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

2015 Donelan Vénus, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

This is a white Rhone blend of grapes; Rousanne and Viognier.  Golden in color.  This was served at red wine temperature which for me was ideal.  It really cut down on the acidity and brought out the aromatics.  YMMV.  The nose is really nice with candle wax, slight peach, floral notes and minerals.  On the palate, this is dry and full bodied.  A bit of honey nevertheless along with peach and vanilla.  Lovely texture.  Good finish.  This worked quite well with food.  There is a nice depth to this.  It drinks very "red" like.  


2013 Maybach Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Materium, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Wow.  One of the great wines in the world.  This was a 100 point wine.  And it's still young!  Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, blueberries, cedar, floral notes, spice and licorice.  Intoxicating.  On the palate, it is deep and complex.  Seamless.  Silky tannins.  Juicy acidity.  Cassis, blueberries, slight leather, dry/burnt earth in layers.  Long finish.  This easily as a few decades and will no doubt evolve, but will it get better?  Perhaps, but it is fantastic right now.  This was about $200 on release, but for a wine this good, this is reasonable.  

2011 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Saxum did quite well with their 2011's, a difficult and cooler vintage than most.  Inky purple in color.  The nose is great with black raspberries, slight roasted herbs, white pepper and roasted meat.  On the palate, this is full bodied with a nice texture.  Pure black raspberry fruit.  Deep but opens in the glass.  Normally, I think ten years is about right to wait but this one is a bit ahead of that.  Getting closer to peak.  Great acidity.  Long finish.  Works with food or delicious on its own.  Really a great Syrah.  

2014 Saved, USA, California, Wine Review

A blend of Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Zinfandel, and some other stuff too.  Ruby in color, purple at the rim.  The nose is nice.  Cherries, dark cherries, spice, chocolate and pepper.  Also some leather.  On the palate, there is some varietal complexity.  Not a ton of depth but width.  Easy to drink.  Firm tannins.  Probably better drunk in the next few years to enjoy its vibrancy.  It retails for under $25 and that is a fair price.  This is one of those fruit forward, kitchen sink wines that are popular right now and this competes with them and beats most on price.  Attractive, silk screened l

2013 Keplinger Caldera, USA, California, El Dorado County, Wine Review

This is made by one of the superstar winemakers of California.  This is Helen Keplinger's eponymous label.  It is a blend featuring Mourvedre as the primary grape.  While this is young and won't reach peak for a decade, it is delicious right now.  Purple in color.  The nose has dark cherries, plums, spice, slight earthiness and slight char.  On the palate, this has great fruit; dark cherries and plums with strong tannins.  Great mouthfeel.  


2010 Marietta Cellars Angeli Cuvée, USA, California, Alexander Valley, Wine Review

This is a Zinfandel blend.  It seems to be a bit past prime at this point but still hanging in there.  Not as energetic as it was a few years prior.  No sin in that for this wine, it just means to drink the newer vintages in the first five years or so.  Purple in color.  The nose has cherries, black cherries, some spice and a bit of alcohol.  On the palate, mostly red fruits; cherries and raspberries.  Not deep but tasty.  There is some heat on it, more warming than hot.  

2015 Raen Winery Pinot Noir Royal St. Robert, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Ruby in color, some purple.  On the nose this has some cherry juice and also some celery.  On the palate, the green streak is a bit out of balance.  There is some cherry fruit.  It seems a bit disjointed at present.  Perhaps it comes around with time.  I am told this sells for around $60.  Certainly worth drinking but not a great value for my tastes.  

2015 Wilde Farm Wines Heritage Bedrock Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma

This is a field blend with over 30 different types of grape interspersed throughout the vineyard, much of it zinfandel and alicante bouschet, but also tempranillo, mondeuse, carignane and mourvedre.  Pop and pour, it is very interesting.  Ruby in color with some purple swirls.  The nose has a some barnyard which seems to be brettanomyces ( a yeast that is in wines).  It is possible its just from the Mondeuse or possibly some Mourvedre.  In addition, there is great black cherry fruit and a bit of anise.  On the palate, this has tart red cherry fruit with a bit of earthiness.  Slightly drying

2007 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Franc, USA, California, Sonoma

Some of the older standards of California wine get short shifted by the new comers.  Pride is one of those whose wines stand the test of time and over a variety of great wine makers.  This wine is purple in color.  The nose has dark cherries, dark chocolate, spice and cedar.  On the palate, there is plenty of dark cherry fruit layered with brown tobacco notes.  There are firm tannins that seem to grow in the glass.  Despite being 11 years from vintage, this really needs time or air.  There appears to be enough fruit to outlast the tannins.  There is certainly more upside on this wine.