February 4, 2019
Peirson Meyer Maquette

PEIRSON MEYER “Maquette” 2015

Blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. A “Right Bank Bordeaux-style blend” in the words of Peirson Meyer Winery. I absolutely love this wine for its expressive yet under-control fruitiness, underscore of savory flavors like tobacco, anise and dry aged beef and fine, gum-coating tannins. All the smells and flavors are perfectly supported by the acid and tannins. Showing off all its goodies now, and will continue to evolve and drink awesome for 10-20 years. This is an outstanding value in the Napa Cab/Bordeaux blend category for “just” $60. From Peirson Meyer… MAQUETTE: A term familiar […]
September 1, 2018
Crocker & Starr AVA Napa Valley Red

Crocker & Starr AVA Napa Valley Red 2017

“Red Blend of Cabernet Franc” states the front label. The blend, exactly is is 60% Cabernet Franc, 23% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot and 6% Malbec. Fruit-forward with classic Napa Valley richness, the Crocker & Starr AVA Napa Valley also boasts a savory mixture of tarragon, cocoa, clove, pipe tobacco and black olive. Structured and layered, this is a blend for those looking for something more than just sweet fruit and toasty oak. More Information Winemaker/winery owner Pam Starr utilizes her “AVA Napa Valley” brand to purchase barrels/tanks of wine, making a unique blend, and selling it for a very fair […]
August 22, 2018
Rapp Ranch Cutters Reserve

RAPP RANCH “Cutter’s Reserve” Napa Valley 2014

A reverse Bordeaux-style blend as it leads with Petit Verdot (45%) and Malbec, then Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Very dark, concentrated and powerful, I call it a “brooder” because of all its roasted pie and Indian spices, black berry/cherry flavors, smoke and dark cocoa smells and flavors. You might expect a punch of hard tannins at the end, but not the case! Fine tannins give the wine a firm structure but they let the fruit, earth and spice shine through and make the mouth happy. Really well made and nicely unique in the world of California red blends. More Information […]
August 20, 2018
Podere Sapaio Volpolo

Podere SAPAIO “Valpolo” 2015

From Bolgheri (Maremma) Tuscany. A “Super-Tuscan” in every sense except the price. It’s a bargain. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a smidge of Merlot and a dollop of Petit Verdot. This rich, dense, strong Tuscan Cab Sauv also shows licorice, French roast coffee and cola flavors. It’s a little monster in the mouth – the kind of monster you want to take home with you. California Cab drinkers – definitely buy some of this!
August 7, 2018
Coho Headwaters

COHO “Headwaters” Napa Valley 2014

“Most representative of Coombsville wine I’ve released,” states owner Gary Lipp. Ironic, since it’s not labeled as Coombsville (sometimes Coho Headwaters doesn’t hit the 85% AVA threshold – it does in 2014). The blend is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot. Speaking of Coombsville style, you get the savory character of the southeast Napa AVA. The likes of dark tobacco, bittersweet chocolate, espresso and truffle shake hands with ripe blueberry and black cherry. Vibrant acidity, medium/full body, careful use of French oak. It’s all there. This is a sleeper wine for the cellar. Pull this out in 2030, […]
August 7, 2018
Steady State Red Wine

STEADY STATE Red Wine 2015

Steady State Red Wine is a blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. Put this in your Cabernet Sauvignon section as the dark fruit flavors and the chewy texture point to Napa’s “King Grape” in style. Smell and taste black cherries, blueberries, some mint, vanilla bean and cocoa. I call this a “generous” wine as it shows everything its got. Still, it has just enough restraint (i.e. not sweet nor jammy) with acidity and tannins to support the wine. More Information Collusion is one of the wines owned/made by Grounded Wine Co […]
May 22, 2018
Petit Batard Red Wine

PETIT BATARD Napa Valley 2013

1/3rd each Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec from Lewelling Ranch, St. Helena and Oakville Station, Oakville. A sturdy, spicy frame of toasty oak (38 months in 1/3rd new French) introduces the wine. Then ripe blackberries, kirsch, black licorice, clove and dark chocolate step forward. Big flavor throughout, firm structure yet supple with sweet sensations. This is a wine most definitely for big Napa Cab and Napa red blends fans. More information Petit Batard is the second label for XTANT, which is also a tiny-production, under the radar label. The wines are very good in a big, bold style.
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 […]
March 25, 2018
Warrior Angel Red Wine

