February 26, 2019
Louis Cheze Saint Joseph Ro Ree

LOUIS CHEZE Saint-Joseph “Ro Ree” 2016

Textbook style of Northern Rhone Syrah here. Violets and lavender, bright red and blue berries, peppery spice and sun-dried tarragon & thyme. Has the intensity and a bit of wildness while keeping its appeal to a crowded room. It has easy-going tannins, medium high acidity and no oak flavor to speak of. It’s nicely surprising how easy to drink this young Northern Rhone red is. Big fan. Read all of my Louis Cheze wine reviews HERE.
October 18, 2018
louis cheze cote rotie bellisima

LOUIS CHEZE Cote Rotie “Bellisima” 2014

Wild red berry fruits, healthy acidity, meaty and spicy describe the Louis Cheze Cote Rotie Bellisima. Generous smells and flavors both in fruit and earth-driven flavors of iron, truffle and meat locker. Medium-high acidity, easy-going tannins. The theme here is intensity rather than sheer power. Drink now through 2025. To see all the Rhone Valley wines I’ve reviewed, GO HERE.
October 18, 2018
Louis Cheze Saint Joseph Anges

LOUIS CHEZE Saint Joseph “Anges” 2015

This is a rich, brooding Saint Joseph that delivers equal parts bold fruit and spicy olive & earthy qualities. Particularly ripe for Cheze, which is indicative of the 2015 vintage. Blueberries, blackberries, dry aged & raw leg of lamb, black olive tapenade and smoky vanilla smells and flavors permeate your sensations. Medium low acid and relatively low tannins. This will age nicely well into the next decade, but not sure it will improve. Drink up with joy, and with some grilled red meat if you’re into that sort of thing. Louis Cheze Saint Joseph Anges comes from 50+ year old […]
October 17, 2018
Vincent Cluzel Saint Joseph

VINCENT CLUZEL Saint-Joseph 2016

An outstanding Northern Rhone Valley, France Syrah from the the northern portion of the 30 mile long appellation along the Rhone River. The Vincent Cluzel Saint Joseph 2016 offers up blueberry and dark wild cherry smells and flavors as it dances with classic sensations of smoky black olive, soy sauce, black pepper and bacon. Both pretty & uplifting  and dense & chewy, this shows the quality and value you can get from high quality Saint Joseph. I just bought a six pack for myself (no lie). Drink now through 2025. Vincent Cluzel’s family owns and farms vineyards in Condrieu 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
Warrior Angel Syrah Red Wine

Warrior Angel Red Central Coast 2016

Although it doesn’t say it on the label, this is all Syrah from Monterey County. The Rhone-head that I am, I like its wild red fruits, gamey, black olive, peppery smell and flavor. Pour this for me blind and tell me it’s Crozes-Hermitage and I would have no reason to dispute it. Medium/high acidity, medium tannins, light on the oak, very perfume-y, alcohol under 14%. Yes indeed, this is trés French. Warrior Angel Red, Central Coast is from the Consecration Wines, a negociant focusing on small-production, excellent value California wines. To see all my reviews of Consecration Wines, GO HERE.
May 1, 2018
Fortunati Rose

FORTUNATI Rosé “Pranzo” 2017

Made from 100% Syrah from Fortunati’s “Estate” vineyard in owner/winemaker Ellen and Gary Luchtel’s backyard. (Gary makes the wine.) A “purposeful Rosé.” Smell and taste black pepper, ripe red plums, fresh blue and raspberry, touch of lavender and coriander. I really like the slightly chewy texture while staying super-fresh and tangy. Fortunati nailed it for flavor, acidity, texture and dryness. This is my garlic/herb marinated, grilled chicken wine for the summer. “I let more grapes grow on the Syrah vines I used to make the Rosé,” Gary explains. “I get ideal hang-time so the grapes develop really good flavors. But […]
April 22, 2018
Keep Rose

KEEP Rose “Kahn Vineyard” 2017

85% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre whole cluster pressed (which suggests a more complex and delicate Rosé than the open-the-red-grape-juice spigot method, aka saignée). Sports a dark orange color (a la Provence Rosé but a darker hue), and smells and flavors of raspberry/strawberry, black olive, crushed thyme, blood orange, peach pit and lavender. Aggressive in flavor – more spice & herbs than fruit right now. Cool as can be. 112 cases made. More Information KEEP is an up-and-coming, husband & wife made/operated tiny winery based in Napa. They squeeze in the time for their own brand while keeping their day jobs. Jack […]
April 22, 2018
Betton Crozes Caprice

BETTON Crozes Hermitage “Caprice” 2016

Perfumed, energetic aromas of blueberries, wild strawberries, new leather, lavender, black pepper and black olive (real Northern Rhone Syrah classic smells). The taste leads with the fruit with the spice and soil coming in strong from behind. I really like the balance of ripe, friendly fruit and Northern Rhone Syrah pronounced spice. Fleshy, structured and rather surprisingly ready to drink now (for a 2016).   Christelle Betton started running the family property in 2003 (3rd generation), and then launched the winery. Very small producer – 15 acres under vine. There’s a pleasing marriage of old and new world style winemaking […]
March 3, 2018
John Duval Plexus

John Duval “Plexus” Barossa Valley 2014

A classic Australia GSM blend of 47% Shiraz, 32% Grenache and 21% Mourvedre. Blueberry sauce, roast coffee, black pepper, cola, anise, black raspberry and cherry compote smells and flavors. It has a big, rich mouthfeel yet with acidity that perks up the wine, especially on its 30 second finish. This plush, lush, full-bodied and classy red embraces classic Barossa power but also has finesse and complexity. At $40/bottle, for what you get this is a screaming deal!
February 20, 2018
Andezon Cotes Rhone

Domaine d’ANDEZON Côtes du Rhône 2016

Over 90% Syrah then Grenache from a single vineyard near Avignon. Minimal handling (“natural winemaking”) and tank aged. Dark strawberry and blueberry smells and flavors here with a few twists of the peppermill and crushed thyme. A clear, concise note of acidity gives brightness. Definitely young at the time of this tasting, I’ve put on my calendar to re-review this wine this summer (if it’s still on the market).
September 30, 2017

CLOS du PRIEUR Terrasses du Larzac 15

75% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 5% Cinsault from the heart of the Languedoc, 30 miles from the Mediterranean & 50 miles from The Rhone Valley. Syrah’s lavender, dark raspberry and black peppercorn personality jumps out at first. With ample air, more fruit, texture and savory qualities arrive. Kalamata olive, blueberry sauce, dark strawberry, rosemary. At $22 (or less), Rhone/Rhone-style fans should load up on this.