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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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1992 dominus California Red

The 1992 Dominus, of which there are 7,000 cases made from a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot, and the remainder Petit Verdot, is an opulent, opaquely concentrated wine with great ripeness of fruit, and a huge nose of earth, black-cherries, mocha, and herbs. Full-bodied, with a layered, multidimensional personality, adequate acidity, and a super finish, this should prove to be another fabulous Dominus for drinking over the next 20-25 years. It is more forward than the 1991 or 1990.Robert Parker | 97 RPThe 1992 Dominus is gorgeous, bursting from the glass in a blaze of mentholated black cherries, loamy soil and forest floor, and following through on the palate with a compelling marriage of bright fruit and a supple, expansive texture. The cooler vintage has made for a great deal of aromatic complexity and capacity to refresh, without losing any Napa generosity. Delicious wine. Drinking Window 2016 - 2025Decanter | 93 DECVery deep red-ruby. Very complex aromas of raspberry, licorice, road tar, lead pencil and mint; a faint vegetal nuance adds to its complexity. Fat, supple, sweet and mouthfilling, but can’t match the ’94 for sheer substance, nuance or depth. Finishes powerful and very ripe, with dusty, substantial tannins and a hint of alcohol. This will age more on its tannins than on its rather soft acidity.Vinous Media | 92 VM

95
RP
As low as $3,839.00
2006 dominus California Red

Starting to take on the tertiary character of ripe fruit and savory components with dusty tannins. Full and round with a lovely texture and a light salty, meaty and tobacco character. Forest floor. Sweet and sour. Just opening.James Suckling | 96 JSThere are 6,500 cases of the superb 2006 Dominus (91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot). Its dark plum/purple color is accompanied by aromas and flavors of truffles, forest floor, black cherries, black currants, and Asian spices. One of the finest wines of the vintage, it is complete, full-bodied, and seamlessly built with beautiful ripe tannins, low acidity, and a luscious, layered mouthfeel. The aromatics are even more evolved and complex than the 2005’s. The 2006 should drink well for 20-25 years.Christian Moueix, Dominus’ owner, has purchased the 35-acre Swanson Vineyard, which is situated between the well-known California bistros, Brix and Mustard’s. I suspect that will result in a third label from Dominus. At present, the production from these large holdings in Yountville is approximately 10,000-12,000 cases, with the second wine, Napanook, representing 3,500-4,000 cases, depending on the vintage. It is ironic that Christian Moueix, the great Merlot specialist at his flagship chateaux in Pomerol, especially Petrus, prefers the other Bordeaux varietals at his Napa property. Interestingly, when I visit Dominus, they always open a fresh bottle and serve it alongside a bottle that has been decanted for 24 hours. On each occasion, the more complex, open wine is the one that has had 24 hours of aeration, something buyers of this wine should take into consideration. These are the two strongest back to back vintages for Dominus since 1990-1991 and 2001-2002.Robert Parker | 96 RPBright red-ruby. Lovely floral lift contributes precision to the aromas of raspberry, rose petal and licorice. Sweet, high-pitched and sharply delineated; velvety but not thick. There’s a juicy quality to the ripe red fruit, mineral and graphite flavors, not to mention a firm underlying spine, that promises a long and positive evolution in bottle. Quite young but not austere, finishing with building tannins and lovely lift. The lingering perfume of red fruits, pepper, flowers and licorice is unusually complex. A really superb 2006, seemingly every bit as good as the sensational 2005.Vinous Media | 94+ VMUnless you knew that this was Dominus and had tasted older vintages, you might not be impressed. In its youth the wine is tannic and dry and linear. However, it is Dominus and it does need cellaring. Right now it shows blackberry, black currant, cedar and baker’s chocolate flavors. Will slowly open and reach maturity after 2011, and could easily develop for far longer.Wine Enthusiast | 93 WEYouthfully floral and tight, this vintage of Dominus is a big wine that holds all of its weight behind a powerful structure. And it’s the power of that structure that is front and center-red apple-skin acidity and walnut-skin tannin-needing a ribeye with plenty of fat to bring the fruit out of its cage. Stay with it and the wine’s earthiness begins to meld with the blueberry and chocolate richness. But it’s all completely primary. Put this away for ten years, and drink the Napanook while it matures.Wine & Spirits | 93 W&S

96
RP
As low as $295.00
2015 kapcsandy robertas reserve state lane California Red

Made from 100% Merlot, the 2015 Merlot Roberta’s Reserve has a deep garnet-purple color and gorgeous nose of black plums, warm blueberries and mocha with touches of anise, red roses and spice box. Medium to full-bodied and densely packed with layers of blue and black fruits and perfumed notions, it has a firm yet plush backbone to support and a very long, layered finish.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 98 RPSaturated ruby-red. Brooding, medicinal scents of dark cherry, menthol and licorice. Boasts outstanding breadth and density of material, with its expressive flavors of black cherry, dark berries, spices and bitter chocolate complicated by salty minerality and lifted by a subtle floral quality. This distinctly soil-driven wine is showing more personality today than the ’16 and should reach its plane of peak drinkability earlier. And yet my sample tightened up in the glass to show a rather powerful tannic spine. (14.4% alcohol; 100% Merlot; from fruit harvested three weeks earlier than in 2016; 88% new French, 3% new Hungarian and 9% second-fill French)Vinous Media | 96 VMThe 2015 Merlot Roberta’s Reserve is a textbook expression of Merlot and it has a pretty, yet sexy style to go with lots of blue fruits, violets, leafy herbs and graphite aromas and flavors. Like all the 2015s from this estate, it has sensational purity of fruit, is impeccably balanced, and has ultra-fine tannin. Drink this terrific 2015 anytime over the coming two decades.Jeb Dunnuck | 96 JDA juicy and rich red with dark berries, hazelnuts and chocolate. Some tile, too. Full and juicy with lots of fruit. Hints of salt, crushed stones and oyster shell. A pure merlot this year. Layered and juicy. Drink in 2020.James Suckling | 94 JS

