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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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2004 silver oak alexander cabernet sauvignon California Red
As low as $175.00
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
2016 fisher cabernet sauvignon mountain estate vineyard California Red

The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Mountain Estate Vineyard (84% Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance Merlot and Petit Verdot) spent 22 months in 80% new French oak. It has a more mineral-laced style as well as dark currants and cassis-like fruits, notes of smoked herbs and graphite, full body, building tannins, and a great finish. There’s a touch of this liqueur of rock like minerality that comes out with air and it’s a powerful, structured wine that reminds me of what Leoville Las Cases would make from Napa. Hide bottle for 4-5 years and drink it over the coming two decades or more.Jeb Dunnuck | 96+ JDThe 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Mountain Estate Vineyard is a dark, brooding wine. A terrific example of Sonoma Cabernet, the 2016 possesses superb textural richness and intensity to match its dark, somber profile. An infusion of inky dark fruit, gravel, smoke, iron, game, dark spice, leather and licorice runs through this super expressive, rugged Cabernet Sauvignon from the Fisher family’s Spring Mountain estate.Antonio Galloni | 94 AGA tight, chewy red with blackberry and dark-chocolate aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, layered and rich. Flavorful finish. Shows mountain firmness. Drink in 2022 and onwards.James Suckling | 94 JSDeep ruby-purple, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Mountain Estate Vineyard opens with gregarious crème de cassis, chocolate-covered cherries, graphite, leather and spice box with notes of thyme, turned earth and eucalyptus. Medium to full-bodied, it floods the mouth with intense, youthfully wound fruit, framed by grainy tannins and great freshness, finishing very long. This is vibrant and intense and will require another 3-5 years of bottle age. 952 cases produced.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 93+ RP

96+
JD
As low as $87.99
2017 aubert chardonnay powder house California White

The first vintage of this wine, the 2017 Chardonnay Powder House comes from eight acres of what are now estate-owned vines planted in 2013, to Hyde Old Wente and Mt. Eden clones on Goldridge soils. The vineyard is located in downtown Forestville, right across from the high school. At 15.4% alcohol, like Aubert’s other single-vineyard, singular Chardonnays, this baby is no shrinking violet. Although it is a little youthfully closed to begin, it unwinds with coaxing to offer glimpses at baked apple, poached pears, peach preserves and pineapple upside-down cake plus hints of praline, crème brûlée and clover honey. Full-bodied, the palate features a wicked backbone of freshness, beautifully lifting all those concentrated, densely packed flavors, finishing very long and wonderfully pure.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97+ RPIntense matchstick and flint with dried-apple and peach undertones. Full-bodied with great fruit, a chewy palate and a juicy finish. Lime and lemon undertones to the ripe fruit. Drink or hold.James Suckling | 97 JSThe 2017 Chardonnay Powder House Vineyard is bright, punchy and full of life. Lemon confit, white flowers, mint and almond all race out of this plush yet vibrant Chardonnay. There is so much to like in this striking, delineated Chardonnay. The Powder House is the one wine in this tasting that is far showier from bottle than it was from tank. It is also the most approachable of the 2017 Chardonnays. For that reason, I would choose to drink it ahead of the other Chardonnays in the range.Antonio Galloni | 95 AGA big, rich and fruity style, featuring apple and peach pastry flavors that offer some savory accents. The broad finish shows plenty of oak, with red berry hints. Drink now through 2023. 777 cases made.Wine Spectator | 92 WS

97+
RP
As low as $179.00
2018 Aubert Chardonnay CIX

CIX stands for 109, because this was originally called “Parcel 109” when Aubert bought the vineyard. Planted in 2008 to Montrachet clone, the 2018 Chardonnay CIX Estate is wonderfully intense, exploding from the glass with lime cordial, apricot and mandarin peel scents of citrus, followed by suggestions of jasmine, honey toast and marzipan with a touch of coriander seed. The full-bodied palate is jam-packed with expressive citrus and stone fruit layers, framed by an electric line of freshness and finishing long with amazing purity and precision.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 99 RPAnother Sonoma Coast release, the 2018 Chardonnay CIX just about knocks it out of the park, offering a medium/lighter gold hue, a huge nose of ripe pineapple, caramelized pears, flower oil, nectarines, and salty minerality, full-bodied richness, integrated acidity, and a stunning finish. It’s everything you expect from a Chardonnay from Mark Aubert – stunning purity, opulence paired with freshness, incredible length, and flawless balance. Drink it over the coming decade.Jeb Dunnuck | 99 JDLots of ripe-nectarine, lemon-curd, dried-mango and smoked-cashew aromas. Salted butter notes. Ash, too. It’s full-bodied, creamy and smooth with a gradual and graceful evolution of ripe fruit to stone and flint on the finish. Solid density. Agile. Better in a year or two.James Suckling | 98 JSThe 2018 Chardonnay CIX Vineyard is a seamless, gorgeous beauty. Orchard fruit, mint, white pepper and floral notes all run through this super-expressive, alluring Chardonnay from Mark Aubert. In the glass, the CIX is understated and nuanced rather than overt. I find it absolutely mesmerizing.Vinous Media | 94-97 VMRestrained but immediately compelling, pretty, creamy nose. The palate dismisses the dairy notes and becomes immediately more flavourful, the acidity growing in intensity and driving through to a long, succulent finish. A beautiful dance between softness and power. This wine truly appeals to me on both a personal and professional level – well crafted and deliciously delivered.Decanter | 97 DECFeatures a steely structure, with concentrated freshly cut apple, brioche and Asian pear flavors, supported by crunchy acidity. Pure and minerally midpalate, offering a long finish that echoes with subtle sea salt and chamomile accents. Best from 2022 through 2027. 1,085 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WS

