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.

2011 Saxum Terry Hoage Vineyard, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2011
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$125.00USD

The 2011 Saxums are drinking beautifully right now.  It was a difficult vintage but Justin Smith and Saxum excelled.  The wines are a bit more ready than most vintages, but that's fine.  Pop and pour. 51% Grenache and 49% Syrah.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, dark chocolate, black pepper and roasted herbs.  With air more chocolate comes out along with a bit or roasted meats.  On the palate, this has a lovely juicy yet muscular texture.  Lots of black raspberry fruit, some char and a bit of earthiness and black pepper.  Nice finish.  This is a big wine and will need

2006 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2006
Score: 
97
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$200.00USD

Shafer Hillside Select is one of the great wines in Napa and the world.  It is priced accordingly, but every once in a while, it is worth splurging on a bottle with friends.  This bottle was decanted for sediment (there was very little) and allowed to breathe in the cellar for four hours prior to consuming.  A magnificent showing for this wine from admittedly, not one of their best vintages.  Purple in color with some ruby hues to it.  The nose is wonderful with cassis, slight pencil lead, a bit of coffee grounds and a slight salinity.  On the palate, lots of cassis.  Deep with layers of gr

2017 Sandlands Chenin Blanc Amador County, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$30.00USD

Sandlands is one of the best sources for Chenin Blanc in the United States.  They make a lot of other interesting wines but these might be the best.  And, their wines are all great values.  These come from vines planted back in the 1970's.  Golden in color.  A lovely nose of honey, almond milk and Calvados.  On the palate, it is much the same but less alcohol; let's say pears not Calvados.  Also an underlying minerality.  OK acidity.  Nice finish.  This will work with Salads, fish, or sushi very well.  Chenin Blanc ages very well and while I have not had this old, it seems likely that this

2016 Halcon Vineyards Pinot Noir Oppenlander Vineyard, USA, California, Mendocino, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$30.00USD

This is the first Pinot I have tried from Halcon, one of my favorite Rhone varietal producers.  This is excellent.  On the worldwide scale of Pinots it is on the larger size but certainly not for California.  Purple in color with some ruby swirls.  The nose has black cherries and sour cherries.  Very nice.  On the palate, this has a wonderful texture.

2013 Grgich Hills Chardonnay, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$35.00USD

This has come together nicely in the last few years.  It is drinking quite well now.  Slightly lighter golden in color.  The nose is nice.  There is still some obvious oak, but that is more about house style and it is not over the top.  Aromas of lemon cream and slight vanilla with a bit of baking spice.  Full bodied.  The lemon carries thru to the palate with a hint of vanilla.  No heat showing.  Good acidity.  There is some depth and development.  Nice finish.  Classic Napa Chardonnay.  This should still have five to ten more years left at peak.  It will go well with seafood, salads and m

2010 Hobel Wine Works Cabernet Sauvignon Engelhard Vineyard, USA, California, Napa, Callistoga,Wine Review

Vintage: 
2010
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$90.00USD

Nice to try a Hobel with some age on it.  This was purchased on release.  Still youthful though it is drinking well with a bit of air.  This was made by Thomas Rivers Brown.  Purple in color with some ruby swirls.  The nose is very nice with cassis, cedar, leather, and spice.  On the palate, this still has medium tannins.  cassis fruit with some underlying dry earthiness.  Good balance.  Nice finish.  It unwinds a bit in the glass showing some layering.  Overall, this is maturing nicely.  It won't get better but should keep maturing.  No hurry, this has at least another decade in it.  It wi

2015 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon Tanbark Hill, USA, California, Napa, Spring Mountain, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2015
Score: 
92
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$56.00USD

Phillip Togni's wines often need a long period of cellaring before they are ready.  Not so with this one.  Although still young, it is drinking well and quite enjoyable right now.  Deep ruby with purple swirls in color.  The nose is pretty with cassis, cherries, and dust.  On the palate, this is soft with lighter tannins.  Plenty of black cherry fruit and some cassis.  Good finish.  This will go with a wider variety of foods than most Cabs and probably is helped by serving with food.  It should be enjoyed over the next decade.  

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