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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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2012 colgin ix syrah California Red

The wine that probably gets ignored, but shouldn’t be, is their small production of 350-400 cases of Syrah from their estate vineyard. The 2012 IX Syrah Estate blew me away, and I’ve said many times that it always tastes as if it’s co-fermented with Viognier, but it is always 100% Syrah. It has a honeysuckle, flowery, almost white/peachy component in the blackberry and meaty aromatics that always throw me off. The wine is aged in small oak, but the oak is concealed by the lavish amount of fruit, glycerin and extract. This is a super-intense, massive, yet elegant and complex Syrah that should drink well for 10-15 years.Robert Parker | 98 RPThis is phenomenal with aromas of walnuts, meat, dark fruits and spices. Full body, soft and silky tannins, and a long finish. This shows subtle and intense character. So succulent and savory. Sweet fruit, yet salty. 400 cases. Drink now.James Suckling | 98 JSThe 2012 Syrah IX Estate is a step up over the 2007 and has a medium to full-bodied, ripe, sexy style as well as complex aromatics of darker berries, ground pepper, smoked game, and hints of bloody meat. It’s perfectly balanced and drinking at point today.Jeb Dunnuck | 97 JD(75% new oak): Bright saturated ruby. Extremely primary aromas of dark berries and violet, with a touch of reduction. Thick, very ripe and sweet, with some exotic oak notes (Colgin uses Damy and François Frères barrels plus a bit of Hermitage) currently dominating the wine’s fruit and spice flavors. A distinctly saline style with a note of black olive, this young Syrah appears to be going through a sullen stage, showing more depth of texture than flavor definition today. The toothcoating tannins will require patience.Vinous Media | 94 VMBroodingly dark in color, this red combines power and finesse. Dusty dried currant and wild sage aromas open to plush, complex flavors of blackberry, toasty vanilla and dark licorice. Shows momentum toward the ripe tannins on the finish. Drink now through 2027. 440 cases madeWine Spectator | 93 WS

As low as $265.00
2013 colgin ix syrah California Red

Another perfect wine from this incredible team is the 2013 Syrah IX Estate, and this world-class example of the variety will stand up to anything out there. Deep purple-hued with a mammoth-sized bouquet of blueberries, smoked meats, violets, game, and spring flowers, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a layered, seamless mouthfeel, ultra-fine tannins, and a gorgeous finish. It’s a gorgeous wine in every way. I think it’s right in the middle of its prime drinking window, where it should hold for another decade, with a gradual decline after that.Jeb Dunnuck | 100 JDAmazing aromas of cracked black pepper, smoked meat and blueberries. Blue slate. Full body, iodine, spice, crushed black fruit, and black pepper. Polished and velvety. Glorious. Why wait to drink this? Yet it has a bright future in the bottle.James Suckling | 98 JSThe 2013 Syrah IX Estate may turn out to be better. It’s not as complex from a nuanced standpoint as the 2012, but it has possibly greater intensity than its sibling. Its blackberry fruit, charcoal, acacia flowers, grilled meats and beef tartare notes are all beautifully presented in a pure, succulent, opulent style. This is amazing sTuff, and a great example of a singular style of Syrah from Napa Valley. Drink now-2028.Robert Parker | 98 RP(75% new oak): Saturated deep ruby. Brooding, primary aromas of blackberry, cassis, black cherry, violet and licorice. Wonderfully tactile and chewy, showing more definition and detail today than the 2012 version in spite of its extreme youthfulness. Succulent purple fruit and spice flavors are complicated by a brisket-like meaty element I also found in the 2007 bottling at this tasting. At once bright and thick, this utterly seamless Syrah finishes with substantial dusty tannins and outstanding length.Vinous Media | 96 VMDeep and powerfully complex, with an enticingly supple texture. Aromas of blueberry, chunky chocolate and smoky herb combine with layered flavors of huckleberry, cracked pepper and licorice, lingering toward big but plush tannins. Drink now through 2028. 480 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WS

