February 4, 2019
Altar Chardonnay Platt Vineyard

ALTAR Chardonnay “Platt Vineyard” 2016

Fantastic Chardonnay – full bodied and very intense while still showing grace and complexity. Concentrated lemon, green melon and heirloom apple with bits of cocoa, apple butter, roast hazelnuts, seashells and citrus blossoms. Super-long finish…30 seconds and lengthening as time goes by…of roast nuts, cocoa and preserved lemon. The texture and length of this wine puts it in world-class territory for Chardonnay. In the realm of high end Chardonnays, at $78 this is an excellent value. More Information Altar Winery‘s first releases are two 2016 vintage Sonoma Coast Chardonnays and a 2017 Santa Cruz Pinot Noir. Husband/wife owners have “day jobs” […]
February 4, 2019
Altar Chardonnay Sonoma Coast

ALTAR Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2016

Maiden release from an experienced, talented Napa Valley couple. A combination of two Sonoma Coast vineyards: “Sangiacomo” near Carneros and “Platt” western Sonoma Coast. A classy wine from start to finish, the Altar Chardonnay Sonoma Coast grabbed me with grapefruit ice, crisp green apples and pears, fresh biscuits topped with a dollop of sweet butter. I could go on with descriptors. More important are the marriages of ripe with tangy and subtlety with intensity. There is texture, freshness and depth. I found everything I want in a top-notch Chardonnay, and none of them dominating the others. It’s a solid wine […]
January 31, 2019
Alma de Cattleya Sauvignon Blanc

ALMA de CATTLEYA Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Really, really tasty  – perfect for what it is, a dry, fruity, food-friendly, drink-me-up, Hall of Fame Value California Sauvignon Blanc. Nothing out of the ordinary in the flavor profile. It’s exceptional-ness stems from it having all the flavors of Sauv Blanc and they are already in harmony (note this is a 2018). Got your green apple, Meyer lemon, honeydew melon, fresh herbs, chalk. Has great acidity for dryness, delicious fruit that you can’t help buy love. I think I just convinced myself to get a case of this. About Alma de Cattleya Cattleya Winery is owned & made by the […]
January 19, 2019
Apsara Chardonnay

APSARA Chardonnay, Oakville 2016

In a sea of quality California Chardonnay here’s a little starfish. The Apsara Chardonnay Oakville comes from a vineyard near the Napa River in Oakville. (Doesn’t get much more mid-Valley than that.) I love the combination of fresh, rich fruits and pastry/dairy sensations that come from winemaking. My tasting notes include “light toast, ripe green apple, rich lemon, summer peach, medium butter & oak, warm biscuits.” Refreshing acidity (neither high nor low) and creamy texture. This is unmistakably Chardonnay, that said it sets itself apart by bringing together freshness of fruit and buttered biscuit and cream flavors. Mighty tasty! This […]
January 15, 2019
Apsara Sauvignon Blanc

APSARA Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Such a no-brainer for Sauvignon Blanc fans…owner/maker Robin Akhurst consistently nails it with this wine. 2016: rich ripe lemon, white peach, lemon tea, kiss of the tropical fruits. Lovely texture…more than most SBs (barrel ferment in neutral oak then tank aged for 6 months). “Fancier” wineries would sell this, easily, for twice the price. More Information Scotsman Robin Akhurst learned he loved wine while attending Edinburgh University. His wine journey took him to Provence, Burgundy, Barossa Valley and finally Napa Valley. Working next to and learning from great winemakers all along the way. He makes tiny lots of wine under […]
December 16, 2018
Campesino Alina 2016

CAMPESINO Alina White 2016

Equal parts Marsanne and Rousanne, making it a “Northern Rhone Valley-style white wine.” Really pretty smells and flavors of citrus blossoms, melons, apricots, pineapple, lemongrass and honeysuckle. It’s bright and lively with moderate alcohol and a fresh, crisp finish. For this category of wine (Rhone-style white) this is particularly versatile with food. Campesino Alina is an awesome buy for $28. More Information Campesino Cellars is owned and made by husband/wife Griselda and Macario Montoya (Macario is the winemaker). They honor their Mexican heritage by naming their winery in honor of the Campesinos, the field workers (most of whom are Mexican) who […]
December 7, 2018
Bedrock Riesling Wirz

