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 Enthusiast, 95 points: Editors' Choice. This is a well-aged, reserve-style sparkling wine that is one of California's best. It delivers abundant and distinctive flavors without losing its cool. The wine has attractively smoky, toasty and...
Wine Spectator, 91 points: Sleek and charming, with yeasty apple torte and floral cherry aromas
and rich, crisp flavors of lemon curd, spicy vanilla and fresh
ginger. Drink now. — T.F.
Wine Enthusiast, 92 points: This rosé seems elegant all the way through. The color is a light salmon, the aromas are slightly earthy, with touches of baking spices, jasmine and fresh baked bread. A grand blend of rich flavors spreads across the...
Connoisseur's Guide, 91 points: Suggestions of tart cherries merge with those of green apples in
the very fresh and definitively yeasty aromas of this wonderfully
refined, somewhat lighter-leaning pink, and, if less than emphatic
about Rosé vinosity...
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.
Connoisseur's Guide, 92 points: Finding a place at the lighter end of the Rosé spectrum and, in fact, a wine that could easily pass for a Blanc de Noirs, this lightly yeasty version fixes on energetic, slightly juicy, young fruit as its main motif. It...
Wine Enthusiast, 96 points: A stunning wine, exactly 50-50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This vintage was a successful one for Iron Horse, proven again with their release of this LD, after aging on the lees for nine years. The mouthfeel is soft and...
Showing 15 of 17 wines
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Besides a great web site and set of videos that provide a good narrative and insights into the "personality" of the company, the pricing was very competitive (meeting or beating the usual sites I frequent in CA).
-William S., April 2017