From Dancing Crow’s vineyard where Clear Lake meets Mount Konocti, a 40 minute drive north of Napa Valley. Meager soils challenge the vines, resulting in Sauvignon Blanc of character, intensity and ripeness…at 12.3% alcohol. Snappy citrus sensations throughout, including lemon zest and lemongrass (expect to pick up myriad lemon flavors in lower alcohol white wine, especially Sauv Blanc). White peach and mango poke their heads from around the corner. Long, leesy finish that reminds me of feta cheese. This winery-owned single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from a small winery based in Napa is unique for its quality and remarkable value. I’m […]
The complaints I usually hear about Chardonnay has to do with the oak. Sometimes it’s the butter, but usually the oak. Best parts of Chardonnay by most accounts, including mine, are the complexities of fruit and the texture. The best parts and complaints are addressed in this uniquely delicious Napa Valley Chardonnay. Lemon curd, Asian pears, mangos, almond paste and fresh pie crust. Refreshing acidity, layered, a little creamy and juicy. There are plenty of quality Chardonnays made like the Favia Carbone in Napa Valley. Somehow, this wine is more delicious than its peers. $48 stretches the limits of value […]
3/4 Grenache Blanc from the Sierra Foothills (near Placerville), 1/4 Muscat Canelli from Sacramento Delta (near Brentwood). Pre-fermentation skin contact time on the Muscat. Reminds me of Dry Muscat wines from Southern France’s Roussillon region in its lemon zest, lemon verbena, crushed coriander and lemongrass sensations (and less honeysuckle/floral perfume). Light haze from the skin contact and being unfined/unfiltered. Above average acidity gives the wine a pleasant tang. Lite tannins coat the gums on the long, tangy finish. The delicious, “Awesome Value” St Romedius White Wine walks a fine line of being different but not strange. This is a DDWA […]
Subtle yet obvious aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle, honeydew melon and Meyer lemons. All this continues on in the taste along with some peaches and white pepper. High acidity makes it almost tangy, lots of fresh-cut melons and pear-apple (papple). Restrained right now. I think the fruit/floral/spice trinity will come forward over the short term, like by spring of 2020. I’ve enjoyed this wine since its first vintage in the early 2010s. This is the first one I have found to be wound up upon release. Goes to show that this is not a cookie-cutter wine, but one that the vintage […]
An outstanding Chardonnay from the Sonoma County side of the Mayacamas mountain range, The Chiron “Chuy’s” Chardonnay is a complex, textural, tangy, intense wine. You’ll smell and taste fresh lemon custard, white peaches, fresh pineapple chunks, oven-warm scones and buttered wheat toast. These are descriptors many top-notch Chardonnays share. The Chiron is unique in that it carries the richness of Chardonnay while keeping an unmistakable citrus-flavored tang. Made in the fashion of high end White Burgundy: barrel fermented, native yeast ferment, aged on its lees in barrel for 15 months with no racking. One difference is the light use of […]
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 […]
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 it complements 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 wine retail […]
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. […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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.