Category Archives: California Wine

Grocery Store Chardonnay Project

Findings include:
• Very drinkable (86 to 87 point) wines can be obtained for as low as $7-9
• While high QPR (quality price ratio) wines can be found at virtually all price points, the highest rated wines (92 and 91+ points) can be found at the $15-20, $20-25 and $30-and-above price ranges
• The $26-30 range contains surprisingly few highly rated wines
• Three U.S. wine firms are responsible for nearly 17% of these wines, and the top eight wine firms own over 37% of these labels
• Nearly 16% of these grocery store Chardonnays exhibited relatively high residual sugar (sweetness)
• Less than 14% of these wines were bottled under screwcap
• 6% of the wines were affected by TCA and/or oxidation Continue reading

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Sta. Rita Hills: Top Choices from One of California’s Greatest Sites

The cool climate, super long growing season and largely poor soils here facilitate the production of wines that potentially “have it all”: weight, body, richness, minerality and scintillating acidity. Winemakers elsewhere around the world would kill to have this combination of favorable conditions, making it possible to produce fine wines in just about any style a winemaker wants. Continue reading

Posted in California Wine, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, Syrah | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Jon Bonné’s The New California Wine: Worthy Effort Despite Simplistic Polemics

In sum although I disagree with Jon about the reasons behind recent changes in predominant styles of California, and frankly groaned in reaction to a polemic that, to me, amounts more to name calling than any demonstration of cause and effect, I think Jon tells the stories of individual winemakers and appellations in a very compelling way. I therefore recommend the book to those of us who love California wine and who are interested in some of the more interesting wines being made these days. Continue reading

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Thanksgiving with the Mondavis: A Family Reunited and its Rich Legacy

My intense and delightful immersion with the extended Mondavi family—i.e., nearly all the descendants of Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, including the children and most of the grandchildren of both Robert and Peter Mondavi, Sr.—commenced this past Friday with a late afternoon visit to the Continuum vineyard on Pritchard Hill followed by a Thanksgiving themed dinner at the newly finished winery there. Continue reading

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Two Talented Expat Winemakers in California: Ernst Storm and Guillaume Fabre

Ernst and Guillaume have at least a few things in common. They’re the same age–34. Both are drawn as much to farming and viticulture as they are to making wine. Both have “day jobs” at large wineries and make only small quantities of wine under their own labels as a side project. Both impress one as very grounded, and quite serious about their work. Nonetheless, the two are also undeniably charismatic. Ernst has even been the subject of a couple of mini-documentaries to date. Both also have a penchant for wearing shorts. Continue reading

Posted in California Wine, Paso Robles, Rosé, Santa Barbara, Winemakers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grand Daddy of California Wine Events: Family Winemakers San Francisco

The major stars of the tasting for me, with strong lineups overall and one or more wines rating 93 points or higher, were Bien Nacido, Benovia, Chateau Montelena, Grgich Hills, Herb Lamb, Kaena, Keenan, Ladera, Lagier Meredith, Lamborn Family, L’Aventure, Ottimino, Paloma, Saxon Brown, Seavey, Thomas Fogarty and Vino Noceto. Continue reading

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Chardonnay, Napa, Paso Robles, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Rosé, Russian River, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, Sonoma Coast, Syrah, Zinfandel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Scarecrow: Extraordinary Cabernet From Napa’s Oldest Vines

While Scarecrow is undoubtedly a cult Cab, albeit one selling for a fraction of the price of Screaming Eagle, it is also based on grapes with an unusually distinguished pedigree. Add to that Ms. Welch’s thoughtful and sensitive decisions and the result is, I believe, one of the great achievements of California winemaking over the past decade. Continue reading

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