Kale “Home Run Cuvee” 2016

Kale Home Run Cuvee

Rhone-style wine specialist Kale Anderson’s Syrah/Grenache blend (about half of each) from the hillside “Kick Ranch” vineyard is outstanding. After just 20 minutes of breathing it shows lots of black pepper, kalamata olives and smoke accessorizing a the rich, ripe dark berry fruits (blackberry, mulberry, blueberry). Expansive in the mouth with fine tannins and a […]

Dancing Crow Old Stake 1901 2018

Dancing Crow Old Stake

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 […]

Post & Vine Old Vine Field Blend 2017

Post & Vine Red 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. […]

Jolie Laide Grenache Syrah Mourvedre 2018

Jolie Laide GSM

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 […]

PRIMA MATERIA “Arcanum No III” Red

Prima Materia Arcanum III

“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 […]

Coho Headwaters 2016

Coho Headwaters

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 […]

Cottebrune Faugères Rouge 2016

Cottebrune Faugeres Red 16

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 […]

Peter Paul “Master’s Blend” 2016

Peter Paul Masters Blend

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 […]

Post & Vine “Old Vine Field Blend” 2016

Post & Vine Red Wine

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, […]

Cave Dog Napa Valley Red 2016

Cave Dog Red Wine

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. […]

Coup de Foudre “Les Bouquinistes” 2017

Coup de Foudre Les Bouquinistes 17

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, […]

Pago Ayles “Y” 2014

Pago Ayles Y

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 […]

Hudson “Phoenix” 2017

Hudson Phoenix

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, […]

Navarro “Navarrouge” 2018

Navarro Navarrouge

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 […]

Decoy Red Blend 2017

Decoy Red Blend

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 […]

Por Que No? Red 2016

Por Que No? Red Wine

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 […]

Trinafour Rosso Misto 2017

Trinafour Rosso Misto

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 […]

601 CELLARS “Super Tuscan” Napa Valley 2017

601 Super Tuscan

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 […]

JOLIE LAIDE Trousseau (Plus) 2018

Jolie Laide Trousseau Gamay Poulsard Valdiguie

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, […]

ST ROMEDIUS Red Wine 2017

St Romedius Red Wine

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 […]

CHIRON “Virtue and Vice” Red 2016

Chiron Virtue and Vice

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 […]

GRANGE des ROUQUETTE Syrah Grenache 2018

Grange des Rouquette Syrah Grenache

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 […]

ANDREW MURRAY Esperance 2016

Andrew Murray Esperance

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 […]

One Iron Meritage 2015

One Iron Meritage

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 […]