From Green & Red’s Estate vineyard, 1700 feet elevation, above owner Jay and Pam Heminway’s home and winery. The elevation and meager soils make for a spicy, savory, brooding style of Syrah. The drought conditions made for, I’m hypothesizing, particularly small berries in 2015. You may see where I’m going with this. Northern Rhone-ish style! Smell and taste dark blueberries, bittersweet chocolate, black olive and peppercorns, anise, mint and sweet-smelling tobacco. Medium tannins and acidity that gives the wine verve, not tartness. Long 25 second finish of spice, soil and oil-cured black olive. I really want roast leg of lamb […]
“Estate” Cabernet for all intents and purposes (the winery is a 15 minute drive away, so not technically Estate) from the base of Howell Mountain, east side of Napa Valley. Bright, concise aromas of cassis, wild dark red cherry, bay leaves, cedar and dark plums. Bright, energetic fruitiness, layer upon layer of pure flavors that come from the fruit and the land. This wine expresses the character of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, and the cooler micro-climate of Conn Valley, like a champ. This exceptional value (for Napa Cab) will age gloriously. I’d say drink this 2023-2035. More information Napa winery Neyers […]
The Neyers Carigane Evangelho comes from 140 year old vines growing in the riverbed sand soils of the Sacramento Delta. Wild blue and red fruits, black pepper, fresh lavender, pomegranate, the faintest whiff of cigar wrapper (tobacco) and hung game. Reminds me of southern France Carignane, and that’s the goal! I would say that the natural California fruitiness steps forward, and no one’s complaining. Neutral oak aged for development, not flavor. Pure, fruity, spicy and perfectly wild! More information Napa winery Neyers Vineyards ventures beyond Napa to keep their wine character up and the prices reasonable. Co-owned by founders Bruce […]
Slightly jammy/liqueur berry nose and a handful of crushed pie spices, peppercorns, tarragon and lavender describes the Neyers Zinfandel Vista Luna. Medium bodied, generous fruitiness, easy tannins, quite juicy. Super-satisfying Zinfandel here that’s ready to drink up. While this is a California AVA, the grapes are from Borden Ranch, a Lodi sub-AVA in beginning of the Sierra Foothills (beautiful area). More information Napa winery Neyers Vineyards ventures beyond Napa to keep their wine character up and the prices reasonable. Co-owned by founders Bruce and Barbara Neyers and the Trinchero Family (Neyers and Trinchero “partnered up” in 2017), made by Tadeo […]
Earthy spices and a sliver of umami inject themselves into the briary, ripe, potent fruit that comes natural to these 50 year old vines in western Dry Creek Valley. As for the fruit in the David Clinton Zinfandel Mounts, smell and taste pomegranate syrup, dark raspberries, blueberries and cherry liqueur. More complex and “serious” than the average Zin: dry aged beef, nori, black licorice, roast walnuts and black olive and roast black peppercorns make this a wine better suited with food than without. I recommend drinking the David Clinton “Teldeschi” 2015 with or without food and this “Mounts” definitely WITH […]
Deep dark cherries, a little jammy, black licorice and a whiff of Ruby Port introduce this bold, full-flavored David Clinton Zinfandel Teldeschi. In the mouth the liqueur-y fruit tasted darker and darker with air, moving to black cherry and blackberry after 30 minutes of “opening up.” More licorice, cracked black pepper, rocky earth and dark caramel/dark chocolate emerge. It’s a mouthful! Medium/light oak (American), firm tannins on the finish which lasts 20-25 seconds. I suspect this wine will evolve and improve a lot over the next year. More information Two Napans, first names David and Clinton, transformed their winemaking hobby […]
Ripe, slightly jammy dark plums, Bing cherries and blackberries make up the core of Cornerstone Benchlands, a Cabernet from myriad vineyards in St. Helena, Howell Mountain, Oakville and Rutherford. This is juicy, briary and toasty, showing more sweet barrel flavors than other DDWA-reviewed Cornerstone wines. Healthy acidity, fine tannins, notes of dried French herbs, rich, medium/full body. If I am to choose one 2015 Cornerstone Cabernet to drink tonight, I choose this one. More Information The Cornerstone winemaking team of Kari Auringer and Charles Thomas blends their vast experiences and unique paths to make a super-duo of craftsmanship. Kari’s first […]
