Tag Archives: california

More California Reds. A Pinot Noir and a Zinfandel.

Tonight we’re looking at a couple more California wines from outside Napa Valley. They’re also outside of the Cab Sauv thing we’ve had going on lately. It was a nice change of pace for sure.

Pinot Noir hails from Burgundy. Oregon has claimed it as its own. And California is not far behind. The PN for tonight comes from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, which is known for growing Burgundian grapes such as PN and Chardonnay. It works out because of the cool coastal breezes coming off the Pacific and the fog that tends to cover the valley. Good times.

The Zinfandel for tonight is actually a blend of mostly Zinfandel with some Petite Sirah, Carignane, and cool climate Syrah thrown in. The grapes come from Alexander Valley and they say it can age up to 15 years, but we’re not gonna let it get that far.


Fiddlehead Cellars – 2009 Seven Twenty Eight Pinot Noir – 14.1% alc – Santa Rita Hills, CA – about $35


Pours a bright red and smells of potpourri, rosey flowers, cinnamon, pepper, red fruits and cola. Very interesting and bright.

Tastes of red fruits (mostly raspberry and a little strawberry), cherry cola, slight spices, and flowers. Bright acidity. Nice balance of flavors. Very insteresting.

Mouthfeel is medium body with light dryness.

Finish is all cola and spices. Medium plus in length. Lightly flowered.

Not a ton of notes on this guy but the flavors are really well defined and it’s tough to put the glass down. It’s not a particularly big wine but it’s definitely a really good one. I’d recommend it for sure.



Marietta Cellars – 2010 Angeli Cuvee – Sonoma County, CA – 15.4% alc – about $30


This wine is a blend comprised mostly of Zinfandel, with some Petite Sirah and Carignane thrown in.

It pours an opaque dark purple and smells of dark fruits (blueberry, black raspberry), flowers, light cracker, spice and more spice. Lots of Cinnamon and nutmeg. Some liquorish and vanilla as well.

Taste is all big dark fruit with some spice, cinnamon, cracker and black pepper in there as well.

Mouthfeel is very full body with medium dryness.

Finish is medium plus in length with oak, flowers and dark fruits going on.

This would be a nice wine to share with some friends. Something different in the big and bold category. Not quite as bold as some of the Cab Sauv’s we’ve been trying lately but pretty good stuff.

Honestly I’m a little on the fence considering the price though. I liked it for sure, but I’d be more comfortable paying $22-25 a bottle instead of $30 and because of that I think I’m going to have to say


Napa Valley makes wine? (2 reviews)

Yeah. Napa Valley. California wine. We all know it. We’ve all heard/seen the accolades and the high scores and the higher prices. We’ve heard the history. The famous year of 1976 and how that changed everything. New world wine (can we really still call it that?).

You know what though? I haven’t done any reviews of California wine. I thought it might be time.. Actually I’m not sure if I have. But we’re gonna look at some anyway. This time around we have 2 Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley.

Are they cheap? Depends on your definition I suppose but if you asked me I’d say yes AND no (see what I did there?). For fine wine in today’s world, and by today’s standards, Yes, they’re kind of cheap. For a person on a budget (like yours truly) spending money out of their own pocket, No… not so cheap. But I digress.

For this foray into the world of wine, I was going for big. Extracted. Powerful. I think I did okay in that regard. But I didn’t exactly break the bank. And I also didn’t go into any great lengths to get either of these wines, so don’t expect a Screaming Eagle review here…

Anyway, let’s get to it I guess..


Venge Vineyards – 2011 Silencieux Cabernet Sauvignon – about $47 – Napa Valley, CA – 14.7% alc


So, I gotta say, even with 1-2 hours of airtime on the bottle before I poured a glass, this wine was not ready yet. It screams for a decanter. Two hours in a decanter would’ve been perfect.

Day 1: Pours a deep deep purple.

Smell is heavy with vegetation, leaves, bushes and underbrush. Powerful dark fruit. Slight spiciness, almost gingery. Biscuits and a bit of chocolate with some mint.

Taste is huge spicy dark fruit. Almost stinging. Hot. Branches and vegetation.

Mouthfeel is big in body. Moderately drying.

Long, fruity, spicy finish.

The stinging hotness was honestly a little much on the first day. Very concentrated and felt a little closed off.

Day 2: Okay. Now it’s strutting its stuff. The body died down to a hefty medium and the heat has died down considerably, making way to sweet dark chocolate and plums with the underbrush thing going on underneath. Baking spices and vanilla. Peppery spice. Really really enjoyable. Complex. Interesting. Easy to drink.

Be patient with this one if you want a big Cab Sauv and don’t mind ponying up the dough needed to get a bottle of this. It’s definitely worth it if you can swing it and give it quite a bit of airtime.



