Category Archives: Between $75 and $150+ | Reviewed

Perliss Vineyards | Expect Big Things from this Small Producer

Perliss Vineyards | Expect Big Things from this Small Producer

Perliss Vineyards

When you think of Calistoga, you would be correct in thinking that this sleepy locale nestled within the Northern stretches of Napa Valley is known for its relatively warmer temperatures than those areas of the valley located further south, with their proximity to the cooling influences of the San Pablo Bay.

Yet on the beautifully clear August morning when I visited Perliss Vineyards, I pleasantly surprised by the cool, persistent breezes serenading me as I explored the organically cultivated, gently sloped 2.6 acre Raven Vineyard with vintner Anthony Perliss.

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The Unusual Suspects | Beyond California Cabernet

The Unusual Suspects | Looking Beyond California Cabernet

Kobler Estate

I’m definitely guilty of writing a lot about California Cabernet. I freely admit that I have a real penchant for the sturdy varietal, particularly when it’s built to last. In California, Cabernet is king and sadly many of the best examples fetch a princely sum.

But if the myriad of interesting, lesser-known and even esoteric varietals I encountered on my recent trip to Napa and Sonoma are any indication, Cabernet isn’t all that’s thriving here in Northern California. Not only was I surprised to find Spanish and French stalwarts like Albariño, Tempranillo, Grenache and Malbec being produced at wineries I visited, but I was surprised by just how good they were. Oh, and did I mention I encountered an Aglianico?

The best part? These wines don’t command the regal prices of Cabernet. They lack the cachet, and are often the ‘pet’ projects of winemakers – who produce them because they are passionate about the varietal and love drinking them, while their bread and butter Cabernet and Pinot Noir offerings keep the lights on.

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Ehlers Estate | Where To Start Your Day In Napa

Ehlers Estate | Your Mornings Will Never Be The Same

Ehlers Estate

I’m not much of a morning person. It typically takes me a few hours, and a least as many coffees before I’m completely awake. My morning routine is pretty mundane here in Washington, D.C. Up at 7:20, make a quick coffee and then take the kids to school. After returning home,  I make some fried eggs, another coffee and get to work in my home office. Exciting stuff, right? But after my recent visit to Ehlers Estate, it has been quite the challenge to return to my normal morning routine…

I’ve been to many tastings that start at 10 am, but to my knowledge Ehlers Estate is the only Napa Valley winery offering the opportunity to wake up over a flight of estate-grown wines paired with buttery, flaky croissants delivered fresh from Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. Where else but in Napa Valley can you literally wake up to a wine tasting?!

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Young Inglewood | Mastering the Tightrope in Napa Valley

Young Inglewood | Mastering the Tightrope in Napa Valley

Young Inglewood

What I look for in a good Cabernet Sauvignon is a combination of depth, structure and balance. If that doesn’t sound like a tall order, believe me it isn’t often enough that all of these components come together in a truly compelling and harmonious fashion – yet the 2012 Young Inglewood Cabernet Sauvignon manages to makes it seem effortless.

Before Jim and Jacky Young founded Young Inglewood Vineyards, they asked themselves what their favorite wines had in common. They keenly pinpointed that it was in fact the often elusive element of balance that made these wines so special.

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Cardinale Winery | 2012 Cardinale Reviewed

Cardinale Winery | 2012 Cardinale Reviewed

Cardinale

Well, two weeks of serious celebrating have officially come to an end, or have they? You see I turned 30 on Friday, and arguably drank enough good wine with friends and family to ensure that the memory of the actual day will remain fuzzy for years to come. But I’m not entirely ready for the good times to end, which is why I’ve elected to uncork a bottle of prestigious, limited-production Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from none-other than Oakville’s Cardinale Winery.

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Carte Blanche Wines | Building On A Storied Legacy

Carte Blanche Wines | Building On Storied Legacy

Carte Blanche

Nicholas Allen, the founder and proprietor of Carte Blanche Wines, is no stranger to the world of fine wine. His great grandfather, Clarence Dillon, was a wildly-successful financier of discerning taste whose penchant for the worlds best wines flourished alongside his career.

So he did what we all wish we could do – he bought his favorite winery in 1935, or in this case, his favorite Chateau. But this wasn’t just any Chateau, it is now one of the worlds most illustrious wine estates and one of only five of Bordeaux’s classified First Growths known as Chateau Haut-Brion.

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Rombauer Vineyards | More Than Just Chardonnay!

Rombauer Vineyards & Winery | More Than Just Chardonnay!

Rombauer Vineyards

Sometimes the best surprises happen where you least expect them, right? That was certainly the case on my most recent visit to Napa Valley. After visiting over 10 wineries (it was a long trip), Rombauer Vineyards managed to make a lasting impression. You might be as surprised as I was to discover why.

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Mithra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 | Mithra Wine Review

Mithra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 | Mithra Wine Review

Mithra Wine

Before Christianity swept through the Roman Empire, its inhabitants worshiped Mithra, the God of the Sun. When making an offering of wine to Mithra, they would say “Soli Invicto Mithrae”. Meaning “To the Sun, Invincible Mithra.”, it’s an inscription that can be found from Scotland to India on Mithraic Temples, and on those bottles of Mithra wine in the cellars of a lucky few.

The Mithra Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the “it” wines of the moment, seducing luxury Cabernet collectors with an alluring combination of refined richness and exclusivity. I had never heard of the Mithra wine until a recent visit to 750 Wines in St. Helena, a top-notch purveyor of hard to find bottles.

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Wise Acre Cabernet | Napa’s Most Exclusive Cabernet?

Wise Acre Cabernet Sauvignon | Napa’s Most Exclusive Cabernet?

Wise Acre

I believe there’s a lot of significance in a name, and in my opinion Wise Acre Vineyard couldn’t be a more appropriate namesake for what is arguably Napa Valley’s smallest commercial winery. Measuring in at a mere 1/2 acre, there isn’t much room for error, is there?

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Castello di Amorosa | Wines as Impressive as the Tour?

Castello di Amorosa | Wines as Impressive as the Tour?

Castello di Amorosa

A visit to Castello di Amorosa, or “The Castle” as it is often referred, is a must when visiting Napa Valley. Sure, it’s can be crowded and quite touristy, but it’s nothing short of spectacular to tour this sprawling, 121,000 square foot, 13th century era medieval Tuscan-inspired architectural masterpiece crafted from handmade materials, many of which were actually imported from Italy.

But what about the quality of the wines Castello di Amorosa produces? Today I’m on a mission to determine whether Castello di Amorosa’s wines are as medieval as the towering castle in which they’re made! You can check out more from my previous visit to Castello di Amorosa here.

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