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California Wines

California Wines

California Wines

California Wines

With a history of wine production that dates back to the 18th century, California currently sits as one of the world’s most prolific and reputable wine regions. With an area as vast as California, you can expect a colorful collage of terroir profiles, a series of microclimates, and micro-environments that give the wine a unique, memorable appeal. The region’s produce is far from homogenized in that sense, and it would take you countless hours to sample all of it.

While the region boasts scars from the Prohibition era, it went through what can only be described as a viticultural Renaissance sometime after the 1960s. At that point, California went from a port-style, sweet wine region to a versatile and compelling competitor on the world market. Today, no matter which way your taste in wine leans, you can find a new favorite producer among California’s most talented.

Notable sub-regions include legendary names like Napa Valley and Sonoma County, places that any wine lover worth their salt would die to visit. California’s quintessential warm climate allows for incredibly ripe fruit expressions, a style that provides a stark contrast to Old World-inspired, earthy classics. Even where inspiration was clearly taken from staple French appellations, Californian winemakers put their own unique spin on the wine, making it feel like a unique, standalone piece, rather than a derivative.

A New World region rises to join its viticultural forebears. Its meteoric rise to fame has been nothing short of stunning, and today California can compete with the world’s most prominent wine regions.

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2016 inglenook cabernet sauvignon rubicon California Red

This is a powerful and structured red with full body, focused and polished tannins and a long and flavorful finish. It’s very close to the great 2013. A blend of 93 per cent cabernet sauvignon and seven per cent cabernet franc. Needs three or four years to come around.James Suckling | 97 JSThe 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicon is powerful, dark and unctuous, while retaining a super-classic sense of structure. Black cherry, plum, chocolate, leather, spice and menthol infuse the 2016 with striking textural depth and sweetness.Antonio Galloni | 96 AGThe flagship 2016 Rubicon checks in as 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc, and there are close to 4,000 cases produced. This deep purple-hued beauty boasts a stunning nose of blackcurrants, tobacco leaf, cedarwood, and lead pencil shavings as well as even a hint of iron. These carry to a full-bodied 2016 that has terrific dept of fruit, solid mid-palate concentration, building tannins, and a great finish. This is a classic, age-worthy Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that will benefit from 7-8 years of bottle age and keep for 3 decades.Jeb Dunnuck | 96 JDBlended of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicon gives up bold notions of crushed red and black currants, wild blueberries and blackberry preserves with touches of violets, dark chocolate, cardamom and bay leaves plus a hint of unsmoked cigars. Medium to full-bodied, the palate reveals great elegance and depth, with a beautiful line of finely grained tannins and amazing freshness, finishing long and layered. 3,847 cases produced.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RPIn 2010 there was a change of winemaker at Rubicon, and the new arrival was Philippe Bascaules from Château Margaux. He soon made changes that were, one assumes, aimed at bringing more elegance and less density to the wine. This is certainly apparent here - the nose is ripe and vibrant, with intense mint and blackberry aromas that display purity of fruit and well-judged oak. Suave and polished, it shows finer tannins than the 2006, and enough acidity to give punch and persistence. It has a drier finish than most Napa Cabernets, which often have a sweetness that may be derived from high alcohol. So, there’s a welcome austerity here and this will age well. Drinking Window 2020 - 2040.Decanter | 94 DECThis is an intriguingly feral, herbal and classically styled wine, dripping in sage, toasted oak and wrap-around tannin. Cranberry, clove and cassis form a tangle of nuanced, graceful flavor nestled within a core of impressive structure. This is one to put away for awhile; enjoy best 2026—2036.Wine Enthusiast | 93 WEWhen Philippe Bascaules arrived at Inglenook in 2011, the estate’s Cask Cabernet was defined by its red-fruit character while Rubicon was defined by black fruit. He preferred to focus on the wine’s texture. Now commuting between Rutherford and Château Margaux, where he had worked for two decades with Paul Pontallier, he has changed the viticultural practice at Inglenook. In 2016, Rubicon is neither red nor black—in fact, it’s more blueberry in flavor. But what sets it apart is the plump, polished, mineral texture. As a young wine, it’s shy, gentle, finely structured cabernet, with no rough edges. There’s a sense of certainty, however, that such a wine, from a team secure enough to present it without youthful fanfare, will evolve to express the detail and complexity of this vineyard, its track record proven for more than a century. It’s a different way to think about Napa Valley Cabernet.Wine & Spirits | 93 W&SA savory hint leads the way, followed quickly by ample red currant and blackberry fruit flavors. Tobacco and freshly plowed earth accents score the finish, where the savory element lingers. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2021 through 2030. 3,847 cases made.Wine Spectator | 92 WS

