Rhone Valley producer Vignobles Boudinaud ventures outside the Southern Rhone for Grange des Rouquette. This is 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache all tank fermented and briefly aged before bottling. This delicious “quaffer red” is full of dark red strawberries, black pepper, black licorice and fresh violet smells and flavors. Perfectly ripe – neither jammy nor green – makes for good drinking for all. Roast chicken is a natural match, but it’s a friend for all types of dishes and cuisines. Worth having 6-12 bottles around and easy access.
This GSM (60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre) from Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley is big-time winner for $25. A rich and spicy red through and through, get dark strawberry preserves, cocoa, cinnamon, black pepper, licorice, lavender and smoked beef jerky. It’s round and luscious in the mouth with a long finish that combines ripe, dark fruitiness and spice. Not to be confused with a Rhone Valley, France GSM as the California sunshine shows in the Andrew Murray Esperance 2016.
The One Iron Meritage 2015 blend is 64% Merlot, 27% Malbec, 9% Petit Verdot. The Merlot: 70 year old, dry farmed “Frediani Vineyard” in northern Napa Valley. Fantastic fruit, on the dark side of the spectrum: blueberries, black cherries and blackberries. Merlot’s kitchen herbs (rosemary, bay leaf, tarragon) and dark cocoa smells and flavors waft through. Rocky earth sensation on the 25 second finish. The tannins are fine, making for a silky, medium/full bodied wine. I totally dig the character and soul of this wine. The Iron Series of wines are owned and made by long-time Napa winemaker Chris Dearden. […]
83% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah from Oakville Ranch Vineyard which looks down on The Valley on the east side…best view of the Napa Valley you’ll ever get. This wine is huge. Pours out black-ruby with some purple in there. Black licorice, nutmeg and cinnamon hit the nose along with the blackberry pie and black cherry preserves. The taste is more of the same with a dark chocolate thing moving in and lasting through its 30 second finish. I like its structure, in other words how the firm tannins and the concentration of fruit blend together. Too bad there are only […]
The estate vineyard and winery Boudinaud consistently brings big value to their wines. The red Cotes du Rhone “La Boissiere” is 55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre then Cinsault and Counoise. Dark blackberry and strawberry fruit smells and flavors plus dry French herbs, cracked black peppercorns, dried lavender and musk. Ripeness, firm tannins and an animal-y earthiness line up to make a satisfying grilled red meat and strong sausage wine. This has French Bistro by the glass wine written all over it.
A Bordeaux style blend of 37% Merlot, 37% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Hoxsey family’s estate vineyards in Yountville and Oakville. This is fruit-forward and rich with soft tannins and a sturdy frame of toasty oak. Chockablock has all the classic deep, rich flavors we seek from Napa Cabs and dark red blends. Boysenberries, black cherries, cola, cocoa, nutmeg, vanilla bean…all cohesive and integrated. This is a heck of a buy for a Napa Bordeaux-style red blend from Ghost Block Estate Wines.
Tres Sabores winery’s red blend started in 2001 as a “leftover wine.” Now it’s an “intentional wine” in which grapes are brought in (grown/purchased) specifically for this wine. Always delicious in a ripe, spicy, robust style. I just had the latest, the 2015 (note the bottle time the Por Que No? gets – unique for such a red blend. This is a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. The grapes come from Tres Sabores’ Estate vineyard on Rutherford Bench, another vineyard in Rutherford and Calistoga. The wine pours out dark ruby. The ripe, dark berry fruits pop out […]
While it’s no surprise that the 2016 Ridge Geyserville is extremely good, it is debatable as to what to do with it. It’s a mouthful of powerful fruit, earth and spice, leaning more toward the savory than the fruit at the time of tasting. Dark soil, dried mint, cumin seed and anise complement the intense core of brambly red and blue berry fruitiness here. That said, it is obviously wound up…it’s good but I can tell it is holding back and nothing but time will truly let it blossom. 73% Zinfandel, 17% Carignane, 7% Petite Sirah, 3% Alicante Bouschet. This […]
All from “Alegria Vineyard,” just west of Healdsburg. 65-125 year old vines. A field blend (all grapes harvested and fermented together) of 78% Zinfandel, 10% Alicante, 10% Petite Sirah, 2% 12 other varieties. Shows warm, spicy, ripe blue/dark red smells and flavors of berry compote, cinnamon, allspice and black licorice. Generous fruity flavors, soft texture, medium acidity and tannins. A pleasure to drink. It really sets itself apart by its great smells and complexity. I could drink this every night!
Mostly Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot adding muscle, this falls into the Right Bank Bordeaux-style realm. The Andrew Lane Barrel Select red is impressively structured. A choir of healthy tannins wash over the gums while intensely flavored raspberries and wild cherries plus tobacco leaf, black tea, anise and cocoa flavors cross the palate. This is more structured and youthful than you’d expect a 2012 Merlot-based blend to be. I think it’s going to unwind and blossom over the next 4-5 years. I also find a piece of grilled (rare) beef or lamb, nicely salted, lowers the tannins and […]
About 65% Zinfandel and 35% Field Blend including Grenache, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah, Carignane and Mourvedre (over 30 varieties all told). Deep, dark purple-red color. In the mouth the wine is rich, powerful and brooding. Berry & cherry compote, black licorice, beef jerky, black pepper, five spice. A big mouthful, the Bucklin “Old Hill” 2016 is one to cellar with 3-5 years, but it’s so tasty now it’s hard for some to keep their hands off of it. More Information Bucklin Winery ferments their Zinfandel and Field Blend of 30 grapes separately, then puts them together. The vineyard is farmed […]
60% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon (“Super Tuscan Style”) blend. Bright and bold aromas of red cherry liqueur, tarragon and black tea. Tastes like a big, happy mouthful of ripe wild red cherries with back-up pomegranate, raspberry, new leather, coriander and black pepper. Medium bodied, leaning toward medium-full, fine tannins, lovely acidity, modest oak. Everything’s in place. Drinking like a champ. I really enjoyed with a sausage & mushroom pie at Forge Pizzeria.
Blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. A “Right Bank Bordeaux-style blend” in the words of Peirson Meyer Winery. I absolutely love this wine for its expressive yet under-control fruitiness, underscore of savory flavors like tobacco, anise and dry aged beef and fine, gum-coating tannins. All the smells and flavors are perfectly supported by the acid and tannins. Showing off all its goodies now, and will continue to evolve and drink awesome for 10-20 years. This is an outstanding value in the Napa Cab/Bordeaux blend category for “just” $60. From Peirson Meyer… MAQUETTE: A term familiar […]
This Merlot-based red (86% Merlot, 14% Cab Sauv) is a broad-shouldered, hearty red wine…hardly what the majority of wine drinkers equate with Merlot. Black fruits, sweet spices like anise, clove and roasted cinnamon. Cocoa, mint and rosemary. It’s not shy on new, toasty oak yet it has an extreme concentration of fruit and glycerine to match the barrel. (The last statement can be made about every Behrens Family wine I can remember.)
The Analemma Tinto, a blend of Tempranillo and Syrah, reminds me of a chewy Napa Valley Cabernet in its concentration of dark berry/cherry fruits, firm tannins, licorice and earthy spices and tobacco accents. It’s a mouthful of wine for sure as it brings together sweet and savory, a full body and layers of flavor. Youthful and chewy, a one hour decant does the wine a lot of good. If you cellar it, best drinking I estimate to be 2022-2030. More Information Analemma Winery launched in 2010 when two guys leased “Atavus Vineyard” in the Columbia Gorge (75 miles east of […]
A fantastic field blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Mataro then an amalgam of “mixed blacks” (like Alicante, Terret, Tannat, Grenache…). On the dark red and blue fruit spectrum with an earth-driven frame of red earth, licorice and cocoa powder. Smells wonderful – so aromatic and alluring. Rich and well structured with fine tannins and healthy acidity. The Bedrock Bedrock Heritage Vineyard has a depth of flavor, complexity and coming evolution over time that comes with wines twice its price. This is such a treat and is a wine to drink now and through the next decade. Here are all the Bedrock Wine […]
A beautiful wine from 130+ year old, own-rooted vines in Antioch and the Sacramento Delta. Comprised of roughly 3/5th Zinfandel, 1/3rd Mataro and the rest a field blend of “mixed blacks.” (The wine is a field blend/co-ferment, matter of fact.) Perfectly ripe raspberries, strawberries and plums all marry cracked black pepper, allspice and lavender. It has a strength of flavor and graceful elegance to it. Absolutely delicious barely a year after harvest, this will improve a lot over the short term and be awesome for many years. Drink 2020-2030. 2017 marks the first vintage Bedrock has made “Evangelho” wine as […]
Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Montepulciano and Cabernet Sauvignon are the “Fab 4” in this Cal-Italian red blend. Very impressive how the four grapes play together. The fruit, aromas and perky acidity of the three Italian grapes each add their unique qualities. The Cabernet adds structure and darkens the wine a bit. Get fresh raspberries, wild strawberries and plums, then peppery spice and dried Mediterranean herbs. Fine, mouth-coating tannins make the Inizi Hi Jump Red match nicely with all cuts of red meat (white meat and fatty fish too). Such a value!
Here’s a strong, tasty, unique blend of Lagrein and Refosco, two grapes of Northeast Italian origin. These grapes come from El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills’ “Lone Pine Vineyard.” Field blend/co-ferment (in other words, the grapes grow together and ferment together). Get a big hit of wild dark red berries with bits of black pepper, black tea and anise. Tons of smells and flavors, then, just before you swallow, a wave of tannins. These are good tannins, ones that will soften with air, with time, and with well seasoned red and white meat dishes. This is an excellent red wine for […]
This red blend is mostly Zinfandel from Lodi with compliments of Merlot and Lagrein (a grape you see mostly from its Northern Italy homeland). Smell and taste summertime, fresh-picked red berries along with dabs of black tea, dried mushrooms, black pepper and tobacco (unlit nice cigar). Medium acidity and medium/light tannins. Aged briefly in French oak used previously for 3 years, i.e. neutral. This hits the mark of a drink-anytime red blend a la a killer Southern Rhone. Great price for a well-made, unique wine. More Information Ron Magnavita-Phillips, winemaker/do it all proprietor, is based in Napa Valley, and his […]
A home run for sub $20 red. But not surprising as Allegrini Palazzo della Torre wine has over-delivered for the price for many years. This Veronese red (from near Verona, Veneto region, northeast Italy) is a blend of local grapes Corvina, Rondinella plus a splash of Sangiovese. Ripe dark cherries, sweet spices, pick-me-up acidity, gentle tannins. Easy wine to drink and drink. I know – I’m drinking it as I write on a calm Sunday evening. Buy this 2014 while it’s still around. Allegrini “Palazzo della Torre” is on my “Best of the Best” list of Awesome and Hall of […]
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, medium acidity. This is ready to enjoy anytime and goes particularly well with pork and stronger fish dishes as well as dishes with mushrooms, olives and lots of herbs. Winegrowing notes from The Withers: The Withers In Hand was fermented with 30% whole clusters and […]
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 la The Prisoner, have taken the copy-cat highway to wine production and sales success. While Skyhook may look like one of these copy cats, it doesn’t taste like it. It has more in common with a spicy Paso Robles Cal-Rhone than an uber-ripe “modern red […]
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 […]