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, 94 points: Deep and powerfully built, with a rich and polished texture that highlights wild berry and blueberry flavors that show notes of espresso, smoky beef and black pepper. Finishes with big but refined tannins. Syrah and...
Wine Spectator, 92 points: Opulent and open-knit, with silky black cherry, mocha and orange peel accents that dance on a long and supple finish. Drink now through 2028. 150 cases made. — TF
jebdunnuck.com, 97 points: Leading off the two Syrahs, the 2017 Syrah Cinematique comes from a great vineyard in the Ballard Canyon AVA and was destemmed and aged 20 months in 60% new French oak. Sexy notes of black raspberries, vanilla bean, bay...
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JJ Buckley is my go to wine retailer - always easy to order and prices generally beat everyone else. Alex S. is an added bonus as he sends me emails regularly featuring many rare and highly sought after wines at great prices. From a wine lover's perspective, I'd be lost without JJ Buckley.
-Scott P., September 2020