Saturday, April 21, 2018

Exciting New Releases from Oregon

I’m a huge Oregon wine-lover, and I’m always excited to taste whatever I can. The sample size this week is small, but the wines are all high quality examples.

The two new releases from Troon Vineyard (a Montepulciano and Sangiovese) are really exciting. Lighter style (11.5 and 12.5% alcohol), the grapes are sourced from a vineyard in Applegate Valley, fermented with wild yeasts, and aged 12 months in all old French oak. I’ve long been a big fan of Troon’s Rhone variety wines, but apparently they can excel with all sorts of varieties out there.

Elouan, a new Oregon Pinot Noir project from well-known California winemaker, Joe Wagner, deliver a whole lot of Oregonian Pinot goodness for the price.

And the new vintage of Gran Moraine Chardonnay is an incredible follow-up to the 2014 vintage, and it reinforces my impression that this is a stunning Oregon Chardonnay, one to watch in the future for sure.  

This wine were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

SRP: $40
Deep ruby color. Aromas of black cherries, red currants, rhubarb, clove, coffee, lovely mix of rich aromas. Full-bodied with medium acidity and velvety tannins, this is a chewy and bold style but the wine still stays bright. Rich cherry and raspberry jam flavors laced with coffee, clove, black tea. Bold and packed with deliciousness but also lively and complex. (90 points)

2016 Elouan Pinot Noir Klamath's Kettle Reserve - Oregon, Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley
SRP: $40
Deep ruby color. Aromas of jammy strawberries and cherries, with rhubarb, roses, coffee, warm spices, clove, vanilla. Crisp acidity frames the wine nicely, with velvety tannins, along with tangy cherries and jammy raspberries, along with complex elements of cinnamon, rhubarb, clove, coffee. This could use a few years, but it’s impressive now. (91 points) 

2015 Gran Moraine Chardonnay - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
SRP: $45
Light yellow color. Complex aromas of limestone, wet river rocks, chalk dust, with honey, lemon curd, lemon meringue and salted almond. So vibrant and crisp on the palate, gorgeous texture and depth but stays brisk. Apricot, limes, lemon curd, the fruit is doused in saline, mineral, sea salt, white tea, honeyed biscuits and salted almond. Complex, deep, refreshing, delicious, this is insanely good stuff. The wine spends 16 months in a combination of French oak and stainless steel. (94 points)

2016 Troon Vineyard Sangiovese White Family Vineyard - Oregon, Southern Oregon, Applegate Valley
SRP: $25
Light ruby color. Bright aromas of chilled strawberries and red cherries, mixed with rose petals, violets, sage, wild herbs. Crisp acidity frames the palate so nicely on this medium-bodied wine (12.5% alcohol), dusty/light tannins. Bright cherries, raspberries, red apple fruit, topped with roses, clove, cinnamon, earth, soy and white pepper. A refreshing, brisk but serious Sangiovese. (91 points)

2016 Troon Vineyard Montepulciano White Family Vineyard - Oregon, Southern Oregon, Applegate Valley
SRP: $25
Bright ruby color. Spicy aromas of raspberry leaf, white and green peppercorns, rose hips, on top of red apple peel and crisp strawberries. Bright and refreshing on the palate with light tannins and an easy-going appeal, yet the flavors of quite complex. Strawberry, raspberry, red apple, along with complex herbal, spice, tobacco and potpourri. Wow, what can’t Troon do in Applegate Valley? (90 points) 

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Three Killer North Coast California Reds from the Cellar

As readers of this blog know, I review a lot of wines, especially wines from California. Sure I'm an Old World-lover, but I never go too long without sipping some California goodness. Here's a peak into the kinds of California wines that I buy and cellar.

Two of these wines come from Mendocino (which I've visited several times and love), and one is a rare red blend from Humboldt County. All three of these wines stood out in recent weeks as excellent, exciting wines, all of which could have been cellared further, especially the Bedrock Syrah.


My notes on some stellar wines are below...

