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, 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 Enthusiast, 92 points: Editors' Choice. Delicious lemon-meringue aromas make a great start for this medium-bodied Chardonnay-based wine. Flavors are lively, lemony, with baking-spice accents. A buttery, creamy element carries into the...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 90 points: Coming 66% from Napa, 31% Sonoma and 3% Marin, the 2014 Blanc de Blancs Napa Valley reveals a wonderfully toasty nose with suggestions of almonds and fresh hay over a core of spiced apples and baked pears. The palate is...
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, 92 points: A voluptuous and expressive sparkler, with floral red apple,
brioche and cinnamon spice aromas and rich, vibrant flavors that
finish on a luxurious note. Drink now through 2018. — T.F.
Wine Enthusiast, 95 points: Combining 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Chardonnay, this wine has a depth of richness and focused, supportive acidity that work well to complement each other. Stone fruit, vanilla biscuit, cherry kirsch and green apple are all...
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 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 12 of 11 wines
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-Jonathan M., February 2018
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