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 […]
November 8, 2019
Jolie Laide Trousseau Gris

Jolie Laide Trousseau Gris 2018

Subtle yet obvious aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle, honeydew melon and Meyer lemons. All this continues on in the taste along with some peaches and white pepper. High acidity makes it almost tangy, lots of fresh-cut melons and pear-apple (papple). Restrained right now. I think the fruit/floral/spice trinity will come forward over the short term, like by spring of 2020. I’ve enjoyed this wine since its first vintage in the early 2010s. This is the first one I have found to be wound up upon release. Goes to show that this is not a cookie-cutter wine, but one that the vintage […]
October 22, 2019
Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer

Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer 2018

Brilliant aromas of dried ginger, lychee fruit and pink grapefruit zest transition to tastes of zesty green apple, crisp pear and candied kumquat. Stepping back from my high-falutin’ descriptions, the Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer 2018 is true to its name: Dry and “Gewurz” (German for spice). Medium/light bodied, less floral and less overwhelming than many Gewurztraminers of this high caliber, which from a consumer perspective I suspect is to its benefit. This wine is too damn easy to drink. Navarro only sells their wine retail winery-direct in California and miniscule distribution outside the state. It is one of the few wineries […]
October 22, 2019
Navarro Dry Muscat 2018

NAVARRO Dry Muscat 2018

Southeast Asian herbs and spices like lemongrass, Kaffir lime and coriander on the nose along with lemon blossoms. Taste lemon zest, fresh white peaches, pink grapefruit and white pepper. Not as sweet-smelling as many Muscats…more on the floral/spicy side of things. Dances across the palate with energy and absolute freshness. Very tangy…some may call it tart…and light bodied. I love this wine with both fresh and fried Thai spring rolls as it complements each preparation in a different way. I pity the fool who shuts their minds and their mouths to this fantastic wine. Navarro only sells their wine retail […]
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 […]
August 22, 2019
Prima Materia Tocai Friulano

Prima Materia Tocai Friulano 2017

California needs more wines like this! Tocai Friulano, aka Friulano in its homeland of Friuli, Italy and Sauvignon Vert in California (unless it’s Muscadelle…yeah, it’s confusing) has about 50 acres planted in California. That number recently went down when THIS vineyard, “Graziano” in Mendocino’s Potter Valley, was converted to Vermentino. Quoting Prima Materia’s Pietro Buttitta, it’s “probably a good idea, but a wistful one as this bottling has great tension and complexity.” This is true. Good Tocia Friulano needs to breathe and stretch. And enjoyed chilled not cold: 60 degrees is good. My Prima Materia Tocai Friulano 2017 tasting notes […]
August 5, 2019
Clif Family Viognier

CLIF FAMILY Viognier 2017

It’s tricky to make a luscious style of Viognier without going overboard on alcohol and oak. I think Clif Family walked the fine line by achieving full flavor development and simultaneously keeping the nuance of the Viognier grape. Get honeysuckle, dried lemon peel, sliced fresh peaches, ripe apricots and melons and white pepper. Fuller flavored, as expected from a Viognier that hits 14.5% alcohol, but not “hot.” All Oak Knoll District fruit is southern Napa Valley. Mostly fermented in neutral French oak barrels. Clif Family continues to make consistently tasty red and white wines from their Estate vineyards on Howell […]
June 28, 2019
Boudinaud Blanc Rousseline 18

BOUDINAUD Blanc La Rousseline 18

40% Viognier, 40% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne from Boudinaud’s Estate vineyard. All steel tank fermented and aged. Big on the fresh citrus: lime juice & zest, orange slices, grapefruit, honeysuckle, Key lime, fresh pineapple. Medium-light bodied and a refreshing thread of acidity. At under $15/bottle this is definitely case purchase worthy. Imported and sold by Wine House San Francisco in the Dogpatch neighborhood of The City. Pay them a visit!
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.
February 26, 2019
Navarro Dry Muscat

NAVARRO Dry Muscat 2017

All lemon zest, grated ginger, white pepper and lemongrass a la dry Southern French Muscats you can find if you look very hard. Dances lightly on the tongue with acidity, spice, jasmine and fresh, cutting citrus. Glistening acidity, no oak, racy as all get out. A natural match with grilled and/or spicy shrimp dishes. Read all of my Navarro Winery reviews HERE.
November 29, 2018
Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer

Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer 2017

First off, the Navarro Vineyards Dry Gewurztraminer smells awesome. Honeydew melon, fresh ginger, peach, grapefruit, orange blossoms and white pepper. The taste moves on to orange zest, more melons and fresh-cut flowers. (Steers away from the honey/lychee/oily style of Gewurz). Medium/high acidity, typical of cool Anderson Valley wines and a ballerina-like strength and lightness. Fuji apples, green tea and a dash of peppery spice on the finish. Could drink this wine all day and night. 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, […]
November 28, 2018
Brooks Pinot Gris

