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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
2007 joseph phelps insignia California Red

Deep garnet colored with a lingering hint of purple, the 2007 Insignia Proprietary Red Wine reveals the most seductive crème de cassis, Black Forest cake and licorice notions with touches of violets, eucalyptus, chocolate box and unsmoked cigars plus a waft of cedar chest. Full-bodied with tantalizing opulence yet compelling restraint, the palate beautifully juxtaposes the rich, ripe fruit with wonderful freshness and a firm yet plush backbone, finishing beautifully perfumed.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 100 RP(14.5% alcohol): Saturated dark ruby! Ripe but reticent aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, bitter chocolate oak, licorice and mocha are very subtle and complex. Wonderfully pliant and balanced wine, with plush purple fruit and violet flavors displaying a smooth grain and superb depth. Spreads out to saturate the middle palate and builds slowly and inexorably on the aftertaste. This fully ripe, complete wine finishes with stylish tannins and outstanding length. There may still be more fireworks ahead for this beauty.Vinous Media | 96 VMAromas of blackberry, leather, lead pencil, and flowers. On the palate this is dense and velvety, with a gorgeous texture. Agile and balanced, this is hard not to drink right now. The finish is long, with notes of coffee and dark fruits. 15+24+23+33. Find the wineJames Suckling | 95 JSYou have to count this as another great Insignia, dry and complex and ageworthy, although the tannins are fierce now, and it may lack just a bit of the glamor of, say, the 2004 or 2001. It's certainly a big wine that floods the mouth with blackberry, black currant, cassis and new oak flavors. The tannins and acids make it aloof, resistant, tough. It wants time in the cellar. Best after 2013. Production was a hefty 13,500 cases.Wine Enthusiast | 94 WEPhelps's top red wine is a blend of cabernet sauvignon (88 percent), merlot and petit verdot, all grown at estate vineyards. Most of the fruit comes from the southern districts of Napa Valley—Suscol, a relatively cool site in South Napa, along with Stags Leap and Oak Knoll. That cool tone comes across in red currant flavors, in the quiet presence of a substantial wine. It's sleek with dark tannin that feels youthful and austere, hinting at a Christmas spice that predicts what holiday celebrations might be in store ten years down the line.Wine & Spirits | 91 W&SDense and tight, with a chewy core of mocha-laced blackberry and currant flavors, combining power with a measure of grace. Not shy on tannic strength, this has more power than finesse. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.--Blind 1997/2007 California Cabernet retrospective (January 2017). Drink now through 2025. 13,500 cases made.Wine Spectator | 90 WS

98
RP
As low as $445.00
2010 opus one California Red

A harvest lasting 30 days offered structure and tannins, deep and complex fruit with earthy nuances, still bursting with energy.Decanter | 97 DECBright dark ruby. Initially reticent nose opened in the glass to reveal wonderfully complex scents of black- and redcurrant, blackberry, minerals, licorice, loam and tobacco leaf, plus a whiff of leather. Seamless, savory and classy on entry if a bit subdued, then delivers lovely restrained sweetness and a complicating wildness in the middle palate that still calls for more bottle aging. Old World in its classic dryness, this highly concentrated Opus One really shines on its vibrant, slowly building back end, where the broad, dusty tannins caress and saturate the palate and allow the fruits and minerals to build. A wine of outstanding depth, clarity, finesse of grain and class; it's hard to imagine that this site could give more. Long-time winemaking director Michael Silacci noted that the estate did not strip leaves prior to the brutal August heat spike.Vinous Media | 97 VMOne of the best ever from Opus, it shows beautiful blackcurrant cabernet sauvignon character. A powerful and poised wine with well-crafted tannins. Needs about four years to soften.James Suckling | 96 JSA glorious perfume of sweet charcoal, truffle, black currants and spice box soars from the glass of the saturated purple-colored 2010 Opus One. The gorgeous aromatics are followed by a beautifully knit, full-bodied red blend (84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5.5% Merlot, 5.5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec) displaying lots of spicy black currant fruit, medium to full body, velvety tannins, and not a hard edge to be found. The texture, length and richness are all impressive. This estate has been making great Cabernet-based wines for nearly a decade ... and this is another one. Drink it over the next 20+ years.Robert Parker | 96 RPOffers both a rich, supple, seamless core of earthy dark berry and touches of rustic loam and dried leather scents, the latter of which give this a drying sensation on the palate. Ends with dried herb, olive and savory notes that Opus fans will love, others perhaps less so. A classic Opus.Wine Spectator | 92 WS

