My Favourite California Red Wines at VanWineFest 2019

People at VanWineFest 2019 Tasting Room

People at VanWineFest 2019 Tasting Room

While busily moving through the swell of people interested in tasting big Napa Cabs at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, I wedged myself into tables, and indeed tasted Napa Cabs, but also Pinot Noir, Merlot, Petite Sirah, etc. from various regions in California.  With the short amount of time I’m able to spend at each table, my tasting notes are not as detailed as my tastings at home.  Below are my impressions of some very good red wines from California that I hope you also may have tried at the Festival, or maybe purchasing at one of the BC liquor stores or local bottle shops in the lower mainland.  Enjoy.

My Favourite Red Wines Tasting Notes

B.R. Cohn Winery Silver Label Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma County – Funky nose.  Dry, medium plus body and higher acidity.   Bramble fruit. Very tasty. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley – Medium intensity cassis aroma.  Fuller body, dry with a soft mouthfeel. Capsicum, cedar and silky black fruit flavours.  Medium acidity and fine tannins. 4.5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars

Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley – Very light intensity dark fruit nose.  Full body, medium acidity and firmer tannins, yet still silky on the palate.  Ripe black fruit with a touch of oak. 4.5 out of 5 stars

B.R. Cohn Winery Silver Label Pinot Noir 2016, Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, and Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 at VanWineFest 2019

B.R. Cohn Winery Silver Label Pinot Noir 2016, Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, and Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 at VanWineFest 2019

Geyser Peak Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Sonoma County – Light cassis nose.  Fuller bodied.  Dry with flavours of cassis and nutmeg.  Medium tannins.  A balanced wine. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Girard Winery Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2015, Napa Valley – Light jammy nose.  Medium body and acidity with softer tannins.  Jam and cinnamon on the palate.  4.5 out of 5 stars

Girard Winery Artistry 2014, Napa Valley – This wine had a big hurdle to be made with the drought in 2014 plus earthquake.  I’m glad it was made as it is top rated by me.  It is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 11% Malbec and 7% Petit Verdot.  It has a light cedar/oak nose.  Full body, dry with firm tannins.  A mix of ripe red and black fruit flavours.  I’d say you can age this wine for 8-12 years. 4.5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars

Geyser Peak Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Girard Winery Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2015, and Girard Winery Artistry 2014 at VanWineFest 2019

Geyser Peak Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Girard Winery Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2015, and Girard Winery Artistry 2014 at VanWineFest 2019

Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Merlot 2015, Napa Valley –  A ripe jammy nose.  Full body, dry and round mouthfeel.  Fine tannins.  Ripe juicy black fruit and spicy tones. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Hahn Family Wines Pinot Noir Monterey County 2017, Monterey County – When I think of a Pinot Noir that I would like to drink from California, I think of Hahn Family Wines.  You cannot go wrong with any of their Pinots.  This wine has a nice light flinty and red fruit nose.  It is dry with medium minus acidity and a light mouthfeel.  Tea leaves, ginger (really), and red fruit flavours.  Excellent. 5 out of 5 stars

Hahn Family Wines SLH Pinot Noir 2017, Santa Lucia Highlands – Light bramble nose. Dry and soft with medium acidity and soft, fine tannins.  Bramble flavour to start followed by tea leaves and some pepperiness on the palate. 4.5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars

Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Merlot 2015, Hahn Family Wines Pinot Noir Monterey County 2017, and Hahn Family Wines SLH Pinot Noir 2017 at VanWineFest 2019

Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Merlot 2015, Hahn Family Wines Pinot Noir Monterey County 2017, and Hahn Family Wines SLH Pinot Noir 2017 at VanWineFest 2019

La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma County – Light red fruit and smoky bramble nose.  Dry, lighter body with medium tannins.  Mineral, tea leaves and red fruit flavours.  Nice. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Langetwins Family Winery and Vineyards Centennial Zinfandel 2011, Lodi – The grapes for this wine come from 116-year-old vines and only 56 barrels of wine are made each year.  This wine has a nice jammy and cedar nose.  Full body, dry with medium acidity, medium roundness and firm tannins.  Jammy, ripe black fruit and light nutmeg flavours. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Louis M Martini Winery Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley – Nice cedar, cassis and vanilla aromas.  Off-dry, full body with medium acidity and tannins.  Sweet, ripe black fruit and sweet spice flavours. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Langetwins Family Winery and Vineyards Centennial Zinfandel 2011, La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016, and Louis M Martini Winery Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 wines at VanWineFest 2019

Langetwins Family Winery and Vineyards Centennial Zinfandel 2011, La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016, and Louis M Martini Winery Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 wines at VanWineFest 2019

Ridge Vineyards East Bench Zinfandel 2016, Santa Cruz Mountains – Light intensity ripe, jammy cassis nose. Dry with firm tannins. Cassis and tea leaves on the palate. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Robert Mondavi Winery Maestro 2014, Napa Valley – A Bordeaux style blend of  73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. Light, ripe cassis nose.  Full body, dry with firm tannins.  Ripe cassis and capsicum flavours, with a mineral streak. Very good. 4.5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars

Sebastiani Chalk Hill Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma County – Light intensity smoky and red fruit nose.  Light, dry mouthfeel.  Red fruit and oak, with light vanilla and hints of bramble on the palate. 4.5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars

Sebastiani Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Sonoma County – Ripe, juicy cassis nose.  Dry, medium plus body with firm tannins.  Ripe black fruit flavour along with oak, and touches of vanilla and pepper. A structured wine. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Ridge Vineyards East Bench Zinfandel 2016, Sebastiani Chalk Hill Pinot Noir 2016, and Sebastiani Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 wines at VanWineFest 2019

Silver Oak Cellars Twomey Cellars Russian River Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma County – Nice floral and red fruit nose.  Dry, medium body with fine tannins.  Tea leaves, floral, and sweet red fruit flavours.  Nice. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Silverado Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley – Nice red fruit and cedar aromas in the glass.  Medium body, dry with medium tannins.  Cassis, red apples and cedar flavours on the palate. Nice. 4.5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa Valley – Luscious cassis nose.  Full body, round and silky.  Tannins providing a nice structure to the wine.  Cassis flavours on the palate. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Hands of Time Napa Valley Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley – Light cinnamon and dark fruit on the nose.  Medium plus body, dry with medium acidity and fine tannins.  Cassis and capsicum on the palate. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Silver Oak Cellars Twomey Cellars Russian River Pinot Noir 2016, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 and Hands of Time Napa Valley Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 at VanWineFest 2019

Silver Oak Cellars Twomey Cellars Russian River Pinot Noir 2016, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 and Hands of Time Napa Valley Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 at VanWineFest 2019

10 of my favourite California red wines came from Napa Valley, 6 from Sonoma County, 1 from Santa Cruz Mountains, 1 from Lodi, 1 from Monterey County and 1 from the Santa Lucia Highlands (which falls within Monterey County). These range from warmer in Napa to cooler regions in the Santa Lucia Highlands, north to south.  Enjoy these wines if you have a chance.

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings and restaurant reviews. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.