Fruit from the acclaimed Chardonnay vineyards of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley is used to craft this poised and well-structured white. Toasty and buttery for sure, but kept in check by some pear, acacia and clove overtones. Mid-weight with a creamy palate, it offers up restrained pear and lemon notes, cleansing acidity and a touch of spice on the finish.
Though it might still be fashionable to do so, don’t give up on New World Merlot! This sample from Simi has it all wrapped up with aromas of sweet dark plum, sandalwood, vanilla, mocha and allspice. Rich, warm, perfectly balanced and, well, just yummy. Mind blowingly complex? Maybe not. But impossible to put down? Pretty much.
Ancient landslides and earthquakes yielded both the name “Landslide” and the three distinct sections that make up the vineyard. This is a very pretty wine indeed, with bright aromatics laced with dark plum, cassis, cedar, mild tobacco, with some floral/herbal nuances. Fresh, ripe black cherry, blackberry, some toasty new oak nuances and a grind of pepper on the long, supple finish. Perfectly balanced, this wine is approachable but should develop further with mid-term cellaring.
Sourced from the eponymous To Kalon vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon dominating (plus a sprinkle of Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot), this 50th anniversary release, from the “epic” 2013 vintage. Cassis and dark chocolate on the nose with a trace of graphite, lavender, black olive and a trace of menthol. Very rich and dense in the mouth with dark fruit, anise, tar, mocha, and very subtle mint. In any case, this is still very much a baby and will likely need another five years before it starts to really show itself. It should age gracefully for a least a couple decades.
The Oakville district has been home to some of Napa’s most coveted Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards for over 130 years. Winemaker Genevieve Janssens used the classic five-grape Bordeaux blend from fruit harvested form the legendary To Kalon vineyard to craft this, dense, inky, muscular red. Redolent of tar, graphite, cassis, black liquorice and tobacco, it’s going to need a few years to really explode. Give it at least a few more years; 15 more if you’re young.
Combining the “Fumé” of Pouilly-Fumé with “Blanc” from Sauvignon Blanc may have been a bit of marketing genius on Robert Mondavi’s part, but this wine sports more than just a clever name. Pretty potent at 14.5% ABV, but with no detectable heat, this FB shows ripe melon, flint, grapefruit, wet stone, and some subtle herbal aromatics, with fresh, crunchy citrus, green melon, fennel and mineral/smoke flavours. Tasting through a range of older Mondavi FBs suggest this wine will probably develop additional complexity with a few more years in the bottle.
Joel Peterson may be “The Godfather of Zin,” but that hasn’t stopped him form making decidedly non-wimpy wines from other varietals. His 2014 Petite Sirah is redolent of woodsmoke, tar, wet slate, black current and dried herbs. Mineral-tinged, with flavour nuances of blackberry, smoke, and dark berries, it boasts significant weight, medium tannins and a long finish.