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

2017 Bonterra Dry Muscat, USA, California, Lake County, Wine Review

This is made from organically grown grapes.  Very pale, silvery coppery gold in color.  The nose has a great orange peel quality.  Kind of like the spray that happens when one peels and orange.  Slightly viscous in texture.  It has a perception of sweetness but the wine is dry.  On the palate, this is very good.  Mild fruit, sort of like a tart strawberry.  The mid-palate returns to citrus with a tart (in a good way) grapefruit on the finish.  Good acidity, this worked quite well with summer foods.  Surprisingly more complex than it seems at first.  Refreshing.  This turned out to be a crow

2014 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

This is one of the classic vineyards in California.  A whole host of wineries use this to make some very fine Zinfandels.  Carlisle's version tends to be middle of the road.  Interestingly, it also tends to be a pretty straightforward Zin the Carlisle lineup.  Of course, that is not a bad thing.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has black raspberries, black cherries, spice and a bit of anise.  Those qualities carry thru to the palate.  This is on the bigger side but far short of many and certainly not jammy.  A nice depth to it.  If you like more of a claret style, these have sho

2005 Jaffurs Syrah Upslope, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

This is a special blend made from the best barrels of Jaffur's Thompson, Verna's and Bien Nacido Vineyards.  Deep purple in color.  The nose is very nice.  Black raspberries, grilled meat with a bit of burnt crust, and white pepper.  On the palate, this is seriously ripe.  It will not be for everyone.  Not so much powerful (although it is) bit ripe/sweet.  It took some time to get used to and then it was wonderful.  Sweet and jammy black raspberry fruit.  There is some depth here.  Still drinking quite young.  Nice finish.  This makes a great drink on the back deck but may prove to be a mor

2009 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Having had the 2006 just a few days prior to this, it was surprising how much younger and tighter this was.  It does seem like there was a bit of a style shift starting in 2007 and rather than the wines really opening up at age 5, it is now closer to 10.  This one took a few hours to really open and then was singing if still on the youthful side.  Inky purple in color.

2016 Sandlands Chenin Blanc Amador County, USA, California, Wine Review

Light golden in color.  The nose has minerals, oranges, slight apricot.  On the palate, this has a really interesting texture.  Dry but some heaviness to it.  Minerals and orange peel.  Enough if not great acidity, it drinks better with some food.  Actually would work with a wide range of foods.  Good finish.  Well priced at around $25.  Certainly one of the better and more interesting expressions of California Chenin Blanc.  

2016 Becklyn Cellars Sauvignon Blanc McGah Vineyard, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Perfect on a hot day.  Light golden in color.  The nose is great.  Fresh with slight tropical fruit, melons, a bit of grass and minerals.  Really clean.  On the palate, the melons and minerals carry thru.  Also a tart note that is interesting.  Nice texture.  Good acidity.  Long finish.  Food friendly.  This is the kind of wine that is (too) easy to drink an entire bottle of.  Refreshing but also with some depth.  Fairly priced at $35.  

2009 Envy Wines Late Harvest, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Golden/green in color.  The nose has honey and slight apricots.  Thick and viscous.  Slightly cloying.  Not a lot of acidity. This is a solid dessert wine, but it really was much more impressive with an assortment of cheeses.  A stinky blue worked quite well.  12% Alcohol.  A nice finish to a meal.  This is in a great place but should last for a long time. 

2006 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Great showing for this wine and in a great place.  Probably not yet at peak though.  Who says these wines won't age?  Inky purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, roasted meats, slight roasted herbs and char.  Not a super ripe wine, but certainly plenty of bold black raspberry fruit on the palate.  Deep and complex.  Tightly layered, it unwinds in the glass.  Fruit, char and grilled herbs.  Smooth.  Long finish.  Plenty of alcohol, the label lists 16.6%, but no heat.  It is noticeable in the lush texture and of course, standing up.  Just a gorgeous wine.  Not sure that this will g

2009 Donelan Syrah Walker Vine Hill, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Wine Review

Inky purple in color.  The nose is bright black raspberry fruit with some char.  Medium bodied.  Good acidity.  Black raspberry fruit.  Works well with food.  This is an outstanding wine, but at age 9, it is not showing the depth and complexity that might have been expected.  The question is whether it will develop.  2009 had heavy rains at harvest and pick dates often separated the great from the almost great.  It will be interesting to see where this goes over the next five to ten years.  Regardless, this is at a minimum, still a great wine.  

2008 Carlisle Syrah Cardiac Hill, USA, California, Sonoma, Bennett Valley, Wine Review

Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has black raspberries, char and black pepper.  With air, a chalky quality emerges along with more concentrated black raspberries.  Good acidity.  Deep, still young and complex on the palate.  At ten years of age, this is ageing quite slowly.  Delicious and complex.  It slowly unwinds in the glass.  Still plenty of fruit and firm tannins suggesting much more room for development.  Long finish.  Worked great with hearty food.