April 4, 2021
Dancing Crow Old Stake

Dancing Crow Old Stake 1901 2018

Eight principal grape (+ a couple dozen other red and white grapes) field blend, co-harvest, co-ferment. The old vines date as far back as 1901.  Refreshing, briary red berry fruits and sun-dried garden herbs the initial impressions. Starts quite tight, almost light. An hour of splashing or open bottle overnight brings deeper color, darker fruit profile, more brooding, deep spicy and rich character. The transformation was amazing. Dark raspberry, mocha, cocoa, black pepper and pomegranate flavors come at you all at once after it has stretched a bit. Rich, distinctive, versatile wine that has a long life ahead of it. […]
March 11, 2021
Post & Vine Red 2017

Post & Vine Old Vine Field Blend 2017

The 2017 Post & Vine Old Vine Field Blend is a blend of Zinfandel (34%), Carignane (32%), Petite Sirah (30%) and Grenache (4%) from 65 year old vines in Mendocino’s Redwood Valley. In true field blend method, all four varietals are harvested and fermented together. The old vines give the wine its spicy, earthy soul. Skilled farming and winemaking explain the layers of fruit and texture. The Post & Vine 2017 is brambly, brushy with smells & flavors of violet candies, ripe dark plum, raspberry sauce, cinnamon, garden thyme and crushed black peppercorns that are first shy then blossom and […]
December 15, 2020
Jolie Laide GSM

Jolie Laide Grenache Syrah Mourvedre 2018

Ripe and sweet-smelling blueberries, black licorice, dry-aged beef, violets and lavender and earthy spices come to mind on the Jolie Laide GSM’s deep, complex nose. In the mouth, the wine is layered, intense and youthful. Red berry and plum fruits peek through along with mandarin orange, new leather and cracked black pepper. Built to last and evolve with its healthy acidity and fine tannins, the wine will reach its optimal drinking plateau around 2025 and stay there for 10+ years. Co-owner/winemaker Scott Schultz: “Shake Ridge is an undulating and diverse 46-acre vineyard nestled about 1750ft. up in the Sierra foothills, […]
November 29, 2020
Prima Materia Arcanum III

PRIMA MATERIA “Arcanum No III” Red

“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 it. Reminds me of a Southern Italian red: nice and rustic. $21 is a great deal for this wine. More Information Prima Materia’s vineyard is in western Lake County. Volcanic soils, 1500 feet elevation, continental climate (very hot days and cool nights). Not your typical […]
October 27, 2020
Coho Headwaters

Coho Headwaters 2016

The Coho Headwaters, always a Bordeaux-style blend, is different in 2016 with its large portion of Petit Verdot. The blend, 39% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Petit Verdot, all from the cooler Napa region of Coombsville, makes for a Napa red that could be confused for Bordeaux. Savory sensations such as bittersweet chocolate, roast coffee beans and garden thyme, bay leaf & rosemary join black currants, blackberries, black cherries and pomegranates. Structured, multi-layered, great mouth-feel. Marriage of fruit, earth, spice and complimentary oak on the long, satisfying finish. Coho owner Gary Lipp stays true to his mantra of full […]
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 […]