Retasted December 2019: Ripe, brooding blueberry and blackberry fruits injected with smoke, peppercorns, licorice and black olive. Over time the fruitiness has stood up more, now going toe to toe with the natural Syrah spiciness I always get from “Las Madres Vineyard” Syrah. Full bodied, suave tannins, medium acidity. This drinks great without food but still belongs on the dinner table. Earlier this year I suggested Pulled Pork with a Cider/Vinegar Sauce. Today, I suggest a classic Syrah dish – Coffee-Braised Beef Short Ribs. (add a half cup of the Belharra Syrah to the pot.) More Information Belharra is a […]
Just barely enough Zinfandel to be called such and 1/4th a field blend of Alicante Bouschet, Cinsault, Touriga Nacional and more. Surpisingly delicious for such a young and hearty red wine. Deep, dark red berry smells and flavors that venture into the blueberry zone. Particularly spicy, especially on the finish. Roast coffee beans, clove, cinnamon and Pernod (anise). The black licorice is especially pronounced when first opened and enjoyed. Purity of flavor, careful use of oak, fine tannins and a healthy thread of acidity make this a complete, high quality wine. Once again, Dancing Crow WAY over-delivers for the price! […]
Rose-perfumed wild cherries, talc, raspberry sauce and a light touch of toasty oak on the nose. In the mouth the wine is fresh, generous, medium bodied and perfectly ripe. Natural acidity, typical of Navarro and quality Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs, perks up the wine on the back palate and 20 second finish. In a great place right now. The fact that most Navarro wine is sold direct to consumer and cases made of this wine (over 4,000) means they have it available to buy now as a library wine of sorts…but at the same price as when it was released […]
Napa’s David Clinton Wine Cellars is a Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Zinfandel house. Unique, and pretty darn cool. Their “Teldeschi” Zinfandel vines are up to 130 years old. What do you get with age? Think of it as rings on a tree, and each ring adds another smell or flavor. Vine age translates to wine complexity rather than concentration. What do 130 years of dirt time mean for David Clinton “Teldeschi” Zinfandel? Spice! Licorice, mint, black pepper, cumin, clove and espresso coat the brambly raspberries and blueberries. I know what you’re thinking: Do I have 120+ more descriptors to reach […]
Very tasty Zinfandel, coming from old vines growing in the sandy vineyards of the Sacramento Delta. Loads of fruit smells and flavors: finger-staining raspberries and blackberries, cherry compote, candied orange peel. Spices galore too such as allspice, black pepper and cinnamon. Very concentrated, smooth tannins, rich but not over-the-top. A good drink now-enjoy anytime. 15.7% alcohol and still everything’s in balance. Skilled winemakers are able to create not-hot wines from very ripe grapes – wasn’t often the case 10-20 years ago. More Information Wilson Foreigner is a two-family-owned winery. David & Christine Wilson live on their family vineyard in Napa’s […]
Bright, very aromatic, fresh red wine, skillfully blended to add layers of flavors and textures. On the bright red spectrum of flavors: pomegranate, raspberries, cranberry and cherry. On the savory side, get crushed garden thyme, green tea, white pepper and bay leaf. Light bodied, high intensity, long mineral-driven finish. I’ve tasted this once so far, without the pleasure of food to accompany. I will fix this in the near future – probably on Thanksgiving. Following was taken from the Jolie-Laide website: “Likely the most ‘Outré Vin’ in the lineup, a vinous Californian pastiche inspired by our reverence of the […]
From a tiny hillside vineyard north of the East Bay Area town of Lafayette in the relatively unknown Lamorinda AVA. About half each Petite Sirah and Syrah. Big red wine – deep, dark ruby-red color. Smells and tastes of blackberry and blueberry preserves, cracked black pepper, cloves, bittersweet chocolate, anise and roasted mushrooms. The St Romedius Red Wine 2017 is robust and extremely concentrated. It sets itself apart by keeping its big tannins in check and carrying its 15% alcohol with ease. I recommend it with full flavored bean dishes, slow-cooked stews and roasted or grilled red meats. Also read […]
Made from 60-90 year old vine Zinfandel from Ukiah and Redwood Valley. A dollop of other grapes come from a field blend block within one of the two vineyards sourced for the Navarro Zinfandel Old Vine Cuvee. Warm aromas of black cherry preserves, black pepper and allspice transitions to tastes of smushed up blackberries and very ripe raspberries + bay leaf, Thai basil and black tea. I love the generosity of fruit and sturdy frame of spice & exotic herbs. Medium acidity and smooth tannins…I think this is drinking fantastic now. Navarro only sells their wine retail winery-direct in California […]
A blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 5% Petite Sirah, Chiron Virtue and Vice is almost all mountain fruit (Spring Mountain Cab, Howell Mountain Merlot). I really like how this red blend flies out of the gate with ripe black cherry and raspberry flavors followed by black pepper, vanilla and clove. Mouth-filling, full-bodied and easy-going tannins point to a “bigger” red wine made for drinking anytime. It will last longer than you’ll keep it around. Virtue and Vice was aged for 2+ years in all French oak, 20% new. Microscopic production at 70 cases. Starting with the 2015 […]
$50-ish per bottle quality level Pinot that Goldberg bought for a song, labeled it and sell for $22. Fruit’s from “Reuling Vineyard,” north of Sebastopol and 10 miles from the Pacific. The wine delivers the goods: dark red cherry and raspberry flavors, brown spices and a little vanilla from the barrel. It’s rich and full-bodied compared to most any other $22 California Pinot Noir. If you like Pinot Noir as your house wine, this is a good candidate. Stop by or call Cellar Collections and pick one up. You’ll probably come back for more.
