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California Wines Reviews

Posted by on June 20th

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Terlato “Devil’s Peak” Cabernet Franc, Pope Valley

The wine is bright, ruby, and shows no bricking with medium color concentration, no sediment, and medium-minus viscosity. Aromas of blueberry, smoke, and hints of nutmeg and clove present, along with a vegetal characteristic of tomato vine or green pepper. Medium-plus acidity carried present but not over-powering tannins through with fine balance.

Excellent fruit on the palate, with a whisper of dark funk as well, the Cabernet Franc has clearly seen oak but more than likely of a veteran nature. The moderate climate of Pope Valley has provided us with a very balanced showing that finishes with a nice herbaceous quality. The wine seems a little hot, perhaps hitting into the mid-14% range in alcohol. 91 Points

Antica Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak

Despite its advancing years, the Antica Cabernet Sauvignon shows no bricking yet, with deep, dense purple shining up out of the glass. Some sediment has begun to appear, though, allowing complexity to develop in the bottle without becoming redundant.

This is a big wine with a strong tannic structure that is heavy and coats the glass. Very vegetal, this is clearly a wine that wishes it were from northern Italy or western France: green pepper right out of the garden, very dusty, and forceful minerality, and graphite is the main player of the bouquet with cedar box, licorice, and coffee grounds playing through.

The mouth shows more fruit than the nose in tight berry and currant qualities alongside a prune or plum note that woke up my tongue. A moderate or perhaps moderate-plus alcohol level with aggressive oak treatment, this wine is a new world, food-friendly option for a cozy BYO. 93 Points

Hesperian Cabernet Sauvignon, Harry’s Vineyard, Coombsville

The cool Coombsville climate allows amazing wines to develop. The Cabernet from Hesperian is a lovely rich garnet that, despite its age and minor bricking beginning to develop, showed its high concentration brilliantly and without sediment. Hugely oaked the nose provides spicy notes of clove, tobacco, cedar chest, followed by a fruity currant or black cherry note.

High acidity balances the gripping tannic structure, but the long finish goes deep. I noted strong alcohol presence alongside the silky fruit on my palate, and the wine continued to develop for quite a while, with an interesting caramelization note occurring. 91 Points

Havens Reserve Merlot, Carneros

Translucent garnet with softer bricking than anticipated, sediment-free, and glass coating, this wine doesn’t play by the rules. A quick sniff shows blackberry and cherry fruit, but a longer linger shows a saltiness, a minerality that came out of the blue. A return on the nose provided a pipe tobacco or rosewood acceptance with a menthol backbone.

Full-bodied, the merlot brings its above-board acid and tannin with it, just along for the ride. The earthiness of the palate was exciting, backing up the secondary nose with an impressive finish that brings allspice and a pine note, or forest floor, to the party, too. Balanced, not-over-influential oak and continued development impressed me with the cool weather wine. 94 Points.

Hilary Goldschmidt Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville

Clear ruby through and through, this cabernet sits in the glass, content to roll around without sticking, sediment, or bricking. This wine is bold and smells hot: cooked prunes, used coffee grounds, smoke, boysenberry jam, road tar, and an in-your-face green pepper.

Lighter than expected and having less tannin to balance the acid, this wine seems simple and strong—a similarly hot palate with added leather or suede. Oak was obviously used, probably quite a bit new and boldly used, but perhaps not to the desired effect. These grapes may not have been ready for harvesting during this challenging vintage. 88 Points

Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder

Brilliantly purple without bricking or sediment, the wine has a solid core of concentrated color—a nose of newly chopped wood, perhaps pine, forest, olive, and green pepper. After the vegetation squeezes past, dried blueberries show interesting cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg beside warm chocolate and interesting leather hint.

Balanced acids and tannins, this medium-plus weight cabernet appears as an old-style new world wine with minerality and a brush of herbs pushing the heat down. It packs a punch without becoming a force; the wine could last much longer in the cellar and show lovely for a long time. 91 Points

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