California Wine Reviews
I drank these 30 wines and tasted apple, black fruit, bright, cherry, dark fruit, fruity, red fruit, smoky, smooth tannin, spice. The wines are aged, biodynamic, food friendly, food-friendly, my favorites, small production, unoaked and came from a variety of sources, including wine clubs, wineries, and wine stores.
Wine reviews by: Jessyca Frederick |
The nose was classic blackberry and graphite, with a hint of pyrazine. It was fairly bright for a Napa Cab, and lighter bodied than I expected, too. I tasted cedar and clove, blackcurrant, and some plum.
Tasting notes: bright, black fruit
Among the three wines I tried from Stag’s Leap Winery in April, this was my favorite. I like Merlot and I’m not ashamed to say so.
Tasting notes: smooth tannins, bright, black fruit, blue fruit
Great crowd-pleasing Bordeaux-style blend. Fruit-forward but balanced with smooth tannins, great acidity, and just a touch of vanilla from the oak.
Tasting notes: red fruit, vanilla, bright, smooth tannin
People who like a sweeter red wine, like a jammy Syrah, would enjoy this bottle. The sweetness was balanced with strong tannins in this full-bodied red wine.
Tasting notes: jammy, slightly sweet, red fruit, bold tannins
A subtle version of what this grape can produce, but a great introduction to it if you’re not familiar and looking for an alternative bold red wine to Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tasting notes: dark fruit, tobacco, spice, subtle
Easy-drinking, well-made California Cabernet Sauvignon featuring cherry, cassis, and soft tannins. Quite enjoyable.
Tasting notes: cherry, cassis, smooth tannin
The 2017 Envision, a blend of some of SYV’s best vineyards, represented a classic style of Pinot Noir common to the area.
Tasting notes: smoky, red fruit, bright
This was fruity and balanced and seemed more Demi-Sec than straight up sweet as the label suggests, but that could be because the wine had enough acid.
Tasting notes: balanced, red fruit, sweet
I smelled white fruit and enjoyed an appley mid-palate (the Grenache Blanc), a hint of Meyer lemon, and a nice minerality supported by mild acidity.
Tasting notes: apple, low acid, mineral
It is a medium-bodied, medium-acidity Sauv Blanc with Meyer lemon and grapefruit on the palate, more muted butterscotch than the nose, and at five years old, just a hint of oak.
Tasting notes: citrus, butterscotch, oak, tropical fruit
With 4+ years of age on it, this Chenin was not especially fruity, but still aromatic and honeyed. The acidity and body were beautiful, offering interesting textures as the wine moved across my palate.
Tasting notes: bright, honey, apple
I enjoyed: white fruit cocktail, banana, lychee, something like Petrol (from the Picpoul), and mandarin. Still food-friendly, after all those years.
Tasting notes: bright, stone fruit
Strawberry was dominant on both the nose and the palate. This medium-body rosé has a round mouthfeel (due largely to the sur lies aging), is bright. But not too bright.
Tasting notes: strawberry, bright, round, jolly rancher
This particular vintage was never especially fruity — sometimes the strawberry and watermelon leap make your mouth water, but in this vintage the fruit was way more subtle than that.
Tasting notes: bright, strawberry, watermelon
Big, mouth-coating red wine featuring dark red fruits, black fruits, and a host of other savory flavors.
Tasting notes: dark red fruit, black fruit, pepper
Magic in a bottle. Bright, caramel, bruléed pineapple, guava, and a viscosity that coats your tongue making it all last even longer.
Tasting notes: caramel, pineapple, creme brulée, tropical fruit
A complex, red-fruit forward, slightly smoky Pinot Noir that typifies the Sta. Rita Hills appellation and showcases winemaker Jessica Gasca’s love of letting the grapes shine.
Tasting notes: red fruit, smoky, smooth, cherry, cranberry
When I taste wines like this one, I’m reminded that Napa Valley wines are mostly overpriced and overhyped. It showcases Napa’s red wine grapes and terroir without breaking the bank.
Tasting notes: black fruit, graphite, chocolate, oaky, smooth tannin
For $15.99 this Pinot Noir was an impressive doppelganger for Santa Barbara’s more premium product, but the complexity and depth was missing.
Tasting notes: red fruit, earthy
Fruity and bright, light white wine that tasted a little bit hot to me (the taste of alcohol). As with most Naked Wines whites, a great price for an easy drinking wine.
Tasting notes: apple, baked pear, bright, lemon
A very subtle viognier offering typical varietal flavors like jasmine and honey, but the fruit profile was apple, not the usual stone fruits like apricot.
Tasting notes: floral, honey, apple
A beautiful expression of Central Coast Chardonnay which went easy on the winemaking to let the Chardonnay’s bright fruitiness shine on its own.
Tasting notes: creamy, fruity, bright
The drier, lemony flavors of the Sauvignon Blanc sort of pushed and pulled on the fruitier, more aromatic Riesling and Chenin Blanc. Lacked expected brightness.
Tasting notes: lemon, fruity
Barrel fermented for eight months, this Chardonnay was not super oaky. Signature apple and pear flavors harmonized with a touch of creaminess.
Tasting notes: apple, pear, creamy, light oak
I really enjoyed this Merlot which we paired with my spicy Turkey Chili. Flavors of dark red fruit, soft tannins, and a medium body made it quite enjoyable.
Tasting notes: red fruit, dark fruit, smooth tannin
It had all the hallmarks of a classic Napa Cab — blackberry, cassis, and pretty smooth tannins for a young wine. And it retails for $20!
Tasting notes: blackberry, cassis, smooth tannin
This red blend embodies all of the best qualities of its grapes — a bit of spice, a bit of oak, some red fruit, some black fruit, a touch of smokiness… without being a punch in the mouth.
Tasting notes: spice, oak, red fruit, black fruit, smoky
There’s nothing subtle about a Moorman Syrah and the complex flavors of cherry, plum, and spice are what keep critics and wine lovers delighted.
Tasting notes: cherry, plum, spice
A red-fruit forward Pinot Noir, well-balanced and bright but not overpowering acidity — all the things that make Pinot from Santa Lucia Highlands sought after.
Tasting notes: red fruit, bright
A true Napa Cab somewhere in the middle of its transformation from young and chewy to smooth and supple. Fruit flavors are fading faster than the tannins are integrating.
Tasting notes: spice, chocolate, dark fruit, grippy tannin
Notice: I hold no formal wine credentials. I am a wine geek who has consumed 1000+ of bottles from 100+ different wine clubs and 1000s more bottles that didn’t come from those wine clubs. I do not accept payment for wine reviews, and I do not accept payments to influence my opinions. I happily accept free wine (and I buy wine).
Why read my wine reviews: Wine taste is subjective. What I like may not be what you like. I try to leave room for you to form your own opinions, so I don’t provide a score or a rating. I do point out wines that are an incredible value or truly not worth the money. I note flaws, wines that don’t have typicity (because this matters if you are buying wine without having tasted it yourself), when wines are out of balance, and when wines lack appropriate body.
I don’t like wasting money (or anything for that matter). I’m careful about where I spend my money and my mindset as a reviewer is to be careful about where you spend yours. I don’t believe a high price tag equals quality and I know for sure there are wines of very good quality that are also a great value.