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

2016 Halcon Vineyards Syrah Alturas, USA, California, Mendocino, Yorkville Highlands, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$33.00USD

Halcon wines are some of the best values in California wine.  They are top quality cooler climate Syrahs being made at lower alcohol levels in a deliberate style.  At the same time, they are not short on fruit or deliciousness.  They really do take some time to develop though and cellaring or air is highly recommended.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has boysenberries, slight black pepper, slight fried bacon, and a bit of charred earth.  On the palate, this has a medium body.  Tightly layered, it unwinds in the glass.  Nice boysenberry fruit with an underlying minerality.  It s

2017 Daou Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles, USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
89
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$19.00USD

This is a very nice value for those looking for a reasonably priced California Cabernet.  It is from Paso Robles, an area generally not known for its Cabs.  Dark ruby in color.  The nose has cherries and slight kirsch notes along with some baking spice and a bit of vanilla.  On the palate, this is medium bodied with good acidity.  Cherries with some oak.  Medium finish.  This will improve over the next couple of years as it integrates and should be good for five to seven after that.  A nice with with grilled burgers.  

2012 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard, USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$95.00USD

John Alban is one of the pioneers of Rhone varietal wines in California.  His eponymous winery  is still one of the best.  This is a big wine but for those who like this style, it is excellent.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, some black pepper, slight roasted meats and gravelly dirt.  On the palate, the texture is lush and almost seamless.  This is slightly sweet, most likely from ripe fruit.  Black raspberries and some black cherries.  Plenty of depth with a long finish.  A tasty wine for sure.  It drinks great on its own (and was perfect with a nice Cuban cigar).  It wi

2014 Linne Calodo Problem Child, USA, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$75.00USD

72% Zinfandel with 20% Syrah and 8% Mourvedre.  This is a brawny wine that is delicious.  Purple in color.  The nose has black cherries, black pepper, slight bramble and baking spice.  On the palate, this has a wonderful texture.  Juicy black cherries over a bit of char with slight woody notes.  There is a nice depth to this wine.  It should continue to develop complexity over the next few years.  It should last another decade.  Whether it improves or not depends on how mature you like your Zins.  This is great on its own and should work great with grilled meats or spicy hot foods.  

2013 Donelan Venus, USA, Sonoma, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$57.00USD

This is a blend of Rousanne (98%) and Viognier (2%) and one of my favorite white wines.  Of course, white Rhone varietals can be wonderful, frustrating, fascinating, great or dead at any point once they pass five years of age.  So it was with some trepidation that I tasted this wine when a friend brought it over.  No worries, this wine was singing and drinking great.  Golden in color.  The nose is showing some maturity.  Aromas of pears, slight dried flowers and wax.  On the palate, a slightly oily texture.  Pears and canned pears with a bit of earthiness.  Deep.  Not a lot of acidity.  Lon

2014 Thirty-Seven Winery Albariño, USA, California, Sonoma Coast, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-

One might think an Albarino that is five years old would be way past it.  Maybe more so if it were from California.  In this case, anyway, that would not be true.  This was drinking quite well.  As I don't know the winery, it is not possible to say how this drunk younger or if it is better or worse now.  It is, however, still quite enjoyable.  Yellow golden in color, clear and bright.  The nose is all about minerals with a bit of alfalfa.  With air, a bit of citrus (lime?).  On the palate, this has a nice cut.  The lime comes out more.  Refreshing.  Good finish.  It is light bodied.  Indeed

2013 Epoch Estate Wines Ingenuity, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$68.00USD

This is a blend of 54% Syrah, 21% Mourvèdre, 16% Grenache and 9% Petite Sirah.  It is a big wine that really needed some time to settle down.  Even 6 years from vintage isn't really enough.  That said, with a couple hours of air, this was drinking beautifully.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has black raspberries, plums, black cherries, and spice.  Perhaps a bit of black pepper.  On the palate, this is thick and big.  A bit chunky on opening but it smoothed out with air.  Lots of black raspberry fruit with some black cherries.  An underlying charred earthiness.  Good finish.  T

2012 Saxum Paderewski Vineyard, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$107.00USD

Usually, I like to let Saxum's age more, but this one is 45% Zinfandel, so we popped the cork.  Good move.  Also it has 36% Mourvedre, 12% Tempranillo and 7% Petite Sirah.  Weighs in at just under 16% ABV.  Inky purple in color.  The nose is big with black cherries, plums, black raspberries, some earthiness and spice.  On the palate, there is no heat.  Juicy black cherries, and black raspberries.  Some underlying char.  Long finish.  This is delicious but will be a tough food match.  Maybe some BBQ with spicy sauce?  It will be interesting to see how this ages.  I suspect the Zin fades and

2014 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard, USA, California, Santa Cruz, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$80.00USD

This, while still young, has entered an adolescence that is very enjoyable.  Light gold/green in color.  The nose has the typical Rhys Lemon Cream and vanilla.  On the palate, this is starting to delineate layers and show nice complexity.  The lemon cream and vanilla carry thru along with underlying minerality.  Good acidity.  Nice finish.  This took a few hours on opening to really open up so it is probably worth decanting at this point.  It should easily go another decade probably until 2034.  Great on it own.  It will work with richer dishes with fish, veggies and some fowl.  

2014 Gregory James Old Vine Zinfandel Carreras Ranch, USA, California, Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-

This is more of a "claret" styled Zinfandel than a big brawny styled Zin.  Purple in color with some ruby swirls.  The nose has dust, black cherries and slight tobacco.  On the palate, this has some depth.  Juicy black cherry fruit intertwined with a bit of damp earth.  Nice finish.  This would be great with Indian food.  Drink over the next five years, but it might surprise and last (a lot) longer.  

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