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

2010 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon T6 Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2015
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$300.00USD

Any time you get to try a Schrader wine it is a great night.  But, when you go to a friends house and see this open, well, it doesn't get much luckier than that.  Inky purple in color.  The nose is great with cassis, blueberries, charcoal, spice and slight graphite.  On the palate, this is precise and tight.  It opens slowly in the glass with firm tannins.  Cassis and blueberries carry thru but it seems bottomless.  This needs a long decant or better yet a decade in the cellar.  It is delicious now but so much upside.  Long finish.  It makes a wonderful cocktail but with some patience, this

2015 Venge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve, USA, California, Napa, Oakville, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2015
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$150.00USD

So, Nils Venge has been making great wine in Napa for decades.  This is a family project and his son Kurt makes the wine.  IIRC, this is my first time trying this wine and it was amazing.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has cassis, cedar, smoke and the slightest graphite note.  On the palate, this is one of those wine with so much energy it seems every sip is a bit different than the last.  Of course, it is young and that will probably change as it settles down.  Firm tannins at the moments.  Juicy cassis fruit with some underlying char.  Clean with great balance.  Long finish.  This would

2014 Rockpile Winery (Mauritson) Independence, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
87
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$45.00USD

This is labeled as Red Wine, but it is a Port styled dessert wine from Sonoma.  A blend of 25% Tinto Cao, 25% Tinta Madeira, 25% Touriga Nacional, and 25% Sousão:  it checks in at 18.3% abv.  Deep ruby in color.  The nose has a lot of alcohol along with some raisins and slight chocolate.  On the palate, this is slightly sweet.  Viscous.  Some cherry fruit.  A good bit of heat on the finish.  A very interesting take but a little goes a long way.  It is a members only wine.

2011 Kapcsándy Family Winery Rapszodia, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2011
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$200.00USD

Kapcsandy makes some of the best wines in Napa (and the world).  This one is a bit less well known.  It is a blend of 62% Cabernet Franc and 38% Merlot (so think the Cheval Blanc of Napa).  2011 was a difficult vintage but this wine is outstanding if perhaps not as good as the following vintages.  Purple in color.  The nose has black cherries, cigar tobacco and just a hint of bell pepper.  On the palate, this has a wonderful texture.  It is a bit more demur than typical Kapcsandy bottles, but it is drinking quite well.  Black cherry fruit with an underlying earthy/tobacco quality.  Light ta

2008 Jonata Winery El Desafio de Jonata, USA, California, Santa Ynez Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2008
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$125.00USD

A gorgeous California Cab as good as just about anything grown in the northern part of the state.  84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc and the rest Merlot.  This vintage has much less Cabernet Sauvignon than typical.  It is in a great spot right now.  Young but it has shed its baby fat and is drinking quite well.  Purple in color.  The nose has cassis, pencil lead, slight tobacco, a bit of chocolate and some cherry notes.  On the palate, this has light tannins.  Plenty of cassis and cherry fruit with some earthy tobacco notes underneath.  Complex.  Good balance.  Lon

2013 Maybach Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Amoenus, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
98
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$200.00USD

Maybach makes some of the greatest wines in the world.  Their flagship 2013 Materium was my WOTN in 2018.  This is from a different vineyard and was also spectacular.  Now, this is an expensive wine which sold for around $160 on release.  For that money, it should deliver.  The fact though is, at the rarefied top end of Napa Cabernet's, this is not comparatively over priced.  Consumed over two nights, it was better on night 2.  If opening a bottle soon, a decant of a few hours will be well rewarded.  Purple in color, shimmering bright.  The nose is gorgeous.  Cassis, slight blueberries, tob

2016 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
97
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$50.00USD

My favorite Carlisle wine, and that is really saying something.  There is something about this vineyard that just does it.  It has a lot to do with texture although the other aspects are great too.  And every vintage, Mike Officer seems to do better and better though 2016 might be hard to beat.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, black cherries, tobacco and spice.  On the palate, this is lush and enveloping while being precise and concentrated.  Notes of black raspberries and blueberries over a dry tobacco and earth along with a nice peppery quality.  Great balance and a long

2007 Dehlinger Syrah, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2007
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$40.00USD

Finally.  I have been drinking this wine since release and it is finally approaching ready to drink.  There was always potential but it has now been realized.  Hopefully, everyone still has some left.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, black pepper and slight roasted meat and roasted herbs.  On the palate, this is not big but it is concentrated.  Lots of black raspberry fruit but not over ripe.  A nice under layer or char and slight salinity.  Very nice balance and texture.  Long finish.  This begs for roasted meats or veggies though Indian food would work well too.  It shou

2014 Easton Zinfandel Amador County, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2019
Score: 
87
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$18.00USD

Not quite as good as the 2013 but still a very nice value.  Purple in color with ruby swirls.  The nose has dusty plums with slight cherry notes.  On the palate, more tart cherries.  The acidity is very food friendly.  Good finish.  This wine is more simple, one dimensional.  But for under $20, it works well at the dinner table.  It might not make old bones but should easily last five to seven years.  

2013 Easton Zinfandel Amador County, USA, California, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
89
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$18.00USD

Inky purple in color.  The nose has black cherries with slight bramble notes.  On the palate, this has a lovely texture.  Silky.  Black cherry fruit with a bit of cocoa on the finish.  There is nice depth here.  Long finish.  This retails for about $18 which is an excellent value.  It won't get better but should drink well for at least five and probably ten years.  It worked well with a slightly gingery squash soup.  

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