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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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2018 realm the bard California Red

The 2018 The Bard is fabulous and also one of the very finest wines I have ever tasted from Realm. Vertical structure, power and explosive energy infuse the 2018 with tremendous character. Inky dark fruit, chocolate, leather, licorice and lavender are some of the many notes that run through the 2018. This is the first vintage that includes a dollop of Petite Sirah from Bourn. It is also the first vintage in which a portion of the wine was aged in concrete eggs, which seems to add tension and a palpable sense of vibrancy. The Bard is a blend of 40 different lots, everything from Calistoga to Coombsville, a marriage of elements that works so well. Although none of these wines could be referred to as inexpensive, The Bard is a tremendous relative value within the context of high-end Napa Valley. I loved it. The blend is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Petite Sirah.Antonio Galloni | 98 AGThe 2018 The Bard is beautiful and certainly in the same realm as the 2015 and 2016, both magical wines. This cuvée reveals a deep purple color followed by a beautiful perfume of crème de cassis, blackberries, roasted coffee, spring flowers, and violets. With incredible richness, no hard edges, and a blockbuster finish, this incredible wine offers serious opulence with no sensation of heaviness or weight. It’s beautifully done and already complex and nuanced. It will evolve for at least 15+ years. The blend is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, and 2% each of Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah.Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JDIntense and perfumed aromas of cassis, mulberry, lavender, nutmeg and cloves. Praline, walnuts and dark chocolate, too. It’s full-bodied, creamy and polished with a precise finish. Firm yet smoothly coating tannins. Very fine. Cabernet sauvignon 85% with merlot, petite verdot, cabernet and petite sirah. Drinkable now, but better from 2023.James Suckling | 97 JSA blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Petite Sirah, the 2018 The Bard comes from 12 different vineyard sources and is composed from 40 separate lots. Deep garnet-purple colored, it soars from the glass with notions of crème de cassis, blueberry pie and plum preserves, giving way to a a wave of clove oil, chocolate box, exotic spices and cracked black pepper. Full-bodied, rich and plush in the mouth, it has loads of spice-spiked black fruit layers, lifted by just enough freshness, going long and mineral-laced on the finish.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96+ RP

As low as $169.00
2019 favia cerro sur California Red

A new addition to the Place de Bordeaux this year - the eponymous project of husband and wife duo; viticulturist Annie Favia and winemaker Andy Erickson. A beautifully scented nose full of rose and violet touches, the Cabernet Franc nuances leap from the glass - fresh and minty, full of herbal sun-kissed ripe fruit but pristinely delivered. Smooth and driving on the palate, crunchy, crisp flavours give a real bite to the palate - red berries, blackcurrants and raisins, all nicely integrated and balanced. This doesn’t feel super worked and polished, instead it gives crystalline iron-minerality, lifted acidity and fragrance throughout - real signatures of the terroir and the minimal interventionist winemaking style - the grapes speak more than the winemaking. I just love the sense of wildness, a smoked touch with blue fruits, Asian spices and slightly angular tannins but with ripe fruit giving the body and cool acidity giving the freshness. A stunning wine and welcome addition to the Place. Ageing in French oak barrels (50% new).Decanter | 100 DECFrom a north-facing site at elevation, the 2019 Cerro Sur is a bold, savory wine loaded with energy. This Cabernet Franc-based wine is bursting with tension. Floral, spice and mocha accents lend striking aromatic top notes. I am so impressed with the wine’s elegance and total sense of finesse. This is an especially savory wine with strong cool-climate aromas and flavors that are so captivating.Vinous Media | 98 VMThis mostly cabernet franc shows intriguing character of tar, graphite, ink and black berries, following through to a medium to full body with layered and slightly dusty tannins and a succulent finish. So drinkable now, but will improve with age.James Suckling | 97 JSComing from a higher elevation site in Coombsville and mostly Cabernet Franc, the 2019 Cerro Sur has a complex, gorgeous nose of pure cassis, currant buds, flowers, and chocolate. This red, blue, and black fruited beauty is medium to full-bodied, with silky tannins and flawless balance. Brought up in 50% new French oak, it’s an incredible 2019 readers will absolutely love. It will evolve for upwards of two decades.Jeb Dunnuck | 97 JDSuperjuicy and vivid, with lots of up-front violet, cassis and plum pâte de fruit notes backed by tasty licorice and sweet spice. Toasted finish, but the fruit wins out easily, with a flash of sweet bay leaf adding nice range. Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2036. 250 cases made.Wine Spectator | 95 WSComing in at more than 70% Cabernet Franc—and aged in 50% new French oak—the 2019 Cerro Sur Red Wine is vaguely herbal, with black tea-like notes and hints of sage accenting black cherries and plums. Medium to full-bodied, silky and fine, this displays the hallmark Favia Erickson traits of balance and elegance—there’s absolutely nothing out of place here.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 94 RP

