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 […]
July 25, 2018
Jerome Gradassi Chateauneuf du Pape

JEROME GRADASSI Chateauneuf du Pape 2016

This is a blend of 75% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre. It has a deep, ripe core of sun-ripened blue and blackberries with a supporting cast of black currants, cola, leg of lamb (gamy), black pepper and mint. I like the power, and with a one hour decant I’d be happy to drink it tonight. But I think the best move is to cellar this short term. 2022-2030 drink zone sounds about right to me. For power, complexity and price (especially price), the Jerome Gradassi Chateauneuf du Pape takes me back ten years, when this was my favorite appellation. But with escalating […]
July 25, 2018
Collusion Red Wine

COLLUSION Red Wine 2016

Collusion Red is a blend of 43% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Malbec and 4% Syrah. The grapes come from sub-appellations Red Mountain and Horse Heaven Hills. Napa producer Grounded Wine Co makes the wine in Washington. Fruit-forward, medium-full bodied, big smooch of oak (30% new French oak-aged), soft tannins, medium acidity and, finally, cocoa & cinnamon on the finish point this toward the grill or a big pot of home-cooked beans. This is a high-quality quaffer that brings it for $22/bottle. More Information Collusion is one of the wines owned/made by Grounded Wine Co in Napa Valley. Created in […]
June 25, 2018
Post & Vine Old Vine Field Blend

POST & Vine “Old Vine Field Blend” 2014

The Post & Vine Old Vine Field Blend is equal parts Petite Sirah, Carignane and Grenache from 60+ year old vines in Redwood Valley, eastern Mendocino County (warm!). This is a special red wine that combines ripe berry fruits, healthy acidity, dried spice and exotic flower smells and flavors. The brambly berry, spicy, bold flavors would make you think this is a Zin, or partly Zin, but there’s none (unless a little Zin is hiding in the field blend, which is possible). Modest tannins, well structured, light on the oak. I love drinking this wine, especially with grilled white and […]
June 2, 2018
Longtable The Gathering

LONGTABLE “The Gathering” Red 2013

A Southern-Rhone style blend of 50% Grenache, 47% Syrah and 3% Petite Sirah from a single vineyard on Mount Veeder. It’s “Estate” in that the vineyard is winery-owned, but winemaking happens elsewhere, so it’s technically not. Smell and taste deep, dark black and blueberries with allspice, black licorice, cola and smoked red meat back-ups. Strong wine, with firm, fine tannins and a small explosion of flavor as it sits in your mouth. Longtable waits almost five years after harvest to release The Gathering so it’s ready. It’s sort of ready…it’ll start peaking in 2020 is my guess. Grapes are co-fermented with […]
May 22, 2018
Petit Batard Red Wine

PETIT BATARD Napa Valley 2013

1/3rd each Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec from Lewelling Ranch, St. Helena and Oakville Station, Oakville. A sturdy, spicy frame of toasty oak (38 months in 1/3rd new French) introduces the wine. Then ripe blackberries, kirsch, black licorice, clove and dark chocolate step forward. Big flavor throughout, firm structure yet supple with sweet sensations. This is a wine most definitely for big Napa Cab and Napa red blends fans. More information Petit Batard is the second label for XTANT, which is also a tiny-production, under the radar label. The wines are very good in a big, bold style.
May 19, 2018
Le Cupole Trinoro

Trinoro “Le Cupole” Rosso 2015

Since the late 1990s Tenuta di Trinoro’s Bordeaux-style red blends have been some of the world’s buys. The 2015 Trinor0 Le Cupole Rosso is 58% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot. All “Estate” fruit located in the southeast corner of Tuscany. Powerful, dark, spiced and very structured (tannic) today, this is built to age (a function of the ripe 2015 vintage…Le Cupole is usually not so tannic. But they’re “good tannins” that will soften over time.)  Smell and taste black currants, blackberries, tar, dark chocolate, kirsch, black truffle, cola and black olive. If you need to buy […]
May 19, 2018
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 […]
April 24, 2018
The Withers Bel Canto

THE WITHERS Bel Canto 2016

Blend of 73% Grenache, 22% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah. Very pretty, high-toned aromas of strawberries, raspberries, lavender, black pepper and crushed garden herbs. Fruit, spice and herb play nice together on the palate…all have a voice. Touch of ruby red grapefruit and pomegranate sneak into the taste too. Finish is more about the peppercorn, lavender, bay leaf and thyme. It all works together like a charm. More Information “Cool climate wines from the Sonoma Coast and Sierra Foothills” states The Withers on their website. The talent and passion is there, including David Low as winemaker (he is co-owner & co-winemaker for […]
April 23, 2018
Omen Red Wine

