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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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1990 spottswoode cabernet sauvignon California Red

1990 was the first vintage (4,756 cases produced) and one of the most abundant before the replanting became essential because of phylloxera, and was again made at Robert Pepi. However, the percentage of Cabernet Franc jumped to 10% in the final blend. Mia Klein, who worked with Tony Soter, was part of the winemaking team. This wine performed beautifully, and had that Château Margaux-like finesse, elegance and richness. Beautiful blackcurrant notes, graphite, rose petal and licorice, were all present in this deep ruby/plum-colored wine that came across like a Napa version of a first-growth Médoc. It is medium to full-bodied, with beautiful, integrated tannin, acidity and wood. This should continue to drink well for another 10-15-plus years.Robert Parker | 95 RPStill young and firm, this delivers spicy plum and chocolate flavors; it’s polished, balanced and intense. Approachable now.--Spottswoode vertical. Best after 2000. 4,500 cases made.Wine Spectator | 90 WS

90
WS
As low as $549.00
2002 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon

I was also able to taste a barrel sample of the 2022 Cabernet Sauvignon, and it’s clearly one of the deeper hued 2022s I was able to taste for this report. Darker currants, hints of cassis, scorched earth, and tobacco all emerge on the nose, and it’s medium to full-bodied, has a classic, elegant Spottswood texture, building tannins, and outstanding length.Jeb Dunnuck | 94-96 JDThe 2022 Cabernet Sauvignon, tasted as a barrel sample, is deep purple-black in color. Intense scents of plum preserves, blueberry pie, and creme de cassis give way to wafts of dried roses, star anise, and powdered cinnamon. The medium-bodied palate is velvety and lively, with bags of juicy black and blue fruit preserves leading to a long and spicy finish on this impressive wine.The Wine Independent | 94-96+ TWIDark, layered and imposing, the 2022 Cabernet Sauvignon is a promising wine for the year. Dark red and purplish fruit, spice and rose petals open gradually, wrapped together by firm, large-grained tannins for this site. This core blend represents about 40% of the eventual final blend.Vinous Media | 92-95 VM

99
JD
As low as $579.00
2009 hundred acre vyd cabernet sauv kayli morgan California Red

Medium to deep garnet colored, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Kayli Morgan Vineyard gives up bold blackcurrant cordial, blackberry compote and raspberry pie scents with hints of chocolate-covered cherries, roses and lilacs plus hints of charcuterie and yeast extract. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is wonderfully elegant, with wonderful vivacity and perfume and a satiny texture with a very long finish.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96 RPPure sensuality in the glass, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Kayli Morgan Vineyard is going to be nearly impossible to resist in its youth. At the same time, the Kayli Morgan has a track record of developing beautifully in bottle, and I imagine that is exactly what will happen here. Cedar, spice box, cassis and plums burst from the glass in this impressive, layered wine. A hint of mocha develops later, but it is pretty clear the 2009 is playing its cards close to the vest. There is enough inner tension to make me think the 2009 has a very bright future. Jayson Woodbridge describes 2009 as a year with a tiny crop and equally small berries. It is also the year Woodbridge brought in a helicopter to dry out the fruit after the mid-October typhoon dropped a huge amount of rain on Napa Valley.Antonio Galloni | 95+ AGPure and understated, with a charming mix of elegant ripe black cherry and plum, subtle fresh earth, tobacco and cedar, ending with fleshy, fine-grained tannins. Less opulent than prior vintages. Drink now through 2024. 600 cases made.Wine Spectator | 91 WS

