Category Archives: Napa

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

California Wines Showing More Balance: SF Family Winemakers Tasting

What was noteworthy for me among the wines I tasted was a decline in the overripe versions of these wines that had come to dominate production over the last two decades. Due, I’m sure, to the relative coolness of the last few vintages in California, as well as to a conscious aim for higher acid, more balanced wines by an increasing number of winemakers here, I tasted many more balanced, lower alcohol Cabernets this year. Continue reading

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Chardonnay, Napa, Paso Robles, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Russian River, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Mountains, Sonoma, Sonoma Coast, Syrah, Zinfandel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Silver Oak: Reappraising a California Cabernet Icon

When I talk to people who say they really like California Cabernet, but who don’t otherwise seem all that knowledgeable about wine, nine times out of ten they tell me Silver Oak is one of their favorites and/or the one they collect. Silver Oak has also long been among the top selling wines at restaurants, and was number two again in 2012 on Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Restaurant Top 50 list of top selling Cabernets. For wine geeks, on the other hand, few major labels are more regularly derided than Silver Oak. Many in the highly knowledgeable wine crowd have taken to referring to the wine as “Silver Joke.” Why does this brand, whose origins date back to the early 1970s, so sharply split casual wine lovers from ardent wine geeks?
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Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Napa, Sonoma | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

2001 Napa Cabernets: Ripeness, High Alcohol & Accelerated Maturity

I think there are probably a number of factors that went into accelerating the age cycle for the 2001s we tasted, but the higher alcohol levels and lower acidities in these wines, as compared to very ageworthy Cabernets from the ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s I’ve enjoyed, certainly must have played a major role in making many of these wines more enjoyable in their youth than 11 years on. While there was rich, plush fruit on many of the best of these, few of them were showing the kind of structure required for ageworthy Cabernets. Continue reading

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Napa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

State of Zinfandel 2012: ZAP Grand Tasting

I know that it is hard to grow Zinfandel, in part because individual grapes tend to ripen at very different rates. It seems clear from a tasting like this that it is not so easy to make very good Zinfandel either. I applaud the producers who manage to do so, crafting complex and intensely flavorful wines, often from very old, extremely low yielding vines. Continue reading

Posted in California Wine, Napa, Russian River, Santa Cruz Mountains, Sonoma, Winemakers, Zinfandel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Cabernet Sauvignon: A Question of Style

Cabernet Sauvignon is a major “gateway drug” into the joys of drinking wine. Some styles emphasize the rich black currant, cassis, plum and/or berry fruit and de-emphasize the grape’s huge tannins. It’s those very tannins that can help a Cab to age into something with even greater complexity and range of flavors but that often keep it from being something enjoyable to drink in the short term. Continue reading

Posted in Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Napa, Santa Cruz Mountains | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

2011 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: Highs and Lows

This is an event I look forward to every year, even if I’ve ragged a bit on the opacity of the selection criteria in the past. There’s always an eclectic group of producers ranging from the very well known and perpetually excellent to the less well known and only occasionally excellent, or at least aspiring to excellence. There’s enough of each to keep it interesting. There’s also always great food on hand. This year’s venue, the Metreon, had its pluses and minuses. The view from the Metreon balcony is one of the best in San Francisco, so the outdoor, balcony part of the event, especially given the beautiful weather conditions, proved to be a scenic and inspiring place to taste wine. The indoor part, on the other hand, especially after dark, tended to be gloomy, cavernous and more than a little depressing. Continue reading

Posted in Australian Wine, Awards, Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Champagne, Chateauneuf du Pape, Greek Wine, Italian Wine, Loire, Napa, Northern Rhone, Port, Rhône, Riesling, Winemakers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2011 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: Highs and Lows