99
JD
As low as $199.00
2018 aubert chardonnay russian river California White
As low as $125.00
2018 aubert chardonnay sonoma coast California White
As low as $139.00
2018 once & future sonoma valley zinfandel old hill ranch California Red

The 2018 Zinfandel Old Hill Vineyard is flat-out stunning. Deep, layered and super-expressive, the 2018 offers unreal complexity, much of which comes from the diversity of a field blend of about 14 varieties that includes good bits of Grenache, Mataro, Alicante and Carignane, among others. A wine of total understatement, the 2018 is not obvious, but it has so much going on for readers who can take some time with it. Old Hill is one of the most pedigreed sites in Sonoma Valley. Joel Peterson certainly got every bit of potential out of this fruit in 2018. What a wine!Antonio Galloni | 95 AGRobust yet refined, with a core of bright raspberry, cracked pepper and baking spice flavors that build tension toward polished tannins. Drink now through 2020. 208 cases made.Wine Spectator | 92 WS

95
VM
As low as $54.99
2018 red car wine co. chardonnay zephyr farms vineyard California White

A hearty mouthfeel belies this wine’s quintessential and quenching acidity, driven by its cool-climate provenance and winemaking style. Green-apple, pear and tangerine flavors meld together easily along a midpalate of complex structure and length, with a lift of crispness reappearing on the finish.Wine Enthusiast | 95 WEThe 2018 Chardonnay Zephyr Farms comes from a site located 6.7 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Fermented and aged in 15% new French oak, it has a distinct salty, chalky mineral character as well as plenty of lemon, pear, white flowers, toasted spice, and a touch of almond paste aromatics. Beautifully textured and medium-bodied, with integrated acidity and a great finish, this brilliant Chardonnay will evolve for a solid decade.Jeb Dunnuck | 94 JDThe 2018 Chardonnay Zephyr Farms Vineyard is one of the deeper, more overt wines in this range. All the elements fall into place effortlessly. In this tasting, the Zephyr Farms is distinguished by its vertical depth and overall intensity. Wild flower, apricot, chamomile, lemon confit and lightly honeyed notes all grace this super-expressive and inviting Chardonnay from Red Car.Antonio Galloni | 93 AG

95
WE
As low as $49.99
2019 Aubert Chardonnay CIX

A barrel sample, the 2019 Chardonnay CIX Estate comes bounding out of the glass with grapefruit, green mango and orange peel notes backed up by wafts of talc, chopped nuts and a lifted, aromatic, floral perfume. It is full-bodied and intensely flavored in the mouth with a lively backbone cutting through the taut, dense citrus and tropical fruit flavors, finishing long and fragrant.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96-98 RPSo much character on the nose here. Notes of ripe citrus, stone fruit and elderberry. Full-bodied with an oily texture and soft, staying presence. A mix of woody spice and mint creates pleasant tension between warm and cool. Such a layered and intriguing wine. Totally delicious. Pine at the finish. Drink or hold.James Suckling | 98 JSThe 2019 Chardonnay CIX Vineyard is powerful, explosive and also very phenolic in feel. There is real density in the CIX. Lemon oil, marzipan, white flowers, ripe pear and mint are all beautifully delineated. The CIX is deep but also wonderfully transparent. The cool growing season yielded a Chardonnay of remarkable finesse. This site, planted with Montrachet Clone Chardonnay, was the last to be picked.Vinous Media | 94-96 VMPowerful and refined, this glides across the palate with concentrated dried apple and pear flavors that show hints of citrus, backed by fresh acidity and almost tannic nuances. The finish unfurls with creamy lushness, minerality and rich, toasty accents. Drink now through 2026. 1,282 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WS

