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.
Vinous, 94 points: 94+ The 2016 Petite Syrah Lytton Springs is another fabulous wine in this range. Dense and powerful, the 2016 is endowed with striking depth and tons of character. The Petite tannins are nicely tamed in a wine that offers...
Vinous, 94 points: The 2015 Petite Sirah Lytton Estate is all class. There is plenty of depth to the inky blue and purplish Petite fruit, while the tannins are remarkably polished for a young Dry Creek Petite. Hints of lavender, tobacco...
jebdunnuck.com, 90 points: A blend of 76% Petite Sirah, 12% Syrah and the rest Grenache and other Rhône varieties, the 2015 Petite Sirah comes all from estate fruit from numerous appellations in the valley. Aged in 25% new American oak, this inky...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 91 points: A blend of 92% Petite Sirah and 8% Syrah, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Petite Sirah has a very compelling perfume of violets and baking spices over a core of kirsch, blackberry pie and wild blueberries with a touch...
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JJ Buckley provides an opportunity for me to find fine wines in low (or no) quantity in my area. Always a great alternative to trying to find local (which is often times hard).
-Elizabeth S., April 2018
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