WARRIOR ANGEL Red 2014

78% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot. By new wine negociant Consecration Wines, whose model is to make tiny lots of quality wines that over-deliver for the price. (Right down DDWA’s alley!) This is a 10 barrel lot, all Oakville. Initial impression is sweet rich oak and chocolate covered cherries. In minutes, more red fruits (red cherry, bright raspberry) pop out, giving the wine lift and verve. Then mocha and cherry liqueur come back. Full bodied, full-flavored, medium tannins, ripe core of fruit that Napa does so well. Boy does this ever over-deliver for forty dollars! To […]
March 24, 2018
Bressler Young Vines

BRESSLER “Young Vines” Napa Valley 2014

43% Cabernet Franc; 29% Merlot; 21% Cabernet Sauvignon; 7% Petit Verdot, all from the Bressler’s St Helena vineyard. Get a mouthful of Napa goodness: black cherry compote, cinnamon toast, cocoa, roasted coffee beans, currant, clove. Full flavored and lush, it gets richer in the mouth after a few seconds, ending in 25 second finish of deep spiced cherry and suave, toasty oak (80% new French). As a wine merchant I sold the 2012 vintage of this wine like crazy. I’d do the same thing with the 2014 if I was in the business. It’s so, so good for $45. Bordeaux-style […]
March 24, 2018
silverpoint red wine

Silverpoint Napa Valley Red Wine 2013

Four of the five Bordeaux varieties in the blend: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot. The fruit comes from two areas of Napa Valley – Rutherford Bench and Atlas Peak. The wine starts tight and, with resuscitation, gets richer, deeper and more complex. Smell and taste very ripe black cherries, pomegranate, roast red pepper, dark caramel & dark chocolate, allspice and vanilla from the barrel (50% new French oak). With air, shows medium acidity and fine tannins. Drinks better after being opened a day, which tells me a 2-3 hour decant before drinking is a […]
March 24, 2018
Cave Dog Napa Valley

CAVE DOG Napa Valley Red Wine 2015

58% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Franc, co-ferment, from vineyard in Southwest Napa Valley (edge of Carneros, in fact). An honest-to-goodness Right Bank Bordeaux style, Cave Dog red shows off dark red berry & cherry compote, dry aged beef, soy sauce, lavender, and gently roasted coffee beans. While all the flavors will expand with bottle age, it is still a round, smooth-textured, delicious, gorgeous wine now. Napa winemaker/winery owner veteran Michael Havens launched Cave Dog with his 2014 red wine. There are 3 Cave Dog wines: Spanish white varieties Albariño and Godello and this red. I recommend all three wines whole-heartedly, past […]
March 4, 2018
Goutorbe blanc de blancs Champagne

TETHER Napa Valley Red Wine 2014

65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot, then Petit Verdot & Malbec. All five of the (modern day) Bordeaux grapes used. Howell Mountain, Calistoga and St Helena fruit (all vineyards with reputations of making bold, dark, structured wine). Bullseye hit by Tether in making a rich, strong, lush and accessible Napa Cab style, at a relatively accessible price. All dark, sun-soaked, deep black berries/cherries with fragrant Indian spices, toasty barrel, vanilla bean and dark chocolate all over the place. This is a rock-solid Cab Sauv based blend recommendation for $50. The talented Anna Monticelli, winemaker and co-owner (with Napa […]
February 20, 2018
Frith Flanked by Ravens

FRITH “Flanked by Ravens” Napa Valley 2013

Right Bank Bordeaux-style blend of 60% Cabernet Franc & 40% Merlot, all from a single vineyard in the Carneros “Banana Belt.” This is rich, very strong wine showing a lot of old-world personality. Black currants, dried blueberries sun-dried Provence herbs, cigar box and bittersweet chocolate smells and flavors, all framed by 80% new French oak that melts into the wine seamlessly. Medium/full bodied, fine and firm tannins, medium acidity, 25 second finish of soil, spice and fruit (in that order of strength). It’s savory, Bordeaux-ish quality means it is not a wine for the masses. It IS a wine for […]
February 20, 2018
Hourglass HG3 15

