June 20, 2020
Cottebrune Faugeres Red 16

Cottebrune Faugères Rouge 2016

This Grenache/Syrah blend blend from the high quality yet relatively unknown Faugères appelation is a real gem. Growing in high density vineyards in the foothills of France’s Massif Central, Cottebrune Faugères “Les Moulins” is pure and pretty with loads of red plum, raspberry, strawberry and peppery spice pleasure. A subtle floral component-fresh violets and lavender-lurks in the background. Medium bodied, gentle tannins, healthy acidity and no oak flavor (only the Syrah is barrel-aged – third use so pretty neutral) make for a wine that is both distinctive AND easy to enjoy. Domaine de Cottebrune is owned, grown and made by […]
June 1, 2020
Peter Paul Masters Blend

Peter Paul “Master’s Blend” 2016

Martin Reyes, Master of Wine, crafted this wine by sourcing barrels of wine from a handful of great Napa wineries and making a blend. It is Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc-heavy with Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot adding nuance. An old-world nose of smoky berry/cherry, musk, cedar and pencil shavings, along with its heartbeat of acidity, definitely remind me of Bordeaux. In the mouth the density and expansiveness of Napa Cabernet comes through as flavors of creme de cassis, blackberries, leather handbag, cumin and toasty barrel with a drop of vanilla glide by. You can tell this wine comes from […]
May 22, 2020
Post & Vine Red Wine

Post & Vine “Old Vine Field Blend” 2016

60ish year old vine field blend of Petite Sirah (30%), Carignane (29%), Zinfandel (25%), and Grenache (16%) from Redwood Valley’s “Testa Vineyard.” The fresh, snappy red and blue fruits, peppercorn spice, potpourri and crushed Provence herbs make for an intense yet restrained red wine that is very versatile at the dinner table. At 14.2% alcohol, the wine shows purity and generous flavors without a port-like or jammy character. I think this will drink at its best from around 2023 to 2030. Post & Vine Owners/Winemakers Rebekah Wineburg and Erica Kinkaid both have “day jobs” making super-high end (and pricey) Napa […]
May 19, 2020
Cave Dog Red Wine

Cave Dog Napa Valley Red 2016

This blend of 58% Merlot and 42% Cabernet Franc from “Beau Terroir,” a vineyard in southwest Napa Valley, could easily be confused for a high end Right Bank Bordeaux from an exceptional vintage. It’s that good. All the expected Bordeaux descriptions rattle off my typing fingers: tobacco, black currant, blackberry, pencil shavings, cedar and sandalwood. The fruit is a smidge more pronounced than its old world counterparts because, hey, it’s Napa. Ultimately the vineyard speaks the loudest with its savory, soily, spicy character showing in the wine. Medium bodied, acidity skates about, fine tannins, complementary French oak. As good as […]
May 4, 2020
Coup de Foudre Les Bouquinistes 17

Coup de Foudre “Les Bouquinistes” 2017

This blend of 42% Petit Verdot, 32% Petit Sirah, 13% Merlot and 13% Zinfandel, all from vineyards in Calistoga, takes the “modern red blend” category to a higher level of quality. It is loaded with rich berry and cherry compote fruitiness plus black licorice, peppermint, vanilla bean and cocoa smells and flavors. The smooth tannins, full body and medium-low acidity make for a whole lot of pleasure without needing a lot of analysis. Coup de Foudre is one of the wine brands owned by Napa Vintner and entrepreneur John Schwartz. Kent Jarman is the winemaker. The wines (9 each vintage […]
May 1, 2020
Pago Ayles Y

Pago Ayles “Y” 2014

This blend of 34% Garnacha, 27% Tempranillo, 23% Merlot and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon is a mouthful of spicy dark berry flavors with underpinnings of rocky earth. Smell and taste cinnamon, black cherry liqueur, ripe blackberries, licorice, crushed rocks and vanilla. Medium to full body, soft tannins and a happy core of acidity make this a great drinking red wine now and through at least 2025…although it’s so good now why wait that long? Pago Ayles is one of only 19 Vino de Pago in Spain. (A Vino de Pago is a classification for Spanish wine applied to individual vineyards or […]
April 24, 2020
Hudson Phoenix

Hudson “Phoenix” 2017

Blend of 58% Merlot and 42% Cabernet Franc from the relatively cool-climate (for Napa) Hudson Estate in The Carneros. Bright, deep red berry and cherry aromas with a pretty frame of French oak (90% new French used, seems to be light to medium toast). Flavors move to more fruit, including dark red plums, new leather, cigar tobacco, roast red pepper and anise. While the tannins are substantial, they are fine and in balance with the multiple layers. Strong wine like an Olympic gymnast rather than an NFL lineman. Intriguing story, the 2017 Hudson Phoenix. 2017 was the last vintage Hudson […]
April 21, 2020
Navarro Navarrouge

Navarro “Navarrouge” 2018

This blend of 46% Pinot Noir, 18% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petite Sirah is out of the ordinary when it comes to red blends. Pinot Noir is rarely a blending wine, let alone the base wine. But if anyone is going to make such a blend, it’s Navarro because A) they grow and make excellent Pinot Noir, and lots of it and B) they proudly dance to the beat of their own drummer. “Navarrouge” 2018 shows off ripe red and blue fruits, medium body and acidity, fine tannins, brown spices and savory, meaty flavors. While it […]
March 9, 2020
Decoy Red Blend

