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.

2017 Bedrock Wine Co. Ode to Lulu Old Vine Rosé, USA, California, Wine Review

Pink grapefruit in color.  The nose is nice with some strawberries, watery cherry juice, slight rhubarb and herbal notes.  On the palate, this is refreshing.  While it is open, it did continue to improve for the few hours it was open.  Perhaps that is a function of the serving temp or maybe the air.  Still, I would tend to drink these up in the first couple of years.  Flavors of strawberries and light cherries.  Nice mouthfeel.  Works well on its own or with food.  At around $25 all in, this is fairly priced.  

2014 Turtle Rock Willow's Cuvee Turtle Rock Vineyard, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

This is excellent.  From a winery who will undoubtedly raise their prices once the critics start scoring their wines.  This is a GSM blend.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has cherries, black raspberries, char, leather and spice.  On the palate, this has a great texture.  Firm yet sinewy.  Great black raspberry and cherry fruit with some spice.  Deep and will undoubtedly age well.  Good finish.  Works great on its own or with food.  A winery to follow.  

2012 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc Oakville, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

From the heart of the historic To Kalon vineyard on the Napa Valley floor.  This is made in limited quantities although they also make an even more limited version.  This is $80 which is pretty fair for one of the best Cab Francs that Napa produces.  Purple in color.  The nose has black cherries, slight cigar box, and some anise.  On the palate, this is young but drinking well.  Black cherries, some cherries, forest floor and spice layered in the glass.  Medium tannins.  Good balance.  Nice finish.  Certainly some upside to this as this should mature and age for another decade or more.  

2012 Jaffurs Syrah Verna's, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Compared to the 2012 Verna's, this seems to be a bit more elegant with more depth.  Both are great though.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, leather, grilled meats and white pepper.  On the palate, this has lots of energy.  Unwinds into layers in the glass of fruit and earth.  Good acidity.  Long finish.  This will continue to improve for a while.  If drinking now, give it some air.  

2016 Orin Swift Mannequin, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

This is a big Chardonnay that is not for everyone.  For those who like buttery, oaked Chardonnay, they will love this.  Light golden in color.  The nose has lemon curd, fresh cut lumber, butter and spice.  On the palate, there are some searing oak tannins to deal with.  Also some nice lemon fruit.  Good acidity.  This is probably not a great food match, but lots of people would love this on its own.  For my tastes, the oak is a bit too pronounced.  That said, a small glass was enjoyable.  

2012 SonkinCellars Unmasked, USA, California, Mendocino, Yorkville Highlands, Wine Review

Biased review as this is our own winery.  I post this as guidance for anyone thinking of opening a bottle.  Purple in color.  The nose has boysenberries, grilled meat, black pepper, slight iodine.  On the palate, this is still young.  It needs air or cellar time.  Medium tannins.  Juicy boysenberry fruit.  An underlying char.  Good finish.  Very food friendly but works on its own.  Still should see some upside.  

2009 Lagier Meredith Mondeuse Noir, USA, California, Napa Valley, Wine Review

Mondeuse is a bit of a different grape typically found in the French Alps region of Jura.  This is a version grown in the mountain sunshine of the Napa Valley of California which gives it a bit more ripeness while retaining the depth.  At 9 years from vintage, this is still youthful but in a good drinking window.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, tart cherries, slight floral notes and lots of minerality.  On the palate, this is more about tart cherries and minerality.  With air, it gains weight but the profile is the same.  No tannins to speak of.  Good with food.  Nice fin