2009 Cabot Vineyards Confluence
California, North Coast, Humboldt County
Gorgeous aromas of mushroom, savory spice, anise, roses, rhubarb, on top of red currant and cherries (the fruit is still going!). Crisp acidity frames the wine but the dusty tannins provide structure, along with tart, chilled red fruits, some currant compote, The balance is gorgeous, and the complexity is impressive in flavors of: black pepper, broth, mushroom, leather, black tea. Impressive depth and complexity – this would be a great ringer in an aged Bordeaux tasting. A Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. (92 points)


2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Syrah Alder Springs Vineyard
California, North Coast, Mendocino County
Aromas of saucy backberry, lots of smoke and meat and charcoal, grilled herbs, violets – just wow. Grippy tannins but vibrant acidity keeps it lively. Black cherry and plum fruit, generous but tangy. A host of complex soy, smoke, peppered steak, tar, olive and leather make this complex and astounding wine. I love Bedrock, and this wine in particular, but I think this may be the best one I’ve tasted from Mogran. Hats off, sir. Well done. This has a decade+ of evolution ahead. The most Cornas-y California Syrah I’ve tasted in a while. (95 points)


2013 Radio-Coteau Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyard
California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
Gorgeous aromatic displays: red apple peel, red cherry, along with bright roses, raspberry leaf tea, herbal oils, mushroom – wow. The palate is medium-bodied, the tannins provide solid structure and crisp acidity. Tart red cherries, red currants and wild strawberry, the fruit is gorgeous, and laced with spicy pepper, broth, mushroom, cinnamon sticks. These elements will be even better in 2-5 years, but this is already gorgeous. (94 points)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

More New Releases from California

This week’s report includes four wines from Sonoma-based producer Smith Story, which is the project of husband-wife duo Eric Story and Ali Smith-Story. It was my first time tasting these wines, and I found a lot to like.

Eighty-Four offers up a few well-priced and exciting wines from Napa. A cooperative effort between Doug Shafer and winemaker Elias Fernandez, these varietal wines are named for the year in which they began making wine together, and they’re definitely worth seeking out.

Lastly, we have two 2016 offerings from Napa’s Frank Family (which further solidify my love for the 2016 vintage in Napa), and a big, delicious Cab from Kelly Fleming.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.


2016 Smith Story Sauvignon Blanc - California, Sonoma County
SRP: $25
Pale yellow color. Aromas burst with lime, apricot, guava, cut flower stems, chalk dust and honeysuckle. Zippy and fresh but pleasantly plump texture with flavors of lemon-lime, green pears, apricot and guava. Notes of sea salt, mineral, nettle and honeysuckle elevate the complexity. Very well-integrated and balanced. The fruit comes from Knights Valley and Sonoma Mountain AVAs. (88 points)


2015 Smith Story Pinot Noir Thorn Ridge - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $75
Light ruby color. Nose shows chilled strawberries, wild raspberry, red apple peel, rose bush, potpourri, some sweet incense. Medium-bodied, so clean and crisp on the palate, with tangy acidity and smooth tannins. Raspberries, cherries, red apple, juicy but crisp fruit laced with cola, sage, roses and rhubarb. Lovely, fresh, inviting, nuanced. 16 months in French Oak (25% new). (90 points)


2015 Smith Story Cabernet Franc - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
SRP: $40
Deep ruby color. Aromas of fresh red plums, red and black cherries, with roses, cola, some sweet pipe tobacco. On the palate, fresh and crisp and clean with dusty tannins and cool red fruits (strawberries, raspberries, cherries). Rhubarb, pepper, cola, roses and spicy tobacco add complexity, while mushroom notes come out with time. Lots of fruit and flavor but fresh. The wine is aged 20 months in used French barrels. (89 points)


2015 Smith Story Cabernet Sauvignon Pickberry Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Mountain
SRP: $60
Deep ruby color. Smells like tangy black cherries, red and black currants, along with violets, eucalyptus, mint, some spice rub and clove. Such freshness and liveliness on the palate with structured tannins, the balance is great, and this is such an integrated wine. Plump blackberry and tangy red and black currants, topped with violets, roasted chestnut, spicy clove, tobacco, sweet herbs and potpourri. Wow this is a juicy, spicy, complex Cabernet. aged in 2-4 year old French barrels for 21 months before bottling. (91 points)


2016 Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay - California, Napa, Carneros
SRP: $38
Medium yellow color. Nose of almond butter, nougat, vanilla and white flowers, on top of creamy yellow apples and pears. Juicy and plump texture on the palate, but fresh acidity, creamy but not heavy. Yellow pears and apples, orange marmalade, the fruit is mixed with flavors of honey, almond, candle wax and clove. Powerful and packed with richness but it is put together so well and maintains freshness. (90 points)