98
JS
As low as $185.00
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
VM
As low as $499.00
2019 aubert chardonnay powder house California White

A relatively new vineyard label for Aubert (the third vintage to be produced), the 2019 Chardonnay Powder House comes from eight acres of what are now estate-owned vines planted in 2013 to Hyde Old Wente and Mt. Eden clones on Goldridge soils. It prances out of the glass with showy scents of fresh nectarines, pink grapefruit, lime leaves and preserved lemons plus hints of struck flint and wet pebbles. The full-bodied palate possesses an almost electric intensity with bags of nervy citrusy flavors and a very lively backbone, finishing with great length and oodles of minerals. This should age fantastically!Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97-99 RPThe 2019 Chardonnay Powder House, from a site in Forestville, is one of the most lifted, gracious wines in the range. White flowers, mint, orchard fruit and white pepper give the Powder House its distinctly brilliant aromatics. It is an especially translucent, taut Chardonnay within this hugely impressive range.Antonio Galloni | 95-97 AGAromas of stone fruit, baked lemon, dried flowers, jasmine tea and baking spice. Full-bodied with a well-grounded, savory palate of baked citrus, nutmeg and dried lily. A charming note of chamomile, too. Earthy, herbaceous finish. Just lovely. Drink or hold.James Suckling | 97 JSRich and well-defined apple pastry and dried apricot flavors show notes of tangerine, with hints of toasted coconut. The luscious and well-spiced finish has creamy accents.Wine Spectator | 94 WS

97-99
RP
As low as $179.00
2019 bucklin bambino old hill ranch zinfandel field blend California Red

This opens with a fruit bomb of wild berry briar patch, then transitions into an appealingly rustic and structured zest fest, revealing heaps of licorice, roasted sage and forest floor accents that build toward medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2030. 1,192 cases made.Wine Spectator | 93 WS

93
WS
As low as $29.99
2019 carlisle zinfandel carlisle vineyard California Red

The 2019 Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard soars out of the glass with stunning bouquet. Pliant and racy, with tremendous complexity, the Carlisle is loaded with class. Red fruit, blood orange, chalk and mint, all open, but it is the wine's silkiness and textural finesse that elevates it in this range. Planted in 1927, Carlisle is unquestionably one of the great sites for Zinfandel in California. Production is all of 95 cases.Antonio Galloni | 96 AGThe 2019 Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard is floral and fragrant with cherry candy. The palate is tangy, fresh, and balanced.Jeb Dunnuck | 96 JDImpressively structured and richly styled, this vibrant version opens to deep raspberry and cherry flavors laced with licorice, sage and mint, building toward broad-shouldered tannins. Drink now through 2030. 696 cases made. Wine Spectator | 94 WS

94
VM
As low as $54.99
2019 carlisle zinfandel piner-olivet ranches California Red

The 2019 Zinfandel Piner-Olivet Ranches is a blend taken from five ranches in this very unique district of the Russian River. A deep, layered wine, the 2019 shows all of the allure of the year in its open-knit, opulent personality. Super ripe red cherry/plum fruit, spice, wild flowers and blood orange are front and center in this bold, luscious Zinfandel. Vineyard sites are Papera Ranch, Carlisle Vineyard, Mancini Ranch, Montafi Ranch and Saitone Vineyard. Antonio Galloni | 93 AGA spirited red that recalls a briar patch, with wild berry, sweet anise and white pepper flavors that race along to a vibrant, zesty finish.Wine Spectator | 92 WS

93
VM
As low as $39.99
2019 cobb pinot noir diane cobb coastlands vineyard California Red

The 2019 Pinot Noir Diane Cobb Coastlands Vineyard has a medium ruby color and pure, layered scents of raspberry jam, tobacco leaves, lemon peel, pencil shavings and saline. The light-bodied palate is chalky and refreshing, with detailed, mineral-laced berry fruits and a very long finish with expansive floral and spice tones.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97 RPThe 2019 Pinot Noir Coastlands: Diane Cobb emerges from a 1.5-acre block of own-rooted vines planted with 18 clones. Aromatic and ethereal, with striking understated depth that emerges over time, the Diane Cobb is full of personality. Crushed red berry fruit, cinnamon, sage, mint and blood orange lend tons of aromatic and flavor nuance.Antonio Galloni | 94 AG

97
RP
As low as $123.99
2019 failla chardonnay platt vineyard California White

The 2019 Chardonnay Platt Vineyard is laced with hints of jasmine, lemon confit, mint, orchard fruit and tangerine oil. Time in the glass brings out light tropical overtones that take on a Riesling-like feel that is hugely appealing.Antonio Galloni | 95 AG

