Until the famous Paris Wine Tasting in 1976, the Californian wine sector was overshadowed by its French competitors. (In both the white and red wine flights, California wines came out on top.)
Today, the state produces some of the world's best wines, accounting for over 90% of all wine produced in the United States. California would be the world's fourth-largest wine-producing region if it were a country!
The strong flavors and aromas of California wines have attracted followers all over the world, thanks to cult wines including Screaming Eagle, Harlan, and Marcassin (to mention a few).
This is My Wine+ selection of top California wines.
- Beaulieu Vineyard 2018 George De Latour Napa Valley Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
In this marvelously rich and structured vintage, the legendary wine plays up to its historic promise, displaying plenty of tension and youthful grip. It has notes of black currant, cassis, and forest amid a complex and vividly layered foundation of elegant "ageablity" with notes of dry herb, cedar, and sage. The ideal years to visit are 2028–2038.
- Altamura 2016 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
This Sauvignon Blanc is grown on a 4-acre, 28-year-old dry-farmed vineyard at an elevation of 850 feet. The wine is fermented and matured for 18 months in new French oak barrels, yielding a wine with considerable depth and complexity, resembling a white Bordeaux more than a California Sauvignon Blanc in flavor and texture. A total of 500 cases were produced.
- CALERA 2017 Jensen Vineyard Mt Harlan Pinot Noir
In 2017, the vineyards were very happy thanks to a rainy winter that saw more than double our usual annual rainfall. Warm spring weather resulted in good fruit sets at our Mt. Harlan vineyards, with above-average yields for both Pinot Noir and our white varietals, despite bud break being a little later than typical. Our estate vines withstood a large Labor Day heat event brilliantly, thanks to ample early season rains and Mt. Harlan's high elevation and marine-influenced climate, producing rich and delicate wines with nicely balanced acids and sugars.
Today's Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir is strong and tightly wrapped. Of course, that won't be an issue in a few years, but readers must be patient. The distinctive flavors of star anise, cinnamon, dried rose petal, blood orange, and mint give the Jensen an unmistakable sensation. The Jensen has plenty of depth and layers on the palate, but the tannins require time to mellow. I'm hoping to try this again in a few years. The Pinot Noir produced by combining three blocks in a sort of amphitheater is quite exceptional.
- CHEV 2019 Chardonnay Russian River Valley
CHEV 2019 Chardonnay Russian River Valley is made up of 9 percent Concrete Egg, 16 percent Concrete Amphora, 25 percent new French oak, and 50 percent once-filled French oak.
Bartlett pear, apricot tart, orange blossoms, and crushed slate are some of the flavors in this wine.
Fresh papaya, apricots flavored, and a light crème caramel with freshly grated nutmeg. Fresh, energetic cream washes over the palate, reminiscent of a rich mouthfeel complemented by lively acidity. Pure minerality with a lengthy, resonant aftertaste that ends with vibrant citrus aromas.
Ready to drink now, but will improve in expression over the following 1-2 years and cellar well for the next 5 years.
- Buccella 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
This Cabernet Sauvignon is made from small vineyards in Napa Valley, especially in Oakville, Yountville, and Coombsville, that have been carefully cultivated. Our Cabernet Sauvignon is made with low yields and exceptional clonal heritage, as well as precise farming in a variety of cooler appellations. We feel our wine's particular character, complexity, depth, and balance are due to this blend of concentrated ripe fruit.
Also, this Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in small vineyards mostly in the mid-to-southern parts of Napa Valley (cooler regions), which adds layers and nuances that highlight the richness of what Napa Valley has to offer. The nose bursts forth from the glass with luscious red fruit, plum, and raspberry. This wine is multidimensional, with deeper aromas of cocoa powder, blueberry, and creamy vanilla. Our 2018 is aesthetically attractive thanks to its trademark crimson dark red color. The wine's brightness and vitality are enhanced by silky-smooth tannins, providing immediate pleasure while also ensuring the possibility for the development of mature complexity over the next 20+ years. For online wine purchase visit My Wine+.
- Orin Swift 2017 Slander California Pinot Noir
Complex perfume of ripe cherries and dried rose petals, a touch of white pepper, and a trace of mountain forest greet the nose. Sweet strawberries, cranberries, and notes of rhubarb characterize the palate, which is well-balanced and well-integrated. The wine finishes with a toasted brioche finish, a hint of caramel, and juicy raspberries.
30 percent new, aged in French Oak for ten months.