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!
March 3, 2019
Andrew Lane Barrel Select

ANDREW LANE “Barrel Select” 2012

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 […]
February 26, 2019
Bucklin Ancient Field Blend

BUCKLIN Ancient Field Blend “Old Hill” 2016

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 […]
February 26, 2019
Ackerman Alaviagna Tosca

ACKERMAN “Alavigna Tosca” 2015

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.
February 4, 2019
Peirson Meyer Maquette

PEIRSON MEYER “Maquette” 2015

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 […]
January 19, 2019
Behrens Family Front Man

BEHRENS FAMILY “Front Man” 2015

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.)  
December 11, 2018
Analemma Tinto 2016

ANALEMMA Tinto 2016

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 […]
December 10, 2018
Bedrock Heritage Vineyard

BEDROCK “Bedrock Heritage” 2017

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 […]
December 10, 2018
Bedrock Evangelho Heritage

BEDROCK Evangelho Heritage 2017

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 […]
December 6, 2018

INIZI “Hi Jump Red” 2016

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!
December 3, 2018
MagnaVita Brothers Blend

MagnaVita Brothers Blend 2016

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 […]
November 30, 2018
MagnaVita Grapewagon Red

MagnaVita Grapewagon Red 2016

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 […]
October 23, 2018
Allegrini Palazzo della torre

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2014

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 […]
October 17, 2018
The Withers In Hand

The Withers In Hand Red Wine 2016

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 […]
September 20, 2018
Skyhook Red Wine

SKYHOOK Red Wine, Sonoma County 2013

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 […]
September 1, 2018
Brandlin Prince & Pedro

BRANDLIN “Prince & Pedro” Red 2015

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  […]
September 1, 2018
Crocker & Starr AVA Napa Valley Red

Crocker & Starr AVA Napa Valley Red 2017

“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 […]
August 28, 2018
Coteaux Travers Cotes du Rhone Char a Vin

Coteaux des Travers Cotes du Rhone 16

The Domaine des Coteaux des Travers Côtes du Rhône Char à Vin is 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah. Certified biodynamic winery. Opaque ruby color, nose of cooked fresh raspberries and cracked black peppercorns. It’s wild berry fruits first in the mouth with tasty, peppery spice and dried herbs de Provence swirling about. Soft tannins, medium acidity, juicy, quite bold and fresh. This is a very tasty Southern Rhone Valley red that, for $15 or less, is an easy choice for friendly dinners or when you’re all by your lonesome. More Information From the importer: “A char is a military […]
August 22, 2018
Rapp Ranch Cutters Reserve

RAPP RANCH “Cutter’s Reserve” Napa Valley 2014

A reverse Bordeaux-style blend as it leads with Petit Verdot (45%) and Malbec, then Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Very dark, concentrated and powerful, I call it a “brooder” because of all its roasted pie and Indian spices, black berry/cherry flavors, smoke and dark cocoa smells and flavors. You might expect a punch of hard tannins at the end, but not the case! Fine tannins give the wine a firm structure but they let the fruit, earth and spice shine through and make the mouth happy. Really well made and nicely unique in the world of California red blends. More Information […]
August 7, 2018
Coho Headwaters

COHO “Headwaters” Napa Valley 2014

“Most representative of Coombsville wine I’ve released,” states owner Gary Lipp. Ironic, since it’s not labeled as Coombsville (sometimes Coho Headwaters doesn’t hit the 85% AVA threshold – it does in 2014). The blend is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot. Speaking of Coombsville style, you get the savory character of the southeast Napa AVA. The likes of dark tobacco, bittersweet chocolate, espresso and truffle shake hands with ripe blueberry and black cherry. Vibrant acidity, medium/full body, careful use of French oak. It’s all there. This is a sleeper wine for the cellar. Pull this out in 2030, […]
August 7, 2018
Steady State Red Wine

STEADY STATE Red Wine 2015

Steady State Red Wine is a blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. Put this in your Cabernet Sauvignon section as the dark fruit flavors and the chewy texture point to Napa’s “King Grape” in style. Smell and taste black cherries, blueberries, some mint, vanilla bean and cocoa. I call this a “generous” wine as it shows everything its got. Still, it has just enough restraint (i.e. not sweet nor jammy) with acidity and tannins to support the wine. More Information Collusion is one of the wines owned/made by Grounded Wine Co […]
July 28, 2018
Neyers Sage Canyon

NEYERS Sage Canyon Red 2016

Neyers Sage Canyon is a Rhone-style red blend of 45% Carignane, 25% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre and 15% Syrah. Napa vintners Bruce and Barbara Neyers and their winemaker Tadeo Borchardt get grapes for “Sage Canyon” from the Sierra Foothills, Contra Costa County, Sonoma Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey. I totally dig this wine: it captures a Southern French character as it embraces the style that California sunshine offers. Smell and taste dark pie spices, blueberry jam, ripe raspberries, kirsch, black licorice and peppercorns. It sports medium acidity that elevates the flavors and easy-going tannins. Being card-carrying member of the Rhone-Head […]