Expert articles and wine tasting videos profiling wines from California, California wine regions, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, & more.

2010 Joseph Phelps Insignia Proprietary Red Wine, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2010
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A

This is made from 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and the rest Merlot and Malbec.  Insignia is one of the First Growth wines of California.  Its great just about every vintage and has been for decades.  This one is no exception.  Inky purple.  The nose has cassis, graphite, blueberries, leather and cigar box.  On the palate, this is still young.  Medium tannins.  Great balance.  Lots of cassis and some blueberries with underlying damp forest floor.  Long finish.  Delicious.  Will work great with heartier foods and certainly with meat dishes.  The price on these is up to around $250

2011 Au Sommet Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Napa, Atlas Peak, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2011
Score: 
89
Grade: 
B+

This is a blend of 97.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2.5% Petit Verdot from Heidi Barrett.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has cassis, slight smoke, bell pepper and tobacco.  On the palate, this is nice and everything is in proportion.  Not a lot of depth.  Tannins mostly resolved.  Worked well with vegetarian stuffed mushrooms.  A fine wine but its price tag on release was $250.  Granted 2011 was a difficult vintage, but that is a lot of money for this wine. 

1982 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
1982
Score: 
88
Grade: 
B+

From Magnum.  This has held up nicely and is drinking well.  Like and older Bordeaux.  Ruby in color, slight bricking at the rim.  The nose is nice with cassis and cherries along with some tobacco and dust.  On the palate, this has layers of fruit and earthy forest floor.  Good balance.  This seems very food friendly.  Probably a bit past prime at this point, but still with lots to offer.  

2012 Sine Qua Non Grenache Stein, USA, California, Central Coast, Ventura, Wine review

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A

Deep ruby in color.  The nose has nice cherries, black cherries and black raspberries with baking spice and a bit of pepper.  Full bodied with a great texture.  Nice backbone of acidity.  On the palate, black raspberries with some black cherries.  This is young and needs a few years to develop but quite tasty right now.  Not a monster wine by any means.  Will work with medium and big foods.  

2012 Saxum James Berry Vineyard, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
97
Grade: 
A+

This continues to improve.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, white pepper and grilled meats.  On the palate, this has a nice juicy acidity.  Medium tannins.  Black raspberries layered with char and earth.  Good finish.  No hint of alcohol or heat.  Needs bigger and/or spicy foods.  This wine still needs about five years to peak.  Then should be good for another 15 after that.  Very concentrated.  

2003 Bond Pluribus, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2003
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A

This is from Bill Harlan.  At age 15, this wine seems to be at peak and is singing.  Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, slight smoke, slight vanilla and slight cigar.  On the palate, this has a nice silky texture.  Slight wispy tannins.  Lots of cassis fruit.  Plenty of depth and tight layering that unwinds in the glass.  This drinks like a almost mature Bordeaux wine.  Will work with meats and heartier foods.  

2011 Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon The O.G. Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard, USA, California, Napa, Oakville, WIne Review

Vintage: 
2011
Score: 
92
Grade: 
A-

Purple in color.  The nose has nice cassis, a bit of blueberries, spice and cocoa dust.  On the palate, this is very good but lacks intensity.  Lots of cassis fruit along with some chocolate.  Good finish.  This won't get any better but should be good for another ten years.  Will work with medium and heavier foods.  

2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2009
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A

So, I was visiting my sister in the Los Angeles area for Thanskgiving.  I went to a local wine store in Chatsworth and there on the shelf was this wine.  I doubt it had been stored pristinely, but, It ook a chance and was rewarded with my favorite Carlisle Zinfandel with some age on it, something I don't seem to have the patience or discipline for.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose was nice with black cherries and bramble and slight pepper and cedar.  On the palate, it has that wonderful texture that I love about this wine.  A good amount of black cherry fruit and also some raspb

2013 EMH Cabernet Sauvignon Black Cat Special Selection, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A

Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  This is very tight and in fact, much less forgiving than bottles tried a year and two years ago.  The nose is dusty with black cherries.  On the palate, cassis and medium tannins.  It opens a bit with air, but at this point, it should probably sleep for five years.  If you must open one, give it 8+ hours of air.  There is a nice wine in there once it opens up, but a much higher potential.  

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