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

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.  

2017 Flora Springs Cabernet Franc All Hallows Eve

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
92
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$60.00USD

So this is apparently produced for the Flora Springs wine club.  They make 330 cases of it.  It has a really fun label and I guess the idea is to serve it for Halloween parties.  Seems like a pretty specific target audience, but I salute them for having fun with it.  They actually have a whole series of Halloween wines.  The wine itself is outstanding and I am not sure if it gets some short shrift due to the fun label.  Deep ruby in color.  The nose has black cherries and spice.  On the palate, black cherry fruit.  Slight tannins.  Some depth.  Drinking well now.  I suppose the obvious food

2013 Thirty-Seven Winery Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-

Garnet in color, clear and bright with darker swirls.  The nose is very nice with cherries, candied cherries, some salinity and slight mint.  A nice mouthfeel/texture.  On the palate, flavors of cherries with a slight spice under them.  Light tannins.  Good finish.  This is a middle ground styled Pinot for the Sonoma Coast.  It will go well with salmon or fowl and also lighter salads.  It seems a touch on the young side still so there may be some upside improvement.  It should easily last another decade. 

2017 Sterling Vineyards 375 ml Aluminum Bottle Cabernet Sauvignon,

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
88
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$8.00USD

The third of three wines tasted in this format.  It comes in a 375ml aluminum bottle with a wider screw cap.  This is a great idea for bringing wine places where glass is more difficult or not allowed.  At $8, it is a very good value in a California Cabernet.  The grapes are from three different vineyards in California's Central Coast.  The nose has cassis, cherries, some confectioners sugar.  Bright.  On the palate, this has black cherries with some mint.  Light tannins.  Slightly sweet.  It is tasty.  A bit short on the finish.  Easy drinking.  It worked well with just a slight chill to i

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