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.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous, 96 points: The 2014 Chardonnay is brilliant. Lemon oil, white flowers, mint, almonds and smoke are all beautifully delineated in this transparent, super-finessed Chardonnay built on total finesse. The decision to pick a touch...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: Offering tons of ripe, caramelized orchard fruits, honeycomb and crushed rock, the 2014 Chardonnay Hapgood is full-bodied, concentrated and unctuously textured, with notable freshness, no hard edges and a great finish...
Wine Spectator, 92 points: Refined and powerful, with concentrated flavors of green apple,
ripe citrus and mineral that are deftly supported by fresh acidity.
Hints of dried savory herbs show on the finish. Drink now through
2022. — K.M.
Wine Spectator, 93 points: Elegance and finesse define the pear, melon and honeysuckle
flavors, which are lingering and persistent. The creamy texture
features a touch of pithy citrus skin, adding to the nuance and
complexity. Drink now...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 93 points: The 2014 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch is a beauty. Loads of honeysuckle, white currant, peach and tropical notes are all present in this medium to full-bodied, beautifully rich, concentrated Chardonnay that has good acidity...
Wine Spectator, 92 points: Builds intensity and nuance from a firm core, with the light spicy
oak joining hands with rich fig, melon and peach notes. This is
young and unevolved, so short-term cellaring will be a plus. Drink
now through 2020. —...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 points: The 2014 Chardonnay Russian River has a classic baked apricots and apple pie-laced nose with nuances of roasted nuts and buttered toast. Medium to full-bodied and richly fruited, it has a seductive touch of oiliness to...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: The 2014 Chardonnay Chloe gives expressive guava, pink grapefruit and pineapple notes with touches of candied ginger, praline and brioche. Medium to full-bodied with a beautifully oily texture and packed with tropical...
Showing 15 of 133 wines
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