Wine Reviews

Browse collection of wine reviews.


Bonny Doon Vineyard Picpoul, Central Coast

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Leave it to the iconoclastic Bonny Doon Vineyard to offer up a take on the ancient French Mediterranean grape Picpoul. And they do it with gusto, producing one of the fruitier (think ripe green apple, grapefruit, and pomelo) versions you're likely to encounter of this zesty, refreshing white. When warmer weather (finally) lands, this is a wine that's a perfect fit to have on hand in copious (chilled) quantities.

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Chateau Marsau, Francs Cotes de Bordeaux, France

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Here's a whole lot of red fruit tastiness from one of France's unsung appellations. Or, rather, a collection of appellations that includes Cotes de Bordeaux's Blaye, Cadillac, Castillon and Francs. Offering surprising complexity, depth, and longevity for an under-$30 price point, in the best vintages the spicy, plummy reds from Marsau are an absolute steal.

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Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

If you need a reminder of why Sonoma's Alexander Valley has long been one of the favorite locations for Cabernet Sauvignon lovers, Sebastiani's Alexander Valley Cabernet is a great place to get re-educated. Jammy and bold but still retaining elegance and structure, this red combines an easy-going palate with an intellectually stimulating panoply of spice and wood aromas.

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Cattleya 'Alma de Cattleya' Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Born and raised in Columbia, Bibiana González Rave had dreamed about becoming a winemaker since she was a young girl, and through passionate determination made that dream a reality. If you're a Sauvignon Blanc lover, that's good news, because her 'Alma de Cattleya' Sauvignon Blanc is a gorgeous melding of California style tropical fruit flavors with the kind of bold, zesty, spicy and exotic aromatics more commonly associated with Sauvignon from New Zealand than from Sonoma!

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Qupe Bien Nacido Vineyard 'Y' Block Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Qupe's 'Y' Block Chardonnay seems perennially overlooked by wine media and critics, though for the life of me I cannot fathom why. The plus side of this is that its price remains consistently reasonable despite its steady increase in quality vintage after vintage. This white showcases Santa Barbara's telltale mixture of vibrant citrus flavors, fresh flower blossom aromas, and enticingly creamy texture.

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Bodegas Bianchi 'Famiglia Bianchi' Malbec, San Rafael, Argentina

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Like your reds, meaty, smoky, silky, and easy-going? Meet Argentine stalwart Bodegas Bianchi's 'Famiglia Bianchi' Malbec. After a hint of dried violets, this Malbec turns on the afterburners, sending waves of dark red fruit flavors and smoked meat aromas your way without letup until the very last drop is gone from the glass.

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Pascual Toso Reserva Malbec, Barrancas, Argentina

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Some might fault this Reserva Malbec from Argentina's Pascual Toso as being a bit too steeped in oak wood spice, and a bit too broad in its earthy, dark fruit flavors. If so, they're missing the point: Reservas from Argentina are supposed to be concentrated, complex fare, and this one consistently delivers those goods (in delicious ways). Consider it a guilty pleasure to match with hearty comfort foods.

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Four Vines 'The Kinker' Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Don't let the modest cost of a bottle of Four Vines' 'The Kinker' Cabernet fool you—this red is great find and a very good bargain for th9ose who like their Cabs gig, bold, and instantly-accessible. The Kinker seems to be built as a crowd-pleaser, but it has surprising amounts of depth and structure as well. Through it all, it remains smooth as silk in the mouth, thanks to those mature, smooth Paso Robles tannins.

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Rodney Strong Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, California

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Rodney Strong's take on Sonoma's Russian River Pinot Noir brings together three things that are seemingly incompatible: a big-name wine region, an experienced producer, and a very reasonable price-tag. Not only is this red charming in its youth (with abundant plummy fruit flavors, hints of brambly red berries, and touches of cedar), but in good vintages it ages well, too—a fantastic bonus for a wine that regularly can be found for under $20.

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Christophe Pacalet Chenas, Beaujolais, France

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

The small cru of Chénas (on the slopes of Mont Remont in northern Beaujolais) is often overlooked in favor of the more chic cru villages of Moulin-a-Vent and Juliénas (which it borders). Chénas can be a treat, though, combining the violet floral notes and depth of Juliénas with the earthy structure and longevity of Moulin-a-Vent. Such is the case in Christophe Pacalet's Chénas—It's bright in its red berry flavors, complex in its floral aromas, and provides just enough structure to stand up to burgers of both the beef and veggie kind.

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