2016 Frank Family Vineyards Pinot Noir - California, Napa, Carneros
SRP: $38
Deep ruby color. Aromas of black cherries, raspberry, rhubarb, black tea, tobacco and cedar. Full-bodied with plush tannins and moderating acidity. Tart cranberry sauce and rich black cherry fruit, forward and bold but nuanced. Notes of rhubarb, cola, tobacco, white pepper, cedar. Rich and fruity but complex and enticing. Yum. (90 points)


2017 Eighty Four Wines Albariño - California, Napa, Carneros
SRP: $28
Rich yellow color. Gorgeous aromatics of apricots, green melon, honey, salted almond, so many fresh white and yellow flowers. Plush texture, lots of depth here, but the acidity is brisk and refreshing. Glazed apple, apricot, white peach, the fruit is topped in yellow flowers, salted almond, a racy streak of minerals and chalk dust. The complexity is really impressive, and it’s downright delish. Another great example of what Albarino can do it Napa. (90 points)


2014 Eighty Four Wines Malbec - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $48
Rich purple color. Nose boasts lots of yummy fruit (blackberry, black cherry, dark plums) with complex elements of smoky charcoal, eucalyptus, violets, espresso – lovely aromatics. Full-bodied (15.1% alcohol) but the texture is smooth and the acidity keeps it fresh. Gushing blackberry and blueberry with menthol, eucalyptus, roasted coffee, violets, potting soil, vanilla, chipotle spice rub – serious complexity in here, but it’s plush, forward and delicious and goes down so easily. All Malbec aged 20 months in 50% new French oak. (91 points)


2012 Eighty Four Wines Petite Sirah - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $50
Dense purple color. Aromas of tart black currants, dark plums, a dark and earthy note, like smashed rocks and wet forest floor, some anise and espresso – complex and awesome aromatically. Full-bodied (of course!), the tannins are built to last, but the edges are rounded out nicely. The fruit is dark but tart, like crunchy dark plums and currants. Notes of anise, espresso, cedar, graphite. A massive wine at 15.8% alcohol, but its remarkably lively. All Petite Sirah aged 40 months in 100% new French oak. (91 points)


2014 Kelly Fleming Wines Big Pour - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $90
Rich purple color. Gobs of fruit on the nose (currants, blackberries, gushing plums), along with complex notes of eucalyptus, graphite, cedar and vanilla. Bold presence on the palate, the wine has a smooth feel though, with velvety tannins and fresh acidity that keeps it tangy. Tart black cherries and currants with juicy blackberries and plums, rich but fresh. Complex notes of cedar, coffee, vanilla, graphite, eucalyptus. As the name indicates, this is absolutely delish and goes down so easily, but it sports significant complexity as well. Cabernet with 11% Malbec and 8% Syrah. (91 points)


This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Wine Reviews: New Releases from New Zealand & Italy

This week’s tasting report includes some value-driven wines from big-time New Zealand producer Kim Crawford, as well as some bright and zesty Verdicchios from Italy’s Marche region. Lastly, there’s a tasty Montefalco Rosso and a teeth-stainingly delicious Sagrantino as well.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2017 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc - New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
SRP: $18
Pale lemon color. Aromas burst with grapefruit, kiwi, limes along with zesty pepper, jalapeno, nettle and white flowers. Tickling acidity on the palate with medium body and juicy grapefruit, lemons and green apples. Flavors of cucumber slices, honeysuckle and clove. Always a reliable, widely-available, tasty, example of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and lovely for the price. (87 points)

2017 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Signature Reserve - New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
SRP: $25
Pale yellow color. Bursting aromatics of bell pepper, jalapeno and asparagus, on top of juicy peaches, limes, some honeysuckle thrown in too. Crisp and bright, light/medium-bodied (12% alcohol) but some impressive depth and richness. Peaches, cantaloupe and lime doused in complex vegetable/spice elements: jalapeno, nettle, sliced bell pepper, lemongrass. Finishes with flor and honey notes. Classic Kim Crawford style but dialed up a bit. (89 points)

2016 Kim Crawford Pinot Noir South Island - New Zealand, South Island
SRP: $19
Bright ruby color. Smells of crisp cherries, strawberry jam, wild raspberry, along with cinnamon candies and rose petals. Medium+ acidity with light tannins, a fresh and lively style. Tangy cherries and strawberry jam mix with rose petal, cola, rhubarb pie, some white pepper. Accessible, fresh, light, a crowd-pleasing Pinot that’s really good for the money. (87 points)

