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.
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Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: The less expensive 2010 Endre (53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc aged in both French and Hungarian oak) is very Bordeaux like. Notes of bouquet garni, red and black currants...
Vinous, 96 points: The 2018 Lytton Springs is magnificent. Elegant, layered and so complete, the 2018 has a lot to offer, but it needs time to fully come together. Sweet red cherry, red plum, blood orange, spice, mint and rose petal open up...
jamessuckling.com, 95 points: This is so drinkable now. Savory and yummy. Lots of blackberries, blueberries and currants. Full-to medium-bodied, tight and silky with beautiful freshness and finesse. So long and caressing, yet tightly grained tannins...
jamessuckling.com, 96 points: Attractive aromas and flavors of black olives and plums. Medium body, firm and silky tannins and a juicy finish. Nice, linear tannins. Turns chewy and muscular. Precise and focused. Give it some time. Drink in 2022.
Vinous, 93 points: The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon The Sisters is laced with the essence of blackberry jam, charcoal embers, cloves, menthol and dark spice. Powerful and muscular in the glass, the 2016 has a lot to recommend it. There is plenty...
jebdunnuck.com, 94 points: The 2016 Red Wine is a Merlot-dominated blend (there are normally small amounts of Petite Sirah, Syrah, and other varieties), and while the Prequel cuvée focuses on Sonoma, this wine comes all from the Napa side of the...
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Great selection of rare and highly rated wines. Ability to quickly find large format wines and narrow the results by various criteria was very helpful! The site was easy to filter and sort by criteria to quickly narrow down the amazing selection to find the wines I wanted quickly.
-Jason P., October 2019