97
TWI
As low as $199.00
2017 alea fina cabernet sauvignon California Red
As low as $99.00
2017 sloan estate proprietary red California Red

Wonderful aromas of blueberries, blackberries, mushrooms, pine and blackcurrants. Some violets, too. Full-bodied, yet so refined and polished with wonderful fruit and a linear tannin structure that integrates beautifully into the wine. It’s so balanced and beautiful. Hard not to drink now, but better after 2023.James Suckling | 98 JSThe 2017 Proprietary Red brings everything up a solid notch. Dense purple/plum-hued, with gorgeous, Graves-like nose of blackcurrants, chocolate, scorched earth, tobacco leaf, and gravelly earth, this beauty hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a polished, elegant texture, building yet sweet tannins, and a great finish. Very much in the style of the 2017 vintage with its nicely concentrated, elegant, reserved yet endearing style, it’s going to drink nicely for 20-25 years.Jeb Dunnuck | 97 JDThe deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Proprietary Red sails out of the glass with open-knit, compelling scents of Black Forest cake, blackberry pie and black currant jelly with suggestions of Indian spices, garrigue, rose oil and sandalwood. The full-bodied palate is richly fruited and jam-packed with opulent black fruit preserves and exotic spice layers, framed by a wicked backbone of freshness and plush, well-managed tannins, finishing with impressive length and perfume.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96+ RPThe 2017 Sloan is very nicely done. As is typical of the year, Sloan is on the lighter side in 2017, and yet all the elements are impeccably balanced. Black cherry, spice, licorice, lavender and chocolate open with a bit of time in the glass. Soft, succulent and quite gracious, the 2017 will drink well with minimal cellaring. I suspect it will always retain some of the nervous tension that is to be expected for a wine made from fruit picked a bit earlier than would have been optimal and with fewer barrel ferments, both choices imposed by the fires that year.Antonio Galloni | 94 AG

98
JS
As low as $749.00
2018 quintessa California Red

This is beautifully polished with firm, dusty tannins to the blue fruit, as well as chocolate and cedar character. Some much earthier character, too, from mushrooms to bark. Forest flowers. Perfumed. It’s full-bodied with round tannins and a soft, creamy finish. Some iron and iodine to this. So attractive at the finish. From biodynamically grown grapes. Better after 2023.James Suckling | 99 JSThis is an exceptional vintage of this exceptional wine, its foundation built around 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, with dustings of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Beautiful in berry fruit, textured and refined tannin and hints of lavender, licorice and sage, it has complexity and energy in equal measure, lengthy and beautifully focused, a truly impressive achievement of site, vintage and winemaker.Wine Enthusiast | 98 WEDeep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Quintessa (Cabernet Sauvignon) sashays out with crème de cassis, blackberry preserves and redcurrant jelly scents, plus wafts of dark chocolate, anise and lavender with a touch of tobacco. Medium to full-bodied, elegantly styled and stunningly energetic, it has a fine-grained texture and long, fragrant finish.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 94+ RPThe 2018 Red Wine is a powerful, driving Napa Valley wine. Scorched earth, iron, chocolate, and leather give the red cherry/plum fruit distinctly savory accents. This is an especially tight wine in a vintage that yielded generally more supple, open-knit reds. Quintessa is one of the first Napa Valley estates I visited, many years ago. Since then, the property has undergone several stylistic phases. It will be interesting to see where things go over the next handful of years here.Antonio Galloni | 93 AGVery fresh in feel, with a racy and refined core of cassis, damson plum and raspberry reduction notes inlaid with black tea and anise hints. A subtle mineral edge adds length to the finish, with the fruit showing nice restraint despite its youth. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Carmenère.Wine Spectator | 93 WS(Quintessa, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Rutherford, California, USA, Red) Black cherry, spiced plums and hints of clove and black pepper aromas. The alcohol is well-balanced by a fresh acidity. (Drink between 2022-2035)Decanter | 90 DEC