98
JD
As low as $1,340.00
2010 futo California Red

The flagship 2010 Futo is rich, deep and implosive. Layers of dark red fruit, mocha, licorice, spices and leather all flesh out in a dark, brooding wine loaded with class and personality. Graphite, cloves and violets appear later, adding complexity, but the 2010 is mostly a wine of structure and pure power. The finish alone is eternal. What a stunning wine the 2010 has turned out to be. The blend is 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot.Antonio Galloni | 98 AGThe 2010 Futo is incredibly closed today, which is hardly a surprise given the personality of the vintage and the wine’s recent bottling in June 2012. Intensely mineral and pointed, the 2010 is endowed with stunning minerality, energy and tension. This is a huge wine with little of the early appeal of many other vintages. Accordingly, it needs considerable time in the cellar. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2030.I was blown away by the wines I tasted with Tom Futo and his team, headed by winemaker Jason Exposto. Readers should make an effort to taste Futo’s second wine, OV, a nod to Oakford Vineyards, the previous winery on these grounds. Futo’s OV is easily one of the best second wines in the valley. In just about any other winery it would be the top wine. And a great one, at that. As for the flagship FutoYwell, it is pretty amazing in all three vintages I tasted. Futo fans will be happy to learn that the winery is working with a 25 year-old parcel in Stags’ Leap that will inform a new bottling if the quality of fruit is up to the estate’s fanatical standards.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97+ RPExplosive fruit is framed by smoky, cedary oak, with a core of blackberry and wild berry flavors that are firmly tannic and shaded by an espresso-mocha flavor that adds dimension. Finishes with firm, gripping tannins and good length. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2014 through 2025. 460 cases made.Wine Spectator | 93 WS

98
VM
As low as $635.00
2014 aubert chardonnay cix California White

Lastly, the virtually perfect 2014 Chardonnay Cix Estate, planted with a Montrachet clone on Goldridge soils, again exhibits amazing intensity, notes of wet gravel interwoven with apple blossom, caramelized citrus, apricot, white peach and honeysuckle. It is full-bodied, multidimensional and a profound glass of Chardonnay.Robert Parker | 99 RPDense and racy in style, the 2014 Chardonnay CIX Vineyard is one of the more approachable wines in this lineup. Here the Montrachet clone gives a Chardonnay with good up-front intensity and plenty of power. Although attractive, the CIX doesn’t quite have the complexity, nuance or persistence of the best wines in the range.Vinous Media | 94 VM

94
VM
As low as $429.00
2017 opus one California Red

A fist of late summer cherries, raspberry and bilberry fruits set out their stall, all with the juicy character that confirms, even in a hot vintage like 2017, Opus can deliver balance and sculpted elegance. Beautiful grip, creamy texture with a strikingly powerful tannic frame. As the wine stays in the glass the floral aromatics begin to bloom up. A brilliant Opus. 20 days maceration - around half what it would have been a decade ago. 54% native yeast, as part of their native yeast project. 5% Merlot and 1% Malbec complete the blend. Harvest spread out over September 5 to October 8, just before the fires, by which time they had less than 10% of the fruit still out on the vines. 3.7pH. Drinking Window 2023 - 2045.Decanter | 96 DECOpus One had picked 91% of their fruit before the fires started in 2017, and only two lots were eliminated from consideration. The 2017 Opus One, bottled in July 2019, is a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4.5% Merlot and 1% Malbec. Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, it slowly grows on the nose, revealing compelling notes of baked black cherries, mulberries, black raspberries, warm cassis and blackberry pie with nuances of spice cake, yeast extract, tapenade, licorice and dusty soil with a waft of wild sage. Medium-bodied, the palate has a lively skip in its step, featuring bags of juicy raspberry and cassis-laced fruit and a refreshing line, supported by ripe, plush tannins, finishing long and graceful.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RPA remarkable wine for the year, the 2017 Opus One is a dense, full-throttle beauty. Plush fruit and soft, silky contours give the 2017 its racy personality. Exotic, beautifully perfumed and impeccable in its balance, Opus One is one of the most complete wines of the vintage. In 2017, Opus One has a distinctly red-toned fruit profile that distinguishes it from the surrounding vintages.Antonio Galloni | 95+ AGLots of currant and floral notes on the nose. Hints of mint and spice. Medium-to full-bodied, round and savory with creamy, juicy tannins. Hints of citrus underneath. Bright, fresh and delicious. Drink or hold.James Suckling | 95 JSThis features currant and plum fruit, with tobacco, loam and singed savory notes, maintaining range and driving through the finish. The structure is fine-grained, delivering a lingering hint of acidity. A more subtle expression of Cabernet. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Best from 2022 through 2036. 27,800 cases made.Wine Spectator | 93 WS

