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.

2015 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard, USA, California, Santa Cruz, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2015
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$133.00USD

Another spectacular Chardonnay from Rhys.  This is probably my favorite bottling.  Opened to celebrate a friend's 40th and finished the rest on the following night.  It was great both nights but a bit better on night 2.  Light golden in color.  The nose is sensational.  Yes, there is some oak showing but the nose is so pretty and enticing with lemon cream and vanilla.  On the palate, this has a slightly soft texture, with great lemon fruit.  Some vanilla as well.  Great acidity.  Plenty of depth.  Long finish.  This is not a fruit bomb but it does have a big personality.  It will go with al

2011 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2011
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$70.00USD

Groth Reserve is one of the historically great Cabernet's from Napa.  2011 was a difficult vintage but, at least for the Reserve, Groth managed to make a great wine. Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, cedar, and green bell pepper.  While some might not like that green pepper note, other's will enjoy the classic version of an old school cab.  On the palate, there is nice black cherry fruit along with a bit of green pepper and also some cedar.  Medium tannins.  This should improve over the next few years with a point or two of upside.  

2012 Calla Lily Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Audax, USA, California, Napa, Pope Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$120.00USD

This is the high end Cabernet from Calla Lily.  It is a step up from the regular bottling.  It retails for around $120.  Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, toast, spice and vanilla.  On the palate, the oak is strong on this one.  There is also firm tannins.  Plenty of cassis fruit but the question is whether the fruit will out last the tannins and the oak.  It is a tight ball right bow, but a quite delicious tight ball.  It will be interesting to see where this goes from here.  

2013 Calla Lily Estate Ultimate Red Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Napa, Pope Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
89
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$65.00USD

This is a reasonably priced Cabernet from the Pope Valley, one of the less heralded places in the Napa Valley.  It is a very solid and enjoyable Cabernet.  Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, sandalwood and slight black cherries.  On the palate, this is easy drinking.  Some depth.  Light tannins.  Nice black cherry and cassis fruit.  Good finish.  A nice wine for a dinner party.  It sells for around $65 at the winery, but can often be found for a bit less in stores.  

2004 Pax Syrah Obsidian Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2004
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A

From Magnum.  Wonderful aged Syrah but it is starting to show it's age.  Purple in color.  The nose has black olives, boysenberries, slight black pepper and a hint of bacon fat.  On the palate, this has a nice backbone of acidity.  Layers of black raspberry fruit with some earthiness, some black olives and a bit of pepper.  Long finish.  Worked well with a wide variety of foods.  This probably should be drunk up in the next five years or so.  

2003 Easton Zinfandel California Shenandoah Valley, USA, California, Amador, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2003
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-

I first tried this wine a few years ago and was impressed by how well it had help.  It has aged  a bit since then but still is remarkably fresh.  This was bolder in style than the Fiddletown.  Purple in color.  The nose has black cherries and bramble.  Juicy acidity on the palate.  More plum fruit as well.  Overall a very nice and delicious Zin  Food friendly and seemingly with another decade left.  

2002 Easton Zinfandel Fiddletown, USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2002
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-

Part of a tasting of Zinfandel wines.  I believe this was a late release from the winery.  For a 17 year old Zinfandel, this was drinking quite well.  Purple in color, ruby swirls.  The nose has black cherries and spice.  On the palate, it is more about plums.  Not a big or fruity wine at this stage, but plenty of energy and drinking well.  More of a claret styled Zin with a nice complexity.  Very food friendly.  

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