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: (92-94 points) A killer effort is the 2015 Zinfandel Papera Ranch, from a vineyard planted in 1934, and made from 96% Zinfandel and 4% Carignan. This is a good-sized wine, given its 15.4% alcohol, but like all of Mike...
Wine Spectator, 94 points: Luscious, complex and expressive, with floral raspberry jam
aromas and supple black cherry, bay leaf and cracked pepper
flavors that glide lithely toward the finish. Drink now through
2028. From California. — T.F.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous, 94 points: Black cherry, violet, lavender, blueberry and spice notes give the 2014 Zinfandel Papera Ranch much of its distinctive cool, bracing personality. The acids are bright, but not at all intrusive. This is another striking...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: I tasted a half-dozen Zinfandel-based cuvées from Jeff Cohn – and all of them merit serious attention from wine consumers. The 2014 Zinfandel Cassata Vineyard is 75% Zinfandel and 25% Petite Sirah with 15% whole clusters...
Antonio Galloni's Vinous, 94 points: One of the most distinctive wines in this range, the 2014 Zinfandel DuPratt Vineyard, from a site in Mendocino Ridge, is wonderfully aromatic, nuanced and lifted. Bright red and bluish-hued fruits, violet, lavender and...
Wine Spectator, 92 points: Bold and rich, with a lively, structured core, plus black raspberry and pepper aromas, and ripe, zesty black cherry and sweet black licorice flavors. Drink now through 2026. 1,500 cases made.
jamessuckling.com, 93 points: This is a very balanced and fresh zinfandel with strawberry, raspberry and plum character. Medium to full body, fine tannins and a clean finish. Bright and delicious. Harmonious style of zin. This is partially aged in 500...
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My wine buying experience with JJ Buckley was fantastic. They had inventory of what I wanted at the right price and got it delivered to me on time and in perfect condition. I will buy from them again and again and again.
-Franco C., April 2017