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

2013 SonkinCellars Unmasked, USA, Mendocino, Wine Review

WARNING-Biased Review.  This is perhaps the most backward wine we have made.  Purple in color, slight ruby band at the rim.  The nose has boysenberries, charred wood, spice, and slight violet notes.  On the palate, this is tight.  Medium tannins.  Deep but hard to see the bottom.  Boysenberry fruit.  Good acidity.  Long finish.  This really needs more air or cellar time.  It works with spicy or hearty foods at the moment.  Another five years and it should be opening up nicely.  Once it opens, the fruit is pinpoint.  There is a lot of potential for upside here with proper cellaring.  

2012 SonkinCellars Unmasked, USA, California, Yorkville Highlands, Wine Review

WARNING-Biased Review.  This is tighter than most 2012's but starting to open up a bit.  Still, a decant for a couple of hours is not a bad idea.  Purple in color with ruby swirls.  The nose has boysenberries, black olives, white pepper and charred wood.  On the palate, this is lean but puts on weight in the glass.  Deep boysenberry fruit with underlying char.  Food friendly with heartier and spicy food.  Good finish.  This is nearing peak but easily has a decade plus to go.  

2015 SonkinCellars Persona, USA, California, Wine Review

WARNING-Biased Review.  This is out current vintage for sale.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, slight gamey meat, white pepper and black olives.  With air some red berry fruit emerges.  On the palate, black raspberries with a nice charred underlayer.  This is tight with firm tannins.  Good acidity, it should work well with food.  This is not as big as prior vintages of Persona.  It drinks nicely now, but its best days are ahead.  

2014 SonkinCellars Persona, USA, California, Wine Review

WARNING - Biased Review.  This is our highest rated (by the critics) wine.  WA96 points.  In my biased opinion it is not there yet, but will get to that lofty position.  It needs lots of air or a decant.  If you ate opening a bottle today, 24 hours ahead of time is not too much.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, blueberries, black olives, slight oak and roasted meat.  On the palate, what a great texture.  Not quite seamless, but going in that direction.  Black raspberry and blueberry fruit with underlying black olives and slight charred earth.  Good finish.  Needs hearty or

2013 SonkinCellars Persona, California, Wine Review

WARNING-Biased Review.  Although both of the 2014's scored higher, this is the best wine SonkinCellars made.  It is still quite tight and needs air or time.  Purple in color, inky at the core.  The nose has black raspberries, black olives, slight roasted meat, slight cedar and spice.  On the palate, this has firm tannins.  Lush black raspberry fruit.  An under layer of spice and roasted meats.  Long finish.  Still a few years from peak.  Everything that needs to be in a great California warm climate Syrah that is not over the top but pushes ripe.  Of course, this is a completely biased revi

2012 SonkinCellars Persona, USA, California, Wine Review

WARNING - Biased review.  This is our most difficult child.  Huge bottle variation on this one and it has to be related to storage at all points in the delivery line.  Despite having had the wine tested for Brettanomyces (yeast) it is a problem in some bottles for some drinkers.  And that is the problem with Brett and why we tested.  All wine has it to some extent, and if the wine gets warm it blooms (it is a yeast).  In this bottling it is sporadic and its been difficult to ascertain why.  Of course, some people like that barnyard quality, so inevitably, they are the ones with the cleanest

2011 SonkinCellars Persona, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

WARNING - Biased review.  2011 was a difficult vintage.  The fruit was bursting open on the sorting line.  It never got as ripe as we wanted.  We ended up putting in a bit of Petite Sirah from Lodi to get the final wine where we wanted it to be.  This was the only vintage with PS in it.  In the end, we really liked the wine and were proud of the final product.  It is an outlier in many respects from our other wines though.  This wine has drunk well from the start whereas most of our wines have needed time.  Now at age 7, I think it is mid-peak.  It won't get any better and should be at this

2010 SonkinCellars Persona, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

WARNING - Biased Review.  this wine continues to drink well now that it has finally re-awoken from its slumber.  Purple in color.  The nose is very nice with black olives, black raspberries, roasted meats and slight floral notes.  Except for the bright fruit, it shows very northern Rhone-like.  On the palate, this is deep with layers that unwind in the glass.  Earthy notes along with black raspberry fruit.  Good acidity.  Works with heartier foods.  This is closing in on peak but should have a decade left so no hurry.  A bit of air before serving is a good idea but this no longer needs a lo

2009 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon Corona Vineyard

Wow.  This was excellent.  This is why you let the better California Cabernet's age.  Sure, they are delicious young.  Juicy and full of fruit and energy.  But at age 9, this has all of that still but also starting to show some development.  This wine could easily go another two decades though it will undoubtedly lose fruit and sunshine.  For those lucky enough to have a bunch, it will be fun to watch this.  Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, cedar, slight dust and saddle leather.  With air, some black cherries come out.  On the palate, this took about an hour or two to really start to