July 15, 2019
Textbook Merlot

TEXTBOOK Merlot 2017

Smells and flavors of dark red cherries, blueberries and raspberries along with savory sensations of tarragon, tobacco, white pepper, wheat toast and caramel (the last two coming from the French oak, 1/3rd new medium toast). Medium/full body, silky mouthfeel, nicely rich and juicy. This wine has the gentleness of Merlot plus the richness of Napa Valley. If you or your friends say “I don’t like Merlot,” I’d like to pour you this wine blind and see what you think. 90% Oak Knoll District fruit, 10% Oakville. 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m a big fan of Textook Wines for quality and value. […]
July 12, 2019
Sinor Lavallee Pet Nat Ancestrale

SINOR LAVALLEE Ancestrale 2018

Extremely crisp, high acid sparkling wine from this very small San Luis Obispo producer focusing on earth-driven wines. Pinot Noir’s rose petal and raspberry aromas tip-toe in. Tangy citrus, yellow cherry and plum flavors shine in the mouth along with smidge of jasmine or honeysuckle. There’s a suggestion of rocky earthiness on the finish if you’re looking for it. Very dry, very crisp…dryness not designated but stylistically I’d call it an Extra Brut. A unique, cool wine.
July 9, 2019
Mas Doix priorat les crestes

MAS DOIX Priorat Les Crestes 2016

80% Grenache, 10% Carignan and 10% Syrah. Showcases the Grenache grapes sappy, dark strawberry and raspberry fruitiness (relatively young 20 year old vines, so the fruit is highlighted over the earth). Peppery/minty spice smells and flavors, medium bodied, fine tannins that nibble on the gums. This delicious Spanish red pairs well with combo pizza, cheeseburgers, BBQ pork ribs and strong rice dishes. “Les Crestes” comes from the hillside vineyards of Priorat in northeast Spain near Barcelona. Relatively young vines at 20 years. Aged eight months in once-used French oak barrels, so not particularly oaky.    
June 27, 2019
J Pinot Gris

J Pinot Gris 2018

As good as it gets for a fresh, fruit-driven, easy to drink white wine. Top four (out of 8+) fruit flavors I get are green apple, peach, pineapple and Meyer lemon. Acid’s fresh and lively, no oak. A little “sneaky sweetness” elevates the fruitiness, meaning you don’t taste sweet but you like the wine more because it’s there. Get a case…can be found for under $15/bottle (check out Total Wine). This is a DDWA “Awesome” Value. See all my Hall of Fame and Awesome Value wines on my Best of the Best Value list.
June 26, 2019
J Pinot Noir

J Pinot Noir 2016

Very ripe, spicy and thick for Pinot Noir. That’s the style J’s going for on this wine, and they nailed it. Get cherry preserves, cocoa, cloves and caramel. Creamy, almost oily, in the mouth. Too much for many. Absolutely fabulous for many more. Whatever you think of the wine, you can’t deny that J Winery succeeded in aiming for a certain style. At $20/bottle, it’s a DDWA Great Value.
June 25, 2019
Leeuwin Riesling

LEEUWIN ESTATE Riesling 2017

Delicate, floral, high acid, dry Riesling from the cool-climate Margaret River wine region in southwest Australia. Get lime zest, chopped cilantro, Meyer lemons, fresh kiwi, Granny Smith apples, white peaches and lemon blossoms. The acidity tingles the mouth. Super-intense due to the ripeness of the grapes (resulting in 12% alcohol) and high-energy acidity. Very dry, very pretty, the Leeuwin Estate Riesling is a great match with fried foods and green salads with goat cheese. This is a DDWA “Hall of Fame” Value. See all my Hall of Fame and Awesome Value wines on my Best of the Best Value list.
June 25, 2019
Barnett Chardonnay Sangiacomo

BARNETT Chardonnay Sangiacomo 2017

Spring Mountain, Napa winery Barnett Vineyards acquires top-notch Chardonnay from “Sangiacomo” in the Carneros to make this rich, strong-flavored Chardonnay that boasts both bright, tangy fruit AND toasty, spicy oak. Get Meyer lemons, peaches, pears and apricots as well as cinnamon stick, caramel and buttered toast. More oaky than buttery, it has both. And lots of fruit too. It has it all going on, high volume.
June 25, 2019
William Hill Chardonnay

WILLIAM HILL Chardonnay 2017

Butter, baked apples, caramel, pineapple, pie spices and toast is what you get from the William Hill Napa Valley Chardonnay. Oily texture, lush and creamy, this is definitely a Chardonnay for those who like their wines big and buttery. Is it “too much?” No – it’s just right for those who like this style. And, the grapes are good enough, strong enough, to hold up to the buttery richness.
June 24, 2019
Maison l'envoye Moulin a Vent

