PRIMA MATERIA “Arcanum No III” Red

Prima Materia Arcanum III

“Arcanum” is a Dolcetto-based, non-vintage red blend. This dark berry fruit, brooding, earthy/spicy quality is not what you expect from Dolcetto (I wonder what % is Dolcetto? Guessing around 50%.) Smell and taste black figs, blackberries, dry aged beef, pipe tobacco, tea leaves. Ripe core of fruit in the middle with savory flavors all around […]

WILSON FOREIGNER Albarino “Rorick Vineyard” Sierra Foothills 2017

Wilson Foreigner Albarino

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 […]

KEEP Carignane “Evangelho” 2016

Keep Carignane

From the sand-swept wine district of Contra Costa on the Sacramento Delta. The 130+ year old own-rooted Carignane vines of “Evangelho Vineyard” make for a complex, aromatic, hauntingly delicious red wine. Wound up when just opened, let the wine stretch for 20 minutes and blossom. True to the Carignane grape, you get black raspberries, black […]

CAMINO Pinot Noir “Umino” 2016

Camino Pinot Noir

Beautiful, bold aromas of fresh violets, deep plum, dark raspberries, blood orange and cinnamon. The smells seamlessly transition to the flavors: wild berries and cherries, orange zest, red roses, violets and those plums & blood oranges. Ripe, inviting, balanced (14.1% alcohol), juicy and alive with acidity, the Camino Pinot Noir continues to deliver through it’s […]

TRES SABORES Rosé 18

Tres Sabores Rose

The Tres Sabores Rose 2016 is made from Tres Sabores Estate Zinfandel and Calistoga Petite Sirah. Picked in August, well before the red wine harvest, for great acidity. Like any of the best California Rosés, the wine perks up the palate with acidity then satisfies with a wheel-barrel full of fresh summer fruits. As owner/winemaker […]

APSARA Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Apsara Sauvignon Blanc

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 […]

CAMPESINO Alina White 2016

Campesino Alina 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 […]

COMMUNICATION BLOCK Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Communication Block Cabernet

Intense, ripe, dark red cherries and berries joined by black olive, bay leaf, vanilla bean, dry-aged beef and cedar. A healthy acidity, expected of Mt Veeder, brightens the wine like an 80 watt lightbulb. Slightly surprising is how supple and delicious the Communication Block Cabernet is today. Full-flavored, distinctive and perfectly proportioned. Truly special. More […]

Campesino Syrah Las Madres 2016

Campesino Syrah Las Madres

Notice the exceptionally deep, rich, dark color. The smell and taste is quintessential Syrah with its black and blueberries, smoked lamb loin, black pepper, soy sauce, tarragon, rosemary and chocolate. Medium acid, fine tannins, fantastic concentration and mouth-coating extraction while, still, keeping everything about the wine in control. Drink the 2016 Campesino Syrah Las Madres […]

STELLAREESE Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

stellareese cabernet 2014

Single vineyard, organic & dry farmed, Calistoga (Stellareese buys all the fruit…a monopole!) Generous fruitiness: dark red cherries, red currants and pomegranate syrup. Sturdy frame of French oak (“more new than we’ve ever used before” owner Rachel Stellareese Davies reports) gives the wine more sweetness and structure. The Stellareese Cabernet Sauvignon is a delicious, “showy” […]

SOTER Brut Rose “Mineral Springs” 2014

Soter Brut Rose

Unquestionably one of the best American sparkling wines made. This is 91% Pinot Noir, 9% Chardonnay from their Estate vineyard in Willamette’s Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA. Barrel fermented and aged 8 months before 2nd fermentation in bottle. 2 years on its lees before disgorgement in spring 2017. The Soter Brut Rose comes out of the gate […]

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 Withers In Hand Red Wine 2016

The Withers In Hand

69% Mourvedre, 31% Syrah, from El Dorado County vineyards in the Sierra Foothills (1800-2800 feet elevation, granite & volcanic-heavy soils.) This has a fruity, ripe, juicy berry character, complemented by the two grapes’ natural spicy/earthy character. The spice: black pepper, anise, cinnamon stick. Earth comes across as black olive and forest floor. Medium bodied, soft tannins, […]