BEDROCK Riesling “Wirz” 2017

I like this Riesling’s lemon-apple-honey character and classic Riesling lick-a-river-rock personality. High, pleasing acidity stands straight and tall from first whiff to the end of its 20 second finish. Lemon zest, yellow grapefruit and citrus blossoms smells and flavor pop out. More of an oily texture than most dry Rieslings made in California (partly due, I imagine, from the 50+ year old, own-rooted vines planted in decomposed granite and limestone). A great bottle of wine for $22. Here are all the Bedrock Wine Co. wines I’ve reviewed. 
December 6, 2018
Cochon Pinot Gris

COCHON Pinot Gris “Cuvee Sophie” 2017

Northern California winery Cochon is used to looking beyond the horizon for their grapes, so bringing a few tons of Willamette Pinot Gris down is no big deal for them. In the realm of super-tasty Oregon Pinot Gris, Cochon “Cuvee Sophie” fits right in. Loads of citrus and orchard fruit (pear, apple, apricot) flavors with an apple blossom and white pepper aroma happily hanging around. Vibrant acidity, dry fruity finish. Almost too easy to drink a whole bottle of this over a couple of hours. More Information I highly recommend you get to know the three labels under the Cochon […]
December 6, 2018
Poe Chardonnay Manchester Ridge

POE Chardonnay “Manchester Ridge” 2016

Chardonnay’s rich side comes through alongside cool climate crisp and tangy qualities in the Poe Chardonnay Manchester Ridge. The vineyard is 2000 feet high yet within eye-shot of the Pacific in the Mendocino coastal range. This has it all: poached pears, baked Granny Smith apples, lemon custard, sweet butter, lemon zest, toasted pastry. There is richness and impressive intensity in this wine. This is an absolute steal for $38.
December 5, 2018
Fine Desregard Semillon

FINE DISREGARD Semillon “Millhouse” 2016

A beautifully crafted Semillon. Bright, citrus-flavored acidity, low 12.2% alcohol, even still medium bodied (a characteristic of Semillon), oily texture, pear and lemon zest flavors, white pepper and crushed mint leaf spice kick. I really like how the wine coats the mouth, giving more body and ripeness than you typically get from 12.2% alcohol wine. I tasted this wine last in spring of this year. It has turned a major corner. Great value for $30/bottle. More Information Napa Valley winery Fine Disregard released their first wines in 2016. They (Mike Schieffer-winemaker, Kara Maraden-winegrower) are still quite new, but have already […]
December 4, 2018
Ancien Chardonnay Haynes

Ancien Chardonnay Haynes 2016

Great vineyard for Chardonnay (and Pinot Noir). From 50 year old vines (original 1966 plantings). Massive concentration for Chardonnay, not unlike Grand Cru Burgundy. Get apple butter, citrus extract, toasted brioche, cocoa, crushed white rocks, pear tart. Ripe fruits and savory earth sing together. And the texture is even more impressive than the flavors. Richness, high glycerine, full-bodied, luscious. Outstanding, and as good or better than all the $100+ Chardonnays made around the world. More Information Based in Napa, Pinot Noir-specialist Ancien acquires prime Pinot grapes from near (Carneros) and far (Willamette, Santa Rita Hills) to make distinctive and delicious […]
November 29, 2018
Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer

Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer 2017

First off, the Navarro Vineyards Dry Gewurztraminer smells awesome. Honeydew melon, fresh ginger, peach, grapefruit, orange blossoms and white pepper. The taste moves on to orange zest, more melons and fresh-cut flowers. (Steers away from the honey/lychee/oily style of Gewurz). Medium/high acidity, typical of cool Anderson Valley wines and a ballerina-like strength and lightness. Fuji apples, green tea and a dash of peppery spice on the finish. Could drink this wine all day and night. 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, […]
November 28, 2018
Brooks Pinot Gris

