January 31, 2019
Trinafour Carignane

TRINAFOUR Carignane Niemi 2015

Medium/light, bright, crystal-clear red berry and plum fruits in the Trinafour Carignane 2015. Reminds me of a well crafted Southern French red with it’s black pepper dust and dried herbs de Provence edge. This has French Bistro by the glass pour written all over it. Italian bistro or BBQ joint would be perfect, too. If you have it at home, two words for you: roast chicken. The dry-farmed Carignane vines in “Niemi Vineyard” are now 50+ years old. Check out all the Trinafour wines I’ve reviewed here.
January 30, 2019
Lagier Meredith Syrah 2016

LAGIER MEREDITH Syrah 2016

Blueberry compote, fresh grated ginger, lavender garden and cracked black pepper are your early smells and flavors in the 2016 Lagier Meredith Syrah. Consistently intense, very aromatic and bright from vintage to vintage, this 2016 is another in a long line of Syrahs with these qualities. If anything, it’s a little more expressive of its fresh berry/floral flavors, which points to a particularly long evolution in bottle. This will drink great well into the 2030s. More Information Steve Lagier and Carole Meredith live on their vineyard near the top of Mount Veeder between Napa and Yountville.  Farming, winemaking, sales and […]
January 18, 2019
Apsara Syrah

APSARA Syrah “Las Madres” 2015

Blueberries, pomegranate, five spice and black olive aromas race from the glass. Taste is more of the same along with a little bit of cocoa powder, candied ginger and a brush of acidity that elevates all these flavors. Coming in at 13.6% alcohol, this medium-bodied, perfumed, intense red is classic Northern Rhone-style Syrah. Enjoy this with Memphis-style BBQ Ribs (all about the rub, no sweet sauce). A typical lesson of Wine 101 is that European wines are more earthy than fruity and California wines are more fruity than earthy. It’s a good rule to follow provided you believe that rules […]
January 16, 2019
Lagier Meredith Syrah and olives

Success With Syrah – Two Stories

 
January 11, 2019
Halcon Petite Sirah

HALCON Petite Sirah “Tierra” 2016

It’s sensible to think Petite Sirah only thrives in a hot growing climate and makes exclusively big bold high-octane red. That’s the only style most who know Petite Sirah have had. Here’s something a little different. Halcon’s Estate Vineyard, planted Syrah mostly, lies at the crest of the Yorkville Highlands AVA. They buy Petite Sirah from “Theopolis” at the bottom (in altitude) of Yorkville Highlands. It’s warmer than up high, and just warm enough to ripen Petite Sirah. The wine grabs me. Dark, rich color. Roast herb and Moroccan spice nose. Very ripe blueberry and blackberry flavor going toe-to-toe with […]
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 14, 2018
Campesino Syrah Las Madres

Campesino Syrah Las Madres 2016

Notice the exceptionally deep, rich, dark color. The smell and taste is quintessential Syrah with its black and blueberries, smoked lamb loin, black pepper, soy sauce, tarragon, rosemary and chocolate. Medium acid, fine tannins, fantastic concentration and mouth-coating extraction while, still, keeping everything about the wine in control. Drink the 2016 Campesino Syrah Las Madres now through 2026 and enjoy it with roast garlic, onion and pepper dishes, roast mushrooms, strong marinades, braises and stews. 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 […]
October 1, 2018
Apsara Cellars Special Offer

Campesino Cellars Discount for Members

Winery-Direct Discount for DDWA Members.  Buy all available Apsara wines for 15% off, winery-direct, during February. Discounts on Apsara wines available to Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor members. Contact Dan for discount codes and advisement. Not a DDWA Member yet? Join here. Featured Story and Offer Robin Akhurst, owner/winemaker of Apsara Cellars, has a great story. It begins in his homeland Scotland, “somming” in Edinburgh as he figured out what to do with his environmental science degree. Next stop: fine wine retail in London. Then New Zealand, his first stop on an international winemaking tour (and a degree in viticulture and enology). On […]
September 25, 2018
Wilson Foreigner Valdiguie

