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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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1987 silverado napa cabernet sauvignon California Red

Smooth, ripe and harmonious, with layers of black cherry, plum, currant and anise, finishing with a smooth texture and a long, lingering aftertaste.--1987 California Cabernet horizontal. Drink now through 2000. 11,025 cases made. — JLWine Spectator | 92 WS

92
WS
As low as $239.00
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
2013 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select

Wonderful floral aromas with perfumed roses plus hints of blackcurrants and spearmint. Full-bodied and so powerful and muscular but always showing the brightness and beauty of fruit. Winemakers say this reminds them of the 1978, their first year. It certainly has the structure — "those tannins" as they put it. Finish is so impressive with tar, iron and spices. Available in September 2017. Try in 2023.James Suckling | 99 JSAll Cabernet aged 32 months in new French oak, the flagship 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is a beauty that offers just about everything you could want out of wine. Blackcurrants, scorched earth, smoky oak and spice aromatics all give way to a full-bodied, concentrated, structured 2013 that has incredible fruit intensity, yet never seems heavy, over the top, or cumbersome in any way. It needs 4-5 years of cellaring and is going to keep for two to three decades.Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JDThe 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select will probably hit the magic three-digit score, but it is a more backward style of wine, although probably even more concentrated than the 2012, and that’s saying something. Fabulous potential of 30-50 years is evident in this profound bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that is inky blue/black to the rim and offers up notes of charcoal embers, scorched earth, blackberries, cassis, blueberries, a hint of coffee, and background barrique smells. Massively concentrated but incredibly elegant and poised, this is a wine of great energy and vibrancy. It is fabulously deep, built like a skyscraper, and set for an incredibly long life. Try not to consume a bottle for at least another 4-5 years and then watch the magic unfold.Robert Parker | 98 RPAmong the Napa Valley's most crowning achievements in Cabernet, this vintage of Hillside Select is stunning, bright and beguiling in every way. Intensely layered, its interwoven flavors burst in black licorice, dark chocolate, pipe tobacco, gun smoke and garrigue. Spicy oak adds to the power and weight. Drinkable now, it will show even greater finesse in time; enjoy best 2023–2033 and possibly beyond.Wine Enthusiast | 98 WEJust bottled a few months before this tasting, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is shaping up to be a jewel of a wine. Readers will have to be patient with this big, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2013 doesn't have the sensuality of the 2012 nor the silkiness of the 2011. Instead, the 2013 is a dense, vertical wine that needs at least a few years of cellaring. This is an intensely savory, mineral driven vintage for Shafer's flagship Cabernet Sauvignon.Vinous Media | 97 VMGraceful and supple, rich and loamy, tilted toward the savory, herbal side of Cabernet, with modest cherry and currant notes. Displays deft balance and hints of anise and underbrush. Complex throughout. Drink now through 2030. 2,400 cases made.Wine Spectator | 94 WS

98+
RP
As low as $379.00
2017 Cain Five

This is really firm and long with a solid core of tannins, earthy fruit and firmness. Medium to full body. Serious structure and length. Juicy and savory. The tension and form to this is beautiful. Classic, traditional Napa. 45% cabernet sauvignon, 26% merlot, 21% cabernet franc, 5% malbec and 3% petit verdot. Drinkable now, but better in 2024.James Suckling | 96 JS

96
JS
As low as $229.00
2018 talley vineyards estate pinot noir arroyo grande valley California Red

Glistening ruby-red. Mineral- and spice-accented red berry and cherry aromas are complemented by cola and floral nuances. Silky and appealingly sweet, offering vibrant raspberry, cherry and rose pastille flavors braced by a building mineral quality. Shows fine definition and floral lift on the energetic, persistent finish, which is framed by smooth, well-knit tannins. 15% whole clusters and 30% new French oak.Vinous Media | 93 VMThere’s an expert level of restraint on the nose of this bottling, with aromas of rose hips, fennel, damp soil and strawberry. There’s a great herbal display on the palate, with marjoram and tarragon accents, as well as crisp and deliciously tart flavors of plum skin and red currant.Wine Enthusiast | 93 WEFrom some great sites, the 2018 Pinot Noir Estate is all varietal, aged 14 months in 30% new French oak and bottled without filtration. More raspberries, toasted spice, forest, and floral notes emerge from the glass. It’s medium-bodied, elegant, and lively on the palate, with good depth and moderate length.Jeb Dunnuck | 90 JD(Talley Vineyards Pinot Noir - Estate Red) Floral and mentholated top notes add breadth to the pretty red pinot, plum and softly spiced aromas. There is excellent volume to the delicious, vibrant and solidly powerful medium-bodied flavors that possess a seductive mid-palate while delivering fine length on the bitter cherry pit-inflected finish. This is presently pretty compact and while it could be enjoyed now, I would advise holding it for 4 to 6 years first. Lovely. (Drink starting 2025)Burghound | 90 BH