BROOKS Pinot Gris 2017

The fresh, crisp character of top quality Oregon Pinot Gris is here. Get fresh apples, peaches, oranges, lemon zest and honeydew melon plus the mysterious “minerality” found in such wines. Flowers and citrus dance lightly over the palate, bright acidity invites food pairing ideas. Less oily than many Oregon PGs, which is an observation, not a judgment. Makes the wine more Sauvignon Blanc-like in body. More Information Oregon Pinot Gris is hard to beat when it comes to refreshing white wine to drink either alone or with lighter foods. Fresh, aromatic, dry, oily, fruity and floral. A great drink all year […]
November 27, 2018
Occasio Chardonnay

OCCASIO Chardonnay “Del Arroyo” 2017

High quality, rich and voluptuous style of Chardonnay from Livermore Valley. Cool climate plus rocky and meager soils point to Chardonnay grapes full of flavor and character. Barrel ferment and aged with lees stirring and full malolactic, so strong winemaking to match the intensity of fruit. It works, provided you’re in the mood for a creamy, toasty, luscious Chardonnay. Smell and taste roasted pears, spiced apple butter, nutmeg, fig paste, whipped cream and lemon custard. Very young at time of tasting, which I think explains its short finish. I look forward to trying this again come spring 2019 as it […]
November 27, 2018
Ragbag Albarino

RAGBAG Albarino Terra Alta 2017

Here’s a tasty, dry, no-oak Sauvignon Blanc-alternative white wine to check out. From the hills east of Lodi where Spanish varietals, like Albariño, have established a strong foothold. Smell and taste lemon verbena, grapefruit, fresh sliced peaches and a whisper of chalk dust. Medium acidity. Orange wedges and citrus blossoms on the finish. Have with whitefish ceviche or French Fries & mayo. More Information Ragbag Wines is a new label owned and made by Steven Mirassou, owner/maker of Steven Kent Winery in Livermore Valley. This Albariño is indicative of the Ragbag mission: tasty, pure and pretty weekday wines, well-priced and meant […]
November 27, 2018
Murrieta's Well The Whip

MURRIETA’S WELL “The Whip” 2016

Five grape blend, in order, of Sauvignon Blanc (33%), Semillon, Chardonnay, Orange Muscat and Viognier (10%). The aromatics of Muscat and Viognier pop from the glass. Satisfying, creamy texture of Semillon and Chardonnay. The tang of Sauvignon Blanc keeps it all fresh and lively. Really well done…fun drink. Fermented dry, which, by nature of the blend and the flavor profile, surprises some. Enjoy it with fish tacos. More Information I’m a big fan of Murrieta’s Well, especially since Robbie Meyer (of Peirson Meyer Winery) came on board as winemaker in 2014. All the wines are fruit-forward and rich while showing […]
October 29, 2018
Boheme Chardonnay English Hill

BOHEME Chardonnay English Hill 2014

A very cool, windy vineyard under 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean makes for a strong, intense “Burgundian” style Chardonnay. Smell and taste lemon custard, fresh sweet butter, ripe grapefruit, nutmeg and lightly roasted almonds & hazelnuts. Flavors are strong as can be with tingly acidity to back it up. This is the best style of California Chardonnay in my opinion: cool climate coast site, low yields, barrel-aged (no new oak on this bottling), full malolactic. Ka-boom. The cool 2014 vintage also lends itself well to this style. The winery is almost out of the Boheme Chardonnay English Hill 2014. […]
October 23, 2018
Ferdinand Albarino 2016

FERDINAND Albarino 2016

The Spanish grape Albariño has found if not a home then a vacation getaway in California. Napa producer Ferdinand acquires Albariño from Lodi’s “Vista Luna Vineyard” to make this crisp, aromatic, texturally pleasing white. I love its fresh floral, citrus basket and Granny Smith apple smells and flavors plus the crunchy-ness and mouth-watering acidity. Still, the tang is pulled back just enough with barrel fermentation (neutral barrel) and full malo. Think of it as sanding the sharp edges of a table. I’ve had my fair share of California Albariños, and the Ferdinand is one of the best. And for $20, […]
October 1, 2018
Rancho Chimiles Vineyard