SRP: $12
Pale straw color. Peachy nose with honeysuckle and sweet floral perfume. Crisp but plump with pineapple and limeade flavors, along with some honeycomb and sweet white flowers. Fun, fresh, friendly Pinot Grigio. (85 points)

2017 Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Macrina - Italy, Marche, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico
SRP: $14
Medium yellow color. Nose shows peachy, lemon, apricot, with bright white flowers, tonic and dandelion notes. Zesty acidity, moderate creamy texture, this is a fresh and vibrant wine with green apples, with sliced cucumbers, dandelion, sea salt, floral potpourri. Lively and fresh, very nice for the price. (87 points)

2017 Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Podium - Italy, Marche, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore
SRP: $25
Medium yellow color. Floral and bright on the nose with lilies, dandelions, honeysuckle, with richer peach, apricot, nectarine, orange marmalade. Crisp acidity frames the wine, nice textural depth, dry and steely with orange and apricot fruit. A saline and quinine note mixes with cut floral stems. More depth than the Macrina, but still a brisk and lively wine. (88 points)

2014 Perticaia Montefalco Rosso - Italy, Umbria, Montefalco Rosso
SRP: $21
Medium ruby color. Aromas of crisp, chilled red cherries, red currants, tangy plums, along with charcoal, roses, spiced tea, fennel. Medium-bodied with fresh acidity and smooth tannins. Tart red and black plum fruit mixes nicely with spiced tea, pepper, violets, scorched earth, gravel. Dry but fresh. Sangiovese with 15% Sagrantino and 15% Coloino. (88 points)

2012 Tenuta Alzatura Sagrantino di Montefalco - Italy, Umbria, Montefalco, Sagrantino di Montefalco
SRP: $31
Light purple color. Aromas of tart black currants and cherries, with charcoal, anise, tobacco, leather and cured meat notes. Grippy tannins (wow this is young), but moderating acidity, and lots of tart black currant and plum fruit. Lots going on already in terms of smoky, meaty, savory, earthy tones, but the fruit is still dense and concentrated, and this has a lot of complexity to unpack. I’d love to bury for 5-8 years. 100% Sagrantino aged 16 months in barrel. (91 points) 

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

$10-$20 Will Get You a lot of Good Wine from Argentina & Chile

Argentina and Chile are goldmines of delicious, inexpensive wines, and here in America we receive a lot of different options.

I recently tasted through a bung of $10-$20 wines from South America, and was really impressed with the diversity, quality and value. There are a few Malbecs in this report, along with some really solid wines from Chilean heavyweight producer Concha y Toro’s Serie Riberas lineup. And the sparkling wines from Mendoza’s Domaine Bousquet seem perfect for the inexpensive summer sparkler category.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. 


N.V. Domaine Bousquet Brut - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $13
Rich golden color. Nose boasts rich apricot, honey and yellow flowers. Plump texture on the palate but such zesty acidity, and this has a refreshing dryness for a Charmat method sparkler. Lemon curd, apricot and nectarine topped in floral perfume, chalk dust, stony minerals. Fresh and lively but some honey and clove notes on the finish. Drinkers of inexpensive Prosecco looking to up their game a bit, try this delicious sparkler, a blend of 75% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir. (88 points)


N.V. Domaine Bousquet Brut Rosé - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $13
Very pale copper color. Smells of strawberries, red apple peel, raspberry leaf, nettle, and some musk. Zippy and lively with pleasantly light bubbles and flavors of strawberries and watermelon slices. A streak of nettle, white pepper and raspberry leaf, with some chalky, floral tones. Pleasant, refreshing, very good for the price. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. (87 points)


2016 Trivento Malbec Reserve - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $11
Light purple color. Aromas of raspberry, strawberry am, roses and vanilla. Medium-bodied, fresh acidity, soft tannins, tangy red cherries and raspberry jam, with roses, cola, vanilla coffee, and a spicy herbal note. Fun, fresh and nice for the price. (86 points)


2015 Trivento Malbec Golden Reserve - Argentina, Mendoza, Lujan de Cuyo
SRP: $21
Rich purple color. On the nose: plums, juicy blackberries, cocoa, anise cookie, scorched earth and vanilla. Full-bodied with smooth tannins and fresh acidity. Tangy black cherries and blackberries, bold but nuanced, with flavors of cocoa, vanilla, espresso, violets and scorched earth. (88 points)