Single vineyard “Mountain Cab” sourced from an undisclosed winery. Get ripe, dark red cherries and berries, cassis, vanilla bean and whiffs of cigar wrapper & rocky soil. It’s pretty firm, pointing to its “mountain-ness.” Tannins coat the mouth on the finish. But, interestingly, the berry/cherry, earth and barrel flavors keep going. A classic, powerful, age-worthy Mountain Cabernet. 5% Merlot, 70% new French oak. More Information The Cornerstone winemaking team of Kari Auringer and Charles Thomas blends their vast experiences and unique paths to make a super-duo of craftsmanship. Kari’s first harvest was 2015: Charles 2017. They blended off the 2015 […]
Valley floor, west of Highway 29 vineyard owned by the University of California system (UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology controls and runs it). Starts with a nose of fresh ripe raspberries, red apple, plums, bay leaf, cracked coriander seeds and lavender. Fruit flavors pop out in the mouth trailed by chocolate shavings, black olive and tea leaves. Medium acidity and fine tannins…in a good place to drink now and through 2023. In the fashion of world-class Merlot, the Cornerstone 2015 delivers pleasure like a jazz quartet rather than a rock band. More Information The Cornerstone winemaking team of […]
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 […]
Rich nose of kirsch, ripe juicy blackberries, cocoa and vanilla beans. Big hit of fresh, ripe black cherries and berries in the mouth with cocoa, mint, espresso and pomegranate syrup dancing behind. It’s a mouthful. Fine tannins and acidity to support and elevate the flavors. Really impressive. Chiron Cabernet Sauvignon The Paint of Moonlight from Knights Valley walks the fine line of being both drinkable now and great for the cellar. If you drink now, I bet you it drinks best the next day! 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from a knoll-side vineyard in Knights Valley north of Calistoga & Napa Valley. […]
“Stuller Vineyard,” located a couple miles northwest of Occidental, is a very cool site. The Boheme Pinot Noir Stuller, standing to reason, is perfumed, ethereal and intense. Yeah, it’s the real-deal in California Pinot Noir. I love the nose: bouquet of red roses, cranberry sauce, squished up fresh raspberries. Then it tastes like really good, cool-climate Pinot Noir, as in wild red cherries, five spice, red rose-laced black tea, pomegranate. The acidity elevates the flavors, round mouth feel, fine tannins for support. It’s all there. This is like a middleweight boxer that wins the fight with finesse, agility and sneaky […]
“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, […]
Almost a Bordeaux style blend, Brandlin Prince & Pedro Red Blend is 60% Merlot, 15% Syrah (the outlier), 10% Cab Sauv, 10% Cab Franc, 5% Malbec. Lots of fruit, medium/full body, ripe and dark berries and cherries, and SPICE! The Syrah and Malbec, at 20%, make an impact. Black licorice, white pepper, mint and spicy cocoa weave through the wine, start to finish. Gentle tannins and medium/low acidity point to an easy to enjoy, yet intriguing, red wine. This is all from the “Brandlin Vineyard,” owned and farmed by the esteemed Cuvaison Winery. More Information The Brandlin Prince & Pedro Red Blend […]
Although it doesn’t say it on the label, this is all Syrah from Monterey County. The Rhone-head that I am, I like its wild red fruits, gamey, black olive, peppery smell and flavor. Pour this for me blind and tell me it’s Crozes-Hermitage and I would have no reason to dispute it. Medium/high acidity, medium tannins, light on the oak, very perfume-y, alcohol under 14%. Yes indeed, this is trés French. Warrior Angel Red, Central Coast is from the Consecration Wines, a negociant focusing on small-production, excellent value California wines. To see all my reviews of Consecration Wines, GO HERE.
Syrah’s spicy/smoky side introduces you to the Lagier Meredith Syrah 2015. Cracked black pepper, cocoa, black olive and bacon, not “too much” mingle with blue/black/raspberry (all good & ripe) from start to finish. A big burst of briary berries, dark red and blue mostly, slaps the mid palate. And the spice keeps on going, all the while nicely integrated into the fruit. As expected from Lagier Meredith, the wine has solid structure and medium/high acidity that points to a long evolution in bottle. Ideal drinking: I’m thinking 2022-2035. Destemmed before fermentation, aged in oft-used “neutral” French oak, unfiltered. 290 cases […]
Powerful, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from William Hill Winery’s Estate Vineyards along the Silverado Trail in Southeast Napa Valley. Smell and taste dark chocolate, blackberries, dark red cherries, toasted rye bread and an unlit $50 cigar. Tannic just-opened, it quickly opens up and softens as it breathes. Protein (red and dark white meats, beans), nicely salted, does the trick too. William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon “Benchland Series” is a great Napa Cab to enjoy with beefsteak, for sure.
