Napa winery Olivia Brion stretches out by acquiring Tempranillo from the outstanding “Shake Ridge Ranch” near Sutter Creek in Gold Country, Sierra Foothills. Smells great, like red cherry compote, dried pink rose petals and black peppercorns. It’s medium bodied, fruity (berries/cherries mostly) and nicely perfumed. Its fine tannins make the wine stand tall. Really lovely…full flavored, perfect restraint. Fantastic food wine. Pair as you would a stronger Pinot Noir and elegant, complex Merlot. More Information With a history focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from “Heron Lake Vineyard” in Wild Horse Valley, Olivia Brion Winery has expanded in recent years to small […]
From the sand-swept wine district of Contra Costa on the Sacramento Delta. The 130+ year old own-rooted Carignane vines of “Evangelho Vineyard” make for a complex, aromatic, hauntingly delicious red wine. Wound up when just opened, let the wine stretch for 20 minutes and blossom. True to the Carignane grape, you get black raspberries, black pepper, pomegranate, dried violets, chopped rosemary, new leather and game. The tannins start firm then soften as it opens up and linger throughout the 25 second finish. Acidity lifts the wine like a hydrolic lift. A joy to drink, especially with grilled white meats and […]
From “Nichelini Vineyard” in the eastern hills of Napa Valley. Textbook, so satisfying Petite showing blueberry sauce, smoked meat, black licorice and cocoa smells and flavors. Bursting with fruit and fine tannins. Very rich and strong, just like we want out Petite Sirahs to be. 100% Petite Sirah, aged in 30% new French oak barrels for 20 months, 14.8% alcohol. Clif Family continues to make consistently tasty red and white wines from their Estate vineyards on Howell Mountain as well as from purchased fruit from Napa Valley and beyond (they also have a new vineyard in Napa’s Oak Knoll District […]
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. […]
Blend of roughly 60% Petite Sirah, 30% Syrah and 10% Zinfandel (co-ferment) sourced from the mountains in the far eastern reaches of Napa County. It’s warm, ripe, dark and soulful. You have to like a big ripe berry style of red – most who enjoy California wine do. Get blackberries, blueberries, warm cocoa, fresh ground black and cigar box. Very new-world style in its up-front fruitiness, richness and natural power. Smooth tannins, medium acidity, drink now through 2022. Kent Price wines are made by long-time Napa Valley winemaker Rudy Zuidema. Mr. Price, with Zuidema’s assistance, buys top-notch grapes from Napa […]
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.
The Merisi Red Wine 2016 is 95% Petite Sirah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Primarily from “Ceja Vineyard” in Sonoma Valley (a little bit of Lake County fruit included). Strong, powerful red wine, as expected from a (mostly) Petite Sirah wine. Get deep red berry liqueur flavors along with cracked black pepper, roast coffee beans, dried rosemary and tarragon. Very much a hearty red, that said the wine’s power is pulled back just enough. For fruit, power, concentration and spice, this wine competes with Napa Cabernets priced 2 or 3 times this modest price of $28. It’s a DDWA “Awesome Value.” […]
Triple play of berries, flowers and spice on the nose moving on to the taste. From smell to flavor to finish, get wild strawberries, raspberries, wild red cherries, cracked white peppercorns, rosemary, lavender and blood orange. Love the bright acidity that makes the wine fresh, fine tannins for structure, delicacy and intensity. This has roast chicken food & wine match written all over it. More Information Rudy Zuidema has been a winery owner and winemaker for myriad wineries since 1990-something. This is the only wine, currently, he makes under the Zuidema label. It’s from a 3 acre block of “McGah […]
From start to finish the Merisi Grenache is all about perfectly ripe strawberry and raspberry fruits, mouth-watering acidity and loads of fresh violets and white pepper. Unapologetically medium-light bodied, the wine’s intensity makes it special. Enjoy this as you would a fuller-flavored Carneros Pinot Noir. Merisi co-owner and winemaker Mandy Heldt Donovan is making tiny amounts of delicious, balanced, honest expressions of Pinot Gris, Grenache and Petite Sirah (sometimes called a Red Blend). These are very much worth seeking out, buying and enjoying. Read all my Merisi wine reviews here.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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. […]
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.
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.
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 […]