96
DEC
As low as $470.00
2018 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

This structured and concentrated wine is spot on for the vintage. It’s very dense in color and aroma, saturated with ultra dark chocolate, graphite and blueberries on a firm texture of taut tannins that will need time to evolve. Aged in 85 to 90 percent new American oak barrels, the wine should be approachable by 2028 and best from 2033.James Suckling | 97 JSThe lovely ruby red colour is translucent, revealing a heady wine of blackberry, liquorice, vanillin, spicebush, and dried floral notes with savoury, toasty oak spices. This 2018 offers one of the more restrained and pretty bouquets of Silver Oak’s Napa Cabernet in my memory. Very elegant on the entry, revealing a medium-bodied red wine with lovely cranberry fruit, plums, and currants, with a real depth to those fruit qualities framed by sculpted tannins that affix themselves onto the palate before giving way and resolving. Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant with trace amounts of Petit Verdot and Malbec. Aged in 85% new American Oak from The Oak Cooperage in Higbee, Missouri, the Duncans have owned it outright since 2015. The other 15% are second-use American oak barrels. They’ve been using the same cooperage for decades. The barrels imbue the Silver Oak wines with a classic vanillin quality, a nuance they always want to retain, even as they experiment with various toasts to produce smoother tannins in the toasting process.Decanter | 95 DEC

As low as $365.00
2019 Patrimony (DAOU) Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon continues to show brilliantly. (I rated it 97-100 from barrel last year.) It has a quintessential Cabernet nose of pure crème de cassis, crushed stone, lead pencil, graphite, and tobacco that gains depth and richness with time in the glass. Deep, full-bodied, rich, and incredibly textured, yet still fresh, light on its feet, and beautifully balanced, this gorgeous Cabernet shows what’s possible with the variety from Paso Robles.Jeb Dunnuck | 97-99 JDThe 2019 Patrimony Cabernet Sauvignon was made with free-run juice and matured for 30 months in 100% new French oak. It has a deep ruby color and alluring tones of truffle, brown sugar and coffee to begin, opening with time to very pure cassis, boysenberry, tobacco, garrigue and aniseed. The palate is supple and fresh with surprisingly restrained, mineral-laced fruits and a fan of spicy accents across the long finish. This ultra sleek, elegant Cabernet evolves continually in the glass and has the harmonious structure it needs to go the distance in the cellar.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 98 RPA benchmark California Cabernet Sauvignon which showcases the strength and tenacity of this revered grape. On the nose, a juxtaposition of expressive, bright fruit plus a grounded earthiness. The delicacy yet force of this wine creates a most pleasant tension that you seek to reconcile with each sip. Flavours of blackberry, bramble and dark chocolate sit side by side with floral and sweet cedar notes. Tannins display laser-sharp integration. A wine with thoughtful, intentional power.Decanter | 98 DECThe 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Patrimony lifts from the glass with a classic bouquet of black currant, lifting hints of rosemary, graphite and dusty sage. It’s silky, nearly creamy in feel, with depths of ripe dark red fruit and sweet spice that swirl throughout. A web of fine-grained tannins engulfs the palate. While powerful and structured, the impact is well-measured, leaving the senses clenched in youthful poise as pretty inner florals slowly fade. What a beauty, and with such an amazingly bright future.Vinous Media | 97 VMOpaque in color, the wine opens with intense yet elegant aromas of cassis, toasted espresso and roasted walnut paste. Polished tannins frame the rich sip, loaded with scorched earth, dark cassis and purple-flower flavors, proving very dry yet luxurious, with a lingering finish.Wine Enthusiast | 97 WEDeep, rich and plush on the nose showing cassis, blackberries with hints of dark olives, fennel, dark chocolate, cigar box and elderberry characters. Full-bodied and fleshy on the palate with an abundance of tannins, which are extremely fine-grained. Restrainedly opulent, deep, structured and long. Still a hint of white sesame character from the barrels, but will integrate in a year or two. Drinkable but better after 2025.James Suckling | 95 JS

