What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

Wine Pick of the Week

  Votre Santé Chateau Red   Producer: Francis Ford Coppola Winery Appellation: California Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $14   “Though name of this wine refers to “a votre santé” (“to your health”), the favorite toast of Maria Zasa, Francis Ford Coppola's Italian grandmother, it's more French than Italian in composition and style. Syrah, Grenache and Mouvèdre grapes were sourced from the North Coast, Monterey and Lodi growing regions. The aroma and plush opening mouth feel are rich and seem very Californian, but the alcohol level is a modest 13.5% more typical of the Rhône. The result is a wine big…
  2011 Pinot Blanc   Producer: Valley of the Moon Appellation: Sonoma County Alcohol: 13.4% Suggested Retail: $23   “The Pinot Blanc variety is native to Alsace, that part of northern France nearest to the German border that also produces dry Rieslings. If you're unfamiliar with the grape, we'd say it's perhaps closer in style to a Chardonnay than any other white grown in California, though not that in the unctuous and sometimes overoaked style popular here. “Our reviews publish the suggested retail prices of wines as defined by the wineries. Often they can be found at prices less than…
    2007 Ventoux (Rhône red wine)   Producer: J.V. Fleury  Appellation: Appellation Ventoux Contrôlée Alcohol: 14% Suggested retail: $13   “This Ventoux rouge contains more Syrah than many of the red wines of this region. Its composition includes Syrah (60%), with lesser amounts of Grenache (30%) and Mouvèdre (10%). The Ventoux refers to a mountain in Provence at the southern end of the Rhone growing region. In some years the route of the Tour de France goes up and over it. “Bright fruit, with cherry and raspberry aspects set against a briary, smokey background. Some spice and ground pepper…
  2012 Chardonnay    Producer: Kunde Family Estate Appellation: Sonoma Valley Alcohol: 13.9% Suggested Retail: $18   “Nice combination of creamy and crispy aspects in this Sonoma Valley Chardonnay (Other, more expensive Chardonnays are produced at this winery, but the Sonoma Valley label is what we're reviewing here). Though it's fairly priced at suggested retail, we purchased it at a considerably lower amount. Opens with some appealing floral aromas. Has a creamy vanilla quality (crème caramel? crème brulee?) and also some melon on the palate. Drinks easy, but shows some complexity when it has been open for a while and…
  2010 Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon   Columbia Crest Appellation: Columbia Valley (WA) Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $12   “Columbia Crest produces other, more expensive bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon, but the Grand Estates label is their flagship product. Washington state's Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) is huge, but the winery sources these grapes mostly from two areas (sub-AVAs) within this appellation, the Horse Heaven Hills and the Wahluke Slope. It opens with lush aromas of blackberry and blueberry, preceding flavors of more dark berries and black cherry. There are also a some cola-like qualities in the background of this…
  2012 Pinot Grigio   Fancy Pants Wines Appellation: California Alcohol: 13.15% Suggested Retail: $9.99   “Light aromas of cantaloupe and lime zest. A taste fills the mouth with a cream soda-like effect, but with some citrus aspects. This wine finishes very softly and there's an obvious residual sugar presence. To this reviewer's taste the wine is too sweet. Beyond that, we just find it insipid. However, this doesn't necessarily mean it's a badly made wine. The winery obviously is targeting inexperienced drinkers and that's a very big potential audience.” Food affinity: “Notes sent with the wine suggest pairing with…
  2010 Cabernet Sauvignon   Amici Cellars Appellation: Napa Valley Alcohol: 14.5% Suggested Retail: $45   “Joel Aiken, winemaker (and partner) at Amici Cellars, was BV's winemaker for 27 years. Who has greater experience with quality Napa Valley Cabernet than that? It will be interesting to follow Amici's path as they pursue some single-vineyard bottlings that necessarily will be more expensive the Napa Valley definition we review today. Most of the fruit for this Napa Valley label was sourced from Rutherford (75%), the balance from Yountville, just a few miles to the south. “We found it dense in flavor and…
    2011 Cabernet Sauvignon   Vino de Eyzaguirre Appellation: Colhagua Valley (Chile) Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $9   “We encountered this wine in a Basque restaurant. Though from Chile, not the Basque Country of France and Spain, the name looked appropriate and the restaurant price seemed moderate. The flavors included dark cherries, plums and some bittersweet chocolate. We found it to be a solid wine—no flaws, some good fruit and at an alcohol level that encouraged serving with food. Interesting sack packaging didn't enhance the flavor of wine inside the bottle, but didn't hurt it either.” Food Affinity: “Could…
  2010 Pinotage    Loma Prieta Winery Appellation: Lodi Alcohol: 15% Suggested Retail: $45   “This wine is made from a grape unknown to most consumers in the United States. Pinotage, sometimes called “the workhorse grape of South Africa,” is a cross between the more familiar Pinot Noir and Cinsault, a variety native to the Rhone growing region in France. We have tasted some South African Pinotage that we liked, but none as much as this example from Loma Prieta. It's possible that just as Malbec, a grape native to the southwest of France, finds a higher expression when grown…
  (N/V) Rossana   Horsehill Vineyards  Appellation: Los Angeles County  Alcohol: 11.5%  Suggested Retail: $15   “Rosanna is a sparkling wine produced from a partnership of the Collins College of Hospitality Management and College of Agriculture of Cal Poly Pomona and South Coast Winery in Temecula. The name Rossana is a reference to an Arabian mare owned by W.K. Kellogg, whose horse ranch of yesteryear is now home to Cal Poly Pomona in southern California. The Horsehill Vineyards identity is an obvious reference to the legacy of the land. There's also a history to the vines that supplied the fruit…
