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.
Wine Spectator, 95 points: Extravagant, yet balanced and refined, with lush, crisp brioche, fresh ginger
and spice, roasted hazelnut and Asian pear flavors that fan out on the
lengthy finish. Drink now through 2020. From California.—T.F
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: Another big-time winner, and one of their larger cuvées of just over 9,000 cases is the 2012 Brut Rosé. This is a blend of 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Chardonnay, of which 33% was barrel fermented. This wine is ripe, broad...
Wine Spectator, 92 points: A luxurious sparkler, with toasty brioche, mineral and lemon
brûlée aromas and rich, complex flavors of crisp apple and
raspberry, showing accents of fresh ginger and spice. Drink now
through 2017. — T.F.
Wine Spectator, 93 points: Seamless and silky, showing an almost effortless sense of complexity, with notes of lemon and pear paired with toasty brioche,
fresh ginger and hazelnut details. Drink now. — T.F.
Wine Spectator, 91 points: Refined and vibrant, with floral strawberry and yeasty almond aromas and plush, layered lemon curd and vanilla spice flavors. Drink now. 9,450 cases made.
Wine Spectator, 90 points: Vivid aromas of passion fruit and strawberry lead to lively and layered nectarine and spice flavors that taste like summer. Drink now. 5,900 cases made.
Wine Spectator, 93 points: Dynamic yet elegantly refined, with expressive Asian pear, raspberry and
toasted spice flavors that build vibrancy toward a long, steely finish. Drink
now through 2019. — T.F.
Wine Enthusiast, 92 points: From estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this sparkler is dry, nutty and spicy, with a creaminess of brioche and baked apple. In the glass it evolves to show high-toned acidity and a freshness of citrus, with grainy...
Showing 9 of 9 wines
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