A beefier style of Sangiovese. Smell and taste dark red berry and cherry fruits, dry-aged beefsteak, sun-soaked thyme and tarragon. Smooth tannins and medium acidity contributes to its immediate pleasure at first taste, and still the wine opens up and improves as it breathes. A rocky earthiness, spice and beefy sensations come emerge with air. From an organic vineyard planted and owned by Prima Materia. Neutral oak aged, miniscule sulphur addition, unfined and unfiltered. A fantastic and “honest” Sangiovese. In the words of Prima Materia the wine “reflects our region while respecting its Italian heritage.” A real bargain at $25. […]
As good of an example of Carneros Pinot Noir that you’ll find. The wine sports strong smells and flavors of dark red cherries and berries plus cocoa, tarragon and light toast. Soft tannins and bright, cool climate acidity complement the dark Pinot Noir fruit personality. At just two years of age, the Sleeping Giant Pinot Noir 2017 is already seamless and delicious drinking. That said, I expect it to get better over the next 3-5 years. Owner/winemaker Chris Dearden planted his Pinot Noir vineyard on Carneros’ “Las Amigas Road” in 2006. This is the first vintage I’ve had of this […]
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 […]
This GSM (60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre) from Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley is big-time winner for $25. A rich and spicy red through and through, get dark strawberry preserves, cocoa, cinnamon, black pepper, licorice, lavender and smoked beef jerky. It’s round and luscious in the mouth with a long finish that combines ripe, dark fruitiness and spice. Not to be confused with a Rhone Valley, France GSM as the California sunshine shows in the Andrew Murray Esperance 2016.
Red snappy fruits, dusting of white pepper, crushed thyme leaves and tobacco leaf point to a very Italian-style of Sangiovese. Coming from the heart of Napa Valley, it’s a pleasant surprise. Fine tannins and healthy acidity, this is a food wine through and through. The wine’s 18 months in barrel (all French, small % new) adds structure while staying in the background in flavor. This is delicious outlier of a Napa Valley red wine to be enjoyed with red sauces, pork and chicken sausages and roast pork shoulder with root vegetables. Pestoni Sangiovese is sold exclusively at the winery from the […]
A bottle of Dirty & Rowdy Mourvèdre is a look into the future of California winemaking. A champion of the grape, co-owner and winemaker Hardy Wallace has put the grape on his shoulders and introduced it to the next generation of wine lovers through his engaging use of social media. “Familiar” Mourvèdre tastes like ripe smoky raspberries and dry French herbs. Lightness a la Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Hardy says it’s “like yacht rock for space pirates.” Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing! I haven’t nailed down my perfect food pairing but it includes roasted eggplant and cremini […]
The One Iron Meritage 2015 blend is 64% Merlot, 27% Malbec, 9% Petit Verdot. The Merlot: 70 year old, dry farmed “Frediani Vineyard” in northern Napa Valley. Fantastic fruit, on the dark side of the spectrum: blueberries, black cherries and blackberries. Merlot’s kitchen herbs (rosemary, bay leaf, tarragon) and dark cocoa smells and flavors waft through. Rocky earth sensation on the 25 second finish. The tannins are fine, making for a silky, medium/full bodied wine. I totally dig the character and soul of this wine. The Iron Series of wines are owned and made by long-time Napa winemaker Chris Dearden. […]
Fantastic smelling aromas of ripe wild cherries and red plums with garden thyme and fennel sneaking in. The red fruits stand out in the mouth before cinnamon, cola and those garden herbs join the party. Medium body and healthy acidity – just what I want from a cool climate Pinot Noir (Argus comes from vineyards near the San Pablo Bay, the coolest part of Carneros.) A long 30 second finish: exceptional for a $32 Pinot. Everything is perfectly placed and proportioned. Argus is one of the five labels owned and made by long-time Napa winemaker Chris Dearden. He has a […]
Lush, supple and sexy, the 2017 Farm Cabernet Sauvignon pours out dark purple. Its smells and flavors are straightforward blackberry liqueur, kirsch, dark chocolate, toasty cinnamon rolls and black licorice. With loads of big rich flavors, full body and smooth tannins, this is a perfect bottle for Napa Cabernet fans looking for satisfaction at under $50/bottle. FARM Napa Valley is owned and made by John Anthony Truchard, who has also flourished with his labels JAM, BUTTER and John Anthony. All the grapes for Farm Chardonnay are farmed and managed, and often owned, by John Anthony.
83% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah from Oakville Ranch Vineyard which looks down on The Valley on the east side…best view of the Napa Valley you’ll ever get. This wine is huge. Pours out black-ruby with some purple in there. Black licorice, nutmeg and cinnamon hit the nose along with the blackberry pie and black cherry preserves. The taste is more of the same with a dark chocolate thing moving in and lasting through its 30 second finish. I like its structure, in other words how the firm tannins and the concentration of fruit blend together. Too bad there are only […]
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, dark pomegranate, dried red rose petals and cracked black peppercorns. Medium-bodied, loads of fruit yet not overly fruity because of the floral/spicy/earthy flavors going on. Its fine tannins make the wine stand tall. Really lovely…full-flavored yet with a graceful restraint. Fantastic food wine. Pair as you would a structured, complex Napa Valley Merlot. More Information With a history focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from “Heron Lake Vineyard” in Wild Horse […]
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. […]