October 21, 2020
Read Holland Riesling

Read Holland Riesling “Wiley” 2019

Micro-production Riesling made from mature 40+ year old vines. Introduction of tangy green apple and Meyer lemon…dry as a sun-soaked stone. As the wine breathes and quickly opens, out comes flavors of peaches, kiwis, tangerine, chamomile and chopped fresh ginger. Has the round texture and unapologetic acidity that makes Riesling the great grape that it is. Drink this delicious wine with fresh goat & sheep cheeses, fried chicken, poke bowls and potato chips. About 8% Muscat co-fermented with the Riesling. No doubt it adds aromatics, but you wouldn’t know it’s in there. 12.7% alcohol.
September 17, 2020
Peter Paul Chardonnay

Peter Paul Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2018

The Peter Paul Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2018 straddles the style-line between crisp/refreshing and rich/round. The difference between this and most others in this Chardonnay middle ground is cohesion. What’s that mean? Often, crisp and rich don’t work together. You get a mouthful of tang then a wallop of rude oak flavor. Or the other way around: brown buttercream followed by a shriek of acidity. Not happening here. What IS happening is a top-notch, cool Sonoma Coast Chardonnay vineyards lock arms with partial malolactic and aging in 20% new French oak (rest relatively neutral). I get a boatload of citrus, especially […]
August 17, 2020
Azur Sauvignon Blanc

AZUR Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Refreshing, citrus-driven acidity at first impression, getting a little rounder and more creamy as it warms in the mouth. A tasty array of fruits, from melon to apple to grapefruit to pear, combine with subtle floral and herb sensations. While light bodied, in the realm of Sauvignon Blanc I’d say it is medium/full (due to the quality fruit and lees contact). I put this in the top 5% of all California Sauvignon Blancs. And the bottle is spectacular-just don’t plan on stacking them on their side. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Rutherford and Oak Knoll District of Napa. Tank fermented and […]
June 12, 2020
St Romedius Dry Muscat 19

St Romedius Dry Muscat Canelli 2019

Muscat’s exotic aromatics pop as the high acidity from an early pick keeps the sweetness perception meter at zero. Get lemongrass, green-tinged pineapple, orange zest and white flowers in the spring. There’s a ying-yang and of tang (bordering on tart) and exoticness that makes this a joy to drink. At 10% alcohol, it’s an easy drinker. Have with fresh goat and sheep milk cheeses and green goddess dressing. I’m a big fan of the St Romedius wines for quality, uniquness and value. This is a winery to enjoy and buy from. Read all of my St Romedius reviews here. 
June 11, 2020
St Romedius Tocai Friulano

St Romedius Tocai Friulano 2019

Fresh fruity smells of white peaches, mango, honeysuckle, pineapple, crisp green apple and white grapes. The exotic, floral side of the wine steps up in the taste. Lemon bitters, lemon zest, Asian herbs and spices like coriander and lemongrass. And intense, piercing fruitiness. Gets a little creamy textured on the finish, which I like a lot. Big fan of this aromatic white wine. Owner/winemaker Robert Pintacsi sources this Tocai from a vineyard east of Placerville in the Sierra Foothills. 3100+ feet: high elevation. This is a winery to enjoy and buy from. Read all of my St Romedius reviews here. 
May 29, 2020
Peter Paul Chardonnay Bacigalupi

Peter Paul Chardonnay Bacigalupi 2018

A beauty of a Chardonnay from start to finish, the Peter Paul Bacigalupi Chardonnay starts with smells of caramel green apples, clover honey, fresh baked bread, roasted peaches and pears. In the mouth the wine is unapologetically rich and full-bodied while keeping a heartbeat of citrus-flavored acidity. Taste lemon custard, toasted coconuts, roast almonds, caramel, nutmeg and baked pears. Make no bones: This is a Chardonnay for fans of the bigger, bolder style…the style that we in the wine business hear the most vocal consumers inexplicably eschew. That’s OK – more for the rest of us. Peter Paul Wines is […]
May 19, 2020
Cave Dog Godello