99
JS
As low as $279.00
2019 quintessa California Red

This is a winemaker’s master class in blending and understanding of a long-standing site. Dried herb, cedar and pencil shavings accent lifted red fruit and brilliant acidity on the palate, with a supple yet still youthfully grippy texture that is framed by structured, graceful tannins. Enjoy from 2029–2039.Wine Enthusiast | 100 WESo much earth and spice with walnut and wet earth. Like fog laying over the valley in the morning. Black fruit. Medium-to full-bodied with super-fine tannins that are long and persistent, with graceful progression and length on the palate. So long, with real definition. September 2022 release. From biodynamically grown grapes. Hard not to drink now, but will age wonderfully.James Suckling | 99 JSI was blown away by the 2019 Red Blend from Quintessa, which is up with the crème de la crème of the vintage. Based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenère, this full-bodied beauty has a perfectly balanced, seamless, yet expansive and classic 2019 style as well as gorgeous aromatics of cassis, flowers, chalky minerality, and integrated oak. It’s hard to resist already, but I have no doubt this will evolve for 20 years if stored properly.Jeb Dunnuck | 97 JDDark chocolate, violets and blackcurrants on the nose. Sticky, sweet, full, plush and ripe, fruit is dark - blackcurrant, black cherry and plum with lots of sweet liquorice and some earthy notes that give it a savoury touch. A bold and powerful style, you can feel the alcohol a bit and the wood still but there is good vibrancy and energy with a chiselled frame and generous freshness. Still extremely youthful with the structure fully on show, still settling and finding its refinement. 2% Carménère completes the blend. Ageing 22 months in French oak (60% new). Drinking Window: 2025 - 2040Decanter | 96 DECThe 2019 Proprietary Red Wine is more open and effusive than the 2018 version, with gentle floral nuances set against a backdrop of black cherries and cassis, joined by subtle notes of tobacco, cedar and vanilla. In the mouth, it’s medium to full-bodied, streamlined, silky and lush, nicely balanced and elegant, with a long, softly dusty finish tinged with licorice and caramel. Tasted twice, with consistent notes.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RPThe 2019 Quintessa is one of the best wines I have tasted here in some time. Broad swaths of tannin wrap around a core intense dark plum, mocha, licorice and spice. The 2019 clearly needs a few years in bottle to come together. Quintessa is a large, sprawling property with many different exposures. My feeling is that it may not ultimately be suited to making a single large production flagship wine, but that perhaps a series of smaller production wines might showcase the site better.Antonio Galloni | 94 AGSports a very forward set of cassis and creamed plum notes before giving way to a firmer, more authoritative iron, warm earth and singed alder profile. Grippy and dense through the finish, but there’s cut and drive, with a savory edge adding good energy. This just needs some time for the mineral side to settle in with the fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Carmenère. Best from 2024 through 2034. 10,000 cases made.Wine Spectator | 93 WS

100
WE
As low as $589.00
2019 sloan California Red

The 2019 Proprietary Red is deep garnet-purple in color. After a swirl or two, notes of blueberry preserves, chocolate-covered cherries, and warm cassis burst from the glass, leading to suggestions of Chinese five spice, dusty soil, sandalwood, and unsmoked cigars. The decadently concentrated, full-bodied palate delivers layer upon layer of black fruits and earthy nuances, framed by super-firm, ripe, grainy tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long with loads of mineral sparks. This is a beauty!The Wine Independent | 99 TWIA blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, the 2019 Proprietary Red is a monster of a wine that’s unquestionably up with the crème de la crème of the vintage. Blackberries, truffle, earth, chocolate, iron, and even a hint of black olive defines the nose, and it’s full-bodied, deep, rich, and incredibly concentrated on the palate. It has lots of background oak but more than enough fruit, with a dense, layered mid-palate and velvety tannins. It’s one of those wines that brings an incredible amount of richness and depth yet somehow stays light on its feet and balanced. It needs to be forgotten for at least 2-4 years and should keep for over two decades.Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JDThe 2019 Sloan is a silky, sensual beauty. Creamy and ample in the glass, with superb balance, the 2019 offers up an exotic mélange of dark fruit, spice, mocha, espresso and licorice. Cabernet inflections are quite present today. Then again, this plateau above Rutherford is one of the most special places in all of Napa Valley. The 2019 shuts down pretty quickly in the glass, which is probably a good sign for its prospects in the cellar. It’s another gorgeous wine from the team at Sloan headed by Winemaker Martha McClellan.Vinous Media | 97 VMSloan’s 2019 Proprietary Red is deep and rich, with scents of dark loam, woodsy notes, hints of cedar and vanilla, plus dark, plummy fruit. It’s full-bodied, concentrated, dense and decadently velvety but with a slight dried-fruit character. It’s awesome in that idiom but lacks the vibrancy and freshness of the valley’s absolute best wines. To this taster, it comes across as impressively complex, concentrated and long but also a bit heavy and warm on the finish. What foods would one pair this with?Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RP

99
TWI
As low as $799.00

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