Winery Profile: WILSON FOREIGNER

“The smack of Californian earth shall linger on the palate of your grandson.” Robert Louis Stevenson, Silverado Squatters. As you learn about Wilson Foreigner Winery and taste their wines, which I hope you do, keep this quote in your mind. To me it summarizes why they make wine. Let your mind go as you drink a bottle of Wilson Foreigner and you might believe it’s how they make wine, too. As much as I’d like to say I pulled this quote from my internal library, I got it from the Wilson Foreigner website.  (You can also find the Stevenson paragraph […]
September 25, 2018
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 thrives in the very warm Murphys, Sierra Foothills summer weather. The wine is loaded with crisp yellow grapefruit, melon, tangerine, Eureka lemon and pear smells and flavors along with grapefruit blossoms, citrus zest and plain yogurt. A slight creamy texture on the back end counterbalances the high natural acidity. The flavors and textures all work exceedingly well together. Try this instead of a crisp Sauvignon Blanc sometime. More Information Wilson Foreigner is a two-family-owned winery. David & Christine Wilson live on their family vineyard in Napa’s […]
September 20, 2018
Skyhook Late Harvest Sauv Blanc

SKYHOOK Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013 375 ML

Derek Beitler of Skyhook “happened upon” Sauvignon Blanc raisins in late 2013 and, with them, made this fantastic Late Harvest wine. No botrytis, or “noble rot,” a la Sauternes. Rather, the dried grapes hung on the vine clean and intense as they held their natural acidity. 25% Late Harvest Semillon co-fermented for added roundness, texture and exotic flavors (blending the two is very Sauternes-like). So delicious! It’s honeyed, rich and luscious, all the while its natural acidity keeps the wine afloat on the palate. Smell and taste caramel, roasted peaches and pineapple, golden raisins, clover honey and a little bit […]
September 19, 2018
Green & Red Sauvignon Blanc

GREEN & RED Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Fresh lime zest and juice, riper Eureka lemon, grapefruit, green apple and lemon blossoms define the style of the 2016 Green & Red Sauvignon Blanc. Medium high acidity and fresh citrus basket fruits point to very light bodied wine, but not totally the case here. 2% Viognier, a recent addition to Green & Red Vineyard, adds aromatics and a texture. It’s nuanced…I noticed it only when I was told of the Viognier. This is a classic, mouth-watering aperitivo Sauv Blanc best enjoyed at the beginning of the meal. “Fish wine” for sure! More Information Jay Heminway purchased the property that […]
September 1, 2018
Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc

CORNERSTONE Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Bright-as-the-sky smells and flavors of tangerines, Granny Smith apple paste and lemon ice are your first impressions of the Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc 2017. Backing up this fruit-first wine is baked pie crust and a slight creamy texture (comes from partial concrete egg ferment, lees-stirring and gaining in a small amount of new oak and acacia barrels.) Medium-high acidity, medium body for Cal SB and a marriage of citrus and orchard fruit basket with that brown pie crust and fresh cream on the 20 second finish. Clean, crisp and inviting you back for more. More Information The Cornerstone winemaking team of […]
September 1, 2018
AVA Napa Valley White

Crocker & Starr AVA Napa Valley White 2017

“White Blend of Sauvignon Blanc” states the front label. The blend is 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Semillon. Smell and taste fresh white peaches, lemon/lime, honeydew melon, salty sea air and kaffir lime leaf. Medium/high acidity, no barrel flavor, texturally pleasing (from the Semillon and, I imagine, some lees-stirring. A DDWA Awesome Value (and member of my “Best of the Best” list) if there ever was one. Expect to see this by the glass in many quality restaurants in the Bay Area and beyond. More Information Winemaker/winery owner Pam Starr utilizes her “AVA Napa Valley” brand to purchase barrels/tanks of wine, […]