WILSON FOREIGNER Valdiguie 2017

Gamay body and Syrah smells & flavors best describes the Wilson Foreigner Valdiguie 2017. Get dark cranberries, red plums, wild cherries, ruby grapefruit, cloves, cracked black pepper, tarragon. High acid (showing more acid at time of tasting-it’s young!), modest tannins, very perky. Just released, so buy some 2016 Valdiguie to drink now and some 2017 to drink next year. Third vintage for this tiny Napa winery owned/made by two families (see below for details). The grapes are from David & Christine Wilson’s family vineyard, “Rancho Chimiles,” Wooden Valley, southeast Napa’s Valley. A popular grape to grow in Napa in the […]
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
Bodega Rancho Grenache

BODEGA RANCHO Grenache “Jemrose” 2014

On the dark side of California Grenache. Smell and taste strawberry preserves, toasted black peppercorns and cloves, black olives, very ripe blueberries, dried lavender, bay leaf and toasty French oak…40% new according to owner/winemaker Derek Beitler. More oak than he’d prefer, but from many a wine drinker’s view it’s perfect. Strong and structured in the mouth with a grip of tannins that go away on the finish. Excellent concentration, richness, spice and marriage of sweet and savory. More Information Owner/winemaker Derek Beitler launched Bodega Rancho/JDB Wines in 2007, took a break for a while, then re-launched the label with the […]
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 18, 2018
Neyers Carigane Evangelho

NEYERS Carignane “Evangelho” 2016

The Neyers Carigane Evangelho comes from 140 year old vines growing in the riverbed sand soils of the Sacramento Delta. Wild blue and red fruits, black pepper, fresh lavender, pomegranate, the faintest whiff of cigar wrapper (tobacco) and hung game. Reminds me of southern France Carignane, and that’s the goal! I would say that the natural California fruitiness steps forward, and no one’s complaining.  Neutral oak aged for development, not flavor. Pure, fruity, spicy and perfectly wild! More information Napa winery Neyers Vineyards ventures beyond Napa to keep their wine character up and the prices reasonable. Co-owned by founders Bruce […]
September 1, 2018
Warrior Angel Syrah Red Wine

Warrior Angel Red Central Coast 2016

Although it doesn’t say it on the label, this is all Syrah from Monterey County. The Rhone-head that I am, I like its wild red fruits, gamey, black olive, peppery smell and flavor. Pour this for me blind and tell me it’s Crozes-Hermitage and I would have no reason to dispute it. Medium/high acidity, medium tannins, light on the oak, very perfume-y, alcohol under 14%. Yes indeed, this is trés French. Warrior Angel Red, Central Coast is from the Consecration Wines, a negociant focusing on small-production, excellent value California wines. To see all my reviews of Consecration Wines, GO HERE.
September 1, 2018
Lagier Meredith Syrah

LAGIER MEREDITH Syrah 15

Syrah’s spicy/smoky side introduces you to the Lagier Meredith Syrah 2015. Cracked black pepper, cocoa, black olive and bacon, not “too much” mingle with blue/black/raspberry (all good & ripe) from start to finish. A big burst of briary berries, dark red and blue mostly, slaps the mid palate. And the spice keeps on going, all the while nicely integrated into the fruit. As expected from Lagier Meredith, the wine has solid structure and medium/high acidity that points to a long evolution in bottle. Ideal drinking: I’m thinking 2022-2035. Destemmed before fermentation, aged in oft-used “neutral” French oak, unfiltered. 290 cases […]
August 6, 2018
Cuvaison Syrah

CUVAISON Syrah “Estate” Carneros 2015

Cool Carneros Syrah from a warm, dry vintage equals a very tasty, spicy, deep red wine that’s honest to the Syrah grape but not “too much.” Get blueberries, black cherry, cracked black pepper, smoked bacon, licorice and bittersweet chocolate. Medium acidity, creamy texture and notably lush, this Syrah will please both lovers of the grape and those new or unsure of it. More Information Their Syrah is only available winery direct from Cuvaison. Contact them, or better yet, arrange a visit and tasting at the winery. It’s a great visit. I wouldn’t quite call it “undiscovered,” but it is under-used […]
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 […]
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
Longtable The Gathering

