Byron 2012 Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Featured

Here is the knockdown over-the-top cream bomb. It will will drown your sorrows in a bag of cotton candy tucked into the wheelbase of an out of control roller coaster. It’s a style that has more devoted fans than Coldplay, and  gets just as little respect from everyone else. Let’s back up a bit. Buttery Chard is an overplayed style, true, but there is a reason so many knock-offs exist. They are mimicking a classical style that is very alluring and worthwhile....

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Sbragia 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Featured, Wine Reviews

Sauvignon Blanc is becoming a bit too popular. I keep waiting for someone to come up with a “Housewives of Beverly Swills” bottle of Sweet Sauvignon, or possible a White Sauvignon (you know, like a White Zinfandel). Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe the growing love of this grape won’t jump the shark. And that would be a good thing. This is a bottle that I am using at the Wine School for our Wine 101 classes. It is varietally correct (i.e....

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Terlato 2009 Syrah “Block 9” Dry Creek Valley

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Featured, Wine Reviews

Is this Syrah from Cornas or California? In most ways, this wine drinks like it hails from that awesome Northern Rhone cru. Yet, here we are in Sonoma Valley, Dry Creek Valley (DCV) to be precise. DCV is best known for producing great Zinfandel, but this bottling shows the region’s true potential. Dry farmed above the spot where the Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys merge, it is one of the coolest spots in Sonoma, and the nights are downright frosty. This...

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Chamisal Estate 2011 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Featured, Wine Reviews

Way back in 1973, Chamisal was the pioneering winery in Edna Valley. Owners and varietals have come and gone, but one thing has remained constant: Pinot Noir from Edna Valley is awesome. This is a rather obscure AVA located in California’s Central Coast, tucked between Paso Robles and Arroyo Grand, but much closer to the Pacific Ocean. This is a classic Edna Valley Pinot. Bright flavors of fresh cranberry and persimmon cut into a light flowery body that turns toward a...

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Landmark Vineyards 2012 “Overlook” Chardonnay

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Featured, Wine Reviews

This bottle sports the generic appellation of “California”, but it’s mostly sourced from two vineyards in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley (the rest coming from central California). It is fermented in older oak barrels using wild yeast and then aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. It offers myer lemon and wild flowers on the nose with a light dusting of vanilla (if you don’t like vanilla notes, stay far away from this one. It sneaks into...

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The Best and the Worst of the 2011 Napa Cabs

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Featured, Wine Reviews

In PA Wine and Spirits Stores 2011 was a crazy year for Napa Cabs. California is in the grip of a massive drought, but that wasn’t the case in 2011. At least in Napa Valley, where rain pummelled vineyards from September to October. By harvest time, the grapes were bloated and rot was endemic. Many winemakers called it a very bad vintage. The wine critic Robert Parker of Wine Advocate rated it 84 points, the lowest in two decades. All is not lost, though. Anyone who...

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Milbrandt Vineyards 2010 Grenache, Clifton Vineyards

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Wine Reviews

Background Some of the best wine grapes in America are grown in the Columbia Valley of Washington State. Butch and Jerry Milbrand are two of the farmers that made it happen.  They were a top resource for winemakers in the Pacific Northwest. They still sell grapes to winemakers, but now they are holding back 10% of their grapes. After a decade of being grape growers, they now are bottling their own wines under the Milbrandt Vineyards label. This is the type of  project that...

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Landmark 2011 “Overlook” Chardonnay

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Wine Reviews

Background At the Wine School, we don’t review  wines that are produced by big corporations. We only care about unique wines made by small producers. Because of that, this is very likely the last Landmark Vineyards  review we write. This Sonoma winery was sold to Roll Global in 2011, which also owns POM, Fiji, and Justin Vineyards in Paso Robles. Nothing against the folks at Roll Global, but corporate ownership of a winery almost always leads to a reduction in quality...

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Bouchaine 2009 Pinot Noir Carneros

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Wine Reviews

Who are the Bouchaines?  It doesn’t really matter at this point. It was the maiden name of one of the original partners in this winery. The important question is who are the Copelands? If you are from Delaware, you probably already know.  They are well-known philanthropists in their home state. The founded the Delaware Art Museum. They also underwrite the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, The Grand Opera House and OperaDelaware. Native Delawareans, Gerret and Tatiana...

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