Cade – 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley, CA – about $60 – 15% alc


The Napa Valley Cab Sauv from Cade is not the most renowned wine they make. That would be the Howell Mountain version that costs just 5-15 dollars more, depending on the vintage. But in an effort to buck a trend or two I was curious about the NV version. After the first day and about 2 hours open in the bottle, I was prepared to agree with some reviews I’d read saying this particular wine would best be served with several years in the cellar. Day 2 changed my mind yet again (a trend with these big Napa Cabs today).

Pours a dense purple. Smells of tightly packed plums, little bit of graham cracker/pie crust, super slight vegetation, blue/blackberry and surprisingly coffee with some airtime.

Taste is of plums/dark fruits. Concentrated. Huge flavors but has the feeling of being pretty wound up. Medium acidity. Jam. Light blueberry. Pie crust.

Mouthfeel is big. Huge big. Very drying.

Finish is long and dominated by the plummy dark fruits. And some pepper. Coffee hangs around a bit too.

Definitely big, concentrated, highly extracted. Gets a little savory and the dark fruits get a little bruised with even more airtime. Slight dirt to back up the little bit of vegetation. Good but a little closed off during the first day.

Day 2 evolved into even more savory components. More vegetation with some underbrush. Waaaayyyyy more spices (cracked black pepper, slight cinnamon maybe, baking spices) and a big chocolate component. Dark fruit flavors even bigger. Exploding from the glass. Honestly, day 2 gave way to a completely different wine, it seemed. Super big and complex. Amazing. Couldn’t help but say wow during the entire length of the last 2 or 3 glasses in the bottle.

YES. Worth it. Decant for several hours and this wine should reward you with big flavor and complexity. Get it.

Look out next time for some more California wines of a couple different varietals from some different towns.

California makes Chardonnay. This one’s pretty good.

















I’m not usually a Chardonnay drinker, which is precisely why I bought one. There’s quite a range of flavors you can get out of a Chardonnay; dry, buttery, oaky, sweet, tropical, and probably some others. 

I’ll get to where this one stands below..

For now I’m gonna take a side quest to talk about serving temps (feel free to skip to the review if you don’t care about what is to follow..).

Red wines I’ll generally just serve at the temperature they’re stored at. Some would say that’s a smidge too warm but I’ve had good luck with it so far. Whites I’ll usually pull from the fridge and open up and go. I read something interesting the other day alluding to most people drinking white wines too cold so that got me thinking I’d try something different.

So for this guy I put it in the fridge for a bit, then opened it and gave it some time. I like it; works pretty good. Nothing too crazy or mind blowing here. Just leave the bottle out after you serve a white wine that was chilled until you’re ready to call it a night.. more or less.

Anyway, let’s talk about sex. Oh shit. Wine… That song just popped in my head randomly.


Mt Eden Vineyards – 2011 Edna Valley Chardonnay – 13.8% alc – Central Coast, California – about $20



This wine was aged in assorted barrels for 8 months.  Assume all tasting notes are referring to both Day 1 and Day 2 unless otherwise noted.

Poured a pale straw yellow color. Reminded me of many Berlinerweisse beers or possibly an Ardbeg 10 year Scotch. Yup. So there’s that.

On the nose I got tropical fruit first, followed by a slight buttery note. The alcohol heat was extremely well hidden. Hints of vanilla, honey and a dash of ginger came a little later. Almost a floral perfume-y smell popped up every other whiff or so. Eventually candied dried pineapples and maybe apricots. Very nice complexity if you look for it.

The taste was initially sweet. Then the acidity hits you. Dry without FEELING dry. Pretty cool. I’d say this is definitely on the sweeter side of Chardonnays in my limited experience with them. The buttery note (and really it’s just a whisper on Day 1) wafts every so gently under the tropical fruits. The dried fruit flavors hit hardest after the initial tropical juicy pineapple blasts, and that spice sneaks in there a little as well.

Mouthfeel is a solid medium. Nice refreshing consistency. At first I thought it would be better suited to cooler nights such as these we’re enjoying now (well not so much enjoying as we are experiencing, really…), but then it occurred to me this would work really well on a cool summer evening with some friends on a back porch. Probably with chicken or even a bowl of homemade popcorn. At least, this kind of made me crave popcorn…

The finish is also of medium length and pretty warming (in a creep-up-the-back-of-your-throat-after-you-swallow kind of way). Biggest thing that lingers after you swallow is the candied fruit flavors and vanilla with that little hit of ginger spices. after 15 seconds or so there’s a lingering nutty/biscuity flavor as well. Day 2 brought buttered then eventually caramel covered popcorn to the finish line.

So. $20. Refreshing. Complex. Good overall. Buy it if you see it, especially if it’s on sale.