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 […]
March 20, 2019
Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Demuth

ANTHILL FARMS Pinot Noir “Demuth” 2016

For years this has been one of my favorite California Pinot Noirs. Why? Because of its Burgundy-like marriage of brilliant cherry fruits and graceful earthy spice. And texture…richness under control. My tasting notes include deep red wild cherry, red roses, dried ginger, black truffle and vanilla bean. A natural beauty. Get this while you can.
March 15, 2019
Joseph Swan Pinot Noir Cuvee de Trois

JOSEPH SWAN Pinot Noir “Cuvee de Trois” 2014

Bright, fruity core of ripe wild cherries and raspberries are my first impression. Soon after comes dried violets and rose petals, dried ginger and allspice. This is very generous in flavor throughout due to a combination of quality farming, winemaking and over 3 years in bottle. The Joseph Swan Cuvee de Trois is made in a delicious-on-release style and sold for less than the other Pinots. In this case, the wine is, in many ways, equal in quality to the other bottlings. It’s a DDWA Hall of Fame Value and on my Best of the Best list of Value Wines.
March 12, 2019
Evening Land Seven Springs Pinot Noir

EVENING LAND Pinot Noir “Seven Springs” 2016

Deep, wild red cherry plus dried violets and sun-dried thyme introduce you to the Evening Land Pinot Noir Seven Springs. The taste is more pleasure still. Medium, rich body, fine tannins, perfectly ripe fruit and uplifting acidity all play together nicely. A little bit of savory dry-aged beef  (umami) on the long, mostly fruity finish brings on another dimension. Boy is this good…and easy for all Pinot Noir fans to enjoy. More Information Evening Land Vineyards is owned by Sashi Moorman and Raj Parr, two long-time and influential California wine veterans (Moorman as winemaker in Santa Barbara, Parr as Sommelier […]
March 12, 2019
Kosuge Pinot Noir The Shop

B Kosuge Pinot Noir The Shop 2015

From a single vineyard in the Carneros, Napa Valley side (although the label states simply Carneros). Like the best 2015 North Coast Pinot Noirs, this is full of dark cherry and wild raspberry fruits plus alluring aromas of dried, potent red rose petals, dried violets and ginger paste. I like how exuberant in flavors this wine is while keeping all its balance and brightness. Mouth-coating texture, soft and present tannins, more bright strong red fruits and flowers on the finish. Super-solid wine. If $30-$35 is in your comfort zone for every night Pinot, get a case of this! Byron (B) […]
March 11, 2019
Hawley Zinfandel

Hawley Zinfandel 2017

From 50-60 year old vine Zin vineyards near Calpella in northern Mendocino County. This straight-forward, ripe red berry and plum fruit and background peppery and minty spice style is easy to like. While being on the lighter side of Zinfandel, it does not let down in flavor and satisfaction. Medium/light tannins, perky acidity, the fruit, herb and spice flavors in unison. This is very impressive and a solid choice for $25. I suggest you contact Hawley Winery to buy this as it is not on its website as of March 10, 2019, nor is it listed on winesearcher on this […]
March 6, 2019
Gamba Zinfandel Family Ranches

GAMBA Zinfandel “Family Ranches” 2016

Bold, very ripe raspberries, blueberries and strawberries with backup sensations of lavender, anise, black pepper and clove are the smells and flavors found in the Gamba Zinfandel Family Ranches. Known for the “over the top” style of Zinfandel, “Family Ranches” is turned down a couple of notches. Still “big” by every measure, just not as big as the other Gambas. Silky tannins, medium acidity and steering clear of over-ripe or sweet sensations, I think this Zin is spot-on. Multiple small Zinfandel vineyards are sourced for this bottling.
March 6, 2019
Sidebar Zinfandel

SIDEBAR Zinfandel “Old Vine” 2016

All from “Alegria Vineyard,” just west of Healdsburg. 65-125 year old vines. A field blend (all grapes harvested and fermented together) of 78% Zinfandel, 10% Alicante, 10% Petite Sirah, 2% 12 other varieties. Shows warm, spicy, ripe blue/dark red smells and flavors of berry compote, cinnamon, allspice and black licorice. Generous fruity flavors, soft texture, medium acidity and tannins. A pleasure to drink. It really sets itself apart by its great smells and complexity. I could drink this every night!
March 3, 2019
stellareese cabernet sauvignon

