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.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: I always love the two blockbuster Syrahs from this estate, both of which need to be sought out by readers. Tons of black olive, smoked and salted meats, as well as ripe dark fruits all emerge from the incredibly polished...
Wine Enthusiast, 95 points: Black in the glass and dense with aromas of cooked blueberry, vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar, tar, fudge and fresh purple flowers, this wine takes ripeness and concentration to impressive heights. Lavish on the palate...
Wine Spectator, 94 points: Plush, rich and impeccably structured, with floral blueberry and
raspberry aromas accented by smoked pepper and complex,
expressive flavors that combine mineral-tinged tannins with plump
fruit. Best from 2018...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 points: The 2014 Syrah Susan's Hill is a more plush, rounded and soft vintage for this cuvee that offers tons of jammy blackberries, cassis, licorice, chalky minerality and violet aromas and flavors. It has solid underlying...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 93 points: The 2014 Syrah Garys' Vineyard is another top notch Syrah from this team. Offering lots of spicy red and black fruits, tons of minerality, full-bodied richness and building tannic structure, it has terrific mid-palate...
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