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.
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. –
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.
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.
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.
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. –
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.
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.
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. –
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. –
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. –
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.
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.
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. –
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.
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.
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.