Cave Dog Godello 2019

Starts off with an engaging, controlled nose of dried flowers, candle wax and citrus zest. Tangy and rounded texture in the mouth as flavors of baked green apples, mangoes, Meyer lemons and river rocks take their turn. I really like the beeswax texture of the wine – I’d guess it is Semillon if tasted blind because who would guess Godello? Impressive how delicious this wine is at such a young age. This is 100% Godello (a grape native to the Iberian Peninsula) from Sonoma Valley. Grafted over from another variety in 2009, this was the first and maybe still the […]
May 13, 2020
Cave Dog Albarino

Cave Dog Albarino 2019

Introduces itself with springtime flowers and blossoms, grapefruit and peach. Stone fruits, crisp melon, Meyer lemon and the mysterious “minerality” take turns in the taste. Typical high acidity is countered by a textured roundness (from 4 months lees-ageing is both steel and nuetral oak). It’s young, and I suspect my tasting notes will be more even more enthusiastic when I enjoy in fall 2020 and beyond. Speaking from experience, this 2019 Cave Dog Albariño is more than an aperitif wine. It went toe-to-toe with my home-made pesto pasta studded with spicy sausage and earthy broccoli greens, making a tasty pairing. I […]
May 12, 2020
Onward Malvasia Bianca

Onward Malvasia Bianca 2016

An “aromatic white” through and through, the Onward Malvasia Bianca 2016 smells of lemon verbena, wildflowers, coriander seeds and white pepper. The taste is intense, smooth and filled with fresh lemon zest, crisp pear and citrus bitters flavors. Medium/light bodied, pure and penetrating, it’s an ideal wine to pair with similarly light and strong flavored dishes. Thai and Vietnamese food both come to mind. Onward and Farmstrong Wines is the creation and passion of winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster. I very much like her vineyard-driven winemaking and affinity for the esoteric while not being too much “out there.” Oh yeah, and the […]
May 5, 2020
Farmstrong Field White

Farmstrong “Field White” 2016

Three grape blend of Grenache Blanc, Albariño, Verdelho, all from Suisun Valley vineyards. Orchard fruits and honeysuckle on the nose. Taste ripe pears and peaches, Meyer lemon and honeycomb (sans the sweetness). Creamy texture like Chardonnay yet with distinctly different flavor profile. Long, 20+ second finish of floral, fruit and pleasant lemon bitters. Really classy and flat-out delicious wine. A real bargain for $20-22/bottle. Onward and Farmstrong Wines is the creation and passion of winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster. I very much like her vineyard-driven winemaking and affinity for the esoteric while not being too much “out there.” Oh yeah, and […]
April 30, 2020
White Rock Chardonnay

White Rock Chardonnay 2016

There are those Napa wineries that say they make a crisper, more refreshing style of Chardonnay, and then there is White Rock Vineyards who actually does it. They’ve been doing it a long time, too, and it seemingly keeps getting the better. The 2016 White Rock Chardonnay case in point. Granny Smith apple, ripe lemon, lemon cucumber, white peach and zesty pineapple. Medium bodied, zippy acidity, grand balance between ripe and tang. For what White Rock is trying to achieve with this wine, it’s absolutely perfect, and I love it.
April 23, 2020
Hudson White Study

Hudson “White Study” 2019

Taking a page from Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy, Hudson White Study 2019 is a blend of 45% Ribolla Gialla, 45% Tocai Friulano and 10% Chardonnay. Sea shells on the ocean beach, crushed almonds and pear skins on the nose. In the mouth I get lemon zest, honeydew melon and slightly green banana. Then something cool happens as the texture, flavors and finish go to the darker side: roast almonds and brown mushrooms perhaps. The reasonably long finish will get much longer as the wine gets more time in bottle. Fermentation took place in a combination of steel, concrete and oak, […]
April 23, 2020
Hudson Aleatico