93
VM
As low as $29.99
2019 shafer cabernet sauvignon hillside select California Red

Sourced from specific blocks of estate-grown fruit, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is another highly successful vintage. All Cabernet Sauvignon aged 32 months in 100% new French oak, it boasts intense aromas of pencil shavings, dark loam, cassis and plum on the nose, while the palate is full-bodied, super-ripe, rich, dense and concentrated—a truly impressive California vin de garde. Tannic but ripe, it finishes long and firm on the finish, adding a hint of mocha. To be released in September 2023, it’s a strong showing and hopefully an indication that quality will remain high under the new ownership.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 98+ RPThe 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is one of the most elegant wines I have tasted at Shafer. Effusive aromatics and silky tannins are immediately captivating. Crushed red/purplish berry fruit, mint, spice, lavender and licorice are all finely knit. We will see, but the 2019 may very well represent a new direction for Hillside Select, one of Napa Valley’s most iconic Cabernets.Vinous Media | 98 VMA beautiful nose of pitted cherries, redcurrants, fresh herbs and violets. Full-bodied with fine, structured tannins. More gravelly, mineral and dark than the nose lets on. Savory almost. Terrific depth and concentration that keeps the palate flavorful through the generous finish. Chocolate, sage, rosemary, bark and moss. Layered. Superb wine. Needs time to come together. Best after 2024 and onward.James Suckling | 98 JSThe 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is another magical vintage for this cuvée. All Cabernet Sauvignon from hillside vineyards on the eastern side of Stags Leap, it offers a vivid purple hue as well as extraordinary notes of cassis, black raspberries, violets, camphor, and spring flowers, with perfectly integrated background oak. Full-bodied but not massive, it’s flawlessly balanced on the palate and has ultra-fine tannins, a seamless, elegant mouthfeel, and a great, great finish. It’s another 30- to 40-year wine from this incredible team that readers will absolutely love.Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JDA ripe, exuberant style, with generous plum cake, blackberry compote and açaí berry notes mixed with melted black licorice and a nicely polished, singed mesquite–accented finish. Hard to resist now (if you like the power style), but also has the energy to take some cellaring. Drink now through 2039. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 2,400 cases made.Wine Spectator | 94 WS

98+
RP
As low as $769.00
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
2019 turnbull cabernet sauvignon black label California Red

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label is built around a core of fruit from Leopoldina, with about 30% of the fruit from Fortuna. Black cherry, plum, chocolate, new leather and spice build in a potent, explosive Cabernet that hits all the right notes. In 2019, the Black Label is a real head turner. The flamboyant style offers tons of immediacy that will make the 2019 pretty hard to resist right out of the gate.Antonio Galloni | 96 AGA barrel-selection of the vintage, this wine stuns in its dynamic of power and elegance, revealing layers of dried herb, sage and violet around a core of seamless tannin. Dark chocolate, graphite and cassis are met by an undercurrent of darker berry and oak spice, with a refined, structured finish. This will do well in the cellar; enjoy best 2029–2039.Wine Enthusiast | 96 WEDeep garnet-purple colored, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label needs swirling to reveal notes of blackcurrant jelly, blackberry preserves and boysenberries, plus hints of cedar, lilacs, unsmoked cigars and crushed rocks.The medium to full-bodied palate is delicately styled and refreshing, featuring elegant layers and a long and mineral-laced finish.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95+ RPDelivers a serious core of warmed cassis, macerated plum and black cherry puree flavors that move in lockstep, carried by a graphite spine and flanked with judicious apple wood and alder. Very solidly built. Best from 2023 through 2035. 1,529 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WSHarvested at a minuscule yields from a vineyard planted in 1975, then aged 17 months in one-third new French oak. With a bit of aeration the youthful, concentrated aromas open to reveal opulent plum, spice, orange zest and pine forest accents. The palate offers juicy black cherry and more plum, mulled wine spices and powdery tannins, with crushed stone minerality and elegant cedar oak tinged with dark chocolate. There’s a distinct salinity to this wine which refreshes through the long finish. Drinking Window 2021 - 2035 Decanter | 95 DECAromas of ripe blackberries, cooked dark cherries, earth, chocolate and sweet spices. Full body with plush tannins. Rich and creamy with lots of black fruit on the mid-palate and a compact finish. Try after 2023.James Suckling | 92 JS

96
VM
As low as $159.00

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