May 7, 2019
Random Ridge Sangiovese

Random Ridge Fortunata 2016

A bright, beautiful, perfumed expression of Sangiovese from the high reaches of Mt Veeder District. The wild cherry, raspberry, white pepper, and garden thyme/tarragon smells & flavors are a joy. Medium bodied, medium/high acidity and lightly oaked – appropriate and perfect, in my opinion, for the Sangiovese grape. This rare wine is a great value and well worth seeking out. Contact Bill Hawley, founder/owner/farmer/winemaker do it all guy at Random Ridge. Read his story here.
December 6, 2018

INIZI “Hi Jump Red” 2016

Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Montepulciano and Cabernet Sauvignon are the “Fab 4” in this Cal-Italian red blend. Very impressive how the four grapes play together. The fruit, aromas and perky acidity of the three Italian grapes each add their unique qualities. The Cabernet adds structure and darkens the wine a bit. Get fresh raspberries, wild strawberries and plums, then peppery spice and dried Mediterranean herbs. Fine, mouth-coating tannins make the Inizi Hi Jump Red match nicely with all cuts of red meat (white meat and fatty fish too). Such a value!
December 3, 2018
MagnaVita Brothers Blend

MagnaVita Brothers Blend 2016

Here’s a strong, tasty, unique blend of Lagrein and Refosco, two grapes of Northeast Italian origin. These grapes come from El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills’ “Lone Pine Vineyard.” Field blend/co-ferment (in other words, the grapes grow together and ferment together). Get a big hit of wild dark red berries with bits of black pepper, black tea and anise. Tons of smells and flavors, then, just before you swallow, a wave of tannins. These are good tannins, ones that will soften with air, with time, and with well seasoned red and white meat dishes. This is an excellent red wine for […]
July 28, 2018
Massican Gemina

MASSICAN Gemina White Wine 2017

¾ Pinot Grigio, ¼ Greco (Wine geeks, think Greco di Tufo white wine from Campania, Italy). Massican Gemina is an intense wine, full of palate-tickling acidity and all parts of the lemon (zest, juice, seed, and don’t forget the lemon blossoms!). It’s bright acidity/nervy energy and food-friendly mineral edge is what we’ve come to expect and want from Massican wines. More Information Owner/winemaker Dan Petroski launched Massican with the 2009 vintage (and I’m proud to say I was one of the first retailers to carry it when I owned Back Room Wines). The wines, all white, are made in the […]
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 19, 2018
Prima Materia Arcanum III

PRIMA MATERIA “Arcanum No III” Red

“Arcanum” is a Dolcetto-based, non-vintage red blend. This dark berry fruit, brooding, earthy/spicy quality is not what you expect from Dolcetto (I wonder what % is Dolcetto? Guessing around 50%.) Smell and taste black figs, blackberries, dry aged beef, pipe tobacco, tea leaves. Ripe core of fruit in the middle with savory flavors all around it. Reminds me of a Southern Italian red: nice and rustic. $21 is a great deal for this wine. More Information Prima Materia’s vineyard is in western Lake County. Volcanic soils, 1500 feet elevation, continental climate (very hot days and cool nights). Not your typical […]
May 17, 2018
Philip Staley Sangiovese Rose

PHILIP STALEY Sangiovese Rosé 2017

On the denser, fuller-flavored side of Rosé, Sangiovese’s character comes out (from picking a touch later…this is 14.1% alcohol). Smell and taste wild cherry (cherry skins keep coming to mind – a texture thing), red plums, dry Italian herbs, peach pit, pomegranate and a  touch of cracked black pepper. While it’s graceful and has the natural acidity of Sangiovese, it has the pleasing ripe qualities and texture that California wine can offer. Be sure to check out all my Rose wines reviewed in 2018 here, and read my Rose Report here.
March 24, 2018
Edaphos BARB 15

EDAPHOS Barbera “Madhavan” Sonoma 2015

Noticeably dark, rich color for Barbera. Smells like Barbera: sun-soaked wild thyme, white pepper, raspberry/wild red cherry, plums. Lots of berry flavors with bits of orange zest, that peppery spice and black olive. Where “real” Barbera can get bitter on the finish, not the case here. It’s more cherry and plum skins and dry Provence and Italian herbs. Acid and fine tannins are healthy, giving the wine a firm “punch.” This is one of the best California Barberas I’ve ever had! Edaphos is one of the wines made by Ernest Vineyards. They are quite new – 2014 is their first […]
February 20, 2018
villa ragazzi sangiovese

VILLA RAGAZZI Sangiovese 2014

All Calistoga fruit, which as the hottest AVA of Napa Valley belies the old-world style of this wine. All red fruits here (raspberry sauce, cranberry, wild red cherry) with intriguing savory qualities like beef broth, cremini mushroom, pink grapefruit and pink peppercorns. At 13.3% alcohol, shining acidity and low oak influence, this is easily confused for Tuscany (Italy) Sangiovese.  Optimal drinking: 2019-2029. From February 2019 tasting: It’s a lovely wine. Raspberries, wild red cherries, red roses, black tea, bay leaf, new leather and energetic acidity shine bright. Built on a foundation of 13.3% alcohol and not-new French oak aging. I tasted […]
February 20, 2018
Prima Materia Sangiovese

PRIMA MATERIA Sangiovese 2015

Ripe dark cherry fruits with notes of chocolate, dried green herbs, musk, and smoked tea leaves make this a friendly and crowd-pleasing Sangiovese that is still true to the grape. Fuller-bodied (for Sangiovese) with fine tannins and a rich texture make this a real winner. Prima Materia’s vineyard is in western Lake County. Volcanic soils, 1500 feet elevation, continental climate (very hot days and cool nights). Not your typical winery operation, I culled the paragraph below from its website (check out the site when you have a moment). As you can tell, owner/winemaker (and talented chef) Pietro Buttitta is an […]