98
RP
As low as $369.00
2019 dominus napanook California Red

An open and beautiful wine with green-olive and currant aromas and flavors. Some bark and earth, too, together with mushrooms, herbs, crushed stones and pomegranate. Medium to full body with round, creamy tannins and refined finish. Blood orange at the end. Crunchy. So drinkable now, but will age beautifully.James Suckling | 96 JSExuberantly fruity on the nose, the 2019 Napanook is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Despite seeing 40% new French oak, what shines on the nose are the ripe cherries, delicately brushed with wisps of tobacco, sage and bay leaf. It’s medium to full-bodied, supple and silky in feel on the palate, while the finish lingers easily, adding notes of pencil shavings and mocha. To get this sort of pedigree for less than $100 is a rarity in Napa these days, making it a notable value.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 93 RPSolidly built and very direct, with a juicy, muscular core of cassis, plum and blackberry flavors lined with singed alder, menthol and sweet bay leaf. Maintains juicy energy through the toasty finish, with a late loamy echo keeping things grounded. A very well-proportioned wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2034. 2,450 cases made.Wine Spectator | 93 WS

96
JS
As low as $89.99
2019 nickel and nickel cabernet sauvignon state ranch California Red

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon State Ranch comes from a parcel in the center of the valley, but it’s one that is relatively rocky and well drained, according to winemaker Joe Harden. Apparently, the vineyard is now owned by Thomas Keller. Delicate hints of sage and mint accent black cherries and blueberries on the nose, while the medium to full-bodied palate is defined by softly dusty tannins and ample, mouthwatering length.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 94 RPI loved the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon State Ranch. This Yountville beauty has a great nose of pure cassis and blackcurrant fruits as well textbook Cabernet notes of lead pencil shavings, chalky mineral, and tobacco. Medium to full-bodied, concentrated, and perfectly balanced, it has fine tannins and the class to evolve for 15 years or more.Jeb Dunnuck | 94 JDStewed blackcurrants, cassis, smoked meat, toffee and walnuts on the nose. Full-bodied with fine, sleek tannins and fresh acidity. Succulent and polished with a juicy, flavorful finish. Drink from 2023.James Suckling | 94 JSThe 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon State Ranch offers good upfront intensity, but it is ultimately just a bit lean. There is good energy though. Dark cherry, tobacco, licorice, leather and dried herbs build with a bit of time, and yet the 2019 remains a touch nervous and compact. Perhaps it will flesh out more with some time.Antonio Galloni | 93 AGA sleek, refined style, with ample density to the core of cassis, plum and dark cherry compote notes but without overt muscle or heft, picking up light cedar, alder and savory accents along the way. Shows a subtle iron twinge at the very end. Best from 2023 through 2035. 5,300 cases made.Wine Spectator | 93 WSThis is a soft, herbal and pillowy wine, 100% varietal and made from one of the cooler climates found in the valley. Ethereal and earthy, it shows secondary characteristics of sage, rock and cedar, never losing its full-bodied plushness along the way.Wine Enthusiast | 91 WE

94
JD
As low as $89.99
2020 dominus California Red

Aromas of blackcurrants, black cherries, hints of graphite, wet earth, and lavender. Sandalwood. Full-bodied with an impressive and refined structure that runs deep and vertical in the wine. Chewy. Hints of chocolate and hazelnut at the end. Needs five or six years to soften.James Suckling | 98 JSAn excellent wine, even if not a great Dominus, the 2020 Dominus delivers waves of dark fruit—think predominantly cassis. A blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc, it’s full-bodied and richly textured, perhaps a bit warm and open-knit because of the summer’s heat, but with a long, velvety finish attractively tinged with mocha and dark chocolate.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RPThis throws off dense kirsch and linzer torte aromas and flavors, along with a mix of smoldering tobacco, leather, warm paving stone and licorice root hints that provide a brooding edge on the back end. Surprisingly backward for the vintage and impressively done. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2026 through 2040. 1,600 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WS

98
JS
As low as $349.00
2020 dominus napanook California Red

Aromas of currants, blackberries, fresh mushrooms and flowers. Medium-bodied with compacted fruit and integrated, fine tannins. Ripe fruit with reserve. Attractive and alluring. Excellent structure. 88% cabernet sauvignon, 7% cabernet franc and 5% petit verdot. Give it at least five years to open and soften, but very attractive now.James Suckling | 95 JS

95
JS
As low as $89.99

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