Decoy Red Blend 2017

I really like this wine. Smells and tastes of fresh red berries, French toast (just the smell), black licorice and pomegranate. This is ripe buy stays away from the popular over-ripe red blend style. I prefer the non-jammy character of the Decoy Red Blend. This can be found for under $20/bottle in some retail outlets in and around Napa. If you find it for $17-18/bottle, buy a bunch and share it for most any occasion, casual or kind of fance. The blend is 49% Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah and Syrah. Decoy Wines are part of the […]
February 17, 2020
Por Que No? Red Wine

Por Que No? Red 2016

The 2016 ¿Por Qué No? is a four grape blend, starting with Cabernet Sauvignon at 48% followed by Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and finally Petit Verdot (1%). It’s part from Tres Sabores’ Rutherford Bench “Estate” vineyard and Calistoga. It tastes of freshly-picked and summer-ripe raspberries, blueberries, pomegranate and red cherries. Cedar, black licorice and freshly-baked bread compliment the fruitiness. The Cabernet Sauvignon (which is the highest % of Cab the “PQN?” has ever had) adds grace and layers to the wine. Medium acidity and gentle tannins. It’s very good now, but I’m guessing it will unwind, add flesh and be at […]
February 17, 2020
Trinafour Rosso Misto

Trinafour Rosso Misto 2017

Old vine Grenache and Carignane from Mendocino’s Redwood Valley are married in this bright, intense, food-friendly red. I smell and taste red raspberries, cranberries, wild cherries, pomegranate, white pepper and fennel frond. Reminds me of a top-notch Corbières or other such Southern France red wines with great character and no oak. I’m a big fan of Trinafour Cellars and its owner/winemaker, Alex MacGregor. The wines are consistently unique but not “out there,” very tasty and delivery exceptional value. Read all of my Trinafour Wine reviews HERE.
January 28, 2020
601 Super Tuscan

601 CELLARS “Super Tuscan” Napa Valley 2017

Blend of 80% Sangiovese (from “Solari Vineyard” in Calistoga), 12% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon (both from Coombsville). Cherry preserves, cocoa and dusty garden herb aromas move on to a rich, warm, fruit-driven flavor. The berry/cherry flavors, dark and sun-ripe, are supported by cinnamon, ruby grapefruit and a crushed rock-like earthiness. Medium to full bodied, velvety and rich. The 601 “Super Tuscan” maintains the integrity of Sangiovese as it gives the wine a little extra oomph with the Merlot and Cabernet. In my customary comparison, dollar for dollar, with Napa Valley Cabernet, I think in that realm it is a very […]
November 13, 2019
Jolie Laide Trousseau Gamay Poulsard Valdiguie

JOLIE LAIDE Trousseau (Plus) 2018

Bright, very aromatic, fresh red wine, skillfully blended to add layers of flavors and textures. On the bright red spectrum of flavors: pomegranate, raspberries, cranberry and cherry. On the savory side, get crushed garden thyme, green tea, white pepper and bay leaf. Light bodied, high intensity, long mineral-driven finish. I’ve tasted this once so far, without the pleasure of food to accompany. I will fix this in the near future – probably on Thanksgiving.   Following was taken from the Jolie-Laide website:  “Likely the most ‘Outré Vin’ in the lineup, a vinous Californian pastiche inspired by our reverence of the […]
November 13, 2019
St Romedius Red Wine

ST ROMEDIUS Red Wine 2017

From a tiny hillside vineyard north of the East Bay Area town of Lafayette in the relatively unknown Lamorinda AVA. About half each Petite Sirah and Syrah. Big red wine – deep, dark ruby-red color. Smells and tastes of blackberry and blueberry preserves, cracked black pepper, cloves, bittersweet chocolate, anise and roasted mushrooms. The St Romedius Red Wine 2017 is robust and extremely concentrated. It sets itself apart by keeping its big tannins in check and carrying its 15% alcohol with ease. I recommend it with full flavored bean dishes, slow-cooked stews and roasted or grilled red meats. Also read […]
October 23, 2019
Chiron Virtue and Vice

CHIRON “Virtue and Vice” Red 2016

A blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 5% Petite Sirah, Chiron Virtue and Vice is almost all mountain fruit (Spring Mountain Cab, Howell Mountain Merlot). I really like how this red blend flies out of the gate with ripe black cherry and raspberry flavors followed by black pepper, vanilla and clove. Mouth-filling, full-bodied and easy-going tannins point to a “bigger” red wine made for drinking anytime. It will last longer than you’ll keep it around. Virtue and Vice was aged for 2+ years in all French oak, 20% new. Microscopic production at 70 cases. Starting with the 2015 […]
September 30, 2019
Grange des Rouquette Syrah Grenache

GRANGE des ROUQUETTE Syrah Grenache 2018

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.  
September 25, 2019
Andrew Murray Esperance

ANDREW MURRAY Esperance 2016

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.
September 17, 2019
One Iron Meritage

One Iron Meritage 2015

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.  […]
August 22, 2019
Oakville Ranch Field Blend

OAKVILLE RANCH Field Blend 2016

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 […]
July 9, 2019
Boudinaud la Boissiere

BOUDINAUD Cotes du Rhone La Boissiere 2016

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.
May 23, 2019
Elizabeth Rose Chockablock

Elizabeth Rose Chockablock 2016

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.
April 2, 2019
Por Que No Red 15

Por Que No? Red 2015

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 […]
March 6, 2019
Ridge Geyserville 16

Ridge “Geyserville” 2016

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 […]
March 6, 2019
Sidebar Zinfandel

SIDEBAR Zinfandel “Old Vine” 2016

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!