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

2012 Carlisle Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River, Wine Review

Just a beautiful wine.  Drinking youthfully but showing some development.  Open for business.  Purple in color.  The nose has leather, bramble, black raspberries.  Very deep.  With air, some graphite.  On the palate, black raspberries with an underlayer of charred earth.  A lovely texture; both velvety and intense.  great finish.  This would pair with heartier foods and certainly spicy foods.  This may not get better but has five to seven years left at peak easily and probably more as it morphs into more of a claret styled Zin.  So good right now though.  

2003 Walter Hansel Winery Pinot Noir The South Slope Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Wine Review

Purchased on release, this is holding up and in fact, drinking quite well at age 15.  It did need about 20 minutes to shed some bottle stink though.  Purple in color.  The nose has nice cherries, slight sour cherries, and some barnyard funk.  There is some Brett on the nose and palate showing as barnyard and slight band-aid.  On the palate, drying tannins.  Slightly sweet cherries.  And a bit of barnyard  comes through.  This is not drinking old, but probably never was a top level Pinot Noir.  Still, it has a nice complexity right now and seems in balance.  Would work well with fowl.  There

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