Expert articles and wine tasting videos profiling wines from California, California wine regions, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, & more.

Top Ten California Syrahs - 2016

I tend to taste and drink a lot of wine over the course of a year. I am in a few tasting groups, sometimes the wines are consumed at various local wine store tastings and a number drunk with friends and family.

Wine To Go Buy This Week – New Year’s Edition -Domaine Carneros 2008 Le Reve Blanc de Blancs – 90 Points

France’s Champagne Taittinger started its U.S label with the opening of Domaine Carneros in 1987 and has gone on to create world-class sparkling wines in America, of which their flagship Le Reve has always been a consistent standout. This Blanc de Blanc is comprised of five Chardonnay clones from the Domaine’s Carneros estate fruit.

Lucas and Lewellen 2021 Pinot Noir

Vintage: 
2021
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$25.00USD

Santa Barbara is Pinot Noir country, and the range of expressions in this county are varied. One of the stalwarts, having first started in 1975, is Lucas & Lewellen. For an inexpensive Pinot Noir, L&L does an admirable job of crafting a tightly wound Pinot with excellent fruit, good acidity, and oak influence (a mere 10 months in oak, only a small portion of which was new French) which doesn’t break the bank.

2021 Shawn Walker McBride Chardonnay Maeve Vineyard, USA, California, Santa Cruz, WIne Review

Vintage: 
2021
Score: 
92
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$32.00USD

Some of the best Chardonnay for my tastes comes from Santa Cruz, California.  The wines tend to be crisp but full and age quite well.  A new one recently tried is the Shawn Walker McBride Maeve Vineyard.  I am not sure why this carries that label as other varietal wines carry a Crosby Roamann designation as the producer with a very similar label.  In any event this one is also very good.  Light golden in color, clear and bright.  The nose has red apples with a touch of lemon and a nice minerality.  Medium to full bodied.  Good balance.  On the palate, this is crisp with flavors or apples an

2022 Crosby Roamann Pinot Noir Petaluma Gap, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2022
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$32.00USD

This is a really enjoyable Pinot Noir.  It is big in style and filled with fruit and deliciousness.  Purple in color with some ruby hues, mostly opaque and bright.  The nose has black cherries, cherries, and black raspberries along with a bit of dark chocolate and black olives.  Full bodied.  Light to medium tannins.  Good balance.  On the palate, loads of red and purple fruits with some spice and just a bit of earthiness.  Long finish.  This is great on its own but will be a bit non-traditional when matching with foods.  It would go great with Pork Chops.  Drink over the next ten to twelve

2020 Carlisle Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2020
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$75.00USD

Ruby in color, mostly clear and bright.  The nose has cherries and some black cherries along with a touch of spice.  Medium bodied.  Good acidity.  On the palate, this is middle of the Zin Road in terms of style.  Cherries and black cherries with some char.  Some depth.  It drinks easily on its own and will work well with many foods.  A nice choice for Pizza night.  

2014 Rhys Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard, USA, California, Santa Cruz, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$165.00USD

Rhys makes some of the best Pinot Noirs anywhere.  This one is one of their best.  Medium ruby in color. The nose has cherries, soy and baking spices. Medium bodied.  Medium tannins.  Great balance.  On the palate, this is complex and concentrated. Layers of cherries and black cherries along with spice and char.  Long finish.  This is great on its own but would work with many foods.  Roasted duck or chicken would be perfect.  At age 10, just starting to show some maturity.  Drink over the next ten to fifteen years.  

2013 Torrin James Berry Vineyard, USA, California, Paso Robles, Willow Creek, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
97
Grade: 
A+

This is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah from one of the truly great vineyards in California.  Purple in color, opaque and bright.  The nose is great with black raspberries, some black cherries, black pepper, spice, roasted meats and herbs.  Full bodied.  Medium tannins.  Great energy and acidity.  On the palate, this is delicious.  Not quite at peak but mature.  Flavors of black raspberries and black cherries with some spice, minerality and char.  Long finish.  Drink over the next ten years.  Great on its own, this went well with a bowl of vegetarian Chili.  

2020 Jaffurs Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2020
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A

This Syrah was co-fermented with 2% Viognier.  Inky purple in color, opaque and shimmering bright.  The nose is expressive with black raspberries, roasted meats, black pepper, and slight floral notes.  Full bodied.  Medium tannins.  Great energy.  On the palate, this is still primary.  Big black raspberry fruit.  With air some black pepper and meaty notes come out.  Also a touch of char.  Good finish.  This needs a few more years and could handle much more.  It should drink well for another 15 years.  Very nice on its own, this will need big meaty/roasted flavors for now.  Plenty of upside

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