October 22, 2019
Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer

Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer 2018

Brilliant aromas of dried ginger, lychee fruit and pink grapefruit zest transition to tastes of zesty green apple, crisp pear and candied kumquat. Stepping back from my high-falutin’ descriptions, the Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer 2018 is true to its name: Dry and “Gewurz” (German for spice). Medium/light bodied, less floral and less overwhelming than many Gewurztraminers of this high caliber, which from a consumer perspective I suspect is to its benefit. This wine is too damn easy to drink. Navarro only sells their wine retail winery-direct in California and miniscule distribution outside the state. It is one of the few wineries […]
October 22, 2019
Navarro Dry Muscat 2018

NAVARRO Dry Muscat 2018

Southeast Asian herbs and spices like lemongrass, Kaffir lime and coriander on the nose along with lemon blossoms. Taste lemon zest, fresh white peaches, pink grapefruit and white pepper. Not as sweet-smelling as many Muscats…more on the floral/spicy side of things. Dances across the palate with energy and absolute freshness. Very tangy…some may call it tart…and light bodied. I love this wine with both fresh and fried Thai spring rolls as they give complement the each preparation in a different way. I pity the fool who shuts their minds and their mouths to this fantastic wine. Navarro only sells their […]
October 18, 2019
Navarro Riesling Deep End

NAVARRO Riesling “Deep End” 2018

Gorgeous wine, starting with its smell of honeyed Granny Smith apple, mango and green tea. Taste is fresh, ripe tropical, citrus and stone fruits with a little honeycomb and lemongrass sneaking in there. Rich and lush with a long, expansive, slightly off-dry finish. I couldn’t stop sipping this wine it’s so good. Compares nicely with Riesling from Germany’s Pfalz region: warmer than the Mosel, making for a little more body and texture. Navarro only sells their wine retail winery-direct. It is one of the few wineries that I purchase wine from on a consistent basis. Amazing values, top to bottom. […]
October 1, 2019
Sleeping Giant Chardonnay

SLEEPING GIANT Chardonnay “Buena Tierra” 2016

60 year old vine, cool climate, high acid grapes and classic Grand Cru Burgundy winemaking* makes for an excellent and versatile Chardonnay. Honestly, I’m surprised this Sleeping Giant Chardonnay was made in this style as the green apple/quince, mouth-watering acidity and rocky “crunch” lead me tasting notes. While butter and toast do play a part in the wine, these two flavors are way in the back. I think the crisp, tangy style is to the wine’s benefit as so many eschew the oaky/buttery style of Chardonnay these days. Personally, I like both styles equally. *Indigenous yeast, barrel fermented, 100% malolactic, […]
September 18, 2019
Truchard Roussanne

Truchard Roussanne, Carneros 2018

Truchard’s vineyards are on the outskirts of Napa on north side of Highway 12. Called the “Banana Belt” of Carneros as it’s noticeably warmer than just 2 miles south where bay influence is more consistent. The warmer weather makes for a greater variety of grapes: Truchard has 11 varieties planted, including 3 acres (out of 200 acres planted) of Roussanne. The 2018 Truchard Roussanne smells and tastes of coriander, white pepper, dried wildflowers, fresh pears and dried mangos. Medium/high acidity and a red wine-like structure make this baby one to let rest a while for full enjoyment. While some vintages […]
September 18, 2019
Poseidon Chardonnay

POSEIDON Chardonnay Carneros 2017

The Poseidon Estate vines grow next to the Napa River: the wide part where the salty waters and ocean breezes from the San Pablo Bay waters make for an environment very different than the narrow Valley to the north. The cooling breezes and lower temps make this land golden for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The owners of Poseidon Vineyard figured this out before most, planting their vineyard in 1973. They’ve made wine from their grapes since the early 2000s. The 2017 Poseidon Chardonnay is a winner at twice the price. It’s rich and satisfying for the full-bodied Chardonnay camp and […]
September 17, 2019
Art House Pinot Gris

ART HOUSE Pinot Gris 2016

Cool San Pablo bay breezes shoot up the Napa River and cover the vineyard on Carneros’ Las Amigas Road. This is the coolest part of Napa Valley and ideal for making dry, racy Pinot Gris. Strong smells and flavors of grated lemon zest, grapefruit ice, crisp pineapple and lemon balm point to a unique Napa Valley white wine. With lots of texture and high acidity, the Art House Pinot Gris pushes the flavor envelope when enjoyed without food. I started sipping it on its own and compare it to a jump into a cool pool on a hot day: quick […]
August 22, 2019
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 […]
August 15, 2019
Wilson Foreigner Albarino

