Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: Valdivieso 2015 Valley Selection Grand Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda, Chile ($17)


Wow, this is some pretty exotic stuff! Leyda is a very cool-climate, rugged region that's only about twelve miles from the coast, and it produces some really intriguing Sauvignon Blanc. This one has some of the exotic fruit flavors you might get from a good New Zealand wine with opulent aromas of kiwi and passion fruit, juniper, lime and grapefruit, but there's more minerality on the finish. If you're a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, wines like this from Leyda are worth seeking out. (92 Points)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Review: Ventisquero 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 'Alma de los Andes' Casablanca Valley, Chile ($15)

One of the best things about Chilean Sauvignon Blanc is how direct it often is, showing textbook grapefruit and grass notes that the Loire Valley made famous. That said, some of the cooler parts of Chile, like Casablanca Valley, Lleyda, and San Antonio Valley can make some exotic and praiseworthy wines that rival Sauvignon Blancs from anywhere else in the world. For fifteen bucks, this white has ample zesty grapefuit flavor and pretty grass and mint notes, and as it warms slightly in the glass it gets broader and more complicated with subtle, musky papaya flavors. It's a bargain. (92 Points)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Review: Balletto 2015 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($28)

Winemaker Anthony Beckman takes a less-is-more approach with this lightly-oaked Chardonnay and lets the quality of the estate grown grapes shine through. Subtle toast and cinnamon aromas mingle with fresh, lively apple and cantaloupe fruit flavors with hints of lavender and fennel on the finish. This is subtle, beautiful Chardonnay. (92 Points)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: Fujishin Family Cellars 2010 Amatino Red Blend Snake River Valley Idaho ($25)

I was recently shipped a case of various wines from Idaho, which I was really looking forward to tasting. To date, I think the most impressive has been this Rhone-inspired blend of Syrah, Viognier and Petite Sirah from Fujishin Family Cellars. I'm seeing reviews of this wine as recent as 2014, but the 2010 vintage is holding up really well and still has a lot of freshness, with fresh, lavish blueberry, sage and boysenberry aromas and flavors. It has good body and probably better acid that some other Idaho wines I have tasted lately. It's flavorful, with well-integrated oak, and even though it weighs in at a powerful 14.6% alcohol, it carries it well. (90 Points)

Spring Picks from Modern Wine


Martin Ray 2016 Rose of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA ($25) Pinot Noir makes some of the best rose in the world, and this is a lusty coastal California example with pretty rose petal, melon and citrus aromas, zesty strawberry and lemon-lime flavors. It goes down real easy, I'll tell ya. (91 Points) 

Pedroncelli 2016 Sauvignon Blanc East Side Vineyard Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, CA ($15) Pedroncelli is famous for making down-to-earth, sunny, likeable wines. I shouldn't be surprised that I like this as much as I do, because I love Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley, but this is a really lovely wine with a lot of personality for $15. It has vibrant passion fruit, grass and mint flavors with good intensity of flavor, great, perky acid and a juicy, fruity finish. (90 Points)

Martin Ray 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA ($20) A little less aggressive than a typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, it has a more sunny, plump, California disposition with grass, clover and lime notes that finish bright, clean and refreshing (89 Points)

Van Duzer 2016 Pinot Gris Willamette Valley, OR ($18) I just adore how un-fussy and direct this zesty, crisp, white wine is. The best Pinot Gris from Oregon are following this lead - dry, racy and unoaked. This wine's beauty lies in its simplicity and the class of the fruit. As it warms up from refrigerator temperature the subtle, complex green apple skin, lavender, lemon, lime blossom and melon flavors gradually unravel, exposing a versatile, exciting new world white. (91 Points)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review: Decoy 2014 Sonoma County Red Wine ($25)

I'm always impressed with the prices that Duckhorn charges for its higher end Napa Valley wines. They tend to get pretty high prices. Then again, when I taste them, I often appreciate the precision of the winemaking and the quality of the fruit that goes into Duckhorn wines. At their heart, they're very direct, generous, sunny California wines, but they're also extremely well made, and you can tell that there is a lot of subtle hard work that goes into blending them.

Decoy is the Duckhorn's "everyday" label of wines priced mostly in the $25 range, though you may find them for $19.99 with some regularity. The 2014 Decoy red blend is a damn good value, mostly because it is so precisely blended.% Petite Sirah, 8% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot with aromas of black cherry, cassis, tobacco leaf, and coriander spice, silky-textured black and red fruit and a supple finish. It isn't goopy, or sweet, or overly-oaked. It's a sophisticated  red blend that is miles better than a lot of the California red blends that you might find in the $15 to $25 price range these days. What's even more impressive is that they made nearly 50,000 cases of this wine. Get some. (91 Points)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review: Q Collection 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($19)

It's hard to poke any holes in this non-estate Napa Valley Cabernet from Winepress Vintners. This is a very enjoyable NorCal Cabernet with great balance. It's a very complete wine with a strong Napa Valley sense of place, red and black currant fruit, subtle dried herb notes, good body and a seamless finish. You can tell that the grapes that went into it were well-grown, and that's one of the things that identifies it as Napa Cabernet. It hits a nice balance point of fruit and structure. This is a great value and ready to drink. I would consider buying it myself, and I don't buy a lot of wine. To be perfectly honest, it would be easy to spend double or triple the price and wind up with a less satisfying Napa Valley Cabernet. Slow clap, highly recommended. (91 Points)