Wine Reviews: California Grab Bag Reds

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized, Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-04-2015

It’s the dead of summer and it’s hot here in the District. These days, white and pink wines are my go-to. That said, drinking juicy California red wines and grilling out on a summer day is something of a patriotic duty for the American wine lover. And what better day than the Fourth of July to crack some Cali Zin, Petite Sirah or Charbono and toast to the good ol’ US of A?

These diverse wines were received as trade samples and tasted single blind.

Review: 2013 Chronic Cellars Purple Paradise - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $14
Medium ruby color. Bursting with ripe red fruits on the nose, raspberries, cherries, also some raspberry jam, red apple peel, pepper and clove. Light tannins, actually some acid to rein in the juicy red fruits. A snappy, tangy edge to the red fruit (wild strawberries, raspberries, McIntosh apple), notes of black tea, vanilla and coconut shavings. Not quite as baked and candied as the other wines from this producer (which is why I liked it more). It’s still a forward, fruit-dominated wine with an easy-drinking approach for early consumption. 70% Zinfandel, 14% Syrah, 11% Petite Sirah, 5% Grenache. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Chronic Cellars Dead Nuts - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $23
Bright ruby color. Smells of maraschino cherries, raspberry jam, fig cookies, some violet and light roast coffee notes. Juicy and forward on the palate, set against a backdrop of chewy tannins and low acid. Juicy raspberries, figs and red apples, mix in some caramel corn, cola, but also some coffee, cedar and black pepper sauce. Juicy, fun, straightforward, a nice grill companion. 64% Zinfandel, 21% Tempranillo, 15% Petite Sirah. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2012 KITÁ Grenache Camp 4 Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
SRP: $30
Pale ruby color. Nose of tart red cherries and strawberries, red flowers and even some cherry blossom and potpourri notes, hints of pepper. Fine tannins, a full body but some richer and fuller notes. Elegant despite its richness, with freshness from the acid. Lovely tart red fruit (strawberries and raspberries), notes of chestnut, tobacco, pepper, a spicy herbal kick, toasted almond, hint of cedar woven in well, spiced coffee, sweet cola. Complex, showing wonderfully right now but could hold for a year or two. Long finish. Exciting stuff. All Grenache, aged 18 months in 25% new French oak. (92 points IJB)

Review: 2012 KITÁ S’alapay Camp 4 Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
SRP: $50
Bright purple color. Aromas of tart red and black currants, some cool blueberries, notes of roses and lavender, cedar, tobacco leaf and roasted coffee. On the palate, firm yet approachable tannic structure, some impressive tart acid for freshness. Soft around the edges, with juicy red and black fruit, which tastes ripe but still shows some crunchy skin aspects. Tempered noted of roasted nut and cherry wood. Long, clean finish with notes of tobacco and dusty soil. 50% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 18 months in 35% new French oak. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2012 KITÁ Spe’y Camp 4 Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
SRP: $30
Light ruby color. Nose of tart red berries, some sweeter, jammier notes, backed up by elements of baking spices, pepper, coffee and toast. Bold approach, some moderate acid, drying tannins of decent strength, alcohol gives it a thicker presence. Tart currants, dark and crunchy cherries and plums. Lots of coffee, toasted nuts, add in some sweet herbal notes, spices, cola and rhubarb. A warm, rich finish. Seems to need a bit of time, as it really opens up with air. 53% Grenache, 27% Syrah and 20% Carignane, aged 18 months in 30% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Prisoner Wine Company The Prisoner- California, Napa Valley
SRP: $40
Bright purple color, almost neon. Smells of sweet fig paste, blackberry jam, roasted coffee, milk chocolate, caramel and sweet candied pecans. Full-bodied and plush on the palate, the tannins are actually quite light, medium-low acid, the weight comes from the rich, sweet fruit —jammy currants and cherries, some strawberry pie). The fruit is laced with candied nuts, mocha, toasted oak, caramel and cotton candy. Rich and hedonistic to the max, with hefty oak. Lacks mystique and any semblance of balance, but I can’t deny the deliciousness and full throttle appeal. Zinfandel, Cabernet, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Charbono, aged in 30% new French and American oak. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Franc Stepping Stone - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $45
Bold purple color in the glass. Dark berries abound on the nose (black cherries, blueberries, blackberries), underneath the fruit are aromas of earth, cedar, dried leaves and some roses. Full bodied but balanced by moderate acidity and dusty but firm tannins. Black cherries, red and black currant and blueberry fruit dominate, rich fruit but it tastes nice and tart. The wine is laced with elements of graphite, tobacco and cedar, an underlying mineral element. Long, silky finish with notes of mocha and vanilla. A beautiful wine, this will only get prettier and more refined with three or four years in the cellar. (91 points IJB)

