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

2016 Carr Vineyards & Winery Syrah Tierra Alta, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Ballard Canyon, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
88
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$60.00USD

This is very young and hopefully a few years in the cellar shows some improvement.  It is a good wine right now and presents itself in a more Northern Rhone style.  Inky purple in color.  The nose is spicy with slight green notes and some black raspberries.  That spicy quality carries thru to the palate along with some tart red cherry fruit.  Light tannins.  A tangy finish.  Strong acidity that really needs some fatty foods to work with it.  It was not helped by being in the same lineup as some more warmer climate, riper Syrahs.  

2012 Levo Syrah Bad Medicine, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
88
Grade: 
B+

This was my first time trying wine.  It is a solid wine.  Whether it is worth the $40 price tag is up to you.  It did seem a bit advanced so perhaps look for younger vintages.  Purple in color with some browning.  The nose is dusty with black cherries.  On the palate, this is tart with black cherry fruit.  Also a black olive note.  This drinks like a cooler climate Syrah.  It will work with a wide variety of foods; stews will be great.  

2007 Jaffurs Syrah Upslope, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2007
Score: 
95
Grade: 
Current Price: 
$75.00USD

This was my personal favorite (the group's 2nd) in a recent blind tasting of Santa Barbara Syrahs.  Just a sensational bottle of wine,  Inky purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, black coffee, white pepper and roasted meats.  Deep.  On the palate, this is delicious.  Black raspberry fruit over a clay-ish base.  It unwinds in the glass with lighter tannins.  Long finish.  This is a big wine but with a lovely elegance to it as well.  I doubt it gets better from here but easily has another decade or more left at this level.  It will go with bigger meats and stews.  

2009 McPrice Myers Syrah Larner Vineyard, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2009
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A

Purple in color, opaque and bright.  The nose is very nice with black raspberries, baking spice, black pepper and a bit of roasted meats.  On the palate, this is more black cherry than darker fruit.  Its ripe with firm tannins.  Drinking youthfully, this will benefit from air or further cellaring.  It has good acidity and a nice depth to it.  It will need bigger foods or drink it on its own.  In our group tasting the got four first place votes out of ten and was the groups WOTN.  

2013 Tensley Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$48.00USD

Tensley makes some of the best AND best value Syrahs anywhere.  This wine is outstanding.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose is dusty with spice, black raspberries, slight black pepper and bit of coffee.  There is some volatile acidity on this wine.  Whether that is an issue depends on your tolerance.  On the palate, this is sweet and slightly cloying.  Ripe vs. Residual Sugar?  I think a bit of RS but not crazy.  Lots of black raspberry fruit.  Slightly cloying.  This is a tough fruit match but a tasty wine that drinks well on its own and will work with spicy foods.  

2016 Fess Parker Syrah, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$19.00USD

Ah, Daniel Boone.  RIP.  Sometimes Fess Parker wines get dissed by the cognoscenti.  That's too bad as they make really good wines at affordable prices.  This was purchased for $25 and was an excellent Syrah.  It kept getting better with air.  It probably needs a nice decant or a few more years in a cellar but it was very enjoyable right now.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose is dusty with spice and black raspberries.  On the palate, this drinks delicious.  Juice acidity.  Black raspberry fruit with a softer texture.  Black olives.  It is sweet with what sees to be slight residua

2009 Jaffurs Syrah Verna's, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2009
Score: 
89
Grade: 
B+

I am not sure how proper a bottle this was.  Certainly, not as good as prior bottles I have had in the past.  Purple in color, clear and bright.  The nose is different.  Some black raspberry fruit but also cloves and a slight minty quality.  Very nice texture although there are still tannins.  Black raspberry fruit that starts out a bit bitter but then finishes a bit sweet.  This was a vintage that had rains at the end and perhaps at least some of these grapes may have been picked after the harvest as it is lighter than most vintages of this wine.  All that said, it is still a very good win

2016 Summerland Chardonnay, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
88
Grade: 
Current Price: 
$16.00USD

This is a reasonably priced Chardonnay.  It does have a fair amount of oak on it, but is still on the crisper style.  Golden in color.  The nose has lemon vanilla cream with some raw cut lumber.  It has a nice oily texture.  Plenty of fresh oak on the palate as well but also some lemon and orange peel.  Slightly bitter on the finish.  For the price (around $16), this is a nice Chardonnay for drinking over the first few years.  

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

Vintage: 
2015
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$83.00USD

My favorite Chardonnay producer (not my favorite vineyard) but the house style is unmistakable.  Light golden in color.  The nose has a lovely lemon vanilla creme quality to it with nice minerality.  This vineyard also seems to have a slight pine quality which while good is a bit harder to match with food.  Nice balance.  Good acidity.  The palate has the same flavors with the vanilla less in the foreground and the minerals more prominent.  This bottle was paired with Japanese foods and it worked very well.  

2014 Becklyn Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Moulds Vineyard, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$100.00USD

This is an outstanding Napa Cab.  It is, however, also quite expensive and while that doesn't figure into the tasting note, it does enter into buying decisions.  Purple in color, to the rim.  Opaque and bright.  The nose has cassis, cedar, dust and slight salinity.  On the palate, the flavors all carry thru.  This is a bigger wine but not a monster.  It is deep and will need another five to ten years to unwind.  Quite delicious now however.  It went great with homemade Vegetable soup and homemade bread but will easily stand up to bigger foods.  I have a lone bottle left and will try to reme

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