The Withers Pinot Noir English Hill 2016

The Withers Pinot English Hill

“English Hill Vineyard” is under ten miles from the Pacific, outside Occidental. Cool-climate and windy. The Withers Pinot Noir English Hill reminds me of a Santa Lucia Highlands style with its exceptional concentration and richness for a cool climate Pinot. Could be the thick skins from the wind. I get ripe, slightly liqueur-ish red cherry […]

Winery Profile: WILSON FOREIGNER

Rancho Chimiles Vineyard

“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 […]

WILSON FOREIGNER Zinfandel 2017

Wilson Foreigner Zinfandel

Tiny Napa producer Wilson Foreigner acquires old-vine Zinfandel from the town of Oakley and the sandy soils of the Sacramento Delta. Dark strawberry and blueberry compote, fried cinnamon, black pepper and anise smells and flavors are generous. It’s rich, balanced and goes down smooth and silky. Medium acidity, gentle tannins. This young Zin is ready […]

WILSON FOREIGNER Valdiguie 2017

Wilson Foreigner Valdiguie

Gamay body and Syrah smells & flavors best describes the Wilson Foreigner Valdiguie 2017. Get dark cranberries, red plums, wild cherries, ruby grapefruit, cloves, cracked black pepper, tarragon. High acid (showing more acid at time of tasting-it’s young!), modest tannins, very perky. Just released, so buy some 2016 Valdiguie to drink now and some 2017 […]

SHANE Pinot Noir “The Charm” 2016

Shane Pinot Noir The Charm

A bright, grab-you-by-the-nose-hairs nose of wild red cherries, violets, blueberries and orange liqueur starts you off on the Shane Pinot Noir The Charm. That cool-climate nose moves to darker, deeper flavors and a rich, balanced, silky texture in the mouth. Taste plum sauce, cinnamon, blueberries, black licorice and kirsch. It’s all nicely framed by French […]

SHANE Pinot Noir La Reine 15

Shane Pinot Noir La Reine

Owner/Winemaker Shane Finley’s eponymous label consistently delivers some of the best “bang for the buck” Pinots in the premium price category. Shane Pinot Noir La Reine (“The Queen”) comes from 45 year old vines. Dark berries and cherries here with bits of pomegranate, black tea, lavender, cocoa and toasty oak (just 15% new French oak […]

SHANE Pinot Noir “Soixante et Onze” 2016

Shane Pinot Noir Soixante Onze

Dark red cherries, pomegranate syrup, dried red rose petals and coriander are your introduction to the Shane Pinot Noir Soixante et Onze. The coolness of Sonoma Coast brings out a core of acidity and an illumination of flavors. In other words, the smells and flavors are darker and the body is brighter and more structured. […]

SKYHOOK Red Wine, Sonoma County 2013

Skyhook Red Wine

This “Rhone-y” red is 58% Syrah, 42% Grenache. Owner/winemaker Derek Beitler drew from three cool-climate Sonoma vineyards to make 500 cases of Skyhook Red Wine. I think the name Skyhook and the label take most down a path of expectation that requires a u-turn. Let me explain…an army of jammy, sweet-spice, soft red blends, a […]

SKYHOOK Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013 375 ML

Skyhook Late Harvest Sauv Blanc

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 […]

BODEGA RANCHO Grenache “Jemrose” 2014

Bodega Rancho Grenache

On the dark side of California Grenache. Smell and taste strawberry preserves, toasted black peppercorns and cloves, black olives, very ripe blueberries, dried lavender, bay leaf and toasty French oak…40% new according to owner/winemaker Derek Beitler. More oak than he’d prefer, but from many a wine drinker’s view it’s perfect. Strong and structured in the […]

GREEN & RED Zinfandel “Tip Top” 2014

Green & Red Zinfandel

At the “Tip Top” of Green & Red’s property is “Tip Top Vineyard.” Hillside, northeast facing, gravelly/rocky, 1700 feet elevation. All this points to wines of character & complexity. Full flavored for sure, but “Tip Top” wines set themselves apart by structure, complexity and savory complexity. 2014 Tip Top Zin, for example…smell and taste briar […]