Wine Reviews: California ABC Whites

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 02-14-2016

Even in the dead of winter, refreshing California white wines are always welcome on my table. Since my last ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) White wine report, I’ve tasted through a bunch of California white wines. Sauvignon Blanc leads the pack, followed up by a mix of Pinot Gris, Viognier, white blends and an exciting Potter Valley Riesling.

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

Review: 2014 J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Gris - California
SRP: $18
Light straw color. Aromas of guava, white peaches and some tangier green apple notes, some yellow flowers and sweet honey. Quite creamy in texture, moderate acid helps provide a little bit of freshness. A honeyed and tropical approach with guava and pineapple, some bruised yellow apple as well. Notes of lychee, wax and dried flowers as well. Fun, crowd-pleasing stuff some attractive tropical qualities. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Dark Horse Wines Sauvignon Blanc - California
SRP: $10
Clear yellow color. Bright aromas of white peaches, nectarine and apricot, topped with white pepper, floral potpourri and clean laundry. Clean, moderately creamy palate, packed with white peach and kiwi. Notes of white pepper, cucumber water, sliced jalapeno, along with white tea and strong floral potpourri. Crunchy but lots of ripe tropical fruit as well. Impressive for $10. Includes some Semillon, Albarino and a few other grapes as well. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Wild Horse Viognier - California, Central Coast
SRP: $17
Medium straw color. Bright aromas of white peaches, kiwi, lemon zesty, mixed in with some yellow flowers and honey. Medium-bodied with a creamy, slightly oily texture but some moderate acid. White and canned peaches, some apricot and orange jam, the fruit is touched with honey, floral and olive oil notes, hints of seashell. Not too complex but well done. Not too floral or tropical, has some freshness and food-friendliness. Includes 15% Grenache Blanc. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2015 Rombauer Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $24
Juicy and floral on the nose, the guava, tangerine and white peach fruit jumps out of the glass, and I get some whipped honey and baby’s breath notes. Medium-full bodied, moderate acid adds some crunch, the wine is juicy and forward but stays quite fresh. Juicy white peaches, guava and apricot, the fruit is plump and topped with notes of honeycomb, floral perfume and a slight hint of lemongrass. A juicy, plump style, but the wine is integrated well and I get a crisp sense of acidity and crushed chalk on the finish. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc Reserve To-Kalon Vineyard - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $50
Medium yellow color. Exotic nose that blends rich tropical fruit (papaya, pineapple) with green sliced apples and limes, mixed in with some baby’s breath, crushed chalk and white pepper. Creamy in texture but the acid sings on this wine, keeping it precise and focused. White peach and pineapple mix with Granny Smith apple and lime juice, complex notes of chalk and white pepper, mineral water and river rocks. Notes of olive oil and biscuits add complexity to the overall package. Long, tingly finish with so much depth of flavor. Fermented in 1/3 new French oak. (91 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Atalon Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $21
Pale straw color. Grapefruit, guava and kiwi on the nose mixed in with white pepper and grassy notes. Creamy-waxy body but a good amount of freshness from the acid though. The grapefruit, yellow apple and kiwi fruit is ripe and juicy but keeps a crunchy bite. Notes of white pepper, cut grass and a combination of salt and crushed chalk, quite pleasant. Mostly fermented in stainless steel with a bit of old oak, this includes 5% Semillon as well. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Chateau Montelena Riesling - California, North Coast, Potter Valley
SRP: $25
Clear light golden color. Smells of white peach, green pears, hay and white pepper. Crisp acid, only a hint of sweetness, but a bright, nervy edge throughout. Lime, drizzled on sliced pears and white peaches, add in some lemon and tangerine pith. Some rich honeyed notes but maintains a salty, chalky edge to it. So clean and tangy, with quite a long finish of minerals and quinine. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2014 KITÁ T’aya Camp 4 Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
SRP: $22
Medium gold color. Aromas of green and yellow apples, white peaches, along with bright white and yellow flowers, sea spray and hints of cinnamon spice. Creamy texture but the acid is very precise, giving the wine a tangy, mouthwatering appeal. Tangy green apples mix with richer fruit like banana peel and honeydew, and I get a light dose of nougat, wax and nutshell. But the wine stays clean and saline-infused, with a racy mineral and chalky posture. Long, crisp, clean. A blend of 60% Marsanne, 38% Roussanne and 2% Grenache Blanc. (90 points)

<85 points
Review: 2014 Cornerstone Cellars Stepping Stone White Rocks! - California, North Coast
SRP: $15
Sweet floral explosion on the nose! Honeysuckle, daisies, white peaches, honey, guava. Juicy and tropical on the palate, like kiwi, guava and mango drizzles with lime and topped with white flowers, baby’s breath and honey. Lots of honey, sugar cane. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Orange Muscat.

Review: 2014 Liberated Wine Sauvignon Blanc - California, Sonoma County
SRP: $17
Medium straw color. Jumps out of the glass with aromas of white peaches, kiwi, honeysuckle and green beans. Medium+ bodied, moderate acid, the nectarine, white peach and grapefruit is juicy but shows some nice crunch. Lots of white pepper, honeysuckle, cucumber water and cut flower stem notes. Some nice flavors but not too deep or personable.

Review: 2014 Mirassou Vineyards Pinot Grigio - California
SRP: $12
Pale copper color. Nose of canned peaches, kiwi and white flowers.Creamy body, medium acid. The fruit shows notes of kiwi, peaches, green and yellow apples.  Sweet white flowers and honey, along with hints of chalk and sugar cane. Simple, pleasant, fun, but nothing serious.

Review: 2014 Mirassou Vineyards Moscato - California
Light yellow color with a slight spritz. Smells of white peaches, guava nectar and circus peanuts. Sweet and lacking acid on the palate. Fun flavors of canned peaches, guava juice and orange marmalade, hints of flowers. Good summer sipper if you like residual sugar and don’t like acid. 7% alcohol and almost 7% residual sugar.

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