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

2013 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

This is the basic Cabernet from Myriad, superstar winemaker Mike Smith's own winery.  This is in a great place and drinking great right now but has a long life ahead.  Big and full of fruit and power, but not over the top.  Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, slight char, baking spice and slight black cherries.  On the palate, lots of cassis and black cherries.  Also underlying minerality and char.  Medium tannins.  Great balance.  Long finish.  This needs heartier food and also drinks well on its own.  Delicious.  $60 retail is actually a good value for this level of Napa Cab.  Perhaps

2009 Bedrock Wine Co. Syrah Old Lakeville Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

This wine has finally opened up and is drinking well.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, some black olives, black pepper and slight gamey meats.  On the palate, this is delicious.  Plenty of depth with layers that unwind in the glass.  Still a bit young, it could use some air before drinking.  Lots of black raspberry fruit with a bit of earthiness.  Good finish.  Will work with medium and heavier foods.  No hurry, has a decade or more left.  

2015 Luna Vineyards Canto, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

This is an excellent wine.  A blend of 50% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Merlot with grapes from Atlas Peak and Howell Mountain in Napa Valley.  Consumed over two days, this was better on Day 2.  Purple in color.  On day one, the nose shows black cherries, slight cedar and a clove/bitters quality to it that is very interesting.  On the palate, this is not a big, bold wine.  Rather, there are plenty of concentrated fruits, mostly cherries and black cherries with a slight bitterness (again in a good way) to it.  On Day 2 (re-corked and left on the counter), this wine really open

2015 Denner Zinfandel, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine review

This is a good wine.  But, it did not meet expectations.  These expectations were caused by the wineries reputation; they make some great wines, and the price; $65 for a bottle of Zinfandel is a good chunk of change.  Purple in color.  The nose has black cherries, slight spice, slight char.  On the palate, this is simple on one dimensional.  Nice black cherry fruit.  Some depth but not really showing much other than fruit.  Drank over two days, it was better on day 1.  Its a fine Zinfandel but there are hundred if not thousands that provide this quality for one third the price.  Stick to th

2011 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Really drinking in a nice place right now.  Very elegant and refined IMO, at least compared to other vintages.  Ruby in color, clear and bright.  The nose is very nice with macerated cherries, spice and slight fresh cherries.  On the palate, this is not a big wine.  Cherries and cherry juice with layers of damp forest floor.  Good balance.  Delicious too.  Nice finish.  Very food friendly for a wide range of foods.  Very nice today.  It might not get better but no hurry.  

2011 Ridge Monte Bello, USA, California, Santa Cruz, Wine Review

Monte Bello is one of the great wines of California.  87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc.  Though 2011 was a difficult vintage in most of California, Ridge hit a home run (again) with Monte Bello.  It might be drinking a bit earlier than other vintages, but it is a fantastic wine.  Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, cigar box, plums and char.  Very nice.  On the palate, this has a wonderful texture that is lush and full bodied but not over the top.  Plenty of cassis and plum fruit with underlying earthiness and slight char.  Good finish.  Works with medium and heav

2009 Martinelli Zinfandel Giuseppe & Luisa, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Purple in color.  The nose is nice and showing a bit of "claret" style.  Black raspberries, black cherries, spice, and a bit of black pepper.  On the palate, this is fresh and still youthful.  A bit jammy but no real alcohol showing despite 16.5%.  It does show on the texture and slight warmth on the finish, but not much at all.  Drinking well now and a crowd pleaser.  Worked with some spicy pizza.  

2014 Marietta Cellars Angeli Cuvée, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Purple in color with ruby swirls.  The nose has cherry candy, some char and spice.  On the palate, this has a nice texture.  The cherry candy fruit carries thru.  Not a lot of acidity but some.  Needs some bigger food to work with.  This is a Zinfandel blend that retails for around $30.  Drink up in the next couple of years as this probably won't make old bones.  

2004 A. Rafanelli Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley, Wine Review

Purple in color.  The nose is very nice with cassis, a bit of barnyard, slight tobacco and dust.  On the palate, this seems to be at peak.  Plenty of fresh cassis fruit but some tertiary development is showing as layers of damp earth, and slight decayed vegetation (in a good way).  Tannins are just about resolved.  It did seem to improve slightly in a decanter as it opened up and blew off a bit of bottle stink.  Nice finish.  Worked well with a nice plate of pasta.  It won't get better from here, and these should probably be drunk in the next five to ten years depending on how you like you

1992 Dominus Estate Napanook Vineyard, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Pop and pour.  Purple with ruby swirls, still looking bright.  The nose is nice.  Cassis, dried currents, tobacco and dust.  On the palate, this took some time to open and then was singing.  At peak or perhaps just a bit past, this won't last as long as the 01 or the 94, but it has plenty of great drinking left.  Layers of cassis, dried fruits and dry earth.  Good balance.  Very food friendly.  A lot in common with and older Bordeaux but still has some energy and sunshine screaming California.