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 […]
June 26, 2018
CONSTANT DISRUPTIONS Sauvignon Blanc

CONSTANT DISRUPTIONS Sauvignon Blanc 2017

The grapres come from an organic vineyard in the moderate climate of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. 7 day ferment on the skins gives the wine a distinctive flavor and texture that’s akin to key lime, kiwi, green pineapple and crushed almonds. In the mouth you get aggressive acidity and a sharpness that many will like and some that won’t…I find this a love it or hate it wine. I for one love it. And I really like the price. $15 for tasty, unique, 140 case production Russian River Sauv Blanc? Sign me up! More Information Constant Disruptions is a subsidiary […]
June 26, 2018
Cave Dog Albarino

CAVE DOG Albariño, Napa Valley 2017

Lemony/orange-y citrus, chalky, grapefruit, tangy nose stays pleasantly, startlingly tart in the mouth. This wine is all about yellow citrus flavors, both the juice and the zest. A chalky note, along with a smidge of bread crust from lees-aging, describes the wine’s complexity. “Liveliness and aromatic zest” is how owner/winemaker Michael Havens describes it. Indeedy do. This is an ideal high-acid Sauvignon Blanc alternative. More Information Napa winemaker/winery owner veteran Michael Havens launched Cave Dog with his 2014 red wine. There are 3 Cave Dog wines: this Albariño, a Godello (another white wine of Spanish origin) and the red, a […]
June 26, 2018
Trinafour French Colombard

TRINAFOUR French Colombard 2017

This grape of Gascony, France origin is sporadically planted in Northern California. These vines are REALLY spread out (see note below) in Mendocino’s Redwood Valley. The Trinafour French Colombard is very high natural acidity (very tangy…some would say tart) is softened by neutral barrel fermentation and weekly lees-stirring before bottling. Smell and taste tart green apples, lemon/lime, grapefruit, fresh herbs, fresh pears. The leesy character comes out on the finish, giving the slightest fresh bread crust pleasure. Have this with raw oysters, ceviche, steamed shrimp with a citrus vinaigrette and young goat or sheep cheeses. More Information I have to […]
June 25, 2018
Post & Vine Old Vine Field Blend

POST & Vine “Old Vine Field Blend” 2014

The Post & Vine Old Vine Field Blend is equal parts Petite Sirah, Carignane and Grenache from 60+ year old vines in Redwood Valley, eastern Mendocino County (warm!). This is a special red wine that combines ripe berry fruits, healthy acidity, dried spice and exotic flower smells and flavors. The brambly berry, spicy, bold flavors would make you think this is a Zin, or partly Zin, but there’s none (unless a little Zin is hiding in the field blend, which is possible). Modest tannins, well structured, light on the oak. I love drinking this wine, especially with grilled white and […]
June 25, 2018
Olivia Brion Taquine

OLIVIA BRION “Taquine” 2017

Blend of Viognier, Chardonnay, Vermentino and Orange Muscat. Orange blossoms, honeysuckle, mango and Meyer lemon aromas move to tastes of the same with a food-friendly bittersweet note of lemon bitters and peach pit. Floral, exotic, fresh and MORE than just exotic and fun. The chalky/lemon herbal finish makes for an interesting wine for food pairings. Raw oysters with Taquine is the winemaker’s first choice. More Information Best known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their Estate “Heron Lake Vineyard” in Napa & Solano’s Wild Horse Valley, Olivia Brion Winery “dabbles” in small lots of interesting wines from Santa Barbara […]
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 […]
June 24, 2018
Clefs des Murailles Vacqueyras

Clefs des Murailles Vacqueyras 16

A tasty Southern Rhone Valley red from the highly regarded village/appellation of Vacqueyras. Typical blend of the area: 70% Grenache followed by Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. This wine has loads of ripe, dark, slightly jammy blueberries and dark strawberries plus anise, lavender and cracked black pepper. A whiff of barnyard but no more. (Good bret, IMHO) Firm tannins along the gums on the finish are to be expected from Vacqueyras. Overall, this is clean, juicy, fruit-first Southern Rhone red that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. At $23 it is a Great Value. I would suggest letting it breathe to […]
June 24, 2018
FARELLA Sauvignon Blanc

FARELLA Sauvignon Blanc “La Luce” 2017

All Estate, Coombsville fruit. Year to year one of my favorite Napa Sauv Blancs. I like the 2017 at lease as much as any of its predecessors. Get ripe lemon, peach, Macintosh apples, spring flowers and chopped tarragon and lemon thyme from friendly nose to fruity, dry finish. This is an all-steel tank ferment and aged wine. It’s as fresh as can be while still having the subtle curves of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
June 24, 2018
Pievalta Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi

