Wine Reviews

Browse collection of wine reviews.


Opolo Vineyards Roussanne, Central Coast

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Is there any fine wine grape that can't thrive in California's Central Coast? Certainly Opolo Vineyards are making a case to include at least one more French transplant - Roussanne - to the list of varieties that are taking well to the CA sunshine. This is a round, rich, and buoyant white, which tops off its stone and tropical fruit flavors with aromas of white flowers, minerals, and herbs.

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Dr. H. Thanisch Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Sometimes, you run into a wine that is so delicious, it's basically impossible to hate. Dr. H. Thanisch's Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett, from the famed and historic Mosel region of Germany, is one such wine. Resplendent with stone fruit flavors, it manages to conjure up notes of lemon drop candy, limes, nectarine, and spices, and to present it all in a focused, fresh, and friendly package.

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Bodegas Carlos Serres Rioja Gran Reserva 2010, Rioja, Spain

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Wine experts love Spain's Rioja in part because the region's producers try to take the guesswork out of answering the question "when should I drink this?" Generally, Rioja wines are aged in wood and bottle until the producer feels that the wine is ready to drink. Despite the logistics and inventory costs involved, every once in a while Rioja surprises with an absolute bargain stunner of a red, such as with the Carlos Serres Gran Reserva. It's fresh and fruity, spicy (think dried herbs and cedar), and - despite the extended wood aging - doesn't lack for acidic structure.

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Brotte Domaine Barville Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015, Rhone, France

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Somewhat ironically, Chateauneuf-du-Pape has become the black sheep of the Southern Rhone crus, given its enormous critical success in the last two decades, primarily because this has driven prices into the stratosphere. If you're looking for tasty, accessible, and competent CdP that won't break the bank, consider Brotte's Domaine Barville. This producer has the benefit of Brotte's marketing power behind it, and the luxury of being able to blend fruit from 35+ year old vines grown on both stony and limestone soils. The result is an earthy, dark-fruited blend that is powerfully ripe while also retaining structure and poise.

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Azienda Agricola Terrabianca Vignot, Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Italy

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Moscato has a reputation for being overly-affable, but that doesn't mean that it cannot also be a bit serious (and potentially age-worthy). Azienda Agricola Terrabianca's Vignot is one such serious take on the friendly Moscato grape and Asti's strict production methods of it. 55 year old vines produce the grapes that are used for this wine, and their full southern exposure means ample ripeness. This is a Moscato with great freshness, but a richer profile than you might expect, along with apricot flavors, floral and herbal aromas, and a delicious mouthfeel. As these wines age, they take on notes of white fig, toast, dried citrus peel, candied sage, and dill - in other words, there is serious winemaking going on here.

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Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling, Eden Valley, Australia

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

It is a find like the Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling from Eden Valley in Australia that make wine reviewing so fun. Delicious in its grapefruit and lime flavors, this is a Riesling that is deceptively complex. Its drinkable profile is enhanced by aromas of rosemary, pepper and exotic tropical fruits. What's most surprising, however, is that you can enjoy this single-site, single-vineyard little wonder for such a reasonable price.

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Bear Flag Wines Zinfandel, Sonoma County

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Aaron Piotter, winemaker at Bear Flag, has pretty much nailed the California Zinfandel profile. Blending fruit from vineyards in the Sonoma and Dry Creek Valleys, he has put together a thoroughly "California" style Zinfandel - jammy, with blueberry compote and ample spice notes - that is at once both bold and composed, rich without being burly or overbearing.

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Jansz Premium Cuvee Rose, Tasmania, Australia

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

The Australian island state of Tasmania is probably more famous for carnivorous marsupials than for sparkling wine, but thanks to producers such as Jansz, that situation is likely to change. The island's cool climate viticulture is a good match for sparkling wine production, as their Cuvee Rose shows. Made via secondary bottle fermentation, it boasts fine, delicous notes of red berry, rose petal, and toast.

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Berryessa Gap Sauvignon Blanc, Yolo County

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Unless you're a native of Winters, CA, you have likely not considered Yolo County a bastion of fine wine production. But it happens to be the home of Berryessa Gap, which employs nearly two-decade veteran cellar-master Santos Del Torro, and young winemaker Nicole Salengo. Together, they are producing wines that combine the ripeness of California fruit with more nuanced, European-inspired touches. Such is the case with their Sauvignon Blanc, which is undeniably tropical, but possesses herbaceous, chalk, and lemon grass notes more commonly found in cooler-climate regions, and all wrapped in a package of relatively low alcohol and relatively high likeability.

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Bonterra Vineyards Organic Grapes Rose, Mendocino County

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Sometimes, our priorities as wine lovers intersect in interesting - and delicious - ways. California producer Bonterra is known as an organic farming pioneer, employing environmentally sound practices while also crafting widely available, budget-minded, tasty wines. Bonterra's dry rose is refreshing, full of watermelon and exotic fruit aromas and flavors, and would be hard to beat with Springtime picnic fare.

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