All from Monterey’s Santa Lucia Highlands, where the wines are not shy. Camino Chardonnay Soberanes is rich, spicy and complex. Smell and taste lemon custard, apple butter, peach purée, nutmeg and roast coffee. With this richness comes an undercurrent of acidity that levitates the wine. I really like how the nutmeg-y spice and roasted flavors from the barrel are integrated into the wine. It is barrel fermented, full malolactic, aged in 30% new French oak. More Information Napa producer Camino is made, owned and operated by Tadeo Borchardt, also the long-time winemaker at Neyers Vineyard. He makes tiny amounts of […]
Műller-Thurgau, the 2nd most planted grape in Germany, is also grown in neighbor countries, and in spots around the world, like Oregon! I love what Anne Amie does with Műller-Thurgau. Smell and taste fresh green apples, honeysuckle, lemon zest, peach skins, maybe a little tangerine, white pepper and a rocky/earthy character on the finish, giving it an old-world, food-wine edge. Low alcohol (12.9?), bright acidity, no oak, killer price. Great brunch wine as it sings with salads, eggs, fresh and cured fish dishes. More Information I’ve become well acquainted with Anne Amie wines from tasting them frequently with their California […]
“Red Blend of Cabernet Franc” states the front label. The blend, exactly is is 60% Cabernet Franc, 23% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot and 6% Malbec. Fruit-forward with classic Napa Valley richness, the Crocker & Starr AVA Napa Valley also boasts a savory mixture of tarragon, cocoa, clove, pipe tobacco and black olive. Structured and layered, this is a blend for those looking for something more than just sweet fruit and toasty oak. 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 […]
Valley floor, west of Highway 29 vineyard owned by the University of California system (UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology controls and runs it). A very intriguing and tasty wine that straddles the line of “Bordeaux Style” (darker, richer) and “Loire Style” (brighter, more red fruits) to me. Smell and taste ripe red plums, blueberries, sun-dried thyme and tarragon, black olives and cedar-lined cigar box. Equal parts intensity and heft, thus the Bordeaux-Loire straddle. Acidity elevates the flavors like a champ. 50% new French oak frames the vineyard & fruit-first wine. 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. More Information The […]
From a tiny plot of Albariño in “Hudson Vineyard” planted specifically for Kongsgaard. Orange zest, mineral and citrus blossom nose. Then take a sip: tangy! Almost, but not quite, tart. First sip grabs you with acidity, then the palate adjusts and it’s a joy. Lemonheads, yellow grapefruit, Macintosh apple, lemongrass flavors come to mind. Lees-stirring supplies body and texture. This rare white is only available at certain restaurants (no retail purchase, not even from the winery).
100% Cabernet Sauvigon from “Bear Flag Vineyard” north of Calistoga at the base of the Mayacamas mountains. Bordeaux-ish nose of dry aged beef and dried shiitake mushrooms sprinkled over ripe blueberries and Bing cherries. Taste is fresh dark red berries and cherries, slightly liqueur-ish, and a mineral/crushed rock earthy edge. Very firm tannins that cut off the flavors on the finish right now. A decant would certainly help, but this is really built for the cellar and built to last! Enjoy it 2025-2035 for best experience. While $85 is a lot for a bottle of wine, especially one you may […]
Ripe, juicy red cherries, raspberries and sweet cranberries on the nose along with violets and candied ginger introduce you to the Chiron Pinot Noir. Great start. Taste continues on the same path with oolong tea and black truffle flavors sneaking in. Perfect ripeness in my opinion, healthy acidity and structure to make it last for years. Best drinking 2021-2026 (at least). 30% whole cluster ferment, 13.4% alcohol, aged in once-used French oak (almost “neutral”). More Information 2015 is the maiden vintage for Chiron, a miniscule producer based in Napa Valley. It’s a father & son project: the father heads the business […]