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: 95+ Blended of 90% Syrah and 10% Petite Sirah, the deep purple-black colored 2015 Relentless has a total rock-star nose of flamboyant blackberry pie, plum preserves, mulberries and licorice scents with hints of Sichuan...
jebdunnuck.com, 95 points: A step up over the Grenache, the 2015 Syrah Bien Nacido is 100% varietal and spent 30 months in all new French oak. This deep, inky-colored effort has textbook Bien Nacido notes of iodine, smoked meats, leafy herbs...
jebdunnuck.com, 95 points: The 2015 Syrah Soberanes Vineyard certainly doesn’t lack for color and reveals a deep purple color to go with a fresh, lively bouquet of blueberries, cracked black pepper, violets and bay leaf. Medium to full-bodied on...
Wine Spectator, 93 points: Refined and impeccably built, with expressive blueberry and violet aromas that open to elegantly layered raspberry, mineral and smoky spice flavors. Drink now through 2027. 289 cases made.–TF
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JJ Buckley provides an opportunity for me to find fine wines in low (or no) quantity in my area. Always a great alternative to trying to find local (which is often times hard).
-Elizabeth S., April 2018
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