95
VM
As low as $54.95
2019 far mountain chardonnay myrna California White

The 2019 Chardonnay Myrna shows just how compelling the vintage is for white wines. Lemon oil, white flowers, chalk and mint give the 2019 a brilliant upper register that almost comes as a surprise once the wine shows its superb depth and persistence. This highly expressive, nuanced Chardonnay has a lot going on and plenty to offer.Antonio Galloni | 94 AGA polished, minerally chardonnay with sliced apple, lemon rind and some stone and flint. Laurel and other herbs, too. It’s medium-to full-bodied with a creamy texture and balance. Phenolic texture. Lively and stony. From mountain vineyards in Sonoma and Mount Veeder. Nice debut wine. Drink or hold. 1,500 cases made.James Suckling | 94 JSHigh-toned and floral, this wine offers a generous mouthfeel of salty oak, mineral and wet stone. The elegant fruit profile combines pear, apple and Meyer lemon with ease, complementing the body weight with ample acidity.Wine Enthusiast | 94 WE

94
VM
As low as $49.95
2019 fisher vineyards chardonnay mountain estate vineyard California White

The 2019 Chardonnay Mountain Estate Vineyard is bright and high-toned, as it often is, but it also has gorgeous depth and fabulous balance. Citrus peel, white flowers, chalk and white pepper are all beautifully delineated in the glass. Readers will want to give the 2019 at least a year or two in bottle. Today, it is a bit nervy in feel, but it is all there.Antonio Galloni | 95 AG

95
VM
As low as $56.99
2019 la follette pinot noir heintz vineyard California Red

Enticing aromas of oak spices, toast, grilled plums, redwood forest and baked cherries draw your interest quickly before enjoying the wine’s rich, complex red cherry, black tea and cedar flavors. Nicely gripping tannins and great acidity give it excellent balance for further aging. Best from 2028-2038.Wine Enthusiast | 95 WE

95
WE
As low as $61.99
2019 maritana pinot noir le russe California Red

The 2019 Pinot Noir Le Russe was matured in 75% new French oak. It is alluringly earthy, with scents cranberry, woodsmoke, oolong tea and forest floor. The light-bodied palate is bursting with perfumed fruit! It has tremendous spicy accents, a structural harmony of chalky tannins and energetic acidity and a long, spicy finish.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RPAromas of redcurrants, cherries, cola, nutmeg and flowers. Medium-to full-bodied with soft tannins. Juicy and fruity with a silky, caressing texture and a flavorful finish. Drink or hold.James Suckling | 93 JSA cuvée of several sites, including Martaella, Jenkins and Martinelli River Road, this wine shows a spectrum of fine flavor and sinewy texture. Cherry cola and spicy perfume accent its medium-bodied lushness and refined richness. Wine Enthusiast | 92 WE

95
RP
As low as $32.99
2019 Ramey Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Fort Ross - Seaview

The fruit for this impressive wine come entirely from the Martinelli Charles Ranch three miles in from the coast. Nutty, full-bodied and earthy, it shows a youthful grip around the edges of its otherwise lush, complex and generous richness, with a mineral-like quality of slate and salt on the finish.Wine Enthusiast | 94 WEThe 2019 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast has bright aromas of lemon, orange and peach with touches of almonds and wet stone. The medium-bodied palate offers an alluring dynamic of tangy acidity and a rounded, creamy texture, finishing long with pure flavors. 3,461 cases produced.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 93 RPThe 2019 Chardonnay Fort Ross-Seaview is vibrant with saline, oceanic minerality, lemon pith, and tarragon. The palate is curvy but focused, with green apple, Meyer lemon, delicate oak spice, and mouthwatering acidity. Drink 2023-2032.Jeb Dunnuck | 93 JDThe 2019 Chardonnay (Fort Ross-Seaview) is delicious. It offers up a beguiling array of orchard and citrus fruit, along with crushed rocks, mint, lime and white pepper nuance that add brilliance. This appellation-level Chardonnay delivers, the goods, and then some.Vinous Media | 91 VMCrisp and direct, with fresh-cut Gala apple and lemon curd flavors backed by vibrant acidity. Shows dried sage accents in the midpalate, with minerally notes on the finish. Drink now through 2025. 3,461 cases made.Wine Spectator | 91 WS

94
WE
As low as $38.99
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 chardonnay powder house California White

The 2020 Chardonnay Powder House is ethereal and gracious in feel. Effusive aromatics give the Powder House its lifted personality. White pepper, chalk, mint and lemon oil add quite a bit of brightness. The balance here is driven by energy and vibrancy more than by volume.Antonio Galloni | 90-92 AG

95
JS
As low as $165.00
2020 aubert chardonnay russian river California White
As low as $139.00

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