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 Spectator, 95 points: Homes in on a core of rich fig and butterscotch flavors, expanding
to apricot, anise, licorice and smoky cedary oak notes. A wall-to-wall expression of full-tilt Chardonnay. Drink now. through 2024.
From California. ...
Wine Enthusiast, 91 points: Sea salt, preserved lemons, pan-seared apples, plumeria and honeysuckle show on the engaging nose of this bottling from a preferred block in this historic vineyard. The palate plays to the savory side of Chardonnay...
Wine Enthusiast, 94 points: This is a perennially impressive wine, floral in a heady perfume of white roses. Fresh and fleshy, the expansive palate offers concentrated flavors of kiwi and pineapple. The wine was largely fermented in oak, then aged...
Wine Spectator, 93 points: Rich, deep and layered, with a complex mix of pear, fig, apricot
and smoky oak elements. A wall-to-wall sensation on the palate.
Drink now through 2022. — J.L.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 91 points: 91+ The 2016 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast offers up subtle lemongrass, grapefruit and nectarine notes with touches of chalk dust and fresh ginger. Medium-bodied with well-played freshness accenting the creamy texture and...
Wine Spectator, 93 points: Rich and full-bodied, deeply concentrated and loaded with ripe fig, apricot, melon and toasty oak notes that impart a buttery texture. Drink now through 2023. 500 cases made.
Wine Spectator, 92 points: Offers a straight-ahead core of ripe apples, honeydew and light citrus flavors, joined by light oak nuances. The richness and mix of toast and smoke elements add to the pleasure as this unfolds. Drink now through 2022. - JL
jebdunnuck.com, 93 points: Moving to the Chardonnays, the 2016 Chardonnay Wester Reach comes from a site in the Russian River, yet is further west, toward the Sonoma Coast. Medium-bodied, vibrant, and elegant, with juicy acidity and notes of white...
jebdunnuck.com, 97 points: The 2016 Chardonnay Ellen Lane Estate will give a Grand Cru Chablis a run for its money. Coming from a south-facing amphitheater consisting of rocky, broken soils, and aged in 56% new French oak, it offers more oyster...
jebdunnuck.com, 95 points: A total head turner is the 2016 Chardonnay Estate, which is reminiscent of a Grand Cru White Burgundy. Loaded with notions of ripe orchard fruits, toast, flinty minerality and white flowers, it hits the palate with medium...
Showing 15 of 20 wines
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Been purchasing wine through JJ for a few years now...Kevin Johnson has been doing an outstanding job taking care of me.
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