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.

2018 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 704, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$60.00USD

This is part of the new lineup of Penfold's wines that are from other than Australia.  This one is from Napa.  I believe it is supposed to be a Napa version of their Bin 407 from Australia.  Purple in color, opaque and bright.  The nose is nice with cassis and an interesting scent that I have notice rarely in other wines that can best be described as the fat off a fresh corned beef sandwich at a Jewish delicatessen.  There is also a bit of baking spices.  Medium to full bodied.  Light tannins.  On the palate, this is ripe fruit with a lot of cassis.  Some underlying char/smoke.  Nice finish

2018 Kistler Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$120.00USD

Although young, this wine is a beauty.  Kistler used to have a lot of oak on its Chardonnays.  Some loved it, some didn't, but this wine seems to have backed off a bit on the oak and upped the acidity.  Golden in color, clear and bright.  The nose has some pineapple, and lemons.  With air, a lemon candy note comes thru.  There is a fair amount of oak showing too coming thru as caramel and vanilla but it is already integrating.  Full bodied with a lovely viscous, oily texture.  On the palate, this is crisp with nice minerality.  The lemon/lemon candy comes thru.  Long finish.  This drinks ni

2018 Orin Swift Papillon, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$60.00USD

This is a well endowed, Bordeaux blend from Napa.  It is full throttle and delicious although some may not like that style.  Inky purple in color, opaque and bright.  The nose has black raspberries, plums, graphite, cedar, and anise.  Firm tannins.  Full bodied.  On the palate, the black raspberries come thru in spades with some underlying char and graphite.  Great lush texture.  15.6% abv.  Long finish.  No noticeable alcohol on the palate other than the texture.  This drinks better on its own right now, but would work with roasted meats or fowl.  Drink over the next few years to enjoy the

2018 Shannon Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel High Elevation Collection, USA, California, Lake County, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
87
Grade: 
B
Current Price: 
$13.00USD

This is a value priced Zinfandel that makes easy drinking.  Darker ruby in color, mostly opaque and bright.  The nose has nice cherries with some spice.  Medium bodied.  On the palate, nice cherry fruit.  This goes down easy.  Ever so slightly sweet.  This should be drunk in the next couple of years.  Nice on its own, this will work well with burgers or ribs.  

2017 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard, USA, California, Santa Cruz, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$100.00USD

Another example of why Rhys is one of my favorite Chardonnay's from anywhere.  Light golden in color with slight green hues.  Clear and bright.  The nose is gorgeous with lemon curd, minerality, and vanilla.  Full bodied.  Solid acidity.  On the palate those flavors carry thru.  Lemon curd and vanilla with great minerality.  Just delicious.  The bottle is drained quickly.  Long finish.  These drink so beautifully young, they do shut down a bit after a few years and then re-open at around age 7 to 10 for another decade.  Great on their own, these work great with crisp or lighter foods.  

2016 Waypoint Proprietary Red Kenefick Ranch, USA, California, Napa, Calistoga, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-

This is a very nice fruit forward Napa Cab.  Purple/ruby in color, opaque and bright.  The nose has cassis, chocolate, and tobacco.  Full bodied.  Medium tannins.  On the palate, there is ripe cassis fruit, some oak showing and slight dry earthiness.  Nice finish.  This is easy going and will make nice drinking over the next ten years.  A great choice with a burger off the grill.  

2016 Mending Wall Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
92
Grade: 
A-

This is the basic Cab from Mending Wall whose winemaker is Thomas RIvers Brown.  A delicious Cab that is drinking very well right now.  Purple in color, mostly opaque and bright.  The nose is great with cassis, gravel and spice.  Full bodied.  Medium tannins.  On the palate, solid cassis fruit over a gravelly base.  This should continue to drink well for the next decade or so.  A nice match with grilled or roasted meats or veggies.  

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