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

2017 Jones Family The Sisters Jones Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A

Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose is nice with black raspberries, black cherries and an interesting iodine note.  This is of course young with firm tannins.  On the palate, black cherries over a bit of charred wood.  A very long finish with some warmth.  This wine should start opening up around 2023 and be good for around ten years after that.  If drinking before, give it a good decant.  It will drink well on its own but will need bigger food for now.  Think roasted meats.  

1999 Shafer Relentless, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
1999
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$100.00USD

This is the first year that this wine was made.  It is a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah.  At age 20, this seems to be at peak.  It is drinking great with no signs of being over the hill.  Deep ruby in color, purple at the rim (a nice sign of youth).  The nose is all about boysenberries along with hints of black pepper and some charred wood.  On the palate, this is slightly soft with no tannins left.  It is almost seamless.  Deep and complex.  Boysenberry fruit over a bed of char and dry earth.  Good acidity.  Long finish.  Delicious.  This will go with a wide range of medium and heavier fo

2009 Shafer Relentless, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2009
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$90.00USD

This is a blend of 87% Syrah and 13% Petite Sirah.  At age ten this is just starting to come into its own.  We drank this side by side with a 1999 which was illustrative.  Deep ruby in color with some purple swirls.  The nose is big with black raspberries, char and minerals.  A wonderful, full bodied texture.  Black raspberry fruit over a char/mineral/earthy base.  Tight layering with moderate tannins.  Long finish.  Delicious.  This does have some upside as it mature and comes together.  If opening now, give it a few hours in a decanter.  This drinks great on its own and will work well wit

2016 Cooper and Thief Cellarmasters Select, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
89
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$20.00USD

It was nice to revisit this wine that I had tried twice about a year ago.  At the time it was a love it or hate it wine, so I was curious what a year of ageing had done.  It really hadn't done much.  The wines was still about in the same place.  Served to a crowd, it was indeed, love it or hate it.  That was fun.  Magenta in color with some purple swirls.  The nose has cassis, bourbon barrels and is dusty.  On the palate, I found it sweet although others did not.  Loads of black cherry fruit and char.  It is smooth and certainly different.  Probably better on its own than with food.  It doe

2016 Sosie Syrah Vivio Vineyard, USA. California, Sonoma, Bennett Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
92
Grade: 
A-

The first bottle of this I tried had likely been exposed to heat during shipping.  It is great that I was able to try a proper bottle.  Much better.  Purple in color with ruby swirls.  Interesting nose.  It is smoky with a scent that reminded me of a really good corned beef sandwich at a Jewish deli.  That is meaty, slightly salty, a bit of yeast, and slight roasted meats.  Very proper and welcoming.  This is a cool climate Syrah and it drinks very well.  There is some bacon fat too, but that wouldn't go at a Jewish Deli.  ;-)  There also is some boysenberry fruit lurking in the background.

2017 The Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Allomi, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$25.00USD

Hess is an excellent winery with a long track record.  This wine is one that is a consistently good value every vintage and reasonably easy to find.  Deep ruby in color with purple swirls.  The nose is tight at first, but opens to black cherries, some cassis and some baking spices.  On the palate, the black cherries carry thru.  Light tannins.  Easy drinking.  It might get a bit better with a couple of years of age but should be drunk in the next few years.  This will go great with grilled or roasted foods.  

2017 Bonterra Vineyards Equinox Red, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$12.00USD

Bonterra wines are made from organically farmed grapes.  This is a blend of mostly Merlot and Petite Sirah.  It is a different take, a bit lighter and easier, but a delicious and well priced wine.  Deep ruby in color, lighter at the rim, mostly clear and bright.  The nose has raspberries and cranberries with a bit of char.  On the palate, this has raspberries and candied cherries with an underlying char.  Some complexity.  This is clean and easy drinking.  It is not likely to get any better but should be good over the next three to five years.  It drinks well on its own and will work with f

2017 The Hess Collection Chardonnay, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$22.00USD

This is a pretty version of California Chardonnay.  Gold/silver/green in color.  The nose has lemon/lime with a nice minerality.  On the palate, this has lemons, wintergreen, along with slight tannins.  There is some oak here but not burdensome.  It shows up more on the finish along with some lemons.  This has a bit of complexity and is drinking very well.  It drinks well on its own and will work with lighter and medium weight foods.  It should probably be consumed in the next few years.  Full retail is $22 but this can often be found for less.

2017 Fort Ross Chardonnay Fort Ross Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma Coast, Forst Ross - Seaview, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$30.00USD

Gold/green in color, clear and bright.  The nose is nice.  Big.  Fresh oak, lemons and slight vanilla.  Nice acidity.  On the palate, flavors of lemon hard candy.  Slightly oily texture.  The finish has oak and lemon candies.  Long.  This has a fair amount of oak, but is also clean and energetic.  It should be good for seven to ten more years and may develop further.  It should go well with a wide range of foods from salads to pasta in a cream sauce.  

2018 Harken Chardonnay Barrel Fermented, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
88
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$15.00USD

At a recent tasting of multiple Chardonnays, this was the crowd favorite and most were priced well above this one.  It retails for around $15, but can be found for as low as $10.  The back label says it is a throwback to the oaked and buttery Chardonnays of the past.  Perhaps, but most people seemed to find just a hint of those qualities and that was a good thing.  It was different than what the crowd described as over oaked and too buttery.  While the crowd may have liked it more than I, it is a very nice wine and a great value and quite enjoyable.  The color is light gold, hay and slight

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