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, 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, 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, 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 Enthusiast, 96 points: Elegant and almost ethereal,
this wine is tantalizing and irresistible. It shows sophistication,
from the mysterious, earthy bouquet
to the complex, well-aged brioche and peach flavors,
as well as the almost gentle...
Wine Spectator, 91 points: Packs in a lot of complexity for the price, offering aromas of apple, fresh ginger and rubber. The flavors are crisp and
layered, with notes of raspberry and spice. Drink now. — T.F.
Wine Enthusiast, 91 points: Delicate flavors of baking spices like cinnamon, allspice and ginger light up this very dry, firm-textured bubbly. Vivid acidity keeps it light and lively. Plenty of citrus and green apple notes and a refreshing dryness...
Connoisseur's Guide, 91 points: 60% Pinot Noir; 40%
. Roederer Rosés, while always
lively and pert, typically show a little more refinement than most,
and this sleek and exceptionally well-made effort fits the winery
model to a “tee”. It...
Wine Enthusiast, 90 points: For a large-production sparkler made from an almost 50-50 split of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, a dollop of Pinot Meunier blended in, this is impressive, dry and refreshing in acidity. Flavors of stone fruit, apple and...
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...
Burghound, 90 points: A distinctly citrus-inflected nose is additionally composed by notes of yeast, green apple and an elegant floral hint. There is a lovely sense of energy and tension to the equally citrus-suffused flavors that are...
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...
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