As low as $269.00
2018 levo under the gun syrah California Red

The Syrah-dominated release from this estate, the 2018 Under the Gun Syrah checks in as 88% Syrah and 12% Petite Sirah aged in 50% new French oak. Dense purple-colored, with a blockbuster bouquet of smoked black fruits, smoked game, bouquet garni, and ground pepper, this meaty, complex, full-bodied beauty has terrific purity, good acidity, and ripe yet present tannins. It’s beautifully done and has a complex, cool-climate-like vibe yet packs serious muscle.Jeb Dunnuck | 96 JD

As low as $49.00
2019 colgin ix syrah California Red

Crushed stone, berry and lead pencil. Flintlock and iodine, too. Full-bodied, very tight and focused with incredible depth and intensity. Sculpted and intense. Incredible. Silky and tight tannins. Great finish. Reminds me of the 1978 La Chapelle. This needs three or four years to come together.James Suckling | 100 JSLastly, Colgin only makes a tiny amount of Syrah, but it’s consistently one of the greatest expressions of the variety in California, as well as the world. Their 2019 Syrah delivers the goods and brings a Côte Rôtie-like opulence and elegance as well as full-bodied aromas and flavors of blueberries, violets, smoke game, bouquet garni, and spring flowers. Pure, seamless, and perfectly balanced, you can safely put this up with anything out there. Enjoy bottles over the coming 15 years.Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JDSporting a deep garnet-purple color, the 2019 IX Syrah Estate hops up and down with its showy, flamboyant scents of chocolate-covered cherries, mulberries and preserved plums, before bursting into a gorgeous perfume of bouquet garni, candied violets, tar and roses, followed by unsmoked cigars with a waft of Sichuan pepper. The generous, full-bodied palate offers beautifully rounded, pebble-like tannins with invigorating freshness and so many fragrant layers that linger with edifying persistence. An absolute diva of a wine!Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 98+ RPThe 2019 Syrah IX Estate is deep, plush and super-expressive. The Colgin Syrah is so unique, as it is much a wine of place as it is a varietal Syrah. Huge fruit and captivating aromatics make a strong opening statement. All the elements simply fall into place. In 2019, the Syrah is simply exceptional. All that said, readers need to cellar the 2019 for at least a few years, as today the fruit remains very front and center, and true Syrah notes have not yet started to emerge.Antonio Galloni | 97 AGPotent and polished, with deeply structured blueberry, smoked meat, licorice and fruitcake spice flavors that gather richness and tension toward broad-shouldered tannins. To be released November 2022. Drink now through 2032. 400 cases made.Wine Spectator | 94 WS

As low as $369.00
2019 paul lato il padrino bien nacido vineyard syrah California Red

The 2019 Syrah Il Padrino Bien Nacido Vineyard comes from further north, in Santa Maria, and it was mostly destemmed as well and spent 19 months in close to two-thirds new French oak. More Jamet-like notes of ripe blackberries, smoked game, ground pepper, and spring flowers define the bouquet, and it’s full-bodied, with a perfectly balanced, multi-dimensional texture, incredible tannins, and a great, great finish. This is another brilliant, magical Syrah from Lato that flirts with perfection.Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JDThe 2019 Syrah Il Padrino Bien Nacido Vineyard is stunning with its quiet intensity, elegance and detail: blueberry pie, lilac and violet, prosciutto and mint chocolate define the nose. The medium-bodied palate is light on its feet, velvety in texture and seamlessly fresh, although it takes significant time in the glass to really unfold. Wow! It deserves 3-5 years to unwind in bottle and will be long-lived in the cellar. Drink Date 2024 - 2034 Robert Parker The Wine Advocate | 98 RPThe 2019 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard Il Padrino is silky, perfumed and gracious right out of the gate. This is an especially airy Syrah from Bien Nacido. The tannins are so harmonious, they are barely perceptible. A touch of Viognier in the blend adds lift to varietal dark and savory flavors. The Bien Nacido Syrah is terrific.Antonio Galloni | 95 AG

As low as $95.00

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