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

2013 Calla Lily Estate Ultimate Red Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Napa, Pope Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
89
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$65.00USD

This is a reasonably priced Cabernet from the Pope Valley, one of the less heralded places in the Napa Valley.  It is a very solid and enjoyable Cabernet.  Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, sandalwood and slight black cherries.  On the palate, this is easy drinking.  Some depth.  Light tannins.  Nice black cherry and cassis fruit.  Good finish.  A nice wine for a dinner party.  It sells for around $65 at the winery, but can often be found for a bit less in stores.  

2004 Pax Syrah Obsidian Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2004
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A

From Magnum.  Wonderful aged Syrah but it is starting to show it's age.  Purple in color.  The nose has black olives, boysenberries, slight black pepper and a hint of bacon fat.  On the palate, this has a nice backbone of acidity.  Layers of black raspberry fruit with some earthiness, some black olives and a bit of pepper.  Long finish.  Worked well with a wide variety of foods.  This probably should be drunk up in the next five years or so.  

2003 Easton Zinfandel California Shenandoah Valley, USA, California, Amador, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2003
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-

I first tried this wine a few years ago and was impressed by how well it had help.  It has aged  a bit since then but still is remarkably fresh.  This was bolder in style than the Fiddletown.  Purple in color.  The nose has black cherries and bramble.  Juicy acidity on the palate.  More plum fruit as well.  Overall a very nice and delicious Zin  Food friendly and seemingly with another decade left.  

2002 Easton Zinfandel Fiddletown, USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2002
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-

Part of a tasting of Zinfandel wines.  I believe this was a late release from the winery.  For a 17 year old Zinfandel, this was drinking quite well.  Purple in color, ruby swirls.  The nose has black cherries and spice.  On the palate, it is more about plums.  Not a big or fruity wine at this stage, but plenty of energy and drinking well.  More of a claret styled Zin with a nice complexity.  Very food friendly.  

2012 Saxum Broken Stones, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$125.00USD

My friend Robert was having a birthday.  I brought a Magnum of this as it is always a crowd pleaser.  And, it did not disappoint.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, white pepper, roasted meats, and slight floral note.  With air some coffee grounds come out.  On the palate, this was pop and pout and took only about twenty minutes to open though it continued to improve all night.  Lots of black raspberry fruit intertwined with smoke and roasted meats.  Medium tannins.  Great precision and balance.  Long finish.  This needs big or spicy foods but will work with those and o

2014 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$115.00USD

Rhys Chardonnay's are some of the best anywhere.  Some say they have a Burgundian quality to them, and that may be true, but they are also clearly from California.  Sunshine and ripeness.  This one was gorgeous.  Light golden in color.  The nose has a great minerality with nice minerals and lemon cream.  On the palate, it is delicious but lean.  Great acidity.  Nice lemony notes.  Long finish.  Sometimes these wines can shut down after a few years, so this should be drunk soon, or put it away for another five years or more.  

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

Vintage: 
1992
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$179.00USD

Ho fortunate to be able to taste this wine again.  This was opened at a friend's birthday party and as you might expect, it went quickly.  Luckily for me, they made sure I got a glass!  The 92 is often overlooked between the 91 and 94 (and even the 93), but 1992 was a very good year too.  The 92 is drinking quite well right now if starting to show a bit of age.  Garnet in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose takes one to Bordeaux.  Gorgeous combination of cassis, tobacco, slight dust and slight leather with just a hint of dried fruits.  On the palate, this is delicious.  Layers of cassis over

1978 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
1978
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-

This was a Six Liter Methuselah bottle of wine.  The cork came out in one piece with the use of a Durand.  It was soaked up the sides but did not leak.  The bottle was sampled right away and then over the next few hours.  Purple/ruby in color.  It looked to be about ten or fifteen years old (not 41).  The nose was initially muted, but with air this had some cassis and black cherries, some dried fruit, dust, cedar and a slight funk.  With air, it got younger for the first hour and then plateaued.  On the palate, this still has a nice freshness to it.  There is some age showing but not a whol

2015 Dirty and Rowdy Mourvedre Antle Vineyard, USA, California, Monterey, Chalone, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2015
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$65.00USD

This was being closed out at a local wine store for $45.  It was part of a "natural" wine tasting.  I thought it was the best wine of the tasting though the crowd was mixed.  Ruby in color, cloudy and slightly flat in appearance.  The nose has plums, cherries and a slightly sweaty quality.  A very nice texture.  On the palate, bright cherry fruit.  Long finish.  This is drinking quite well right now.  It will go with most heavier and medium bodied foods.  

2017 Cruse Wine Company Monkey Jacket, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
88
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$25.00USD

This is a hodgepodge of grapes made in a "natural wine" style.  Twenty-five percent Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Cinsault, Mondeuse, and Zinfandel from one source; another 25% Valdiguié; and the rest Syrah, Tannat, St. Laurent, and Carignan made from vineyards across California.  This was being closed out at a local wine store for $20.  Ruby in color, clear and bright.  The nose has a sweaty sock quality to it.  Once you get past that, there are some cherries and pomegranate notes.

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