97-99
JD
As low as $569.00
2019 joseph phelps insignia California Red

Another beautiful wine from this team, the 2019 Insignia is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon but includes smaller amounts of Merlot and Malbec, brought up all in new barrels, sourced from seven estate vineyards. It has a classic varietal and incredibly complex nose of crème de cassis, freshly sharpened pencils, green tobacco, and damp earth, with a kiss of background sappy spring flowers. Seemingly from a cooler year with its freshness, vibrancy, and herbal, floral character on the nose, it’s nevertheless full-bodied and beautifully concentrated on the palate, with ultra-fine tannins, a seamless, layered mouthfeel, and a gorgeous finish. Unquestionably up with the finest vintages of this cuvée, this is legit awesome juice that’s going to offer incredible pleasure over the coming 20-25 years. Hats off to winemaker Ashley Hepworth.Jeb Dunnuck | 99 JDA very aromatic Insignia with pencil-shaving and graphite highlights to the dark fruit and blackberries. Full-bodied, yet tensioned and vertical, with very fine tannins that run deep and layered in the wine. Needs time to come together, but fantastic tension and structure. Try after 2027.James Suckling | 98 JSSmells ripe and heady on the nose, expressive and seductive. This is rich and bold, it’s edging on too much, with lots of wood on show in the slightly heavy texture, liquorice and coffee flavour and fullness in the mouth but there are such alluring and captivating aspects to this wine with striking details of rose, tobacco, blackberry, red berries and dark chocolate shavings on show. I like the fragranced aspects and the energetic acidity that gives lift and a sense of brightness but this is a strong, powerful and muscular wine that will need at least a decade to come around. Given enough time it will be beautiful. Ageing 24 months in 100% new French oak.Decanter | 97 DECMore elegant and refined than the Napa Cab, the 2019 Insignia features restrained cedar and vanilla notes (despite spending two years in 100% new French oak) and delicate herbal shadings accenting cassis and black cherry fruit. Full-bodied, velvety and somewhat open-knit on the palate, it turns plush and long on the finish, adding a touch of warmth. Production this year is approximately 17,000 cases, reflecting the increased volume coming from recently replanted vineyards. It’s remarkable what a good job they continue to do with this bottling year after year, without compromising on quality.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96 RPThe 2019 Insignia is a bold, explosive wine. Sumptuous dark fruit, mocha, leather, sweet spice and tobacco are all amplified in an Insignia endowed with tremendous textural intensity and plenty of soft contours. I imagine the 2019 will age well for years, but it will also drink well with minimal cellaring.Vinous Media | 96+ VMA solidly built Cabernet with a very direct persona, as dark currant, warmed fig reduction and blackberry fruit paste are bolted together with licorice root and singed cedar. Features an espresso crema hint on the finish, which keeps this on the dark, muscular side. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Best from 2023 through 2038. 17,000 cases made.Wine Spectator | 94 WSGiven two years in new French oak, this vintage blends 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. Brooding black fruit is complemented by classic notions of cigar box, tobacco, iron and clove, with a leather texture that’s still got time to unfurl. Dense and chewy tannins provide a powerful imprint of intensity and ripeness matched in toasted oak. Enjoy best from 2029–2039.Wine Enthusiast | 94 WE

