Sonoma's Must Try Pinot Noirs - 2015 Best of Sonoma

For the 2015 Best of Sonoma Lists we surveyed hundreds of local vintners asking for their inside perspective of the best wines, tasting rooms, and restaurants in Sonoma. Sonoma offers a wide range of pinot noir options—but some are simply too outstanding to miss. To help develop a list of the top of the top, we asked over a hundred of the top vintners in Sonoma for their own personal choice for the top Pinot Noir under $100 in the area, and the list is to die for.

Part II: Wine's Velvet Rope - 11 California Winery Mailing Lists to Sign Up For

Last month I wrote about 11 California winery mailing lists for which to sign up . That got a lot of positive feedback along with some requests for additional winery lists. Everyone really wanted to know what the up and coming wineries are and whose lists may be hard to get on in the future. While there is no telling which way the prevailing winds of taste will go, here are some more suggestions about lists that may just be filling up soon if they haven’t already.

Which California Cabernet Sauvignons Deserve "First Growth" Status?

In 1855, the Exposition Universelle was held in Paris to showcase all that was good in France. Emperor Napoleon III requested the leading Bordeaux merchants to rank the best wines . The top wines were rated as First Growths. Over the years, many people in the rest of the world have discussed what wines from their country would be First Growths. I am often asked what I think the First Growths of California are. It is an interesting conversation with lots of room for debate.

John Concannon of Concannon Vineyard - the IntoWine interview

John Concannon is the Fourth Generation Vintner at Concannon Vineyard, now celebrating over 130 years as America’s oldest, ongoing winery under the same family label and stewardship. Founded in 1883, Concannon is home of the Concannon Cabernet Clones 7, 8 and 11 which resulted from the highly successful, collaborative work in 1965 between Jim Concannon and UC Davis in preparing for heat treatment cuttings from a single vine propagated from Cabernet Sauvignon that John’s great-grandfather imported from Château Margaux in 1893.The Concannon Clones played a key role in helping California Cabernet achieve international recognition, and currently, an estimated 80% of California Cabernet Sauvignon is planted to the Concannon Clones. The winery is also home of “America’s First Petite Sirah” among other significant contributions, which John has been intensively researching over the past several years. A tireless advocate of environmental stewardship and historic preservation within the vineyard and the Livermore Valley, some of John’s most energetic endeavors have been focused upon revitalizing the landmark winery while preserving its history and the estate’s historic sense of place.

Beaujolais Nouveau - The Wine List - November 2014

There is a wine phenomenon every November when the cry goes out: Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrive! For more information about this phenomenon, go here . Beaujolais Nouveau is a popular wine to serve at Thanksgiving for a few reasons. First, they are prominently displayed on the store shelves at the same time people are shopping for their Thanksgiving groceries, 2) they are affordable wines that should cost less than $15 per bottle and can often be found for under $10, and 3) they match surprisingly well with Thanksgiving Turkey, cranberries and stuffing. I find most Beaujolai Nouveau falls in one of two groups. They are either fun wines or wines that I wouldn’t drink. A good Beaujolais Nouveau will have lots of cherry fruit, perhaps a bit of banana aromas and should be smooth and easy to drink. Here are ten in the first group; wines that are fun, taste good and provide value. There are others out there as well, but these are go-to wines for me. One bit of caution, don’t buy too many. These should be consumed by the end of the year. The best thing about them is their freshness.

Crazy Superstitions and Rituals of Winemakers - Part I

It seems most everyone has some kind of superstition: a lucky hat, the old stand-by the rabbit’s foot, a certain ritual before a specific event. We humans are curious creatures of habit and redundancy. Winemakers too have superstitions they employ during harvest to planting to verasion. So who in the U.S. is doing what, and when, and more importantly why? We do not judge, for these intrepid winemakers are doing great work so we can have great juice.

Top 10 California Syrahs - The Wine List - October 2014

Syrah is a grape that most wine merchants will tell you is a difficult sell. It seems it’s always going to be the next big thing, but never is. For consumers, that’s a good thing. A great Syrah usually will cost far less than a comparable quality Cabernet or Pinot Noir. For my money, I tend to buy more Syrah than any other grape. A disclaimer here – I liked it so much, I started to make it. In any event, as the temperatures start to drop, fall is great time for a hearty red with dinner or next to a warming fire. Syrah is a grape that really changes its personality depending on where it is grown. Cooler climate Syrahs can be quite different from warmer climate ones. California has plenty of each. While I love many of the cooler climate Syrahs, most of the ones listed below are warmer climate Syrahs. In my opinion, that is where the very best of Syrahs from California can be found.

THE Fourth of July Wine List - 2014

The celebration for the Fourth of July is one of two holidays in which I advocate limiting ones wine choices to wines of the USA (Thanksgiving being the other). It’s a time to celebrate America. Perhaps that is a bit jingoistic, but there it is. And, in keeping with the spirit of the holiday, the wines consumed should offer fireworks! Sometimes that means spending a bit more on the wine, but it’s a time with friends and family and spending a bit more is worth it. With that in mind, here are ten wines that are on my list for this year’s celebrations (it is after all a three day weekend). All of these wines will work on their own, with food hot off the grill or watching fireworks.