WILSON FOREIGNER Albarino “Rorick Vineyard” Sierra Foothills 2017

The Albariño grape, native to the cool Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal, interestingly makes good wine at “Rorick Heritage” outside the town of Murphys in the Sierra Foothills. Interesting because it’s HOT here. David Wilson, the Wilson of Wilson Foreigner, explains to me “the Albarino we get from Rorick grows in schist rock (schist is a high-mineral metamorphic rock) and there’s limestone next to our vines. And the vines are east-facing for morning sun, afternoon & evening shade.” These factors, the cool Sierra nights and natural acidity in Albarino, explain the tang in the Wilson Foreigner. It’s loaded with […]
August 7, 2019
Keep Delta White

KEEP “Delta White” 2018

Cortese and Falanghina: two grapes of Italian origin (Cortese in Piedmont-northern Italy, Falanghina in Campania-southern Italy). They are two of the many lesser-known (you could say esoteric) grapes grown at “Lost Slough Vineyard” outside the town of Rio Vista (on Highway 12 west of Lodi). Made to drink young and bright like a lot of California wines…Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc two leaders in this category. The “Delta White” takes a turn from the norm, aiming for an old world, traditional Italian style of less fresh fruit and more rocky/salty smells and flavors. My tasting notes include green apple skins, watermelon […]
August 6, 2019
Clif Family Sauvignon Blanc

CLIF FAMILY Sauvignon Blanc “Rte Blanc” 2018

Top-notch expression of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, showing tangy green apple, white peach, melon and lemongrass smells and flavors start to long finish. The 1/4th barrel fermentation (in neutral French oak) and aging on lees gives the wine a little roundness and pastry aroma. Deft winemaking touch. This is 100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from multiple vineyards, fermented dry to 13.4% 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 […]
August 5, 2019
Clif Family Viognier

CLIF FAMILY Viognier 2017

It’s tricky to make a luscious style of Viognier without going overboard on alcohol and oak. I think Clif Family walked the fine line by achieving full flavor development and simultaneously keeping the nuance of the Viognier grape. Get honeysuckle, dried lemon peel, sliced fresh peaches, ripe apricots and melons and white pepper. Fuller flavored, as expected from a Viognier that hits 14.5% alcohol, but not “hot.” All Oak Knoll District fruit is southern Napa Valley. Mostly fermented in neutral French oak barrels. Clif Family continues to make consistently tasty red and white wines from their Estate vineyards on Howell […]
July 22, 2019
Complant Chardonnay

COMPLANT Chardonnay “Linda Vista” 2017

While many California Chardonnay makers profess to make a crisper style of Chardonnay, few really do it. Complant Chardonnay, a new winery owned, run and made by the Baron family, hits the mark. Son Sam Baron takes charge of the Chardonnay. From “Linda Vista Vineyard,” a north Napa vineyard owned and farmed by Steve Matthiasson. The wine walks a tightrope of achieving ripeness at 12.13% alcohol. It’s ripe enough for me as it shows ripe lemon, tangy green apples, quince and green-stemmed banana fruit flavors along with honeycomb, biscuit and plain Greek yogurt flavors. This is tangy and bright (neither […]
June 27, 2019
J Pinot Gris

J Pinot Gris 2018

As good as it gets for a fresh, fruit-driven, easy to drink white wine. Top four (out of 8+) fruit flavors I get are green apple, peach, pineapple and Meyer lemon. Acid’s fresh and lively, no oak. A little “sneaky sweetness” elevates the fruitiness, meaning you don’t taste sweet but you like the wine more because it’s there. Get a case…can be found for under $15/bottle (check out Total Wine). This is a DDWA “Awesome” Value. See all my Hall of Fame and Awesome Value wines on my Best of the Best Value list.
June 25, 2019
Barnett Chardonnay Sangiacomo

BARNETT Chardonnay Sangiacomo 2017

Spring Mountain, Napa winery Barnett Vineyards acquires top-notch Chardonnay from “Sangiacomo” in the Carneros to make this rich, strong-flavored Chardonnay that boasts both bright, tangy fruit AND toasty, spicy oak. Get Meyer lemons, peaches, pears and apricots as well as cinnamon stick, caramel and buttered toast. More oaky than buttery, it has both. And lots of fruit too. It has it all going on, high volume.
June 25, 2019
William Hill Chardonnay

WILLIAM HILL Chardonnay 2017

Butter, baked apples, caramel, pineapple, pie spices and toast is what you get from the William Hill Napa Valley Chardonnay. Oily texture, lush and creamy, this is definitely a Chardonnay for those who like their wines big and buttery. Is it “too much?” No – it’s just right for those who like this style. And, the grapes are good enough, strong enough, to hold up to the buttery richness.
June 24, 2019
Merisi Pinot Gris