Hudson Aleatico 2019

This rare, ancient grape of Corsica, central Italy or Greek origin is a cool oddity in Napa Valley. Not only is the grape seldom seen, it is almost never made into a white/Rosé wine. I can’t write never because that’s what this is! Grapes are pressed off their skin ASAP to make a honey-white colored wine. It’s a minerally, tangy wine with notes of celery hearts, quince, and lemon blossom. Its rounded texture on the mid-palate set it apart from crisp whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Aleatico is in the Black Muscat family of grapes, but at my […]
April 23, 2020
Hudson Chardonnay

Hudson Chardonnay Estate 2018

Lightly toasted marshmallow, lemon custard and nutmeg introduce the Hudson Chardonnay 2018. These smells continue on in the mouth along with dark honey, roasted green apples and pears and ripe citrus. No doubt this is a rich, voluptuous style, but that’s not half the story. The great vineyard site and meticulous farming produce world-class quality grapes that partner with the layers of winemaking. Vintage to vintage the Hudson Chardonnay is in the conversation as the best California Chardonnay in the $50-$75 range.   Lee & Cristina Hudson and the entire Hudson Ranch team close the circle of environment, land, farming and taste. […]
April 20, 2020
Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest

Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest Riesling

Botrytis-heavy, late harvest grapes from Navarro’s vineyards harvested primarily for their dry Riesling. Honeyed green apple, lemon-lime, mandarin orange, lemon verbena. High sugar, high glycerine, core of acidity to support the wine. This is a mouthful of fun. Navarro also bottles this wine in 750 ML bottles and sell it for $70. I base my value rating and value category on the 375 ML bottle. It’s true that dessert wines take longer to drink than dry wines. The good news is that the sugar is a preservative: Keep the open bottles in the wine and they stay almost as good […]
April 20, 2020
Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest

Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest Gewurztraminer

Awesome dessert wine. Harvested in mid-October with botrytis throughout the clusters. Honeyed pineapple, papaya, mango, heirloom apples, Meyer lemon. Very sweet and perfectly tangy too. May be the best California dessert wine I’ve ever had. I don’t care to fuss with food matches but prefer to drink it by its lonesome. If you do want a match, go for a high quality blue cheese or fried chicken livers. Navarro also bottles this wine in 750 ML bottles and sell it for $79. I base my value rating and value category on the 375 ML bottle. It’s true that dessert wines […]
April 17, 2020
Navarro Chardonnay

Navarro Chardonnay 2018

A joy to drink, the Navarro Mendocino Chardonnay (3/4 Anderson Valley, 1/4 Potter Valley – SE of Ukiah) sports ripe melon, pear, apple and ripe citrus smells and flavors. Its round texture, classic for Chardonnay, comes from aging in neutral French oak barrels and a little lees contact. No conversion of malic to lactic acid, which helps keep the wine’s vibrancy (that and the cool-climate Anderson Valley grapes.) This is a happy wine! Navarro only sells their wine retail winery-direct in California and miniscule distribution outside the state. It is one of the few wineries that I purchase wine from […]
April 13, 2020
Fortunati Chardonnay

Fortunati Chardonnay 2018

Classic fleshy, rich, creamy Chardonnay that’s also loaded with orchard and tropical fruits. Smell and taste apple butter, pineapple cake, caramel, buttered toast and apple pie crust. Citrus flavors lurk in the back, adding another subtle yet unmistakable layer. Creamy texture, sweet sensations and a jolly plumpness. This is a big-time crowd-pleaser offered at very fair price for high-quality Napa Valley Chardonnay. The fruit for the Fortunati Chardonnay 2018 comes from an Oak Knoll Vineyard just over a mile from Fortunati’s Estate vineyard and hospitality center. 95% malolactic, 20% new French oak aged, periodic lees stirring. Gary and Ellen Luchtel […]
April 1, 2020
Prima Materia Tocai Friulano