Maison l’Envoye Moulin a Vent 16

Deep red cherry and raspberry fruits with a peppercorn, dried thyme and orange rind gift wrap. Medium/light bodied on the red wine scale, full bodied on the Gamay scale, which is due to the 60 year old vines and the natural “bigness” of Moulin-a-Vent relative to the other Beaujolais crus. Showing intense berry fruits with undertones of rocky earth. I like how its long, lingering, structured finish. Appropriate drinking both on the patio and the table clothed-dinner table. This wine is imported and can be purchased from Old Bridge Cellars in Napa. Contact them to buy and, if you live in or […]
June 18, 2019
Frogs Leap Pink

FROG’S LEAP Pink Wine 2018

Made from 70+ year old vine Carignane and 12% Valdiguie, Frog’s Leap “La Grenouille Rougante” (The Flying Frog) is an intentional rosé, i.e. made like a white wine: grapes pressed off with juice barely affected by the red skins. The result is a style of rosé that Frog’s Leap makes as well as anyone in California. Get mandarin orange, subtle plum and strawberry fruits, citrus blossoms, white pepper and orange zest. Very dry and very healthy acidity…this is a white wine drinker’s preferred style of Rosé for sure. Think Provence/Southern France style.
June 18, 2019
Frogs Leap Merlot 2016

FROG’S LEAP Merlot 2016

A Napa Valley “classic,” the Frogs Leap Merlot 2016 shows a slightly darker, stronger fruit and body profile than many previous vintages. Get dark red cherries, blackberries, French roast coffee, black pepper, lavender, cola and cigar wrapper. This is both strong and restrained, as the army of Frog’s Leap Merlot fans have come to expect of this wine. Good match with red meats, bold flavored white meats, mushrooms and most roasted vegis. The 2016 Frog’s Leap Merlot has 9% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. At 13.4% alcohol, it’s ripe but not overly so. Biodynamic and dry farmed vines, mostly from […]
June 14, 2019
Foley Johnson Cabernet Sauvignon

FOLEY JOHNSON Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Strong red cherry and dark pomegranate fruit flavors (in the red fruit spectrum for sure) with pleasing side smells and flavors of bay leaf, tarragon and blood orange. Light on the oak and ripe but not overly so, medium & fine tannins, acidity that elevates the flavors…I really like the unobstructed view (taste, in other words) of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon here. The Foley Johnson Cabernet Sauvignon is super-flexible with food.
June 13, 2019
Band of Vintners Cabernet

Band of Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

The Band of Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon represents the grand quality of Napa Cabernet at a fantastic price. Rich, full-bodied, accessible/ready to drink up now and through at least 2026, plenty of time to drink through your stash. No profound tasting notes for this wine, to be honest. Get black cherry liqueur, cinnamon stick, black licorice, cocoa, a little bit of cedar and cigar wrapper. The exceptional-ness of this Cabernet comes in all the pleasure you get for around $40 retail. 6% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 15 months aged in French oak, part new. The Band of Vintners are 8 Napa […]
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.
June 12, 2019
Neyers Sage Canyon

NEYERS Sage Canyon Red 2017

Smells and tastes of fresh raspberries, red cherries, pomegranate, lavender, rosemary, black pepper and anise. Medium bodied…like a stronger Pinot Noir. Fine tannins cover the gums and palate, giving the wine body and force. Neither heavy nor light, this is right in the middle, making it ideal with a broad range of foods from roast chicken, pork loin, burgers, red sauces and even red-fleshed fish like salmon. 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, […]
June 10, 2019
Cliff lede sauvignon Blanc

Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc 2017

On the tropical side with fresh mango, papaya and pineapple flavors standing out. Meyer lemon, fresh peaches and apricots and apple butter flavors sneak in there. This is more lush and rich than most Sauvignon Blancs, which comes from partial barrel fermentation and the 15% Semillon and Sauvignon Vert included. Really nice acidity…makes my mouth water and want grilled fish, fried foods and potato chips. It also has the richness to satisfy most Chardonnay drinkers. Cliff Lede Vineyards is incredibly consistent in making outstanding Sauvignon Blanc and selling it for a very reasonable price.
June 10, 2019
Crocker and Starr Sauvignon Blanc 18

Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc AVA Napa Valley 2018

Lots of lip-smacking Sauvignon Blanc goodness to enjoy here. Classic fruit flavors like Granny Smith apples, fresh lemon (zest and pulp), tangerine and honeydew melon. Kiss of honey on the finish and a pleasing mouth-filling texture (6% Semillon and some lees-stirring accounts for this). No oak flavor-this wine is all about the bright, tangy citrus and orchard fruits. 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 price. This is the evolution of the Bridesmaid Wine label owned and made by […]
June 10, 2019
Turley Zinfandel Juvenile

Turley Zinfandel Juvenile 2017

A little jammy (raspberry, strawberry, plum) with provocative lavender, jasmine, cinnamon and cracked black pepper smells and flavors. Not at all shy in ripeness and alcohol (comes in over 15%) but you’d hardly know it by taste. It’s fruity, fresh, balanced and perfectly spicy. Tasty with food (grilled meats, tomato sauces, foods with lots of garlic and herbs) or all by itself. Turley Wine Cellars sources Zinfandel grapes from up and down California wine country to make over 15,000 cases of “Juvenile” and sell it for a great price. If you see it on a wine list or on a […]
June 6, 2019
Saintsbury Pinot Noir

SAINTSBURY Pinot Noir Carneros 2016

A Carneros “classic,” Saintsbury Winery continues to make top-notch Pinot Noirs that marry California fruit and savory earth and spice flavors. The 2016 Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir smells and tastes of ripe cranberries, tangy red plums, strawberry, sassafras, briar patch and dark earth. Fine tannins coat the mouth. Just when you think it’s too drying and earthy, the tasty red fruits come on back. The term “Burgundian” is used too often to describe California Pinot Noir. It certainly applies with this wine! Very good now, will get even better through 2022 at least.
June 5, 2019
Farm Chardonnay

Farm Chardonnay Napa Valley 2018

On the stronger, fuller-bodied side of Chardonnay. I get roasted pears, lemon custard, lemon zest, roast almonds and hazelnuts and apple butter. Made in a not-buttery, limited oak style. The strong fruit and lees contact account primarily for the richness. Super-satisfying – fans of California Chardonnay are sure to enjoy this. FARM Napa Valley is owned and made by John Anthony Truchard, who has also flourished with his labels JAM, BUTTER and John Anthony, amongst others. All the grapes for Farm Chardonnay are farmed and managed, and often owned as well, by John Anthony.
June 1, 2019
Hogwash Rose 2018

HOGWASH Rose 2018

Almost 100% Grenache, most coming from “Bokisch Vineyard” Lodi. I call this a “Provence Style” Rosé because of its dryness and citrus/stone fruit/strawberry smell/flavor trifecta. Very dry and a low 11.8% alcohol, the 2018 Hogwash is set up to drink bottle after bottle. At $18/bottle it’s a DDWA Awesome Value and makes my “Best of the Best” Value list. Hogwash is part of Tuck Beckstoffer Wines/Seventy Five Wine Company.  
May 23, 2019
Elizabeth Rose Chockablock

Elizabeth Rose Chockablock 2016

A Bordeaux style blend of 37% Merlot, 37% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Hoxsey family’s estate vineyards in Yountville and Oakville. This is fruit-forward and rich with soft tannins and a sturdy frame of toasty oak. Chockablock has all the classic deep, rich flavors we seek from Napa Cabs and dark red blends. Boysenberries, black cherries, cola, cocoa, nutmeg, vanilla bean…all cohesive and integrated. This is a heck of a buy for a Napa Bordeaux-style red blend from Ghost Block Estate Wines.
May 23, 2019
Andrew Murray Syrah Tous les Jours

ANDREW MURRAY Syrah “Tous les Jours” 2016

Rich, lush, smooth and tastes like Syrah. Blackberry liqueur, smashed up black cherries, dark chocolate, a little black pepper and woodsmoke in there. This is a mouth-filling, medium-full bodied, seductive, easy for all to like red wine. Crazy you can get something this good from California for $15. This is a DDWA “Hall of Fame” Value. See all my Hall of Fame and Awesome Value wines on my Best of the Best Value list.
May 22, 2019

NEWFOUND Carignane “Colombini” 2017

Already delicious at a very young age, the 2017 Newfound Carignane Colombini Vineyard is full of dark raspberry and plum flavors with lots of support from white pepper, tarragon and lavender sensations. This medium-bodied, structured, very flavorful and food-friendly red wine is very good now and will get even better with short term aging. Check out all the wines of Newfound, the creation of husband & wife Matt Naumann and Audra Chapman. They produce small lots of intriguing, provocative and very tasty “alternative wines” like this Carignane as well as Mourvedre, Semillon and more. This is a DDWA “Awesome” Value. […]