Category Archives: California Wines – Reviewed

Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet | Best Cabernet Under $50

Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet | Best Cabernet Under $50

Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit the historic Robert Mondavi Winery in January and tour the acclaimed To Kalon Vineyard adjacent to their Oakville estate. Widely regarded for its first-growth level quality, To Kalon has gained a near mythical status throughout the wine community in recent years.

Considering that it is arguably Napa’s most famous vineyard, with undeniably the most expensive fruit, it carries some serious cachet to have “To Kalon” on the label. Bottles regularly fetch $150 to $300+, with names like Schrader, Paul Hobbs and Carter Cellars paying record-level prices to Andy Beckstoffer for the rights to purchase fruit from his section of the To Kalon Vineyard.

Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet

My view from Mondavi overlooking the To Kalon Vineyard in January. Click to check out more from my Instagram!

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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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Dark Horse Cabernet | Taking Dark Horse Wine for a Ride

Dark Horse Cabernet | Taking Dark Horse Wine for a Ride?

Dark Horse Wine

Many people consider horses to be majestic, beautiful creatures. You might even think that of the somewhat ominous horse prominently displayed on bottles of Dark Horse Wines. Yet my experiences with them as a kid were somewhat less than favorable…

It all started on a field trip to a horse farm, where we had the opportunity to ride ponies. Quickly after cautiously getting on the one chosen for me, my horse took off in a full gallop chasing the large horse with an experienced adult rider in front of me. I was lucky not to fall, but the experience was as memorable as it was uninspiring.

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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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Franciscan Estate Winery | An Under the Radar Overachiever

Franciscan Estate Winery | An Under the Radar Overachiever

Franciscan Estate

I have been buying and drinking Franciscan Estate wines for years now. In fact, shortly after tasting the 94 point 2007 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon I promptly added a few cases to my stores. Considering that I paid just under $20 at the time, these wines were amongst the most reliable, consistent values I had come across in Cabernet, especially Napa Cabernet, in some time.

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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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Galerie Wines | Winemaking Meets Artistic Expression

Galerie Wines | Winemaking Meets Artistic Expression

Galerie

As an artist, your first exhibition is your debut to the world. As exciting as it must be unnerving to gauge your reception, it is the invaluable opportunity to express your artistic talents in an uninhibited, open environment. But in this case, you needn’t visit a gallery to soak in this artists hard work, you need only to uncork a bottle of Galerie Wine.

Galerie Wines is an exciting and unique new project by Winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz which seeks to showcase the contrast in terroir between Knights Valley and Napa Valley. The road leading up to her inaugural Galerie Wines release has been a long and windy one.

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Frisson Wines | Checking in on New Releases!

Frisson Wines | Checking in on New Releases!

Frisson Chardonnay

Last spring I reviewed the 2011 Frisson Wines Cabernet Sauvignon and was really impressed. Despite the well publicized challenges of the 2011 vintage throughout Napa Valley, this boutique producer managed to produce a really distinctive, frisson-worthy Cabernet.

Just a few months after my post, Frisson Wines got some much deserved recognition when that same wine was awarded Double Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition! Not too shabby…

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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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Viluko Vineyards Cabernet | Unearthing a Sonoma Gem

Viluko Vineyards Cabernet | Unearthing a Sonoma Gem

Viluko Vineyards Cabernet

I prefer not to play favorites, but if you were to ask me what my favorite winery was right now? For its uncompromising devotion to quality, value and relative obscurity, Viluko Vineyards boasts an unusually compelling combination of superlatives that’s begging to be discovered.

I first learned of the Viluko Vineyards when John Rimmerman of Garagiste compared the 2011 Viluko Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon to those produced by the revered Mayacamas Vineyards. Mayacamas is quietly very well-reputed for producing age-worthy, balanced and terroir-driven mountain Cabernet’s.

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