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

2017 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon Lore Vineyard, USA, Napa, Oakville, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
98
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$240.00USD

One of the best 20`17 Napa Cabs I have tried.  Inky purple in color, opaque and shimmering bright.  The nose has cassis, cedar, tobacco, char and spice.  Full bodied.  Firm tannins.  Great balance.  On the palate, this is delicious.  Flavors of cassis, some black cherries, with a nice earthiness and a touch of char.  Long finish.  This has a nice depth and complexity and unwinds in the glass.  It will still gain more with further cellaring.  Drink over the next ten to fifteen years.  Great on its own, this will work with meat, fowl or veggies.  A nice wine with a grilled steak off the grill

Rhys 2021 Pinot Noir, Bearwallow Vineyard

Vintage: 
2021
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$105.00USD

With vineyards in both Santa Cruz and Mendocino counties, Rhys can pull from a variety of sources to make a variety of Pinot Noir. With Bearwallow, their vineyard in the Anderson Valley, there is a delicate and quite lovely feel to this – something as smooth as silk. The softness texturally belies its layered complexity. Yes there is the requisite black cherry, boysenberry, loganberry and light strawberry, but there is also black tea leaf, light resin and sandalwood.

Whitehall Lane 2020 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Stage Vineyard, Petaluma Gap

Vintage: 
2020
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$45.00USD

As Pinot Noir goes, this is quite simply a very pretty wine. Sure, that’s not the sort of descriptor that most reviews use, but it is accurate. Subtle, soft, almost subversive, this is a Pinot that doesn’t announce itself, it doesn’t brag, it simply waits in the glass for you to try it. There is noticeable but subdued fruit; black cherry, pomegranate, Rainer cherry, light strawberry, pomegranate but they are wonderfully melded together so that nothing stands out – except for the quality of the wine in your glass at that moment.

2020 Marimar Estate Albariño Don Miguel Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2020
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$30.00USD

California is making some very nice Albarinos these days.  At four years from vintage it might be worrying but this was sealed with a screw cap and the wine inside from fresh and bright.  Light green/gold in color, clear and bright.  The nose is nice with apples, peach and a stony minerality.  Medium bodied.  Slightly oily texture.  On the palate, this is more about fruit and some minerality than its crisper Spanish siblings.  It is filled with ripeness and body.  Flavors of red apples and peaches.  Good finish.  This works very nice on its own and would work well with lighter foods.  A nic

2020 Carlisle Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2024
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$55.00USD

This is a blend of 86% Zinfandel with 14% other varietals from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma.  Of course, it is Mike Officer and Carlisle's home vineyard.  Purple in color with some ruby hues, mostly opaque and bright.  The nose is energetic with black raspberries, black cherries, bramble, black pepper and spice (cloves?).  Medium bodied.  Light tannins.  Great balance.  On the palate, this is young but really opens with an hour or two air.  Plenty of depth.  Flavors of black raspberries, black cherries, char and spice.  Juicy.  Long finish.  This is delicious on its own and will work

2021 Ceritas Chardonnay Trout Gulch, USA, California, Santa Cruz, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2021
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$70.00USD

The Santa Cruz Mountains are the home to many of my favorite Chardonnays and this is definitely one of them.  Light gold in color with some hay yellow swirls, clear and bright.  The nose is big but lovely with lemon peel, slight lime, slight apples, vanilla, spice and char.  Full bodied.  Creamy texture countered with crisp acidity.  On the palate, this is crisp, satisfying and delicious.  Deep and complex, it unwinds with a bit of air in the glass.  Flavors of lemon peel, slight vanilla, spice and char.  Long finish.  This is great on its own but better with food.  This would work so well

2021 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard, USA, California, Santa Cruz, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2021
Score: 
99
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$167.00USD

This continues to be my favorite Chardonnay!  It drinks great young and ages nicely.  With just a kiss of vanilla showing, there is some oak but not enough to be an issue even for many of the most oak adverse drinkers.  Light green/gold in color, clear and bright.  The nose is great with lemon creme, a touch of vanilla, spice and slight char.  Full bodied.  Very light tannins.  Great balance.  On the palate, this is delicious.  Great texture.  Flavors of lemons, slight cooked apples, vanilla and spice.  A bit of char on the long finish.  This drinks great on its own and will work well with

2018 Dakota Shy Cabernet Sauvignon Moulds Family Vineyard, USA, California, Napa,

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
97
Grade: 
A+

Having tasted this as a barrel sample, it was nice to get to taste this from bottle.  Of course, it is young, but at age six, it is showing very well.  Purple  in color, opaque and bright.  The nose is concentrated but big with cassis, slight graphite, char, and spice.  Full bodied.  Firm tannins.  Good energy.  On the palate, cassis, graphite, chocolate, spice and char.  Delicious.  Long finish.  This is drinking well but it will easily go another ten to fifteen more years.  Great on its own, this will work well with big meat or roasted vegetables.  

2021 Carlisle Grüner Veltliner Steiner Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma Mountain, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2021
Score: 
92
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$35.00USD

Another great GV from Carlisle.  This bears some resemblance to its Austrian counterparts, but is certainly from California.  Light gold/green in color, clear and bright.  The nose is nice with limes, granny smith apples and minerals.  Light to medium bodied.  Well balance.  Good acidity.  On the palate, limes, some apples and slight vanilla note.  Tasty.  This drink great on its own and will work well with lighter foods.  It would be a nice with with Quiche.  Drink over the next five to eight years.  

Whitehall Lane 2019 Tre Leoni

Vintage: 
2019
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$35.00USD

Whitehall Lane Winery has a focus on red wines, more Cabernet driven wines. This 2019 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel offers notes of blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, boysenberry, and huckleberry. The fruit is fully structured by moderate to mature tannins, the use of judicious oak, and a mild acidity. There are back notes of vanilla, sandalwood, and light campfire. This is definitely a food friendly red wine to pair with a various dishes, but it’s also a wine that makes you remember how good Napa wines can be when they’re treated with restraint.

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