Wine Reviews: California Whites

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-15-2015

Last week, I focused on some California Chardonnay. This week, the focus is on, well, pretty much everything else. This summer I’ve tasted through a bunch of non-Chardonnay California white wines, and I’ve come across some interesting ones, some unique ones, and some that are just plain okay. Some of the Sauvignon Blancs showed really well. I’ve gotten excited about a few California Grenache Blancs, and Kita’s Camp 4 Vineyard is one of them. It left me wanting to explore more and more California Grenache Blanc.

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

Review: 2014 Fess Parker Marcella’s - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $20
Light gold color. Interesting bright aromatic display, super floral but also some air freshener and new car kind of thing going on, along with juicy peaches, grapefruit and melons. Full-bodied, a honeyed feel with medium-low acid but enough to keep it relatively clean. A fruit salad of pineapple, peaches and cantaloupe, but I also get honey, lychee, circus peanuts and floral perfume. Juicy and ripe with lots of tropical goodness, definitely crowd-friendly. 86% Viognier, 8% Roussanne, 3% Marsanne and 3% Grenache Blanc. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2014 J. Wilkes Pinot Blanc - California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
SRP: $17
Medium yellow color. Floral elements mix with green and yellow pears and apples, honeycomb and raw almond. Medium+ bodied, medium acid, the apple, pear and orange fruit is creamy but maintains a tart edge. Creamy elements of whipped honey and floral tea add some complexity. Richness from the almond and peanut brittle, and the full texture, but stays quite balanced. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2013 KITÁ Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
SRP: $22
Light gold color. Aromas of white peaches, yellow apples, topped with honey, dandelion, hints of toasted almond. Clean acid on the palate, the wine has a waxy, full texture but stays bright. White peach, green melon, yellow and green apples, the fruit has a refreshing tartness, which is complemented by the white tea, honeycomb and almond notes (not oaky, though). Hints of chalk, crusty ocean jetties and a slight green herbal spice notes. Complex, full of flavor, yet stays tangy, salty and refreshing throughout. Really unique style. I for one would like to see more California Grenache Blancs. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2013 KITÁ T’aya Camp 4 Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
SRP: $22
Light yellow color. Aromas of green apples, kiwi, lime, margarita salt, some clover and ginger as well, a bit hesitant, needs air to come out and speak. Rich in texture but it has a lighter essence (12.5% alcohol), medium acid. The green and yellow apple fruit is fresh but fully ripe, quite subtle, hesitant even. Some hazelnut, toasted almond, hints of saline and chalk too with the richer honeyed elements. Hints of shaved lime and seashell on the finish. Generous texture but subtle flavors. 59% Marsanne, 39% Roussanne and 2% Grenache Blanc. Very good for the price. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Mercy Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc - California, Central Coast, Arroyo Seco
SRP: $16
Very pale straw color. Nose of grapefruit, white peach, some baby’s breath and apple core notes, hint of white pepper. Creamy body, medium acid, a bright but tropical appeal with notes of white peach, papaya, pineapple chunks and apricot jam. Some dried honey notes and a hint of nettle, white pepper and dandelion as well. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Mercy Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Zabala Vineyard- California, Central Coast, Arroyo Seco
SRP: $20
Light gold color. Hugely aromatic, showing grass, jalapeno and white pepper on top of white peach, green apple slices, white flowers, some richer honeyed notes but very bright overall. Zesty acid and a moderately creamy body set the tone for white peaches, green apples and lime. Very bright approach, racy stuff, some richer notes of honeycomb and papaya, hints of seashells and chalk. Moderate complexity, bold but maintains freshness. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2013 KITÁ Sauvignon Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
SRP: $24
Light gold color. Nose shows lemons, limes, grapefruit, lychee along with jalapeno, cut grass and oregano. Medium bodied, tangy acid. White peaches, drizzled with ruby red grapefruit juice, lots of grapefruit. Tangy and brisk throughout with notes of chalk, honeysuckle, green onion and spicy Italian oregano. Some hints of honey and orange peel on the finish. So food friendly, definitely a brisk style but showing some richer notes of nougat and raw almond on the finish. Quite complex, could even use some time to open up. Stainless steel plus 20% old oak for eight months. 13% alcohol. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Murrieta’s Well The Whip - California, San Francisco Bay, Livermore Valley