2016 Concha y Toro Chardonnay Gran Reserva Serie Riberas - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua
SRP: $17
Medium yellow color. Aromas of lemon curd, baked apple, yellow flowers, chalk dust, hazelnut and sea salt. On the palate, I love the lively acidity and freshness, and it fits nicely with the creamy texture. Peaches, nectarine and yellow apple fruit blends with chalk, limestone, saline and honeyed white tea notes. Rich but zesty, with lingering minerality and vibrancy. Very impressive, serious stuff, especially for the price. Fermented and aged 10 months in French oak (only 10% new). (88 points)


2016 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva Serie Riberas - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
SRP: $17
Rich purple color. Smells of smoky black currants, tart blackberries, waves of rich dark fruit, along with charcoal, cedar, pipe tobacco and graphite. Medium-bodied with fresh acidity and structured but silky tannins. Pure, dark but crisp fruit (cherries and currants), laced with vanilla, charcoal, scorched earth, graphite and violets. Rich, smooth, delicious, such high quality and deliciousness for the price. (89 points)


2016 Concha y Toro Malbec Casillero del Diablo Reserva - Chile
SRP: $12
Vibrant purple color. Aromas of tangy plums, sweet cherries, violets, coffee, vanilla. Medium-bodied with fresh acidity and soft tannins. Ripe plum and cherry fruit, fun and pleasant, with notes of violet, cola and vanilla. A nice intro to what Chile has to offer in this price range. (85 points)


2015 Concha y Toro Malbec Gran Reserva Serie Riberas - Chile, Colchagua Valley, Marchigue
SRP: $17
Bright purple color. Dark and saucy plums on the nose, black cherries, sweet cocoa, eucalyptus, vanilla. The palate starts and finishes with refreshing acidity, velvety but dry tannins, tart black cherries and red and black currants. The fruit is laced with charcoal, dark earth, cocoa, touches of vanilla and cedar on the finish. Delish, but also complex and balanced. Very impressive. (90 points)


This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Wine Reviews: New Releases from California


Last month I reported on a range of new releases from California. Well, the samples keep pouring in, and we’re back for another round. 

This week’s report has a nice spread, from zesty Sauvignon Blanc to big and bold Napa Cabernet. The Chardonnays from Stony Hill and Shafer steal the show, but Chalk Hill and La Crema bring some solid offerings to the table as well. And Shafer and Cliff Lede wow with their Stags Leap Cabernets, while a few other producers offer up moderately-priced and delicious wines.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2016 Gamble Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Gamble Vineyard - California, Napa Valley, Yountville
SRP: $25
Light yellow color. Bursting aromatics of quince, nectarine, lime, pineapple, some white pepper and dandelion notes as well. Rich texture, lovely depth, but the acidity is crisp and it frames the wine nicely. The fruit is rich and tropical (pineapple, kiwi) with tart lime and lemon crème, hints of almond and honey. Lovely freshness and minerality on the finish. 75% barrel fermented, 25% stainless steel, 13.1% alcohol. Fascinating and delicious stuff. (90 points)

2016 3 Badge Beverage Corp Pinot Grigio Moobuzz - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $17
Pale straw color. Bright aromatics of yellow flowers, honeysuckle, green melon, lemon crème. Zippy and fresh on the palate but rich texture. Plump pear, apricot, lime flavors, with dandelion, honeysuckle, hints of sea breeze. Impressive balance and depth for a Pinot Grigio at this price point. (88 points)

2015 Chalk Hill Chardonnay - California, Sonoma County, Chalk Hill
SRP: $42
Light gold color. Aromas show orange blossom, whipped butter, salted almond, on top of yellow apples and pears. Creamy, deep texture, but lovely freshness throughout, as the yellow apple and green pear fruit rolls in. Almond, nougat, whipped butter, with white tea, sea salt, chalk dust. Lovely balance, complexity is quite impressive, and it’s undeniably delicious. All maloactic fermentation, aged 11 months in about 50% new French oak. (90 points)

2015 Stony Hill Chardonnay - California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
SRP: $48

Light gold color. Gorgeous, enticing aromas of golden delicious apples, apricot, tangerine, with complex elements of spiced white tea, shaved ginger, honey and sea salt. Full and velvety on the palate, such depth of texture, but the acidity is lively and lip-smacking. Apricot and tangerine drizzled with lime, the fruit is tangy but shows great concentration. I get complex flavors of minerals, limestone dust, lemongrass, hazelnut, smashed sea shells… the flavors go on and on. Such purity and depth. A stunning wine from a master of Napa Chardonnay. Aged 10 months in old French oak. (95 points) 