  2011 Gravelstone Chardonnay   Jekel Vineyards Appellation: Arroyo Seco, Monterey Alcohol: 14.4% Suggested Retail: $15.99   “Aromas of pineapple and guava prominent, with some white peach, too. From first sip, this Gravelstone Chardonnay exhibits a lush, creamy personality. Flavors of melon and a bit of citrus predominate. The winemaker says he used mostly neutral oak barrels, but there's still a vanilla presence from that smaller amount of new oak cooperage. This is a big wine (14.4% alcohol) and is a relatively inexpensive option for those who favor the full-blown California treatment of this variety.” Food Affinity: “Seared scallops finished…
  2011 Pinot Noir   Sutter Home Appellation: California Alcohol: 13.2% Suggested Retail: $6   “Top-quality Pinot Noir, whether it comes from Burgundy, California or any other new world country, is never cheap. And a bottle that does even slight justice to the variety is hard to find under about $15. Most of those priced under $10 we've found disappointing—sort of like a beautiful favorite tune sung off-key. Nevertheless, we persist in our search to find drinkable examples of this variety that don't break the bank. “The Sutter Home 2011 Pinot Noir is a very attractive bottle of wine. While…
   2012 Viognier   Bonterra Appellation: Mendocino County  Alcohol: 13.9%  Suggested Retail: $16   “Aromas of honeysuckle, lemon blossom and apricot in this wine made of Mendocino County organic grapes. It's quite fragrant, but flavors of nectarines and white peaches take over and are more apparent than apricot. There's a little spice in there, too. Some oak aging—six months says the winery—gives a vanilla quality that enhances, but doesn't overpower, its fresh and sprightly nature. Simultaneously crisp and creamy, it reminded one reviewer of of Dreamsicles enjoyed in the summers of his youth. Long finish.” Food Affinity: “Chicken curry. Portuguese…
  1999 Eileen Hardy Shiraz   Hardy's  Appellation: McLaren Vale, So. Australia  Alcohol: 13.5%  Suggested Retail: $90   “Wine writers taste a lot of wine that really isn't ready to drink. Most of the time we're sampling recently bottled wines that have just been released for sale. For simple table wines this system works o.k., as they're not going to get that much better. But for more complex wines, especially reds, drinking them too young is a sort of vinous infanticide. Consumers seek information on wines that are currently available in the marketplace and presume that reviewers can help them…
   2012 Sauvignon Blanc   Dry Creek Vineyard Appellation: Dry Creek Valley Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $16   “Last week our Pick was also a wine from Dry Creek Vineyard and from, essentially, the same grape variety. Any California wine labeled 'Fume Blanc' or 'Sauvignon Blanc' will be made from at least 75% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The difference in terminology may just be a decision made by the marketing department or, as in the case of Dry Creek Vineyard, it's the winery's choice to produce different styles. While both wines contain 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes, today's version had 10% of…
  2012 Fumé Blanc    Dry Creek Vineyard  Appelleation: Sonoma County  Alcohol: 13.5%  Suggested Retail: $14   “For about 40-years Dry Creek Vineyard has produced quality wines, fairly priced. Our Pick for this week, their Fumé Blanc, is considered the winery's 'flagship wine.' This just-released 2012 vintage is a classic. The aroma is citrussy (the winery suggests Meyer lemon and kaffir lime. The latter may sound esoteric, almost affected, but the reviewer, having taken a Thai cooking course some time ago, believes part of that aroma may not only be kaffir lime, but kaffir lime leaves.). “The clean and racy…
2010 Meritage    Robert Mondavi Private Selection  Appellation: Central Coast  Alcohol: 13.5%  Suggested Retail: $9.99   “This is the lowest price we have seen for a wine of this definition. Years ago, California wineries pushed for a law requiring wine to contain at least 75% of the grape defined on the label. While precluding a consumer from buying a wine labeled Cabernet Sauvignon, for instance, that might have more than 1/4 of its content be from cheaper grape varieties, this change in the law also posed a dilemma. If a winery wanted to market a really good bottle of wine…
    2009 Shiraz   Red Diamond  Appellation: Washington state  Alcohol: 13.9%  Suggested Retail: $10   “Red Diamond was not a name we recognized, but a little Google sleuthing reveals that their winery is in Paterson, Washington and not open to the public. Whether labeled in the Australian fashion as Shiraz, or as the more traditional Syrah (same grape either way), wines from this variety haven't been doing well in the marketplace lately. This is a shame, because there are some very good ones out there. This is one of them. Though it doesn't have the depth and sophistication of…
    2012 Pinot Gris    J Vineyards & Winery  Appellation: California  Alc.: 13.8%  Suggested Retail: $15   “Most will recognize J Vineyards as the producer of outstanding California sparkling wines—those in the elegant bottles with the spare label featuring the letter “J” in script. Indeed, the winery was founded by Judy Jordan (she of the Jordan Winery family in the Alexander Valley) just to produce the bubbly product. Eventually, J brought out still wine bottlings of high-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. “More recently the winery has also been making a delightful Pinot Gris. It's from the same grape…
   2011 “Old Vine” Zinfandel    Ironstone Vineyards  Appellation: Lodi  Alcohol: 14.5%  Suggested Retail: $10   “This Ironstone wine exhibits the traditional Zinfandel personality and has a hint of the pepper that's lost in too many current big Zins. It's full, but strikes a winemaking balance between that leaner old style and the voluptuous treatment. There's a trace of residual sugar, but it stops short of the sweet, syrupy and high alcohol profile favored by some wineries whose Zinfandels tend to be blowzy caricatures of the varietal. “This is a very appealing Zinfandel and, at $10, a great bargain. So…
Page 9 of 10

Copyright © 2005 - 2017. Taste California Travel. All rights reserved. | Phoenix Website Design by CitrusKiwi