96
RP
As low as $515.00
2016 spottswoode cabernet sauvignon California Red

The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate has shut down slightly since I tasted it last year, yet it’s still a magical, perfect wine. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and the balance Petit Verdot, it offers incredible notes of pure crème de cassis, blueberries, camphor, crushed rocks, and lead pencil shavings. This rich, full-bodied beauty always reminds me of a great vintage of Château Margaux with its beautiful complexity, power, and elegance. As I wrote last year, do your best to give bottles 4-5 years of bottle age and it should evolve for three decades or more.Jeb Dunnuck | 100 JDDeep garnet-purple in color, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is still very tight and youthful, slowly unfurling to reveal a multifaceted wine with tons of black, blue and red fruit sparks—plums, cherries, black currants and red currants—with dark chocolate, cedar chest, black tea and red roses in the background plus wafts of pencil lead and prosciutto. Medium-bodied and firmly textured by superbly ripe, grainy tannins, it has a fantastic core of intense, complex layers, finishing on an edifying mineral note. Wow!Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 100 RPSpottswoode, nudged about against Spring Mountain is situated on an ancient alluvial fan. The tiny vineyard has been owned and run by the Novak family since 1972. President Beth Novak and winemaker Aron Weinkauf are known for crafting Cabernets that paradoxically possess gentility and vivid concentration at the same time. The reverberating flavours always remind me of the sound of a church bell that someone has just struck hard. Wonderful exotic, spicy mulberry and cranberry notes. Fine tannin. Drinking Window 2019 - 2045Decanter | 97 DECSpottswoode's 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is absolutely gorgeous. Medium in body, translucent and super-expressive, the 2016 is sublime, not to mention on the understated side of things for the year. Dark red cherry, red plum, mocha and espresso add lovely shades of nuance. The 2016 is racy, but also clearly holding back much of its ultimate potential. I imagine the 2016 will always be a wine of finesse, first and foremost.Vinous Media | 96+ VMBlended with small percents of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, this vintage marks the winery's 35th year of making this wine, the grapes all estate-grown and organically farmed. Rich and grippy, it expands to reveal expressive notes of dried herb, leather and salty stone, at first demure in black fruit, with an elegant structure and undoubtable time to age. Enjoy best from 2026–2031.Wine Enthusiast | 96 WEBeautifully rendered, with a focused beam of gently mulled red and black currant fruit that glides through atop a subtle but persistent loamy structure. Light tea and alder notes fill in throughout, ending with a wave of fruit that is alluringly lined with latent mineral tension. Best from 2021 through 2040. 4,030 cases made.Wine Spectator | 96 WSThis blend of 85 per cent cabernet sauvignon, nine per cent cabernet franc and six per cent petit verdot has strikingly pure blackcurrant aromas and flavors. The palate has flavorful and fleshy, ripe mixed berries, cast in plush, seamlessly even tannins. Drink or hold.James Suckling | 95 JS

100
JD
As low as $295.00
2016 dana estates cabernet sauvignon lotus vyd California Red

With more minerality as well as a bloody, iron character, the perfect 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Lotus Vineyard is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot that saw 27 months in new French oak barrels. Incredible notes of blackcurrants, graphite, tobacco, Asian spices, and dried herbs all emerge from this full-bodied, ultra-pure, layered, and just incredible wine that tops out my scale. Coming from a vineyard at the base of Howell Mountain and aged in 90% new French oak, it has the class to offer pleasure even today yet is going to benefit from 7-8 years of bottle age and keep for 3-4 decades. It’s one of the greatest young Cabernets I’ve ever tasted.Jeb Dunnuck | 100 JDThe 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Lotus Vineyard is the most powerful and backward of the three single-vineyard Cabernets at Dana. Brisk and finely cut, the 2016 captures a stunning interplay of freshness, structure and vibrancy. Readers will have to be patient, as the 2016 is going to need a number of years to be at its very best. Even in the early going, though, it is pretty memorable. Gravel, sage, menthol, crushed flowers and white pepper add aromatic nuance to a brooding, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon built for the cellar.Vinous Media | 100 VMThe 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Lotus Vineyard is made up of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon (clones 4 and 15) and 3% Petit Verdot. It fermented 46% in oak tanks, 38% in concrete and 16% in barrels. It was on the skins for 28 to 43 days and aged in French oak barrels for 27 months. Deep garnet-purple in color, it is a little shy to begin, before opening up with provocative lilacs, cinnamon stick, cloves and underbrush over a core of blackcurrant cordial, preserved plums and Black Forest cake plus a waft of cast-iron pan. Full-bodied, the palate is an exercise in grace, with wonderfully harmonious perfumed black fruit framed by very fine-grained tannins and bags of freshness, finishing very long.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 99 RPThis is a very solid red showing an impressive, vertical line of tannins and acidity with blackberry and blueberry character. Full body, a cylinder of fruit and chewy yet polished tannins. Extremely persistent. Needs three or four years to come together. Try after 2022.James Suckling | 98 JS

100
JD
As low as $645.00
2018 lewelling vineyards cabernet sauvignon California Red

A killer wine as well as a smoking value, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon comes all from the estate vineyard outside of St. Helena and spent 20 months in 70% new French oak. Loads of crème de cassis, blueberries, toasted spices, and flowery incense make up the bouquet, and it hits the palate with a ripe, round, sweetly fruited, perfectly balanced style that’s already impossible to resist.Jeb Dunnuck | 95 JDMade from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon was aged for 20 months in oak, 70% new. Deep garnet-purple in color, it offers up fragrant notions of minted cassis, blackberry compote and spice cake with suggestions of cardamom and chocolate box. The full-bodied palate is rich and plush, packed with spicy black fruits and finishing with great length. 950 cases were made.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 93 RP