BROOKS Pinot Gris 2017

The fresh, crisp character of top quality Oregon Pinot Gris is here. Get fresh apples, peaches, oranges, lemon zest and honeydew melon plus the mysterious “minerality” found in such wines. Flowers and citrus dance lightly over the palate, bright acidity invites food pairing ideas. Less oily than many Oregon PGs, which is an observation, not a judgment. Makes the wine more Sauvignon Blanc-like in body. More Information Oregon Pinot Gris is hard to beat when it comes to refreshing white wine to drink either alone or with lighter foods. Fresh, aromatic, dry, oily, fruity and floral. A great drink all year […]
November 27, 2018
Ragbag Albarino

RAGBAG Albarino Terra Alta 2017

Here’s a tasty, dry, no-oak Sauvignon Blanc-alternative white wine to check out. From the hills east of Lodi where Spanish varietals, like Albariño, have established a strong foothold. Smell and taste lemon verbena, grapefruit, fresh sliced peaches and a whisper of chalk dust. Medium acidity. Orange wedges and citrus blossoms on the finish. Have with whitefish ceviche or French Fries & mayo. More Information Ragbag Wines is a new label owned and made by Steven Mirassou, owner/maker of Steven Kent Winery in Livermore Valley. This Albariño is indicative of the Ragbag mission: tasty, pure and pretty weekday wines, well-priced and meant […]
November 27, 2018
Murrieta's Well The Whip

MURRIETA’S WELL “The Whip” 2016

Five grape blend, in order, of Sauvignon Blanc (33%), Semillon, Chardonnay, Orange Muscat and Viognier (10%). The aromatics of Muscat and Viognier pop from the glass. Satisfying, creamy texture of Semillon and Chardonnay. The tang of Sauvignon Blanc keeps it all fresh and lively. Really well done…fun drink. Fermented dry, which, by nature of the blend and the flavor profile, surprises some. Enjoy it with fish tacos. More Information I’m a big fan of Murrieta’s Well, especially since Robbie Meyer (of Peirson Meyer Winery) came on board as winemaker in 2014. All the wines are fruit-forward and rich while showing […]
August 6, 2018
Localism Torrontes

LOCALISM Torrontes 2017

Napa winery Localism ventures out to Lodi (“Silvaspoons Vineyard,” although this is not stated on the label) for their Torrontes, a wine grape most associated with Argentina. The Localism Torrontes sports awesome aromas of citrus blossoms, grated fresh ginger, lemon cucumbers and honeysuckle. Light and easy-going in the mouth. Bright acidity, very light bodied (I’d like a little more body) and very refreshing. Delicious with sashimi, green salads and spa treatments. More Information This is Mom & Pop Winery through and through. Ryan and Nicole Knoth do it all. Ryan is the winemaker (his moonlighting job and he makes high-end […]
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 25, 2018
Navarro Pinot Gris

NAVARRO Pinot Gris 2017

An excellent representation of Pinot Gris, this has a slightly oily texture, honey-coated pears, lemon custard and honeysuckle/elderflower floral aromas. A little fresh apricot, sliced ripe green apple, grated fresh ginger and white pepper for good measure. Light bodied, no barrel flavor, great acidity and 13.5% alcohol. A great drink by itself or with food (friends and I shared a bottle with chicken liver and onions). More Information Navarro Vineyards has famously (in the Cal “wine biz”) maintained a 100% consumer-direct policy in California. In other words, you won’t find Navarro in retail stores! There’s a story behind this, but […]
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 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 7, 2018
Easy Access Wine

Easy Access Wine #1

Survey feedback from Chuck S (thanks, Chuck): “I would appreciate a few ratings on wines that might be considered to be somewhat mass market wines. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to go to a Safeway and find a really good wine that Dan has recommended.” Great idea! And in response, here’s my inaugural easy-access selection: MAISON BARBOUOLOT Marsanne-Viognier 2017 $4.99 at Trader Joe’s, Napa CA. Posted June 7, 2018 I bought a bottle of this Southern French aromatic white last week. My wife, neighbors and I all loved it. It has the honeysuckle/jasmine aroma, pear/apple/tropicall fruit and ginger-spice flavor, palate […]
June 2, 2018
Campesino Alina 2015

CAMPESINO “Alina” White Wine 2015

A Northern-Rhone Valley-style white wine, “Alina” falls into the “aromatic white” category with its bright citrus, apple blossom, honeysuckle, peach nectar personality. This is half Marsanne, half Roussanne, co-fermented in tank then aged in neutral barrel. Get white peach, fresh Meyer lemon, fresh pineapple and Key lime, all lightly coated with a springtime flower aroma. Medium/light bodied, refreshing acidity, loaded with flavor while keeping a semblance of restraint. I challenge a wine drinker to NOT like this…impossible! And for $28, golly. More Information Campesino Cellars is owned and made by husband/wife Griselda and Macario Montoya (Macario is the winemaker). They […]
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 […]
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 […]