99
JD
As low as $359.00
2019 dominus California Red

The 2019 Dominus is blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc, aged in 40% new French oak. Impressively dark-hued in the glass, it yields scents of cherries and cassis on the nose—or is it black cherries and redcurrants? Subtle notes of mocha, pencil shavings and almost Graves-like earthiness wind through the concentrated, medium to full-bodied palate, giving it a sense of savory gravitas, while the finish is silky and long, leaving a lingering residue of soft tannins and mouthwatering freshness.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 98 RPThe 2019 Dominus is shockingly primary. A wine of tremendous density and power, the 2019 is also a wine for readers who can be patient, as it won’t be ready to drink for another 10-15 years! Dark fruit, leather, tobacco, incense, dried herbs and scorched earth lend striking complexity. The 2019 is a huge wine that needs time to come into its own. This is impressive, to say the least.Vinous Media | 98+ VMLots of crushed stone, lead pencil and licorice aromas that are extremely aromatic and bright. Black cherries, cloves and purple fruit, too. Full body and a round and ripe center-palate with a juicy interior. It opens at the end with a savory and juicy finish. Layered and beautiful. Drinkable now, but better in three or four years.James Suckling | 98 JSA loaded wine, though reserved in style, with waves of dense cassis, plum reduction and blackberry preserves moving through authoritatively, while sweet bay leaf, warm loam and tobacco accents fill in the background. The long cast iron spine is deeply buried in the fruit, and this has superior cut and drive. Built for serious cellaring, too. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2024 through 2040. 3,500 cases made.Wine Spectator | 96 WSFrom a slightly more challenging year for this estate due to the heavy springtime rains, the 2019 Dominus is a classic blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, and the rest Cabernet Franc from this team brought up in a mix of new and used barrels. It offers a more ruby/plum and borderline opaque hue as well as a great nose of ripe currants, tobacco leaf, chocolate, and a touch of loamy earth. This round, supple, medium to full-bodied effort has soft tannins, terrific balance, and a great finish. It’s not going to match the all-time greats here, but it’s a charming, endearing Cabernet that will offer incredible pleasure with just 3-5 years of bottle age and drink well for 20+ years or more.Jeb Dunnuck | 96 JD

100
TWI
As low as $349.00
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 aubert chardonnay eastside California White

The 2019 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard is deep, powerful and packed. Lemon confit, crushed rocks, menthol, graphite, chamomile and vanillin infuse the 2019 with striking layers of dimension. Bright acids give the sculpted finish tremendous persistence. Montrachet clone on Riparia rootstock in a rocky site yields a Chardonnay of rare distinction and class.Antonio Galloni | 98-100 AGA lovely nose of fresh herbs and ground, peppery spice with fresh flowers, lime leaf and baked citrus. Full-bodied and speckled with white pepper and honeysuckle. Driving and well-balanced acidity is at the center of the palate and makes it hum with fruitful intensity. Such a pleasure to drink. Truly superb. Drink or hold.James Suckling | 99 JSA barrel sample, the 2019 Chardonnay Eastside sails out of the glass with zesty citrus scents of lemons, kaffir lime leaves and mandarin peel with an underlying jasmine perfume and a waft of blanched almonds. The palate is tightly wound and very finely knit, delivering loads of nuanced layers and a crisp backbone, finishing long and steely.Eastside is a warmer site in Russian River, composed of very rocky, gravelly soils, forcing the vines to really struggle. It is planted to Montrachet clone. Aubert usually harvests this second, after Sugar Shack.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96-98 RPThis sings with rich toastiness to the ripe, juicy and powerfully structured white fruit and cooking spice flavors that are backed by firm acidity. Buttery midpalate, with a glistening finish that shows accents of dried tropical fruits. Drink now through 2028. 1,014 cases made.Wine Spectator | 97 WS

98-100
RP
As low as $499.00
2019 daou cabernet sauvignon California Red

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with 10% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc and aged 10 months in 60% new French oak. Deep ruby-purple in color, it opens with notes of rose petal perfume, cinnamon and garrigue with a core of black and red currant fruit and meaty, savory undertones. The palate is medium-bodied, silky and elegant with fresh, uplifted flavors and a lovely array of spices lingering on the finish. This is an excellent value!Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 92 RPThis is big and rich. Plum, chocolate and dried fruit on the nose and palate. Full-bodied and velvety with a juicy finish. Opulent, yet fresh. Drinkable now, but better in 2025.James Suckling | 92 JSCedar oil, charred cherry and tobacco aromas make for a dense, heady nose in this bottling. Chiseled tannins frame the roasted black cherry, cola and coffee flavors on the rich and hearty palate, which is powerful while still maintaining structure.Wine Enthusiast | 92 WEThe base appellation 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon sports a ruby/purple hue as well as a spicy, complex nose of red and black fruits, spicy oak, dried flowers, and tobacco. This charming, elegant, seamless wine has lots of fruit, notable balance, and a great finish.Jeb Dunnuck | 90 JD