95
JD
As low as $67.99
2018 paul hobbs cabernet sauvignon beckstoffer las piedras vineyard California Red

Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard opens with provocative ferrous, crushed rocks and tar notes over a core of crème de cassis, redcurrant jelly and raspberry leaves with a hint of wild fungi. The medium to full-bodied palate is taut with tension and jam-packed with pure black and red fruits, supported by firm, grainy tannins, finishing with uplifting mineral sparks. This energetic beauty needs some time. Give it a good 4-5 years in bottle and drink it over the next 25 years+. 396 cases were made.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 98 RPThe 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard is such a gorgeous and highly representative wine off this site. Crushed rocks, graphite, menthol, crème de cassis and spice are so typical of this site. At this stage, the Piedras does not have the sheer appeal or immediacy of the Crane, but then again, that is Piedras. All of this fruit is Clone 4, which in this rugged site yields very small berries with plenty of concentration. And that is exactly what comes through in this majestic Cabernet.Vinous Media | 96 VMA juicy, round-textured red with plum and berry character, as well chocolate and spice. Wet rock, too. It’s full-bodied and layered with pretty fruit and a long, flavorful finish. Extremely polished and poised. A little tight at the finish. Drink after 2023, but already very attractive.James Suckling | 96 JSRipe and vivid, with a lovely display of cassis, plum and anise flavors driving through nicely, while violet and graphite accents add range and length. A light bramble accent underscores it all, adding good energy. A really strong showing. Best from 2022 through 2036. 396 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WS

98
RP
As low as $299.00
2018 chase cellars cabernet sauvignon hayne vineyard California Red

The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Hayne Vineyard comes from a site in Napa and is all Clone 337 of Cabernet Sauvignon brought up in new French oak. Beautiful crème de cassis, violets, tobacco, and bouquet garni notes emerge from this classic, full-bodied, incredibly well-balanced 2018. I love its tannins, it’s flawlessly balanced, and it’s a wine that keeps you coming back to the glass. Drink bottles over the coming 15+.Jeb Dunnuck | 97 JD

97
JD
As low as $149.99
2018 lewelling vineyards cabernet sauvignon wight vineyard California Red

The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard is a smaller selection from the estate vineyard, and it spent 20 months in 90% new French oak, of which it shows not a trace. Beautiful cassis fruits, notes of smoke, tobacco, and chocolate, full-bodied richness, velvety tannins, and a blockbuster style all define this gorgeous 2018, which offers both intellectual and hedonistic pleasure. It has another two decades of prime drinking ahead of it.Jeb Dunnuck | 97 JDMade from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard was aged for 20 months in oak, 90% new. Deep garnet-purple in color, it rolls effortlessly from the glass with seductive scents of crème de cassis, stewed black plums and boysenberries with hints of spice box and cedar chest. The big, blockbuster, full-bodied palate has a rugged, rock-solid structure with chewy tannins and good persistence, although it is just a little warm at the back palate. 600 cases were made.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 91+ RP

97
JD
As low as $89.99
2019 patria cabernet sauvignon a. price vineyard California Red

From a site next to Spotteswood, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon A. Price Vineyard has a complex style in its red and black fruits, new leather, sandalwood, and tobacco leaf-like aromas and flavors. These carry to a medium to full-bodied, wonderfully pure, balanced red with ripe yet present tannins, plenty of fruit and opulence, and a great finish. A blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot, it’s another brilliant wine from this label.Jeb Dunnuck | 96 JDMade form 100% Cabernet Sauvingon, the deep garnet-purple colored 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon A. Price leaps with scents crushed redcurrants, blackberry pie and blackcurrant pastilles, plus hints of bouquet garni, tar and truffles. Full-bodied, taut and tightly wound, it has a firm, grainy texture and lively freshness, finishing with fantastic persistence. 190 cases were made.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RPThe 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Allen Price Vineyard is soft, succulent and relatively easygoing, both for this wine and the vintage. Inky blue/purplish fruit, spice and lavender all meld together effortlessly. The 2019 is undeniably attractive, even if it does not have the depth of the very best years.Antonio Galloni | 93 AG

97-99
VM
As low as $145.00
2019 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard

