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

Top Ten California Syrahs - 2016

I tend to taste and drink a lot of wine over the course of a year. I am in a few tasting groups, sometimes the wines are consumed at various local wine store tastings and a number drunk with friends and family.

Wine To Go Buy This Week – New Year’s Edition -Domaine Carneros 2008 Le Reve Blanc de Blancs – 90 Points

France’s Champagne Taittinger started its U.S label with the opening of Domaine Carneros in 1987 and has gone on to create world-class sparkling wines in America, of which their flagship Le Reve has always been a consistent standout. This Blanc de Blanc is comprised of five Chardonnay clones from the Domaine’s Carneros estate fruit.

2009 Martinelli Zinfandel Giuseppe & Luisa, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Purple in color.  The nose is nice and showing a bit of "claret" style.  Black raspberries, black cherries, spice, and a bit of black pepper.  On the palate, this is fresh and still youthful.  A bit jammy but no real alcohol showing despite 16.5%.  It does show on the texture and slight warmth on the finish, but not much at all.  Drinking well now and a crowd pleaser.  Worked with some spicy pizza.  

2014 Marietta Cellars Angeli Cuvée, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Purple in color with ruby swirls.  The nose has cherry candy, some char and spice.  On the palate, this has a nice texture.  The cherry candy fruit carries thru.  Not a lot of acidity but some.  Needs some bigger food to work with.  This is a Zinfandel blend that retails for around $30.  Drink up in the next couple of years as this probably won't make old bones.  

2004 A. Rafanelli Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley, Wine Review

Purple in color.  The nose is very nice with cassis, a bit of barnyard, slight tobacco and dust.  On the palate, this seems to be at peak.  Plenty of fresh cassis fruit but some tertiary development is showing as layers of damp earth, and slight decayed vegetation (in a good way).  Tannins are just about resolved.  It did seem to improve slightly in a decanter as it opened up and blew off a bit of bottle stink.  Nice finish.  Worked well with a nice plate of pasta.  It won't get better from here, and these should probably be drunk in the next five to ten years depending on how you like you

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

Pop and pour.  Purple with ruby swirls, still looking bright.  The nose is nice.  Cassis, dried currents, tobacco and dust.  On the palate, this took some time to open and then was singing.  At peak or perhaps just a bit past, this won't last as long as the 01 or the 94, but it has plenty of great drinking left.  Layers of cassis, dried fruits and dry earth.  Good balance.  Very food friendly.  A lot in common with and older Bordeaux but still has some energy and sunshine screaming California.  

2016 Ravage Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Wine Review

This retails for between $8 and $13 depending on location and store.  It certainly would be a fun wine for a Halloween party.  And for the price, this will be a popular wine at the party.  Bright, deep purple in color.  The nose has black cherries and some black raspberries with some dust and a bit of spice.  On the palate, this is ever so slightly sweet/ripe.  Lots of black cherry fruit as well.  It has a lush texture and drinks well on its own.  Would work with bigger foods or apps.  An interesting mid-evil looking label.  Is this amazing?  Not really.  But, one could pay twice as much fo

2012 Realm Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard

Pop and pour, like many 2012's this seems a bit shut down right now.  Luckily, there was time to wait.  After about an hour it opened nicely.  inky purple in color.  The nose has black cherries, cassis, spice, dried cherries and a slight tobacco note.  On the palate, this is drinking quite well.  Black cherries and spice.  Nice texture.  Sill young, it unwinds in the glass.  Deep and tightly complex.  Good finish.  This is a robust wine that needs about five years of good cellaring.  It has a couple of decades left.  Will work with bigger foods but works great on its own right now.  

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

Wow.  This wine should make old bones, but it is so good now, it is not likely to.  Stunning wine that seemingly gets better and better.  This bottle was consumed over 4 hours and the last glass was the best.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has cassis, graphite, cedar, blueberries and spice.  On the palate, this has a seamless texture.  Delicious.  Deep and tightly layered; it explodes in the glass.  Tons of cassis and blue berries layered with minerality and spice.  Medium tannins.  Long finish.  It does need bigger or spicier food, but it is oh so good.