SRP: $22
Light yellow color. Bright and juicy aromatics, white peaches, apricots, green and yellow pears, honeysuckle, baby’s breath. Fleshy texture, waxy yet vibrant from some refreshing acid, a clean, floral appeal. Green and yellow apples, white peaches, guava, drizzled with some lime, also showing lots of floral notes, like dandelions, perfume and air freshener. Notes of honeycomb, green tea and cucumber water as well. Some refreshment but also very tropical. An interesting blend of 28% Semillon, 24% Chardonnay, 14% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Orange Muscat, 11% Viognier, 11% Gewurztraminer, 1% Riesling. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Mason Cellars Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $17
Pale straw, hint of green. Explosion of white peach, grapefruit and cut grass on the palate, some spicy white pepper and honeysuckle, too. Crisp acid, quite a creamy texture with tasty, forward fruit (white peach, grapefruit, nectarine), accented by notes of white pepper, dandelions and honeysuckle. Not overly green, more focused on the creamy fruit, decent balance. Hints of chalk and white tea on the finish. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2014 S.R. Tonella Cellars Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
SRP: $26
Medium straw color. Complex yet airy aromatics: kiwi, white peach, honeydew, hints of honeysuckle, green chilies and chalk dust. Medium to full bodied, quite creamy yet kept refreshing with moderate acid. Juicy tropical fruit (papaya, kiwi, green melon, peaches), I really like the integration of the richer accents (honeycomb, nougat, ginger) with mineral, chalk dust and sea salt elements. Quite complex, full but stays precise with a long and clean finish. The juice sees a mix of French oak, Acacia wood and stainless steel. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc Oakville - California, Napa Valley, Oakville
SRP: $40
Medium gold color. Rich nose of white peaches, papaya, pears, green apple, slight notes of tea, toasted bread and honeycomb. Full-bodied stuff with juicy, ripe fruit (yellow apples, papaya, peaches) but surprisingly bright and persistent acid. Complex notes of honey, white tea, vanilla and ginger are mixed in well to the overall package. Rich and bold approach for sure, but still bright with lots of energy and different elements to enjoy. From To Kalon Vineyard, includes 11% Semillon, this is fermented in 12% new French oak and aged sur lie for nine months. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Silver Trident Sauvignon Blanc Symphony No. 9 - California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
SRP: $28
Very pale straw color. Aromas of white peach, white cherries, lemon and grapefruit, hints of white pepper, lemon verbena and crushed chalk. Quite creamy and rich on the palate, a honeyed texture, medium-low acid pushes back a bit. The lemon, grapefruit and white peach fruit is juicy yet tangy. Notes of chalk, quinine, grapefruit pith, honeycomb and peach pits as well, just a slight note of white pepper spice on the finish. Rich and complex yet open and accessible. 70% Stainless steel, 30% French oak. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Mason Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Pomelo – California, North Coast, Lake County
SRP: $11
Very pale lemon color. Floral and peachy on the nose, lots of honeysuckle, pears and tropical fruit. Medium-bodied, moderate acid, but the wine has the full of chunky tropical fruit. Papaya, pineapple, lime, mixed in with some honeysuckle and white tea notes. Uncomplicated but pleasant. MostlyLake County fruit, but they mix in some juice from Lodi. (85 points IJB)

 <85 points
Review: 2014 Mason Cellars Pinot Grigio Three Pears­ – California
SRP: $11
Light straw color. Peachy, white flowers, ruby red grapefruit, hints of nettle on the nose. Moderately tangy, it has a lot of body but the flavors aren’t very deep or complex. Light green apple, grapefruit and canned peaches, hints of honeysuckle and lemongrass. Decent, but lacking excitement.

Review: 2013 Smashberry White - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $15
Light gold color. Explosive aromas, yellow apples and canned peaches, lychee, honeysuckle, orange blossom. Richly-textured and honeyed on the palate, low acid, the white peaches, bruised apple and apricot jam flavors are rich and bold. I also get honeysuckle, orange blossom and honey. A full-on display of tropical fruits and tons of floral qualities, but lacking in some freshness and non-tropical intensity. Roussanne, Muscat and Riesling with 1.6% residual sugar.

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