherry pops out along with fresh raspberry, pomegranate, fresh violets and a little black pepper on the Torre Zambra Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. Very fine tannins rub the gums on the finish. I’ll drink the very dry, peach skin colored Provence Rosés morning noon and night. But to pair with food (almost any food – honest), I want to drink THIS. This is an incredible value and should be purchased by […]
July 28, 2018
Neyers Sage Canyon

NEYERS Sage Canyon Red 2016

Neyers Sage Canyon is a Rhone-style red blend of 45% Carignane, 25% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre and 15% Syrah. Napa vintners Bruce and Barbara Neyers and their winemaker Tadeo Borchardt get grapes for “Sage Canyon” from the Sierra Foothills, Contra Costa County, Sonoma Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey. I totally dig this wine: it captures a Southern French character as it embraces the style that California sunshine offers. Smell and taste dark pie spices, blueberry jam, ripe raspberries, kirsch, black licorice and peppercorns. It sports medium acidity that elevates the flavors and easy-going tannins. Being card-carrying member of the Rhone-Head […]
July 23, 2018
Allimant Laugner Brut Rose

Allimant Laugner Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose

A house favorite, and a Napa Valley favorite, the Allimant Laugner Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose is 100% Pinot Noir, methode traditionelle (in line with the French appellation laws of Cremant. This is a delicious $20 or under sparkling. Medium dosage for Brut, meaning you can pick up a twinge of sweetness. Strawberry, blood orange, rose petal, medium acidity for bubbles. It’s all nicely balanced, perky and clean. This is a big time crown pleaser. On that note, look for Magnums – if your wine shop has the 750s, they can probably get the magnums. Price should be just double the […]
June 24, 2018
Mas Grand Plagniol Costieres de Nimes

MAS GRAND PLAGNIOL Blanc 2016

Southern French white blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier. It’s fresh, aromatic, fruity, fleshy. Get fresh melons, peaches, pears, light floral and tropical. No oak. Medium acidity. Stood up to my squash ravioli in tomato sauce. This is my house white wine, and a Hall of Fame Value! If you’re looking for delicious, great value wines with a little “taste of sunshine,” look to Costieres de Nimes.  Located on the Rhone River, south of Southern Rhone Valley. Speaking sort-of subjectively, this is my favorite sub $15 white wine I’ve ever had.  More Information Notes from the importer: “Tired of always […]