Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay put California on the wine radar around the world. Excellent growing conditions in Napa, Sonoma, and elsewhere in California produce excellent wines. At the California Wine Fair I was able to taste many high quality wines. You will still see oak showing up in some of my notes for the Chardonnay wines, but it is not overpowering as it once was. With the warmth of the climate in California, you will see for many of the Chardonnays that the wines have tropical fruit aromas and flavours. Cooler climates, or cooler vintages, would show less tropical fruit and more into the stone fruit or citrus category for Chardonnay.
Cabernet Sauvignon needs heat to ripen properly, otherwise you may get a capsicum or stemmy aromas or flavours in the wine. 2012, 2013, and 2014 are viewed by California wine makers as “dream vintages”. Perfect growing conditions for their grapes, producing exceptional, fully ripe fruit wines. Four of the Cabs I list below are from 2013. California Cabernets will continue to go up in price, as they have in the past, so don’t hesitate, and buy some of the 2012-14 vintages.
Chardonnays to Please
- Napa Cellars Chardonnay 2015 – Light oaky, tropical fruit and butterscotch aromas. Medium plus body, round with medium acidity. Butterscotch and citrus, together with some light oak. Longer length. A quality wine.
- Joel Gott Chardonnay 2015 – A mix of asparagus, citrus and honey. Medium plus body, silky with medium acidity. Herbaceous and citrus on the palate. Light and elegant.
- Artem Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2014 – Butterscotch nose. Full body, dry with medium mouth feel. Light tropical fruit, in particular, pineapple, together with butterscotch flavours. Nice.
- Sequoia Grove Chardonnay 2015 – Medium intensity tropical fruit and butterscotch aromas. Medium body, lower acid, rounder mouth feel. Butterscotch, woody and some pineapple.
- Paul Hobbs Chardonnay 2015 – Nice medium intensity tropical fruit nose together with sweet spices. Medium plus body, round and dry, with tropical fruit, sweet spice and sweet oaky flavour. Good quality.
- Avalon Chardonnay 2014 – Light tropical fruit nose. Dry and soft with medium body. Spearmint, sweet spices, pears and tropical fruit flavours. A fun wine.
- Aviary Vineyards Chardonnay 2015 – Medium intensity ripe tropical fruit and oak on the nose. Medium plus body, round and soft in the mouth. Allspice and soft tropical fruit flavours. Very tasty.
Cabernets to Consider
- Aviary Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – Nice ripe cassis nose, together with some sweet spices and chocolate aromas. Dry, medium plus body with a mineral streak. Cassis and a dash of sweet spices. Not an overpowering wine. Elegant.
- Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Light dusty nose, with dark fruit and a whiff of capsicum. Fuller body, dry, with medium plus tannins. Ripe black fruit with a hint of sweet spices. Firm dry finish. A restrained wine; not overly fruity.
- Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Trailside Vineyard 2010 – Nice nose, with aromas of vanilla and ripe cassis. Medium plus body, dry with medium tannins. Cassis, light sweet spice and oak flavours. Very good quality. –
- Eco Terreno Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – These grapes are from 45 year old vines that are own rooted. The wine has a nice ripe, cassis nose. It has quite a salty minerality to it. Really big ripe black fruit flavours. Higher acidity and medium tannins. Finishes with some pepperiness. –
- Antica Napa Bella 2013 – A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. This wine has a ripe, juicy black fruit nose. Fuller bodied, mineral, with nutmeg, dark fruit, and a hint of McIntosh apple flavours. Fine tannins. Quality. –
- Lange Twins Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Nice ripe black fruit nose. Good acidity. Nice cassis flavour, together with sweet spices, some pepperiness and apple.