PIEVALTA Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi 2016

This is a delicious, light, crisp white wine from the Le Marche region in central Italy, Adriatic Coast on its east side. It’s a go-to fish wine of the area, and for Italian white drinkers everywhere. Smell and taste lemon zest, orange blossoms, tangy green apple skins & flesh, kiwi and nectarine. Bright for sure, but not to the level of cooler-climate wines like Loire and Mosel. This wine’s fleshiness makes for a nicely versatile wine to pair with most chicken, pork and fish dishes. For $17/bottle I will happily drink this anytime!
June 22, 2018
Gebeshuber White Klassik

GEBESHUBER White “Klassik” 2017

This is made from two native white varieties of Thermenregion: Zierfandler and Rotgipfler (50-50). See Austria wine map below and you’ll notice Thermenregion starts immediately Southwest of Vienna. It’s quite warm here for winegrowing – more like Bordeaux than Germany, which is rather surprising at first. This is a delicious, aromatic white wine with lots of exotic floral, lemony, viscous pleasures. Get lemon bitters, candied grapefruit, ginger, dried apples, wildflowers. On the oily/fleshy side, which is interesting. Usually “aromatic whites” like this are more light-bodied. I compage it to a stronger Viognier.  
June 22, 2018
APSARA Cabernet Sauvignon

APSARA Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2014

On the dark red moving to black fruit spectrum of flavors. Smell and taste dark red cherries, blackberries, cocoa, black currant, black olive, tobacco, toasty vanilla and a smidge of dry-aged beef. Well-structured…plenty of fine tannins and acidity that tells me it will age gracefully for 15+ years. Definitely a Napa Valley Cab (St Helena and Calistoga fruit, to be exact), but with above average layers of flavors. Decant a half hour or put it down until around 2025. More Information Scotsman Robin Akhurst learned he loved wine while attending Edinburgh University. His wine journey took him to Provence, Burgundy, […]
June 15, 2018
Watermark Cabernet Sauvignon

WATERMARK Cabernet Sauvignon Mt Veeder 2013

Deep, dark and dense from start to finish, the Watermark Mt Veeder Cabernet 2013 (from “Wildcat Vineyard” at 2000+ feet elevation) boasts smells and flavors of sun-soaked blackberries, dark chocolate, black licorice, cola, tobacco and black cherry compote. Thick and rich in the mouth with firm “mountain tannins” and quite low acidity, all inside a sturdy frame of new, toasty French oak. While it’s best to cellar this wine until 2023-2028, it definitely has its “Big Cab” fans who will love drinking it now. More Information Phil and Diane Steinschriber launched Watermark Wines in 2004. They specialize in making small lots […]
June 13, 2018
Paul Dethune Champagne

Paul Dethune Champagne “Princesse des Thunes”

Released as a “mature” style of Champagne: 1/2 Chardonnay, 1/2 Pinot Noir. Barrel aged, including 30% “Reserve” wine that is a multi-vintage blend dating back to the 1970s. Nose has a light Fino Sherry character with preserved lemon zest, day-old green apple skins, and peach puree. Flavor is savory, earthy, and wonderfully developed. The mature apple and lemon comes out in spades along with some green olive, veal stock and oyster shells. A textural delight that beats most $100+ Champs for quality. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
June 7, 2018

Testing post

June 7, 2018
Croix Zinfandel 2016

CROIX Zinfandel “Wood Estate” 2016

Testers testers
June 2, 2018
Hudson White Study

Hudson “White Study” 2017

Light, bright and intense, “White Study” is a unique, tiny-production wine that Hudson Vineyards makes as much for their own pleasure as to sell. Four grape blend: three Italian varietals Ribolla, Arneis and Friulano and Albariño (Spanish origin) finishing it off at 18% of the blend. Steel tank & neutral oak fermented and briefly aged. Smell and taste lemon zest, citrus blossoms, grapefruit, lemongrass, kiwi and Macintosh apples. High acidity – almost tingles on the tongue. No oak flavor. It’s hard to compare to other wines, but I’ll give it a go…Dry Riesling from a cool, coastal wine region. Fried […]
June 2, 2018
Lingua Franca Pinot Noir Avni