STELLAREESE Cabernet Sauvignon “Marcey’s” 2015

Generous, silky, long-lasting fruitiness sets the Stellareese 2015 Cabernet apart from its peers. I get dark red cherry, blue plum and strawberry preserves with bits of pomegranate, pink peppercorns, black tea with dried rose petals, cocoa nibs and cigar wrapper lending support. The flavors and textures are generous and long. This is a very good example of how a Cabernet can be full-flavored and rich while, at the same time, float on your tongue. Enjoy this delicious Cabernet now through 2025. More Information Rachel Stellareese Davies started Stellareese in 2007 while at T-Vine Cellars, working for Greg Brown. In 2013 […]
March 3, 2019
Andrew Lane Barrel Select

ANDREW LANE “Barrel Select” 2012

Mostly Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot adding muscle, this falls into the Right Bank Bordeaux-style realm. The Andrew Lane Barrel Select red is impressively structured. A choir of healthy tannins wash over the gums while intensely flavored raspberries and wild cherries plus tobacco leaf, black tea, anise and cocoa flavors cross the palate. This is more structured and youthful than you’d expect a 2012 Merlot-based blend to be. I think it’s going to unwind and blossom over the next 4-5 years. I also find a piece of grilled (rare) beef or lamb, nicely salted, lowers the tannins and […]
March 1, 2019
Rogstad Pinot Noir Van der Kamp

ROGSTAD Pinot Noir “Van der Kamp” 2015

Full of ripe, dark cherry flavors, this is uncharacteristically super-fruity and full-flavored for Rogstad and “Van der Kamp.” Easily explained – 2015 was the last in a series of drought years in wine country. No complaints here, unless too much flavor is a problem for you. Get cherry liqueur, dried violets and red roses, baking spices. Acidity and fine tannins support the ripeness to make this a strong, complete, very tasty Pinot Noir to drink now through 2023. Steven Rogstad is a big “sense of place” proponent, and strives to show that in his Pinot Noirs. He’s done a heck […]
February 28, 2019
Belharra Syrah Las Madres

BELHARRA Syrah Las Madres 2016

With all that’s going on in the Belharra Syrah 2016, it comes back to the spice. Its roasted, peppery spice reminds me of mole sauce. That and oil-cured black olives, roast tarragon, mint, rosemary and cinnamon stick. All these savory and spicy sensations frame a mouthful of very ripe black and blueberries. Fine tannins, medium body and solid thread of acidity you expect and want from “Las Madres Vineyard” Syrah. My mind goes all over the place on food pairings. Today, it lands on pulled pork with a cider/vinegar sauce. More Information Belharra is a new, micro-winery owned, made and […]
February 27, 2019
Cochon Syrah Cardiac Hill

COCHON Syrah “Cardiac Hill” 2015

A rich, strong, full-flavored Syrah that still has a definite Northern Rhone-style smoky, spicy side. Blueberry sauce, dark chocolate, black and white pepper, black olives, lavender and tarragon. A whistle of acidity on the mid palate is very nice. Modest tannins, spice throughout and a prolonged finish of berry liqueur and smoke and toasty barrel. This is superb wine to have with braised beef short ribs. Picked in late October, very mature and ripe. 5% frozen Viognier added to partially destemmed grapes to prolong a cold soak before fermentation began. More Information I highly recommend you get to know the […]
February 26, 2019
Bucklin Ancient Field Blend

BUCKLIN Ancient Field Blend “Old Hill” 2016

About 65% Zinfandel and 35% Field Blend including Grenache, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah, Carignane and Mourvedre (over 30 varieties all told). Deep, dark purple-red color. In the mouth the wine is rich, powerful and brooding. Berry & cherry compote, black licorice, beef jerky, black pepper, five spice. A big mouthful, the Bucklin “Old Hill” 2016 is one to cellar with 3-5 years, but it’s so tasty now it’s hard for some to keep their hands off of it. More Information Bucklin Winery ferments their Zinfandel and Field Blend of 30 grapes separately, then puts them together. The vineyard is farmed […]
February 26, 2019
Matthew Wallace Cabernet Sauvignon

MATTHEW WALLACE Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

All Pope Valley fruit from owner Matt Hardin’s family vineyard. Hearty, deep, structured and supple. First impression is very ripe black cherry and blackberry fruits, then a tasty, intriguing savory earthiness appears. I really like its long happy ending of cinnamon/black olive/gravel. This drinks surprisingly well for a big, young, Cab. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Julien Fayard, winemaker. More Information Matt Hardin of Matthew Wallace grew up on Wallace Ranch, the source of this excellent and Very Good Value Napa Cab. A true student of agriculture and viticulture, he moved back to Napa after college and quickly became a partner in […]