Prima Materia Tocai Friulano 2017

California needs more wines like this! Tocai Friulano, aka Friulano in its homeland of Friuli, Italy and Sauvignon Vert in California (unless it’s Muscadelle…yeah, it’s confusing) has about 50 acres planted in California. That number recently went down when THIS vineyard, “Graziano” in Mendocino’s Potter Valley, was converted to Vermentino. Quoting Prima Materia’s Pietro Buttitta, it’s “probably a good idea, but a wistful one as this bottling has great tension and complexity.” This is true. Good Tocia Friulano needs to breathe and stretch. And enjoyed chilled not cold: 60 degrees is good. My Prima Materia Tocai Friulano 2017 tasting notes […]
March 1, 2020
Merisi Pinot Gris

MERISI Pinot Gris 2018

Spicy, savory and taut, the 2018 Merisi Pinot Gris falls squarely in the very dry, Alsatian style. Smell and taste lemon zest, grapefruit extract, white pepper, dried pears and wildflowers. And white pepper, definitely white pepper. This is the type of Pinot Gris that tastes good, perhaps very good, by itself, and GREAT with the right food…like grilled lemon-garlic chicken thighs and yummy sausages you choose from the butcher counter. Sixth vintage of Merisi Pinot Gris. Merisi co-owner and winemaker Mandy Heidt Donovan is making tiny amounts of delicious, balanced, honest expressions of Pinot Gris, Grenache and Petite Sirah (sometimes […]
February 25, 2020

TRINAFOUR French Colombard 2018

This grape of Gascony, France origin is sporadically planted in Northern California. These vines are REALLY spread out (see note below) in Mendocino’s Redwood Valley. The Trinafour French Colombard 2018 is loaded with fresh lemon/lime, nectarine, crunchy pears and lemon balm. It’s perfectly tangy and pure. Great choice for those who reflexively choose Sauvignon Blanc. More Information I have to say this is one of my favorite California wines because of its originality points (and it’s so darn good too). 230 old vine French Colombard vines are interplanted in a field planting of mostly red grape vines in Redwood Valley, […]
February 24, 2020
Wilson Foreigner Albarino

Wilson Foreigner Albarino 2018

Lemon, lime and kiwi nose that’s the faintest bit of cream and bread crust that softens the pungency. Tingly stone and citrus fruit flavors with lemon thyme, cucumber and jasmine giving complexity. Fermenting in neutral oak barrels gives the wine depth and guts but not the flavor of oak. This is a great choice for a crisp white to enjoy with appetizers, molluscs and crustaceans. (I took it to a local crab feed – it was a big hit.) More Information Wilson Foreigner is a two-family-owned winery. David & Christine Wilson live on their family vineyard in Napa’s Wooden Valley. […]
February 24, 2020
Quigley Chenin Blanc

Quigley Family Chenin Blanc 2018

The Quigley Chenin Blanc starts off with smells of crisp green apples and crunchy pears, lemon blossoms and oyster shells. The taste is full of citrus with some kiwi and honeycomb in there, too. What REALLY sets this wine apart for me is the expansive texture (“volume” is the word Patrick Quigley uses) this has on the back palate…not unlike the best Chenin Blancs of Touraine, Loire Valley. Dynamite acidity throughout, especially in the long, “stony” finish. As an avowed Loire Valley Chenin fanatic, this wine hit me with all the best sensations from the Loire. And I tasted it […]
February 19, 2020
Alder Springs Apex 39

Alder Springs Apex 39 2015

The fresh, luscious, aromatic Alder Springs Apex 39 is a blend of 27% Marsanne, 25% Picpoul Blanc, 24% Roussanne and 24% Voignier from Stuart Bewley’s vineyard in Northern Mendocino County. Smell citrus blossoms, jasmine, pear-apple and clover honey, moving to orchard and tropical fruit flavors with light caramel and sweet floral sensations in the mouth. I love the texture of this wine as well as the happy tang of acidity on the mid-palate. For a California Rhone-style white wine at 5 years of age, this is remarkably fresh and young. More Information While focusing on growing and selling grapes to […]