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, 93 points: This producer is well respected for its long reputation of making ageworthy whites and this vintage is no exception, a bright, complex and nutty expression of pear and ginger cookie. Textured and restrained, it shows a...
Vinous, 94 points: The 2014 Chardonnay Old Guard is the most relaxed and open of these wines. Orchard fruit and sweet floral notes are front and center, but it is the wine's crystalline purity and overall finesse that stand out most. In...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: The Donelans produce several Chardonnays. The 2014 Chardonnay Nancie sees about 20% new oak. It was aged 10 months prior to bottling and is a three-vineyard blend, two on Sonoma Mountain and one on the lower ground of the...
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The site navigation is easy. Virtually every wine has a review(s), and there are a number of options to find value wines, for example, the LAST CALL! list. Another plus is the free storage for a time, which allows you to build up a quantity over time and save on shipping.
-Joe T., July 2020