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 17, 2019
Peter Paul Pinot Noir

PETER PAUL Pinot Noir Gravenstein Highway 2017

Cool-climate Sonoma Coast sensations galore in this Peter Paul Pinot Noir. Get plum and cranberry sauces, sun-dried thyme and tarragon, ripe raspberries, white pepper and rosewater. As my taste buds focused on the spicy/herbal flavors, the ripe wild cherry and berry flavors got up and stood tall as I savored. The smells and flavors sing in harmony in this medium-bodied, bright, ripe, DDWA “Hall of Fame Value” wine. Peter Paul Wines is owned by entrepreneur/philanthropist Peter Paul and, managed by Martin Reyes, MW and in 2017 welcomed Jamey Whetstone as consulting vineyard manager and winemaker. The winery has made solid wines […]
June 14, 2019
Lunar Ridge Syrah

LUNAR RIDGE Syrah 2016

Black ruby color, Rhone Valley-like aromas of berry liqueur, bittersweet chocolate, black pepper and lamb sausage. Taste begins with very ripe blueberries and blackberries, then crushed black peppercorns, smoked paprika, lavender and rosemary emerge. From mid-taste through the 20 second finish, the ripe fruit and savory spice/herb/floral flavor merge seamlessly. This Rhone-style Syrah, with the help of California sunshine, is a winner – on par with California Syrahs selling for much more. A DDWA “Great Value.” Lunar Ridge is a postage stamp-sized, northwest (setting sun) facing vineyard in Napa’s Coombsville District in Southeast Napa Valley. Owners Ray and Theresa Joske […]
June 14, 2019
Dan Dawson's Wine Advisor

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 (by taste) of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon here. This 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 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
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.
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. […]
May 7, 2019
Random Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon

Random Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

On the ripe red fruit end of the spectrum with red cherries and currants taking the lead followed by pomegranate and plum preserves. Teaming up with the fruits is cedar, crushed rocks, black licorice and relative modest levels of vanilla bean and crushed mint from the oak. A bold red by most standards, in the realm of Napa Cabernet it falls into the elegant category. I like that. A lot. From Random Ridge’s vineyard soaring high in the Mount Veeder District.  To purchase, contact Bill Hawley, founder/owner/farmer/winemaker do it all guy at Random Ridge. Read his story here.
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.
April 25, 2019
B Kosuge Gamay

B KOSUGE Gamay 2017

You’ll immediately notice the wine’s rich, vibrant color and beautiful aromas of fresh violets, lavender, raspberries and red plums. Tastes like a bowl of fresh summer berries with white pepper and blood oranges sprinkled on top. The lightness of Gamay countered by the Carneros warmth make for a tasty take on the grape. Byron Kosuge budded over a small block of Pinot Noir (from which he sources for “The Shop” Pinot Noir) to Gamay. Hey, light red wine fans – this is a wine to seek out. Make it easy on yourself and go straight to the winery.* It’s a […]
April 9, 2019
Camino Cabernet Sauvignon

CAMINO Cabernet Sauvignon “Montecillo” 2016

Black cherry liqueur, blueberries, dark chocolate, roast French herbs and dark cigar aromas launch the Camino Cabernet Montecillo 2016. Smells so good. In the mouth the wine brings on the deep, rich fruit with background savory sensations of black truffle, cedar and rocky soil. More fruity than previous vintages due to a slight drop of acidity and silkier tannins than before. Drink this now and love the heck out of it. Age it for 5-10 years and it’ll get even better. The terraced hillside, volcanic rock-heavy soil and 50 year old vines of “Montecillo” is the star of this Cabernet […]
April 8, 2019
Camino Pinot Noir

CAMINO Pinot Noir “Umino” 2016

Beautiful, bold aromas of fresh violets, deep plum, dark raspberries, blood orange and cinnamon. The smells seamlessly transition to the flavors: wild berries and cherries, orange zest, red roses, violets and those plums & blood oranges. Ripe, inviting, balanced (14.1% alcohol), juicy and alive with acidity, the Camino Pinot Noir continues to deliver through it’s long, 30 second finish. 4 barrels made, all French oak, 1 of the 4 is new, 10 months in barrel. More Information Napa producer Camino Cellars is made, owned and operated by Tadeo Borchardt, also the long-time winemaker at Neyers Vineyard. He makes tiny amounts […]
April 2, 2019
Tres Sabores Petite Sirah 2012

Tres Sabores Petite Sirah 2012

Mulberries, clove, black pepper, cedar, sweet earth, boysenberries and blueberries march forth in this delicious Petite Sirah from a small, organic, dry-farmed vineyard in Calistoga. All the smells and flavors are seamless and in unison. While Petite Sirah can certainly be rustic, especially from northern Napa Valley, the Tres Sabores Petite 2012 is more velvety and lush. I think this is a function of party the ripe 2012 vintage and its time in bottle. Julie Johnson pulled this from her library collection last week (my request as 2012 is my daughter’s birth year). We tasted it next to the Tres […]
April 2, 2019
Tres Sabores Zinfandel