Coming from a rockier site no more than a stone’s throw from Dr. Crane Vineyard, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard is more meaty and savory, with lots of red and black fruits as well as loads of rocky, earthy minerality, spring flower, tobacco, and lead pencil-like nuances. Just beautifully balanced on the palate, it’s full-bodied and elegant, with silky tannins, no hard edges, and one incredible finish. It’s more red-fruited than the Dr. Crane, yet it has a similar ethereal, weightless style that makes it such a joy to drink, even today. Given its balance, purity, and freshness, I have no doubt it will evolve for 25+ years, and I’m probably underrating it by a point.Jeb Dunnuck | 99 JDSuperb aromas of blackberries, currants, crushed stones, conifer and wet earth. Menthol, too. Full-bodied with a dense center-palate, yet it remains agile and persistent. Lovely character and richness at the finish, but not overpowering. Another three or four years will make it better, but already gorgeous.James Suckling | 98 JSA bit further west than the Dr. Crane Vineyard, with more slope, bigger rocks and a bit more protection from the afternoon sun, this vineyard has yielded a stunning 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard. It leads off with scents of cedar and baking spices, then backs those up with notes of black cherries and cassis. Full-bodied, richly textured and tannic but ripe, this finishes long, with mouthwatering fruit balanced against silky tannins. Give it a few years in the cellar and drink it over the next couple of decades. 392 cases produced.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97+ RPThe 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard is a huge wine. Blackberry jam, chocolate, licorice, spice, menthol, gravel and intense savory herbs are kicked up in an explosive, dense Cabernet. This concentrated, virile Cabernet possesses tremendous energy and pure power, all in a masculine style that needs years to come into its own. There is plenty of tannin, but it is well integrated. The 2019 is a bit unruly today, like a poorly behaved young child. Let’s see how it grows up.Vinous Media | 97+ VMThis has power but is reserved in style, with dark currant preserves, plum puree and black cherry reduction notes laced with singed alder and sweet tobacco. A subtle iron note chimes gently through the long finish, which fleshes out steadily as this airs. Best from 2023 through 2038. 392 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WS

99
JD
As low as $269.00
2019 spottswoode cabernet sauvignon California Red

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 89.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.5% Cabernet Franc and 4.0% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple in color, it needs of lot of swirling to unlock the most gorgeous perfume of bright black and red cherries, fresh blueberries and blackcurrant pastilles with hints of roses, cinnamon stick and orange peel. Medium-bodied, elegant and tightly wound, the palate shimmers with SO MUCH energy, featuring layer upon layer of floral, savory and crunchy black fruit notes, finishing long and minerally. This is a remarkably poised, seemingly effortless beauty that cannot fail to make your jaw drop. Forget it in the cellar for a good 3-5 years, at least, to allow all those nuances to fully emerge and then savor it over the next 30 years+.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 100 RPThis biodynamically produced (certified from the 2020 vintage) red offers vividly bright aromas of ripe strawberry, sagebrush, coriander cream and cedar. Silken waves of red berry fruit, leather, brown spices and featherweight fine-grained tannins glide to a long finish punctuated by deep saline mineral notes. The epitome of elegance and beauty supported by such a firm backbone of juicy acidity as to age beautifully over time. Drinking Window: 2024 - 2040Decanter | 98 DECThe 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is another incredible wine from this reference point estate in the Valley. Based on 89.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.5 % Cabernet Franc, and the balance Petit Verdot that was raised in 65% new French oak, it has that classic Spottswoode refinement and elegance as well as medium to full-bodied aromas and flavors of cassis, tobacco, sandalwood, and flowers. I don’t think this hits the heights of the 2013 or 2016, but it shines for its flawless balance, remarkable purity, and great finish. It’s going to have 30 years of prime drinking. There were 4,184 cases produced, and readers will love to have this in their cellar.Jeb Dunnuck | 97 JDRipe blackberries, blackcurrants, cocoa powder, dried thyme and walnut husk on the nose. It’s full-bodied, chewy and compact with firm tannins and a broad, muscular palate. Structured, polished and well balanced. From biodynamically grown grapes. Try after 2024.James Suckling | 96 JSA bright, effusive wine, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is all finesse. Bright aromatics, vibrant red berry fruit and mid-weight structure give the 2019 its charming, sensual personality. I am surprised to see how open the 2019 is at this stage. I imagine it might close down a bit post-bottling, but the 2019 has superb balance to go with a real feeling of openness, at least today. Red/purplish berry fruit, rose petal, lavender and sweet spice shape the inviting finish.Antonio Galloni | 96 AGNot shy, this throws a pretty lush and gorgeous wave of warmed cassis and mulberry puree at you, carried by very polished tannins as violet, red licorice and sweet tobacco hints fill in behind. Shows good energy through the finish, too, with a subtle mineral hint to keep everything honest. Lovely. Drink now through 2037. 4,184 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WS

100
TWI
As low as $259.00

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