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

2015 Sbragia Family Zinfandel La Promessa, USA, California, Sonoma, Dry Creek, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2015
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$42.00USD

My first time trying this Zinfandel.  Its a very nice "middle of the road" in style, Zin.  Purple in color.  The nose has black cherries, cedar and slight bramble.  On the palate, this has good acidity.  Not strong but enough to support the fruit.  Overall it is softer on the palate, but the black cherry fruit comes thru.  Good finish.  It drinks well on its own and would work with all sorts of casual food.  I think it is best to drink in the next few years, but it wouldn't be surprising if this is drinking well, albeit in a claret style, in ten years.  

2011 Saxum Bone Rock James Berry Vineyard, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2011
Score: 
97
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$130.00USD

Mostly Syrah with a bit of Rousanne.  The 2011's from Saxum are in a great place right now.  They drink a bit younger than most of Justin Smith's wines.  Pop and pour, this one was great.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, roasted meats, white pepper and "purple" floral notes.  On the palate, this has a great texture.  Big but not blowsy.  Lots of energy.  Good acidity.  Notes of black raspberries over char and spice.  Long finish.  This was great on its own (with a cigar) by the fire but will work well with heavier stews and roasted meats, or even cheeses.  No hurry, t

2015 Sbragia Family Merlot Home Ranch, USA, California, Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2015
Score: 
89
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$30.00USD

This is the home winery from longtime Beringer winemaker, Ed Sbragia.  This is an accessible Merlot that is drinking well right now.  Purple in color.  The nose has cherries, slight tobacco and slight chocolate.  On the palate, there is not a lot of depth but the cherries are strong.  A bit of a char underneath.  Some tobacco on the finish.  It seems like it should probably be drunk in the next few years.  It will work well with burgers or pasta and has enough flavor to drink on its own.  It has 95% Merlot and 5% Petite Sirah.  

2016 Ramey Chardonnay Russian River Valley, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
92
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$30.00USD

Ramey makes some of the best California Cabs that are mass distributed.  That is not to say they are inexpensive but they are made in sufficient qualtities to be generally available.  This one has a light golden color.  The nose is pretty with peaches, cream and slight lemon curd.  Not as much oak as many Ramey wines.  On the palate, this is full bodied with a creamy texture.  The peaches and lemon come thru along with a bit of yeastiness.  Good finish.  This is a robust Chardonnay but has plenty of energy to work with or without food.  It will match up well with salads and heartier seafood

2015 SonkinCellars Persona, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2015
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A

Biased review.  This was the last vintage that we made at SonkinCellars.  While probably not our best, it's a good wine that will continue to improve for the next five or so years.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, black pepper, slight roasted meat and roasted vegetables and hints of floral.  On the palate, a nice backbone of acidity.  Nice black raspberry fruit with an underlying char and earth.  Good finish.  This might get a bit better.  If drinking now, give it a few hours of air.  It will go well with cassoulet or roasted foods.  

2014 SonkinCellars Unmasked, USA, California, Mendocino, Yorkville Highlands, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$53.00USD

Disclaimer - biased wine review.  This may be the best wine we ever made.  It is still young and tight and should improve over the next five to seven years.  It is made entirely with Halcon fruit.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has boysenberries, black pepper, slight baking spices, slight earthiness and roasted herbs.  On the palate, I love the texture of this wine.  Deep if still tightly layered.  The biggest difference between this and other Halcon based wines, is that this is a bit riper.  Juicy boysenberry fruit over and bit of char and minerals.  Long finish.  Good acidity.  This sho

2012 SonkinCellars Unmasked, USA, California, Mendocino, Yorkville Highlands, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$45.00USD

This vintage seemed so open at first but eventually got tight.  This took some air/time to open up once the cork was popped.  Purple in color.  The nose is nice with boysenberries, charcoal, black pepper and just a bit of tobacco.  On the palate, this has a nice texture.  Lots of boysenberry fruit but tightly packed.  A nice backbone of acidity.  Good finish.  It is a cooler climate Syrah and Halcon takes a while to mature.  It still needs another three to five years and should be good for a decade or  more after that.  Disclaimer, I was part of the team that made this wine so I may be a li

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

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
97
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$125.00USD

A blend of 43% Grenache, 29% Mourvedre, 18% Syrah and 10% Counoise.  This wine is still on the young side but is open and with a bit of air, was drinking great.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, slight charred wood, black pepper, roasted herbs and roasted meats.  On the palate, what a wonderful texture.  Almost seamless.  Juicy black raspberry fruit.  Underlying char and roasted meats.  Great energy and balance.  This will continue to mature for the next five to ten years and be good for ten to fifteen after that.  The alcohol is high, but there is hint of it although

2013 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon Counterpoint Sonoma Mountain, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
89
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$35.00USD

This is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot.  If you are looking for a Cab that is under $40, this may be your ticket.  Purple in color with some ruby swirls.  The nose has cassis, tobacco, slight milk chocolate and spice.  On the palate, this is full bodied.  Plenty of cassis and cherries, a bit of tobacco earthiness and a good dollop of oak.  Medium tannins.  Medium finish.  This could use another couple of years to allow the oak time to integrate.  If it does, this will merit another couple of points.  Drinking today is still nice if a more difficult food match.  

2010 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2010
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$90.00USD

This would be another wine that might be polarizing.  It is far on the end of the big, fruit laden wine spectrum.  That's a great thing about wine; something for everyone.  Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, plums and cedar.  On the palate, this has light tannins.  Bold cassis fruit, blueberries and some plums.  Very ripe.  Somewhat sweet.  Like drinking a piece of mixed berry pie.  A little goes a long way but a glass was delicious.  And enough for me.  This will be a tough food match but would drink well with dessert of fruits and/or chocolate.  

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