Review: 2012 J. McClelland Charbono - California, Napa Valley
Dark ruby color. Deep and saucy on the nose: black cherries and dark plums, blackberries, notes of spiced coffee, black pepper, barbecue glaze, sweet violets. Medium-full bodied, dry-firm tannins, medium-low acid. Deep and chewy black fruits, hints of blueberry, a full and forward wine with smoky charcoal notes, black pepper, toasted oak and dark chocolate. Long and rich with lots of complex spice, coffee and roasted herb notes. Could definitely use some time or air, but a really exciting and gutsy wine. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Florence Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
SRP: $35
Medium ruby colored. Vibrant juicy strawberries, red cherries and currants, even some red apple peel, a spicy and rich approach with notes of sweet cola, pipe tobacco and fig paste. Full-bodied but juicy, even tangy. Moderate tannins but the wine is accessible right out of the bottle. Sweet plums, raspberry and currant jams, some notes of coffee, roses and sweet green herbs. Bold but showing underlying elegance. Long finish, actually ends clean with some freshness. Approachable now, a definitely yummy wine but showing complexity and a bright personality. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Edmeades Winery Edmeades’ Folly - California, North Coast, Mendocino County
SRP: $26
Bright purple colored. Gushing red and black fruit aromas with notes of magic marker, pepper and charcoal. Juicy and full on the palate, with fine tannins and moderate acid for balance. The black cherry, blackberry and red and black plum fruit is vibrant and alive while rich and gushing. Notes of black cherry ice cream and root beer mix with toasted oak and coffee. Complex pepper, tobacco, roasted chestnut, rose petals and spices. Delicious and a big-time bruiser at 15%  yet it maintains complexity and vibrancy. A blend of 44% Zinfandel, 21% Syrah, 21% Petite Sirah, 14% Merlot, aged 15 months in 16% new French and American oak. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Edmeades Winery Petite Sirah - California, North Coast, Mendocino County
SRP: $35
Vibrant purple colored. Nose of blackberries, boysenberry, sweet clove, cola, menthol, some deep and smoky notes. Good tannic grip, medium-low acid, a full but smooth wine. Tart blackberries, black currants and plum skins, rich but vibrant and alive, not heavy at all. Loam, smoke, tar and graphite notes add complexity, but I also get sweet notes of cinnamon, mint and cola. Impressive concentration but very lively and enjoyable. Structure enough to bury this for a few years and see what kind of interesting stuff happens. 15 months in ¼ new French and American oak. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Tom Gore Vineyards Field Blend - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
SRP: $40
Medium-deep purple color. Nose of tart plums and black currants, blackberry jam, cedar and vanilla. Full bodied with chewy but sturdy tannins, a bit low on the acid. The black currants, blackberry and blackberry fruit is rich and ripe. Notes of cedar, mocha and tobacco leaf pervade the wine, hints of bell pepper, mocha, charcoal. Richness mixes with some tartness on a firm foundation. This wine could definitely use two to three years to unwind. A blend of 35% Petite Verdot, 33% Malbec, 21% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Tempranillo, aged 22 months in French oak. (87 points)

Review: 2012 Dashe Cellars The Comet - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
SRP: $35
Vibrant purple color. Needs time to open up and show darker, sweeter fruit (black cherries, plums), some sweet herbal notes, herbal liqueur, toast, vanilla. Full and chewy on the palate, moderate-low acid, firm and dry tannins. Rich plum cake, black cherry cola, baked figs mixed with loamy, tilled soil notes. Add some sweet oak, vanilla and ginger snap flavors. Full, big, deep stuff, lots of body, but showing complex coffee, graphite, iron and forest floor notes. Sweet and toasty, firm drying finish. Definitely could use some time to unwind, but delicious. 67% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah and 8% Carignane. 14.1% alcohol, aged 18 months in 15% new French oak. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Old Vines Todd Brothers Ranch - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
SRP: $35
Dark ruby color. Dense aromas at first, but it opens up and blueberries, blackberries and roasted fig come out, backed up by violets and potting soil, some underlying pepper and clove. Full-bodied, study tannic structure but the edges are smoothed out nicely, medium-low acid. Juicy-jammy black fruit, it also has quite a saucy element to it. I get notes of black pepper, soy, roasted figs and anise, coffee but it’s woven in well to the overall package. Bold at first but it gets elegant quickly. I’d actually like to bury this for two-to-four years. Includes a 2% shot of Petite Sirah, the wine is aged in one-year-old French oak. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Alexander ValleyCalifornia, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
SRP: $26
Juicy purple color. Smells of sweet berries (black, red, blue), but also spicy and herbal notes (pepper, ginger?). Full but not hot with chewy tannins and some moderate acid to keep it clean. Boldly fruity, dark and rich with lots of loamy and earthy accents. Coffee, sweet cola and clove last long on the finish. A powerful wine, but also showing some restraint. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Quivira Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley - California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
SRP: $22
Bright purple color. Smells of black cherry ice cream, roasted coffee, caramelized sugar, some earthy-loamy notes as well. Medium tannin, medium-bodied frame, fresh acid. Plum and black cherry fruit, rich but tangy. Some violet and earth notes, caramel and mocha, dried potpourri. Fresh and easy to drink but showing some solid complexity. Long finish with crisp berries, tobacco and a flavor that reminds me of sweet tea. Includes 10% Petite Sirah and a 1% shot of Carignan. (87 points IJB)

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