LINGUA FRANCA Pinot Noir “Avni” 2016

Dark wild cherries, dried red rose petals, mincemeat and truffle introduce you to this “entry level” Pinot Noir from Master Sommelier-turned-vintner Larry Stone. The taste continues on the flavors above along with dark plums and a background earthy/rocky flavor that defines its Pinot Noir-ness. Excellent balance of ripe fruit, invigorating acidity and mouth-filling texture. Drinking great now and will steadily improve through 2023, no doubt. I really like this Pinot Noir, and for $35 it’s a relative bargain. As noted above, Lingua Franca is the inspiration of Master Sommelier and great Wine Ambassador Larry Stone. (It’s also of significant note […]
June 1, 2018
FORTUNE 1621 Cabernet Sauvignon

FORTUNE 1621 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Dark berry and cherry compote, cocoa and cinnamon nose moves to more of the same fruits, pomegranate syrup, dark chocolate and blueberry pie flavors. Rich, smooth, and very satisfying. I am so impressed with how good this wine is, year to year, for under $30/bottle. Napa Cabernet fans looking for a reasonably priced “House Wine” should buy this by the case. 13% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot in the blend. 30% new oak, mostly French oak. Fortune 1621 Cabernet Sauvignon eaasily makes my Best of the Best list. I tasted this at Darms Lane, overlooking their vineyards in Napa’s Oak Knoll […]
May 30, 2018
Innocent Bystander Sauvignon Blanc

INNOCENT BYSTANDER Sauvignon Blanc 2017

If you’re wary of Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, you’re not alone. It falls into the “too ___” complaint box, as in too grassy, too green, too tart. I suggest you give this a try as it possesses the distinctive flavors of NZ SB but not too much of anything. Smell and taste lime blossoms, pink grapefruit, fresh white peaches, Granny Smith apples and a fresh herb trio of fennel, lemongrass and Italian parsley. Bright, tingly acidity and pleasing texture on the back end. Good stuff. This wine is imported and can be purchased from Old Bridge Cellars in Napa. […]
May 30, 2018
Brokenwood Semillon

BROKENWOOD Semillon, Hunter Valley 2016

If you’re a fan of bright-acid white wines that sing even sweeter with food, then quality Semillon from Australia’s Hunter Valley should be in your repertoire. And here’s an excellent one to start, or continue. Smell and taste grapefruit, crisp green apples, lemon oil, lemon/lime, kiwi (frankly, if you can think of a fruit that is green and tangy, you can make a case that its flavor is in here), celery hearts, lemongrass. It’s medium-light bodied, high intensity and, while very lean and fit throughout, has a roundness to it on the finish. All these descriptions are common for world-class […]
May 29, 2018
Abiouness Amrita

ABIOUNESS “Amrita” 2017

Mighty floral and aromatic from start to finish. Get orange blossoms, lemon zest, fresh ginger, pineapple and honeysuckle…and lots of them. It sits lightly yet intently in the mouth with fruit, floral and spice all playing their part. Fermented completely dry. That said, this super-aromatic white wine is the type some will call “sweet” by knee-jerk reaction. That would be incorrect. A little bit of lemon seed bitterness on the finish (so slight that it’s a good thing). I won’t say this is a wine for everyone, but in my fantasy world it would be! More Information Nicole Abiouness, long-time […]
May 22, 2018
Villa Varda Refosco

VILLA VARDA Friuli Grave – Refosco 2016

Starts out with aromas of brambly berries (black and raspberries), anise, black pepper and rosemary. Taste is more of the same with no one flavor dominating the others. Summertime berries, rosemary/thyme, peppercorns and black truffle. All lightly polished by gentle winemaking and brief time in barrel. Reminds me of high quality Côtes du Rhône (which admittedly is a personal favorite). I was really taken by this wine regardless of price. Then to see it sells in the mid-teens – crazy.   Villa Varda is an Estate vineyard at the base of The Alps in the upper right corner of Italy. […]
May 19, 2018
Le Cupole Trinoro

Trinoro “Le Cupole” Rosso 2015

Since the late 1990s Tenuta di Trinoro’s Bordeaux-style red blends have been some of the world’s buys. The 2015 Trinor0 Le Cupole Rosso is 58% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot. All “Estate” fruit located in the southeast corner of Tuscany. Powerful, dark, spiced and very structured (tannic) today, this is built to age (a function of the ripe 2015 vintage…Le Cupole is usually not so tannic. But they’re “good tannins” that will soften over time.)  Smell and taste black currants, blackberries, tar, dark chocolate, kirsch, black truffle, cola and black olive. If you need to buy […]