OMEN Red Blend 2016

A unique blend of 50% Syrah, 27% Barbera, 16% Petite Sirah and 7% Zinfandel. Fresh berry and spice aromas, bright and pure red fruits, palate-perking acidity, low oak, touch of dried herbs de Provence and black pepper. This is a super-tasty “Bistro Red” that drinks really well with or without food. More Information Omen and Oro Bello is owned and made by Alex Remy – born and raised in Languedoc region of France, he now lives and works in Napa as a winemaker, business owner, teacher and winemaking consultant. His Oro Bello wines are delicious, honest expressions of the grapes […]
April 22, 2018
Y Rousseau Son of a Butcher

Y ROUSSEAU “Son of a Butcher” 2016

Blend of 45% Tannat, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Franc. Get ripe, dark blackberries and blueberries, cocoa, allspice, roast coffee beans, black licorice and black pepper. Medium acidity, low tannins, ripe but not overly so, rich and super-easy to like. If you’re familiar with Tannat you might expect high tannins. Not the case…this is smooth and supple. Pour this for a group and all will enjoy it!   Aged for 18 months in 15% new and 85% neutral French oak barrels. From Y Rousseau Winery: “French winemaker Yannick Rousseau’s love affair with wine began at age five with […]
April 22, 2018
Strala Red Wine

STRALA Proprietor’s Blend, Napa Valley 2015

This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Malbec comes from a handful of Napa vineyards. A “Modern Red Blend” style for sure, this is low-acid, jammy, super-ripe and big-flavored. Toasty, seductive oak, black cherry liqueur and cocoa starts in the aroma and continues on in the flavor. Rich, spicy and chewy on the finish with black olive, new leather and melted chocolate with tannins finally kicking in on the 15 second finish. This is definitely a wine to drink with full-flavored food, especially marinated & grilled (or braised) red meats!   Strala Vineyards is the merging of […]
March 25, 2018
Warrior Angel Red Wine

WARRIOR ANGEL Red 2014

78% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot. By new wine negociant Consecration Wines, whose model is to make tiny lots of quality wines that over-deliver for the price. (Right down DDWA’s alley!) This is a 10 barrel lot, all Oakville. Initial impression is sweet rich oak and chocolate covered cherries. In minutes, more red fruits (red cherry, bright raspberry) pop out, giving the wine lift and verve. Then mocha and cherry liqueur come back. Full bodied, full-flavored, medium tannins, ripe core of fruit that Napa does so well. Boy does this ever over-deliver for forty dollars! To […]
March 24, 2018
Bressler Young Vines

BRESSLER “Young Vines” Napa Valley 2014

43% Cabernet Franc; 29% Merlot; 21% Cabernet Sauvignon; 7% Petit Verdot, all from the Bressler’s St Helena vineyard. Get a mouthful of Napa goodness: black cherry compote, cinnamon toast, cocoa, roasted coffee beans, currant, clove. Full flavored and lush, it gets richer in the mouth after a few seconds, ending in 25 second finish of deep spiced cherry and suave, toasty oak (80% new French). As a wine merchant I sold the 2012 vintage of this wine like crazy. I’d do the same thing with the 2014 if I was in the business. It’s so, so good for $45. Bordeaux-style […]
March 24, 2018
silverpoint red wine

Silverpoint Napa Valley Red Wine 2013

Four of the five Bordeaux varieties in the blend: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot. The fruit comes from two areas of Napa Valley – Rutherford Bench and Atlas Peak. The wine starts tight and, with resuscitation, gets richer, deeper and more complex. Smell and taste very ripe black cherries, pomegranate, roast red pepper, dark caramel & dark chocolate, allspice and vanilla from the barrel (50% new French oak). With air, shows medium acidity and fine tannins. Drinks better after being opened a day, which tells me a 2-3 hour decant before drinking is a […]
March 24, 2018
Cave Dog Napa Valley

CAVE DOG Napa Valley Red Wine 2015

58% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Franc, co-ferment, from vineyard in Southwest Napa Valley (edge of Carneros, in fact). An honest-to-goodness Right Bank Bordeaux style, Cave Dog red shows off dark red berry & cherry compote, dry aged beef, soy sauce, lavender, and gently roasted coffee beans. While all the flavors will expand with bottle age, it is still a round, smooth-textured, delicious, gorgeous wine now. Napa winemaker/winery owner veteran Michael Havens launched Cave Dog with his 2014 red wine. There are 3 Cave Dog wines: Spanish white varieties Albariño and Godello and this red. I recommend all three wines whole-heartedly, past […]