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.

2013 Walter Hansel Winery Chardonnay The North Slope Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Wine Review

Very classic Sonoma Chardonnay.  This sees 30% new oak, but there is a fair amount of oak showing.  Whether that is good or bad is a matter of personal taste.  Light golden in color with slight green hue.  The nose has nice lemons along with slight vanilla and nutmeg.  On the palate, the nose carries thru but also a bit of fresh cut timber.  Towards the mid-palate and finish, some tropical fruit notes emerge.  There is a lovely creamy softness to the texture.  Good depth.  Very nice acidity.  Still drinking youthfully, this should continue to develop and presumably for the oak to continue t

2011 Saxum Broken Stones, USA, California, Paso Robles Wine Review

For most newer vintages of Saxum, they need 10 years of cellaring to get close to maturity.  The 2011's are, however, a bit more precocious.  This one was firing on all cylinders.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, slight bacon fat, roasted meats, and white pepper.  On the palate, this has a wonderful texture.  Light on its feet, but packing a punch.  Great boysenberry fruit.  An underlying pepperyness.  Long finish.  Worked great with grilled foods.  There is still some upside to holding this, but its drinking beautifully right now.  

2013 Realm Cellars The Bard, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Wow.  Great wine.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has cassis, coffee, slight floral note and graphite.  Its big and gorgeous.  On the palate, this has an amazing texture.  Lush but precise.  Great balance and acidity.  Tons of fruit but also depth.  Tight layering that unwinds in the glass.  Black raspberries, graphite and underlying char.  This wine is very intense but also quite delicious.  It works with big foods.  Still young and will continue to improve for a decade and be good for another decade or two after that. 

2012 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, USA, California, Wine Review

This was from Magnum.  Most anyone who has been drinking Cabernet for any time has run into this wine.  It is a reasonably priced, classic Napa Cab that sells for around $35.  Of course, Magnums often taste better, but maybe that's because there is probably a party going on.  This is a really solid wine that is fairly priced.  It worked well with a wide variety of foods and drank quite easy.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose is dusty with cassis and spice.  On the palate, this is medium bodied with medium tannins.  A fine texture.  Cassis with some depth.  Some spice/oak as well.

2013 Buoncristiani Syrah Artistico, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Purple in color.  The nose is deep with black raspberries, blood and grilled meats.  Some vanilla and spice and black pepper.  On the palate, this is deep and tight.  Delicious.  Black raspberries.  Plenty of tannins.  Long finish.  This is quite young and tight but it has bold black raspberry fruit.  Probably should hold for a few more years and then drink over the next decade plus.  Impressive.  This retails for around $55 which is a fair price.  

2009 Shane Pinot Noir The Charm, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Wine Review

Deep ruby in color, purple at the core.  The nose is nice with sour cherries, cola and spice.  On the palate, this is a big wine.  Very reminiscent of a Kosta Browne wine in style.  Black cherries, some cola and some spice.  Has a nice depth and tight complexity.  Enough acidity to carry food.  Lots of fruit.  Good finish.  Delicious wine.  Doesn't seem to be at peak yet and showing little signs of age at this point.  

2012 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Kosta Browne wines are some of the most sought after Pinots in California.  They are also wines that people tend to love or hate because they are to the ripe and jammy side of Pinot Noir.  Its always fun to drink one and listen to the comments.  This is deep ruby in color.  The nose has bright black cherries with some baking spice.  With air, some root beer and Faygo Red Pop notes.  On the palate, there is a lot of cherry, black cherry notes along with a bit of cola.  It is big and fruity and also delicious.  Would work with bigger foods and most traditional Pinot foods (salmon, etc.).  Lon