LONGTABLE “The Gathering” Red 2013

A Southern-Rhone style blend of 50% Grenache, 47% Syrah and 3% Petite Sirah from a single vineyard on Mount Veeder. It’s “Estate” in that the vineyard is winery-owned, but winemaking happens elsewhere, so it’s technically not. Smell and taste deep, dark black and blueberries with allspice, black licorice, cola and smoked red meat back-ups. Strong wine, with firm, fine tannins and a small explosion of flavor as it sits in your mouth. Longtable waits almost five years after harvest to release The Gathering so it’s ready. It’s sort of ready…it’ll start peaking in 2020 is my guess. Grapes are co-fermented with […]
June 2, 2018
Cochon Whole Hog Red Wine

COCHON “Whole Hog” 2015

44% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 15% Carignane, 10% Cinsault, 5% Mourvedre, 1% Viognier. Napa Valley and Lodi are the two main sources for the grapes. The Syrah (from Phoenix Ranch in Southern Napa) takes centerstage with its dark blueberry/blackberry, black olive, peppery, intense smell and flavor. This is rich, ripe and strong. You get a lot of flavor and quality for your money here…that said, I suspect it will greatly improve with another year in bottle. Keep some around until summer 2019 if you can. I highly recommend you get to know the three labels under the Cochon “umbrella.” They are […]
June 2, 2018
Campesino Syrah Las Madres

CAMPESINO Syrah “Las Madres” 2015

Pours out dark purple and rich. Smell and taste crushed, ripe blueberries, lavender, fire-roasted leg of lamb, dark coffee, crushed black peppercorns, black currants, soy sauce, cocoa. 30 second finish gets more smoky and spicy (passilla pepper, clove). Sweet, ripe sensations, rich, medium acidity and smooth tannins. This, to my taste, is the best style of Syrah that California can offer: California ripeness with old-world style meaty/spicy/savory deliciousness. 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, […]
June 2, 2018
Campesino Rose Isa 2017

CAMPESINO “Isa” Rosé 2017

This single-vineyard Grenache from eastern Sonoma Coast AVA (between Sonoma and Petaluma) is picked to make Rosé (“intentional”), fermented and aged 6 months in neutral French oak barrels. Equally citrus and stone fruits as red berries. I get blood orange, ripe peach, and wild strawberry along with white pepper, tarragon and mint tea. Has bright acidity (nice & tangy) counter-balanced by its generous fruitiness. Drinks nicely on its own and further blossoms with mild cheeses and white meats. More Information Campesino Cellars is owned and made by husband/wife Griselda and Macario Montoya (Macario is the winemaker). They honor their Mexican […]
May 24, 2018
Keep Counoise

KEEP Counoise 2017

Usually found in France’s Southern Rhone Valley as a minor player in a Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend, it makes a delicious wine on its own. Keep made this wine using the carbonic method (whole grapes slowly break apart as they ferment). What a fun, wild red wine this is. Spiced strawberries, red earth, wild herbs, pomegranate, white pepper. Wildness in a good way. Very low tannins and medium acidity. While this wine is not a show-off, it will be noticed. I’m thinking grilled salmon is my #1 match. More Information KEEP is an up-and-coming, husband & wife made/operated tiny winery based in […]
May 16, 2018
Leaf & Vine Carignane

Leaf & Vine Carignane Evanghelo 2015

Smells of deep raspberry and blueberry, lavender, black peppercorns and coriander. The taste continues on with the same along, adding black licorice, mint, dark strawberry and pomegranate. This has soft tannins, lift of acidity and a pleasing juiciness and warmth to it. Food wise, you can go lots of directions here. My first thought is roast beef tri-tip, then herb-garlic roasted chicken. More Information Napa winery Leaf & Vine makes tiny amounts of wines from Napa Valley and beyond. Everything I’ve tasted from Leaf & Vine in the last 3 years has been very tasty, decidedly unique and very well […]