HOURGLASS “HG3” 2015

Merlot based Bordeaux-style (“Right Bank”) blend with a twist: 10% Petite Sirah included. Once again, in the realm of Napa Valley Bordeaux-style reds, HG3 gives you A LOT of happiness for the price. Seductive sweet spicy oak and jammy berry/cherry nose continues on the palate along some kirsch (cherry liqueur), black truffle, cocoa and new leather handbag. Rich, medium/low acidity, soft tannins and perfectly ripe, the HG3 is drinking surprisingly well right now. Hourglass is a super-high quality Napa winery that is a dependable pick when you’re looking for high-end Cabernets and Merlot. Their “HG3,” a relatively new wine in […]
February 20, 2018
massiglia red Napa

Massiglia Red Napa Valley 2014

“Massiglia” (the ancient name of Marseilles, the French Mediterranean home-town of owner Maurice Marciano) is a blend of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Cabernet Franc. It is owned, grown and made and by Marciano Estate Winery in western St Helena. This is a generous, very rich, provocative red that, at first whiff, you know it’s one of Napa’s top-tier wines. Deep, strong dark red and black cherry liqueur, cocoa, baking spice and cola aromas move gracefully to a rich, lush, deep and frankly “yummy” flavor and texture. Mocha, cedar and warm chocolate croissant also come to mind, then a finish of […]
February 20, 2018
terra gratia red wine

Terra Gratia Red 2014

“Terra Gratia” (“Land of Gratitude” in Latin) is a blend of 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc and 9% Petit Verdot. Owned, grown, made and offered as their “entry level” wine by Marciano Estate Winery in western St Helena. Warm aromas of pie spices, deeply toasted wheat crust, dark red cherry and plums. Generous and delicious, showing lots of plums, pomegranates and wild cherry/deep raspberry with acidity to heighten the fruits. Faint, pleasing “taste of the land” peeks through at the end. For a skillfully made, cut-no-corners winegrowing attitude, delicious Napa Valley red, this is highly recommended for […]
February 20, 2018
clif family climber red

Clif Family “The Climber” 2015

Climber Red in 2015 is 96% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot, 1% Malbec. Strong flavors, layer upon layer of smells and flavor and true-to-the-grape winemaking make this one of my Awesome Values and inclusion on the Best of the Best list. Get dried black currants and blueberries along with bits of cedar, tobacco leaf, bittersweet chocolate and mint. Boasts a solid structure and energizing acidity. I wish the wine was labeled as Merlot to better help wine consumers embrace the grape. Clif Family is one of Napa Valley’s best winery visits, and my favorite winery that is open for walk-in guests. […]
February 13, 2018
Fortunati Fortivo 14

FORTUNATI “Fortivo” Napa Valley 2014

Fortunati Fortivo is a Right Bank-style, Estate red is a blend of 80% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, 5% Malbec. A seductive son of a gun, this wine smells and tastes of blackberry jam, plum sauce, cocoa, cinnamon stick and vanilla. It is plush, rich and full-bodied with fine tannins that sweep only the gums. Anyone who tastes this wine with the Luchtels is guaranteed to buy a case. Or more.   About Fortunati Gary and Ellen Luchtel planted Fortunati Vineyards in the early 2000s and launched the brand a few years later. Most of their wines are estate fruit from […]
January 17, 2018
Petit Batard Red Wine

PETIT BATARD Red Wine 2012

This blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot, all from St Helena’s “Lewelling Ranch,” represents one of Napa Valley’s best Cabernet values. And, for your cherry on top, note that it’s from the showy 2012 vintage. Generously endowed with toasty new French oak, get vanilla bean, cola, cinnamon, allspice and 12 year barrel-aged Bourbon, the fruit measures up. Concentrated black cherry, currant and blackberry mostly. If you like your Napa reds lavishly oaked, this is definitely for you. Petit Batard is the second label for XTANT winery.   Total production is tiny: under 500 cases for both wines. Jeff Gaffner, […]