October 14, 2019
Cellar Collections Pinot Noir

CELLAR COLLECTIONS Pinot Noir 2017

$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.
October 1, 2019
Prima Materia Sangiovese

PRIMA MATERIA Sangiovese 2016

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. […]
September 30, 2019
Sleeping Giant Pinot Noir

SLEEPING GIANT Pinot Noir “Dearden” 2017

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 […]
September 27, 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 […]
September 25, 2019
Andrew Murray Esperance

ANDREW MURRAY Esperance 2016

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.
September 24, 2019
Pestoni Sangiovese

PESTONI Sangiovese 2017

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 […]
September 18, 2019
Dirty & Rowdy Familiar

DIRTY & ROWDY Familiar Mourvedre 2018

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 […]
September 17, 2019
One Iron Meritage

One Iron Meritage 2015

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.  […]
September 12, 2019
Argus Pinot Noir

Argus Pinot Noir 2017

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 […]
August 27, 2019
Farm Cabernet Sauvignon

FARM Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2017

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.
August 22, 2019
Oakville Ranch Field Blend

OAKVILLE RANCH Field Blend 2016

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 […]
August 16, 2019
Olivia Brion Tempranillo

Olivia Brion Tempranillo “Shake Ridge” 2016

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 […]
August 6, 2019
Keep Carignane

KEEP Carignane “Evangelho” 2016

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 […]
August 5, 2019
Clif Family Petite Sirah

CLIF FAMILY Petite Sirah 2016

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 […]
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. […]
June 28, 2019
Kent Price Venant du Coeur

KENT PRICE “Venant du Coeur” 2012

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 […]
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
Merisi Red Wine

MERISI Red Wine 2016

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.” […]
June 25, 2019
Zuidema Grenache

ZUIDEMA Grenache 2015

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 […]
June 20, 2019
Merisi Grenache

MERISI Grenache 2016

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.
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
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.