MERISI Pinot Gris 2018

Fruity, textured, dry and aromatic, the very tasty “Alsatian style” Merisi Pinot Gris is an absolute pleasure to drink. I get lemon curd, apple sauce, fresh peaches and apricots, white pepper, fresh French herbs and lemon zest. A slight oily and creamy texture, classic for Alsace style Pinot Gris, coats the mouth. First and lasting impression is the ripe citrus and orchard fruits. Tiny production, super delicious and a DDWA “Great Value.” Sixth vintage of Merisi Pinot Gris. Merisi co-owner and winemaker Mandy Heldt Donovan is making tiny amounts of delicious, balanced, honest expressions of Pinot Gris, Grenache and Petite […]
June 17, 2019
Peter Paul Chardonnay

PETER PAUL Chardonnay 2017

I really like how this Peter Paul Chardonnay showcases the grape’s body and richness and simultaneously provides the mouth a bunch of lemony tangy pleasure. Get lemon zest, cinnamon-y green apple, honeydew melon, yellow pears and some cocoa (25% new French oak explains the toast, cocoa and spice). Medium weight, good intensity and an impressive 20 second finish. Way over-delivers in the Chardonnay realm for $25. 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 since […]
June 13, 2019
Navarro Gewurztraminer Deep End

Navarro Gewurztraminer “Deep End” 2017

Not your average Gewurztraminer, the tightly-spaced, hillside, low-yielding Gewurz vines used for “Deep End Blend” makes for an outstanding wine. Smell and taste grapefruit marmalade, orange zest, white pepper, mango, dried apple slices and tarragon. This is fermented dry to 13.9 alcohol, which is low by most measures for excellent California wine, but high for cool-climate Gewurztraminer. You have to go to Alsace to find a worthy comparison for the Deep End Gewurztraminer. Super-impressive. Buy some from Navarro Winery before it’s all gone.
June 10, 2019
Cliff lede sauvignon Blanc

Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc 2017

On the tropical side with fresh mango, papaya and pineapple flavors standing out. Meyer lemon, fresh peaches and apricots and apple butter flavors sneak in there. This is more lush and rich than most Sauvignon Blancs, which comes from partial barrel fermentation and the 15% Semillon and Sauvignon Vert included. Really nice acidity…makes my mouth water and want grilled fish, fried foods and potato chips. It also has the richness to satisfy most Chardonnay drinkers. Cliff Lede Vineyards is incredibly consistent in making outstanding Sauvignon Blanc and selling it for a very reasonable price.
June 10, 2019
Crocker and Starr Sauvignon Blanc 18

Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc AVA Napa Valley 2018

Lots of lip-smacking Sauvignon Blanc goodness to enjoy here. Classic fruit flavors like Granny Smith apples, fresh lemon (zest and pulp), tangerine and honeydew melon. Kiss of honey on the finish and a pleasing mouth-filling texture (6% Semillon and some lees-stirring accounts for this). No oak flavor-this wine is all about the bright, tangy citrus and orchard fruits. More Information Winemaker/winery owner Pam Starr utilizes her “AVA Napa Valley” brand to purchase barrels/tanks of wine, making a unique blend, and selling it for a very fair price. This is the evolution of the Bridesmaid Wine label owned and made by […]
June 5, 2019
Farm Chardonnay

Farm Chardonnay Napa Valley 2018

On the stronger, fuller-bodied side of Chardonnay. I get roasted pears, lemon custard, lemon zest, roast almonds and hazelnuts and apple butter. Made in a not-buttery, limited oak style. The strong fruit and lees contact account primarily for the richness. Super-satisfying – fans of California Chardonnay are sure to enjoy this. FARM Napa Valley is owned and made by John Anthony Truchard, who has also flourished with his labels JAM, BUTTER and John Anthony, amongst others. All the grapes for Farm Chardonnay are farmed and managed, and often owned as well, by John Anthony.
May 23, 2019
Lumen Grenache Blanc

LUMEN Grenache Blanc 2016

The workhorse grape of the Southern Rhone Valley, Grenache Blanc is an intriguing player, albeit a minor one, in California. This tiny-production, cool-climate Santa Barbara bottling shows off the grape. I think of fresh fruit cocktail: pears, peaches, pineapple and Mandarin orange. On the non-fruit side, jasmine, coriander and lemon balm peek through. Refreshing acidity, slightly creamy texture, a little nutty on the finish. Delicious on its own, even more tasty with ceviche of a fish fry. A DDWA Great Value and a great buy for seekers of alternative whites. 100% Grenache Blanc.
May 22, 2019

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, […]