92
RP
As low as $39.95
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 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 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

Aged in 50% new and 50% second-use American Oak from the Duncan family’s The Oak cooperage in Higbee, Missouri. Matt Duncan joined me for my tasting, and he says the Petit Verdot in the blend, of which there is 0.4%, is co-fermented with the Cabernet Sauvignon, intended to bring focus to the Cabernet fruit. A compelling, brooding, muscular rendition of Cabernet from Alexander Valley with gorgeous boysenberry notes, black currants, and rose petals laced with vanillin notes and toasty oak. Medium to full-bodied with black currants, ripe blackberry and black cherry notes framed by velvety tannins laced with that irresistible vanillin note. Toasty oak spices lend a hint of sweetness, balanced by grippy acidity. Long and complex, revealing umami, garrigue, and crushed slatestone on the finish. It’s a terrific wine from the Alexander Valley.Decanter | 95 DEC

95
DEC
As low as $99.00
2020 aubert park avenue vineyard chardonnay California White

The second vintage to be bottled under this vineyard designation—the vineyard was planted in 2016—Aubert’s 2020 Chardonnay Park Avenue is a lush, full-bodied effort loaded with ripe-tasting stone fruit, set against a backdrop of white nectarine and fresh lime juice. Plump and creamy in the mouth, expansive and generous, it finishes with a savory hint of mocha. Sandwiched between Lauren and CIX, it’s a parcel that should yield even greater wines as the vines age.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RPSucculent and lush, with buttery nuances to the apple pastry, toasted hazelnut and mouthwatering Honeycrisp apple, tangerine and Meyer lemon flavors at the core. This wine’s flavors and complexity gain momentum, ultimately achieving wonderful harmony on the long finish. Drink now through 2028. 1,644 cases made.Wine Spectator | 94 WSA tight and linear chardonnay with dried apples, lemons, honey, sea salt, and white pepper. Medium body. Solid and beautiful. Candied lemons. Drink now.James Suckling | 94 JSThe 2020 Chardonnay Park Avenue is laced with the essence of dried pear, spice, lemon confit, apple tart, spice and a hint of new French oak. There’s lovely depth and density here, even if the wine narrows a bit through the mid-palate and into the finish.Vinous Media | 90-92 VM

94
JS
As low as $339.00
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
2021 Dominus Napanook

This shows a lot of class, with aromas of blackcurrants, graphite, blueberries, dried flowers, black truffles and a touch of forest floor. The palate is medium- to full-bodied, with seamless tannins that goes on and on. Endless. Blackcurrants, dark mushrooms and violets with hints of fresh rose stems and light herbs. Velvety texture. A blend of 92% cabernet sauvignon, 6% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot. Better after 2027.James Suckling | 97 JSThe 2021 Napanook is one heck of a Napanook, offering complex notes of currants, cassis, graphite, leafy tobacco, lead pencil, and chocolate. Incredible on the palate, it s full-bodied and round, with supple, vibrant, incredible tannins. This is easily the finest vintage I’ve tasted of this cuv e and it s the equivalent of many a Grand Vin from other producers.Jeb Dunnuck | 95 JDThe 2021 Napanook, tasted from barrel, is fabulous. Rich, deep and super-expressive, the 2021 captures all the best the vintage has to offer. A whole range of floral and savory overtones lend nuance. This vibrant, intensely mineral Cabernet Sauvignon is an absolute delight to taste today, and an especially fine edition of Napanook, endowed with big fruit and equally potent tannins.Vinous Media | 92-94 VM