2016 La Crema Chardonnay - California, Central Coast, Monterey
SRP: $20
Light gold color. On the nose, I get apricots, lemon curd, honeycomb, toasted oak, whipped butter. Creamy texture but refreshing acidity makes for a rich wine but it stays fresh. Bruised apple and apricot mix with whipped honey, cinnamon, nougat and floral perfume. Quite delicious for this style and price range. 7 months in 17% new oak. (87 points)

2016 La Crema Chardonnay - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $23
Gold color. Aromas of yellow apples and bruises pears, with whipped butter, yellow flowers, cinnamon and almond. Plush texture on the palate, rich and creamy and fun, with medium acidity. Pears and bruised apples with notes of honey butter, toasted bread and ginger. Rich and flavorful, fun stuff for lovers of big, rich Cali Chardonnay. 8 months in 17% new French and American oak. (87 points)

2017 Cline Cellars Mourvedre Ancient Vines Rosé - California, San Francisco Bay, Contra Costa County
SRP: $13
Light watermelon color. Ripe and juicy on the nose with melon, white peach, cucumber, nettle and honeysuckle. Plump texture on the palate with vibrant acidity. Strawberries, watermelon and white cherries mix with spicy white pepper, cinnamon candies, honeysuckle. Pleasant and ripe but quite complex, too, always so good for the price. (87 points)

2016 Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch - California, Napa, Carneros
SRP: $56

Rich golden color. Aromas are rich and plump with pineapple, apricot, bruised apple, along with whipped honey, salted almond, vanilla. Rich textural depth on the palate but the acidity is so surprising and fresh – loving the mineral and chalky depth. Bold apricot, yellow plum, bruised yellow apple fruit, laced with vanilla crème, whipped honey – notes of seashell – wow – pure and vibrant despite the intense richness of the wine. A gorgeous, stunning Napa Chardonnay, I’d love to see how this ages. No maloactic fermentation, aged 14 months in 75% new French oak. (94 points)

2015 La Crema Pinot Noir Russian River Valley - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $40
Deep ruby colored. Juicy black cherries and dark plums on the nose, along with clove, cedar, violets and cola. Full and juicy on the palate with easygoing tannins and medium acidity. Black cherries and forward dark plums, the fruit is mixed with root beer, cola, smoky oak, dark chocolate and coffee. Fun, fruity, yummy stuff for near-term consumption. Aged 11 months in 31% new French oak. (88 points)

2015 Scotto Family Wines Sangiovese Masthead Mohr-Fry Ranch - California, Central Valley, Lodi
SRP: $30
Light ruby color. Smells of warm cherries, strawberry jam, topped with menthol, rhubarb, roasted coffee, mint chewing tobacco. Surprisingly fresh acidity with soft/fleshy tannins, great contrast in this wine between fullness and brightness. Sour cherries, sweet strawberry and raspberry jam, rich but fresh fruit with notes of tobacco, rose petals, mint, violets, coffee. Impressive stuff for near-term drinking. Includes 10% Zinfandel, the wines spend 18 months in French and American oak. (89 points)

2015 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five - California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
SRP: $95

Dark purple color. Dark and rich on the nose, with deeply concentrated blackberry and cassis, graphite, loamy earth, spiced tea, violets, mint chewing tobacco, vanilla. On the palate, the acidity is quite refreshing, and keeps the wine moving forward despite the serious tannic backbone. Deep core of blackberry and cassis fruit, rich but shows a tart edge, with complex notes of chewing tobacco, eucalyptus, vanilla, cedar, graphite, all woven in very well. Another gorgeous example of this wine from Shafer, and the 2015 has lots of years in the cellar for this beauty. Includes 7% Merlot and 3% Malbec, aged 20 months in 100% new French oak. (94 points)

2015 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District - California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
SRP: $78
Rich purple color. Dark aromas of blackberries and currant compote, with menthol, cedar, cocoa, pine resin, complex and evolving aromas. On the palate, well-built tannins but velvety, and crisp acidity makes this wine enticing. Black currant and dark plums laced with tobacco, eucalyptus, iron, cedar, dark earth. Lots of time ahead for this wine, another impressive vintage of this wine. Aged 21 months in 80% new French oak. (93 points)


This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.