Tres Sabores Zinfandel 2016

From Tres Sabores‘ Rutherford Bench vineyard. Dry farmed, organic (biodynamic practices) vineyards nestled among the flora and fauna of their bio-diverse property (it’s a fantastic place to visit, by the way). Silky, elegant, balanced, beautiful Zinfandel, showing bright wild red berry and cherry flavors, pomegranate, blood orange, coriander and white pepper smells and flavors. This briar-y, long, complex and elegant Zinfandel is neither light nor big. Frankly, to my taste it is just right. It’s hard to defend a wine’s style without sending, well, defensive. Or worse in the realm of wine, snobby. It’s easy to say, “this is how […]
April 2, 2019
Por Que No Red 15

Por Que No? Red 2015

Tres Sabores winery’s red blend started in 2001 as a “leftover wine.” Now it’s an “intentional wine” in which grapes are brought in (grown/purchased) specifically for this wine. Always delicious in a ripe, spicy, robust style. I just had the latest, the 2015 (note the bottle time the Por Que No? gets – unique for such a red blend. This is a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. The grapes come from Tres Sabores’ Estate vineyard on Rutherford Bench, another vineyard in Rutherford and Calistoga. The wine pours out dark ruby. The ripe, dark berry fruits pop out […]
March 27, 2019
Peirson Meyer Pinot Noir

Peirson Meyer Pinot Noir Miller 2015

A delicious California-style Pinot Noir. Lovely, strong aromas of red rose petals, dried ginger and candied orange peel. Lots of ripe, juicy, fresh cherries, dark raspberries and kirsch. Perfume throughout, medium-bodied (fuller bodied for Pinot Noir), on the exotic side. I really like how this bigger-style Pinot Noir stays true to the grape. More Information For premium Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Blends, Peirson Meyer is a great choice. While wines priced $50 and above have a hard time getting my highest marks for value, the Peirson Meyer wines are fantastic values among its peers. Co-owner/winemaker Robbie Meyer is one […]
March 27, 2019
Peirson Meyer Cabernet Sauvignon

Peirson Meyer Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Black currants, blackberries, dark chocolate and roast coffee beans step forward in this strong yet refined Napa Cabernet from owners Alan Peirson and (winemaker) Robbie Meyer. All from “Kenefick Ranch” near the northern end of Napa Valley, north of Calistoga. Smoky dark berry/cherry flavors spread over the palate and stick around for a good 30 second finish along with toasty oak and vanilla bean from the barrel and rocky soil flavors from the land. Fine tannins, lots of richness and an exceptional balance of sweet fruit and savory non-fruits. I think it’s beginning to drink at its best now (mid […]
March 26, 2019
Capiaux Pinot Noir Chimera

Capiaux Pinot Noir “Chimera” 2016

Sean Capiaux’s “Chimera” is a combination of his many single vineyard Pinot Noirs. (From Capiaux Cellars: “The name taken from Greek mythology…’a monster comprised of three different animals.'”) Deep red color, loads of berry/cherry fruitiness, nice and rich with pie spices and red rose/violet essence. As intended, this is a medium-strong, straightforward, super-satisfying Pinot Noir. Great buy at around thirty dollars.
March 25, 2019
Dancing Crow Cabernet Sauvignon

DANCING CROW Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Very satisfying Cabernet Sauvignon that’s ready to enjoy anytime. Dark red, ripe cherries, blueberries and pomegranate flavors are obvious and generous. With the fruit, honest and transparent Cabernet flavors of cassis, sandalwood and cedar compliment nicely. Fine tannins, medium acidity and kiss of toasty oak make for a rich, ripe mouthfeel and sensation. This is an outstanding choice for a “House Cab” or restaurant by-the-glass Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet comes from two AVAs: Red Hills and Big Valley – both over 2000 feet elevation where the growing days are hot and the nights are cool. 11% Merlot from Mendocino blended […]
March 21, 2019
Planet Oregon Pinot Noir

PLANET OREGON Pinot Noir 2017

Sits lightly on the palate with a wild red cherry, red plum and blood orange fruit personality. Little bits of black tea, candied orange peel and dried violets add a couple of layers. Uplifting acidity and easy tannins. This is a fine showing of the Pinot Noir grape in a light, bright, easy-going style, meant to enjoy with food and not deep thought. More Information Planet Oregon Pinot Noir is owned and made by Willamette Valley’s Soter Vineyards. Planet Oregon/Soter’s Give Back mission and policy: “In our work, we labor with the earth to create our products. It is our responsibility […]