95
JD
As low as $99.00
2021 realm the bard California Red

Lastly, the 2021 The Bard checks in as 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah. This beauty has a killer bouquet of cassis, spring flowers, graphite, chalky minerality, and violets. This carries to a full-bodied, seamless, silky, flawlessly balanced effort revealing fine tannins, a good sense of freshness, and a thrilling finish.Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JDAfter sampling 86 wines over a two-day marathon tasting with Realm Cellars co-owners Scott Becker and winemaker Benoit Touquette, I had no doubt that one would make my top 10 list of the year. It would be The Bard, which will be available beginning in 2024. It is a very giving wine that promises great rewards for long-term cellaring and is enjoyable three full nights in a row, never losing its zeal if having one great glass each night is your prerogative. Power and muscle frame the core of this towering red, with its red-toned fruits and rich, toasty oak spices nuanced by bay Laurel and pastis. Full-bodied with tremendous decadence of chocolaty tannins that are pliant and billowy, lifted by supple blackberry and black raspberry fruit, a drizzle of cherry coulis, and resolving with refined tobacco, cedar wood spices, and laced with coriander and cumin aromatics. It has a satisfyingly rich finish. Number five of my top 10 wines of 2023.Decanter | 97 DECThe purity of fruit here is impressive with blackcurrants, bark and black mushrooms. Full-bodied but light-footed and fresh with integrated tannins that melt into the wine. Real transparency and focus. 83% cabernet sauvignon, 7% merlot, 6% cabernet franc, 3% petit verdot and 1% petite sirah. So drinkable but can age as well.James Suckling | 97 JSA blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, and 1% Petite Sirah, the fruit for the 2021 The Bard comes from sites across the valley, including some estate fruit and some sourced fruit. Deep garnet-purple colored, it shoots from the glass with vibrant notions of crushed black currants, red currant jelly, black raspberries, and pencil shavings, giving way to notes of lilacs, dark chocolate, and a waft of spearmint. The full-bodied palate is firm with ripe, fine-grained tannins and a lively backbone framing the tightly wound red, black, and blue fruit flavors, finishing with great length and a real skip in its step.The Wine Independent | 97 TWIThe 2021 The Bard is fabulous. Rich, ample and beautifully resonant, the 2021 offers up generous dark red cherry/plum fruit, mocha, new leather, licorice, spice, menthol and pipe tobacco. Full-bodied and voluptuous, the 2021 flaunts tons of flavor intensity and vibrancy. It’s a gorgeous wine, especially considering it is the largest-production wine at Realm.Vinous Media | 95 VM

98
JD
As low as $165.00
2021 dominus California Red

One of the legendary Dominus, the 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon is unquestionably in the same league as the 2018, 2016, 2015, 2013, 2010, and 1991, and to my mind, wine simply doesn’t get any better. Sporting a dense purple hue as well as an incredible perfume of blackcurrants, crushed stone, cedar pencil, smoke tobacco, and baking spices, it s rich, full-bodied, and voluptuously textured, with ripe yet building tannins. It reminds me slightly of the 2010 (maybe the 2013), and I suspect it will have a similar evolution. Hide bottles for 7-8 years, and it will evolve gracefully for 30+ years. Hats off to the team of Christian Moueix and director Tod Mostero.Jeb Dunnuck | 100 JDThe purity of the cabernet fruit is so enticing, with blackcurrant, rose petals, nettles and subtle graphite. Touches of terra cotta and licorice. Full-bodied with super integrated tannins that are wonderfully polished, giving a cashmere texture that is really luxurious to taste at this early stage. It is quenching and so delicious already. 95% cabernet sauvignon and 5% cabernet franc. Needs three to four years to come around but already a joy to taste. Try after 2027.James Suckling | 99 JSThe 2021 Dominus is a powerful, tightly-coiled wine that is holding back quite a bit of reserve. There’s real depth and resonance waiting to emerge as the wine matures. Floral overtones and bright acids confer energy to a core of red/bluish fruits. Readers will find a Dominus built more on linear precision rather than opulence. It is hugely impressive in this tasting, with a long chalky finish.Vinous Media | 98 VMThis shows density on par with the ’18, with a core of cassis and plum notes still tucked away a bit behind a wall of structure, while singed toast and licorice hints peek in throughout. The youthfully backward aspect shows on the finish as well, where this throws a chunk of tannins to the fore. Very concentrated and with serious tension, this is a strapping young wine that shows what a warm and very dry vintage feels like. Think ’18/’13 combo here. Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc. -- Non-blind Dominus retrospective (August 2022). Wine Spectator | 96-99 WS

100
JD
As low as $379.00

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