Though less than half a century old, and remarkably young compared to its European counterparts, the wine industry in California has managed to enchant the country’s wine buying public as well as receive accolades from “across the pond.” This may be because of two realities. First is the undeniable quality of the wines—remarkably fruity, full and satisfying, rarely too austere or tannic to be savored from the first day. The second is the “buy American” angle. A very high number of American wine buyers simply prefer domestic to foreign wines.
The state plays host to an enormous range of microclimates and soils as well as a lot of sunshine, hot summer days and dry harvests. All these factors contribute to healthy ripe fruits that make European producers, in less dependable climates, green with envy. More than three out of every four years, California’s best sites produces excellent wines.
The U.S. is not protectionist when it comes to taxing imported wines compared to many other countries, but the California wine industry is inherently protected because of consumers wanting to buy American.
To most people, the Napa Valley is the home of California wine, and Cabernet is the clear king in Napa. Burgundy varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have moved to cooler areas, for the most part closer to the Pacific. This includes the western stretches of Sonoma County, the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, and the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez valleys of Santa Barbara County. In regions as contrasting as Mendocino County, the Sonoma coast, Carneros, Paso Robles, and Santa Maria Valley, Syrah vines have yielded interesting wines. Excellent Zinfandel is also produced all over the state and may be the only California wine emulated abroad.
jamessuckling.com, 92 points: A deep and highly structured Napa merlot that has a lot more to give than the majority of wines in this category. The very ripe cherry and red-plum aromas are neatly wrapped around the full, fine tannins and the delicate...
Wine Spectator, 96 points: Powerful, rich and complex, with a refined mix of currant, dark cherry and plum tart flavors backed by suave, medium-grained tannins. Well-defined slate and loamy notes stretch out nicely on the finish, with black olive...
jamessuckling.com, 90 points: Soft and easy merlot with green olive, plum and cherry aromas and flavors. Medium to full body, firm tannins and a fresh finish. Drink now.
jamessuckling.com, 95 points: This is a chewy and flavorful wine with lots of juicy fruit and firm, chewy tannins. Full-bodied, rich and flavorful. Very structured and powerful. Tannic. This needs four to five years. Better after 2023.
Vinous, 95 points: 95+ Blankiet's 2014 Rive Droite Paradise Hills Vineyard is just as impressive from bottle as it was from barrel. Dark, rich and inviting, the 2014 wraps around the palate with pure sensuality and class. Dark stone...
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