As low as $275.00
2020 dominus napanook California Red

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

As low as $89.99
2020 screaming eagle California Red

Fabulous aromas of cabernet sauvignon with blackcurrants, blueberries, bark, fresh mushrooms and violets, follow through to a full body with an elegance that builds at the finish, leaving you with a freshness and minerality that goes on for minutes. Unique wine in so many ways. A blend of 76% cabernet sauvignon, 18% merlot and 6% cabernet franc. Best after 2028.James Suckling | 99 JSThe 2020 Screaming Eagle is one of the great surprises of the year. Energetic and vibrant in the glass, the 2020 offers a bit more energy than most readers are likely used to. All the elements are so well balanced. Dark blue/purplish fruit, lavender, menthol, spice, leather and a soft touch of all fill out the layers effortlessly. In 2020 Screaming Eagle is not as immediately alluring as it so often is, so a measure of patience is warranted.Vinous Media | 96 VM

As low as $2,995.00
2021 arnot-roberts red wine California Red

The 2021 Red Wine California is a new Bordeaux-based red wine that Duncan Arnot and Nathan Roberts made initially to take the place of the 2020 Cabernets that would have been released around this time but were compromised by smoke. The Red Wine was initially intended to be a fun project, but Arnot and Roberts may have stumbled into what is really a pretty serious red with real potential. The 2021 is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon (Massa, Bedrock and Gordenker), 20% Cabernet Franc (Persia) and 20% Merlot (Massa). A powerful, old-school wine, the 2021 is going to need a few years to shed some tannin. I loved it.Vinous Media | 95+ VM

As low as $64.99
2021 Bevan Cellars Proprietary Red EE

The 2021 EE Red Wine is ripe and powerful, with smoky red and black fruits as well as lots of background oak, graphite, espresso, and dark chocolate-like aromas and flavors that develop beautifully with time in the glass. Deep, rich, full-bodied, and concentrated on the palate, it has plenty of background oak, the building tannins of the vintage, and a great finish. A gorgeous wine, it will benefit from 3-4 years in the cellar and evolve for 25-30 years in cold cellars. The blend is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Cabernet Franc brought up in new barrels.Jeb Dunnuck | 99 JDA blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Cabernet Franc, the 2021 Proprietary Red EE Tench Vineyard offers up a wonderful range of dark fruit—black cherries, cassis and blackberries—couched in hints of dark chocolate. Like almost all the Bevan wines, it’s full-bodied, richly concentrated and velvety in texture. This one finishes long, with a mocha and cocoa-stained finish.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95-97 RPThe 2021 Red Blend EE is one of the more overt wines in the range. Super-ripe red cherry, blackberry, chocolate, spice, gravel and licorice are all amplified in this heady, exotic Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend. The 2021 is a powerhouse.Vinous Media | 93-96 VM

As low as $215.00
2021 Bevan Cellars Red Ontogeny
As low as $109.00

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