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.

2016 Tablas Creek Le Complice, USA, California, Paso Robles, Adelaida District, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A-

This is a blend of 59% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 19% Terret Noir, and 2% Roussanne.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim, opaque and bright.  The nose is very nice with black raspberries, black cherries, black pepper, and black olives.  Medium to full bodied.  On the palate, this drinks with a cooler climate Syrah profile, that is with black raspberry fruit, black pepper and slight black cherries over a mineral base.  Light tannins.  Very fresh.  Nice finish.  This drinks youthfully but shows some signs of maturity.  It will continue to mature for the next five to seven years and be good for anothe

2018 Bedrock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Judge Family Vineyard

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A-

Always a great wine, this vintage is certainly one of the best.  Green gold in color, clear and bright.  The nose is great with lemons, slight grapefruits, minerals and slight herbal notes.  Slightly oily texture.  On the palate, this is crisp with lovely citrus fruit over a base on minerality.  Nice acidity.  Long finish.  It is delicious.  Drinks well on its own and will work well with lighter salads or even fish or fowl.  drink over the next three to five years.  

2015 Torrin The Maven, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2015
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$75.00USD

For those who like full throttle, hedonistic wines, Torrin should be at the top of your list.  This one is made from 100% Grenache.  Inky purple in color.  The nose is big with black cherries, cherry pie, char, spice and slight dark chocolate.  Full bodied.  Lush and jammy.  On the palate, juicy black cherry pie filling with some underlying gravel.  Long finish.  Delicious.  This probably  drinks better on its own right now, but with some maturity it will settle down.  This should make great drinking for the next ten to twelve years.  

2016 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Knights Valley, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2020
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$40.00USD

This is a few steps up from the regular bottling (which is also a great value).  Pricing can vary greatly on these so it pays to shop around.  Purple in color, opaque and bright.  The nose is gorgeous with cassis, leather, earthiness, smoke and dark chocolate.  Medium to full bodied.  Medium tannins.  On the palate, cassis, black cherries, with intertwines earthiness and char.  Nice finish.  This is still young of course, but drinking beautifully.  Lush with depth and some complexity.  This is drinking great now, but should continue to drink well for another ten to fifteen years.  Wonderful

2016 Plumpjack Merlot Napa Valley, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$70.00USD

This is an exceptional California Merlot.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has cherries, slight plums, chocolate, cedar and spice.  Full bodied.  On the palate, cherries, milk chocolate, smoke and spice.  Medium tannins.  Still very primary, this should continue to mature for the next five to ten years and be good for another ten after that.  Drinks great on its own, it would work well with a burger or roast.  

2018 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant, Cuvée Oumuamua, USA, California, Monterey, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$20.00USD

One of the more humorous labels in the wine world (check it out).  It is a bland of 52% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, and 13% Syrah.  This is much less robust than prior vintages of this wine.  Deep ruby in color.  The nose has cherries, bitter cherries, baking spices and black pepper.  On the palate, this is medium bodied.  Plenty of cherry fruit with underlying char and spice.  Nice finish.  This is drinking well now and should continue for seven to ten years.  It worked well with a curry dish and will work better with food.  

2018 Prisoner Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon Unshackled, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$20.00USD

This is another big, bold red from the Prisoner Wine Company.  Inky purple in color, opaque and bright.  It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Merlot.  The nose has cassis, black cherries, chocolate, baking spices and slight cedar notes.  Full bodied.  On the palate, there is some varietal complexity but mostly just up front fruit.  Delicious.  Black cherries and black raspberries with medium tannins.  This probably should be consumed over the next three to five years.  

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