June 15, 2021
Read Holland Chardonnay

Read Holland Chardonnay Peter Martin Ray 2018

First pass, just-opened and poured, has the roasted nut/roasted peach and lemon nose. With air the fresh citrus and orchard fruits jump out. Macintosh apples, white peaches, Meyer lemons, touch of grapefruit: classic. Gets more and more viscous as the hours pass. Caramel, clover honey, river rocks, sweet butter. So much texture and complexity. This is special. More Information Winemaker/Co-Owner Ashley Holland crafts tiny amounts of Pinot Noir, Riesling (both from Anderson Valley) and this Chardonnay from the mystical “Peter Martin Ray Vineyard” overlooking the Silicon Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Ashley’s resume includes winemaking and production at Three Sticks […]
May 1, 2021
Localism Sauvignon Blanc

Localism Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Meyer lemon, peach and mango smells and flavors are my first and lasting impressions of the 2019 Localism Sauvignon Blanc. Lemon zest, garden thyme and lemongrass aromas easily identify it as Sauvignon Blanc. Biting acidity and softened texture from oak aging makes for a strong, impressive bottle of Napa white. More Information This is Mom & Pop Winery through and through. Ryan and Nicole Knoth do it all. Ryan is the winemaker (his moonlighting job and he makes high-end Napa wines for others) and Nicole runs the sales and business. Their wines are consistently tasty and interesting. Seek them out!  […]
March 8, 2021
Boheme Chardonnay English Hill

Bohème Chardonnay English Hill 2017

The Bohème Chardonnay “English Hill” 2017 immediately grabs the nose with caramelly lemon, roast hazelnuts, bright green apple slices, freshly cut pears and a sqeeze of lime. In the mouth it’s both vibrant and voluptuous with all the aforementioned aromas translating to flavors with an extra hit of caramel and apple butter. The rich Bohème English Hill Chardonnay is full of vigor due to its core of cool-climate acidity ringing through. Yep, I’m a big fan of this wine. I would easily recommend it if it were $70, so at $49 it’s a crazy-good value. The numbers don’t “work” particularly […]
January 15, 2021
Cufflinks White Wine

Cufflinks White Wine Napa Valley

Cufflinks White is a blend of 72% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon, 6% Ribolla Gialla and 2% Chardonnay (mostly 2018 vintage). A high-end negociant wine (buy unbottled, blend it, bottle it), this unique white blend has a little bit of just about everything. While lemony citrus holds the throne, honeysuckle, mango, mandarin oranges, Honeycrisp apples, crushed almonds and mandarin oranges contribute in this refreshing, versatile white wine. On the long, 20 second finish a leesy richness blossoms as well as kiss of lemon bitters and almond skin. The Cufflinks white has a little something for most every palate. Imbibe at cellar […]
December 9, 2020
Poseidon Chardonnay The Bench

Poseidon Chardonnay The Bench 2018

Utterly delicious, the Poseidon Chardonnay The Bench possesses new world ripeness, cool Carneros acidity and deft winemaking that in tandem has created a bright, fruity, textured, quintessential California Chardonnay. Buttery croissants, crunchy pears, lemon cream and green tea smells and flavors delight from nose to finish. Round, creamy texture, mouth-watering acidity and comforting, warm sensation of fresh bread and nutmeg on the finish make for a complete, outstanding Chardonnay. “The fruit was pressed whole-cluster in small batches and then barrel-fermented in 20% new, 300-liter barrels that were lightly toasted specifically for this wine. These special, larger-format barrels provided all the […]
December 9, 2020
Poseidon Chardonnay Sea Change

Poseidon Chardonnay “Sea Change” 2019

Engagingly crisp fresh bread crust and textured nuance on the back end, the Poseidon Chardonnay Sea Change succeeds in their version of the oft-attempted tangy, naked “alternative style.” First impressions are yellow grapefruit, quince, lemon blossoms, lemon squeeze then bread crust and white chocolate flavors peek through at the end. Pleasingly tart and layered, this polished Chardonnay is an extremely versatile wine at the dinner table. Alex Beloz, Winemaker: “The fruit was harvested by hand in mid-September when we felt acidity was at its peak. The grapes were pressed whole-cluster into a stainless steel tank to preserve freshness, then allowed […]
December 1, 2020
Olivia Brion Taquine

Olivia Brion Taquine 2019

The Olivia Brion Taquine 2019 is a unique blend of 50% Viognier, 38% Gewurztraminer and 12% Chardonnay. Fruit sources are Amador, Russian River and Wild Horse Valley respectively. A tart, cutting aroma of Meyer lemon zest, Kaffir lime leaf, orange blossoms and white peach points to its racy, aperitif style. Taste grapefruit, blanched almonds, Macintosh apple (skin on) and lemon verbena. The slightly pinched finish softens with briny, just-shucked oysters (winemaker Kira Ballotta says “go Kumamoto”).  13.4% Alcohol. More Information Best known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their Estate “Heron Lake Vineyard” in Napa & Solano’s Wild Horse […]
October 26, 2020
Read Holland Chardonnay

Read Holland Chardonnay Peter Martin Ray 2017

Intense, penetrating Chardonnay from start to finish, showing off loads of acidity, crushed rock-driven earth and a wound up yet humongous core of citrus and orchard (pear, apple, peach) fruitiness. Like a racy, formidable White Burgundy, the Read Holland Chardonnay “Peter Martin Ray” touches on all the flavors: sweet, salty, sour (I call it tangy), bitter and umami. They all interweave to make a unique, special Chardonnay. This is still a pup. Cellar and drink it in 2025 and beyond. While it doesn’t rate highly on value system, it IS a great value for the customer who buys high-end, cellar-worthy […]
October 26, 2020
Sleeping Giant Chardonnay

Sleeping Giant Chardonnay “Buena Tierra” 2017

Rich golden, brilliant color. Honeyed, ripe green apple, lemon custard aroma move seamlessly to the flavor which is strong and luxurious. I also taste freshly baked biscuits, roast almonds and hazelnuts, caramel apples and lemon zest. It’s round and voluptuous in the mouth. In a word: WOW. This is top of the line Chardonnay in the rich and luscious category. As an aside, my wife doesn’t particularly like the bold Chardonnay style. This – she likes. If you want to go classic food & wine pairing, pan-seared scallops on potato/celery root puree and browned butter is the way to go! […]
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 […]