Wine Reviews: California Reds

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-12-2016

This report includes a hodgepodge of Zinfandels, Cabernets, Syrahs and red blends received over the past few weeks. A lot of goodies in here that pair wonderfully with autumnal weather.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind (unless otherwise noted).

Review: 2014 La Voix Syrah So What - California, Central Coast, Ballard Canyon
SRP: $40
Deep ruby color. Smells of juicy raspberries, cherries, darker plums, along with earth, tobacco, violets and menthol. Full-bodied but bright on the palate, fleshy tannin meets crisp acidity, the wine is rich and juicy but also tart and fresh. Black cherries, plums and raspberries mix with tar, smoke, soy glaze and mint sauce. Sweet and luscious but so fresh, lots of poise and balance. Could age nicely over the next four to five years. Aged 20 months in 20% new French oak barrels. (91 points IJB)

Review: 2014 La Voix Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Ecstasy of GoldCalifornia, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $65
Deep ruby/light purple color. Intoxicating nose of juicy black cherries, blueberry and tart black currant along with rose and violet petals, savory spices like clove and cardamom, and some roasted herb and vanilla notes. Full-bodied but velvety with smooth tannins and medium-plus acidity. The black cherry, dark plum and currant fruit is saucy but maintains lots of freshness as well, and it’s backed up with notes of cola, sweet coffee, grilled herbs and dark, earthy flavors. Oak nuances are woven in very nicely. Delicious now but could improve in the near term. Wow, very impressive. The Cabernet comes from Los Olivos and Happy Canyon, while 10% Merlot from Los Olivos and 10% Malbec from Santa Maria Valley are blended in. Aged 20 months in 40% new oak. (91 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Bruce Patch Zinfandel Harris Kratka VineyardCalifornia, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
SRP: $35
Deep ruby colored. A bunch of dusty, earthy, savory spice aromas, plenty of elegant floral tones, all on top of sweet red berries. Large and in-charge (15.4%), structured but silky, medium/low acidity keeps it from being too weighed down. Raspberry jam, juicy black cherries and currants, lots of rose petals, green herbs, potting soil, charcoal and smashed rock flavors. Complex and evocative. Huge and hedonistic but maintains mystique. I’d love to see how this ages over the next three or four years. Aged 18 months in French and American oak, this wine includes 10% Carignan, 5% Petite Sirah. (91 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Quivira Zinfandel Black Boar - California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
SRP: $45
Vibrant purple color. Smells of black cherry and blackberry jam topped with roasted coffee, cocoa powder, vanilla and dark chocolate shavings. Full-bodied, chewy tannins, low acidity, this is a concentrated wine loaded with saucy blackberries and black cherry compote. The fruit is laced with roasted chestnut, coffee, charcoal, vanilla cola and some pepper. High octane stuff but highly delicious as well. Includes 18% Petite Sirah, this is aged in three- and four-year-old French, American and Hungarian oak. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Bruce Patch Old Vine Zinfandel Carreras Ranch Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
SRP: $40
Deep ruby colored. Aromas of sweet raspberry, juicy strawberry, jammy black cherry, also notes of clove, eucalyptus, black pepper and ginger. Full and juicy, structured by medium tannin, a chewy but smooth mouthfeel with lots of raspberry and blackberry fruit. Interesting mix of coffee, cola, scorched earth, violets and vanilla. Super delicious but far more than a one-trick Zinfandel. Aged two years in American oak. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Bruce Patch Red Dress - California, Sonoma County
SRP: $35
Light purple color. Aromas of currant and blackberry compote, along with sweet flowers, black pepper and bay leaf. Full and chewy on the palate, structure is solid, acid is fresh, combines for a pretty mouthfeel. Dark, juicy berries, but the fruit shows a tart edge. I love the earthy, black pepper, herbal notes in this wine. Some toasted oak, woven in well, and there’s a Southern Italian Primitivo-like earthy, spicy complexity to this wine. Drinking nicely now but structure for near-term improvement. An old-school Sonoma County blend of 63% Zinfandel, 16% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, 7% Carignan, 4% Petite Sirah, aged 20 months in French and American oak. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2014 2Sons Winery The Federalist Dueling PistolsCalifornia, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
SRP: $18
Bright purple color. Aromas of juicy black cherries and sweet raspberries, along with sage and clove – this kind of sweet herbal aspect mixes with vanilla/oak. Full-bodied with velvety tannins and moderate acidity keeps it quite fresh. Juicy black cherries, raspberries and red currant fruit. Smoky notes and vanilla, along with red hots and pepper. I like the way this stays clear of baked fruit and sweetness, and tends toward the fresher end of the spectrum – makes for easy early drinking. A 50/50 blend of Syrah and Zinfandel. Aged 15 months in 20% new American and Hungarian oak. Tasted sighted. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Fortress Cabernet SauvignonCalifornia, Sonoma County
SRP: $23
Deep purple color. Good mix of black cherries with roasted fig and tart currant aromas, and I get some loam, espresso and subtle vanilla. Full-bodied with fined-down tannins, which combines with the medium acidity for a chewy mouthfeel. Juicy cherry and currant fruit, whipped with earth, charcoal, sweet tobacco and vanilla. Full of flavor but has a silky appeal. A near-term drinker. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, Syrah and Merlot. Aged 11 months in French and American oak (10% new). (87 points IJB) 

Review: 2013 Acumen Cabernet Sauvignon Mountainside - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $60
Rich purple color. A dark aromatic core of plums and currants with notes of cedar and pine forest floor meeting some coffee and vanilla. Very dry tannins on the palate, full-bodied, medium acidity helps tie it all together. Flavors of kirsch, black currant, dense black cherry, concentrated but delicious fruit. Lots of forest, cedar, dried leaves, rich soil, a very earthy wine but plenty of roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Delicious stuff but this could use three to five in the cellar. Includes 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec and 1% Merlot, aged 18 months in 72% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet SauvignonCalifornia, Napa Valley
SRP: $53
Juicy purple color. Bursts with aromas of black cherries, blackberry compote, surrounded by sweet violets, clove, menthol, sage and cedar. Full-bodied on the palate with chewy tannins and some moderate acidity that keeps the wine vibrant. Lively dark fruit (roasted plum, black cherry, black currant). I get notes of anise, sage, sweet clove and potting soil. Smoky oak and vanilla integrated nicely. A full, delicious and saucy wine but structured, too. I’d love to see this with four or five years of cellar time on it. Includes 13% Merlot, 4% Cab Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, the wine is aged 20 months in 33% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Franciscan Estate Magnificat – California, Napa Valley
SRP: $55
Deep purple color. Smells of roasted plums, black currants and black cherries, topped with cedar, eucalyptus, vanilla and spiced chai. Mouthfilling texture with moderate tannic structure and medium/low acidity. Saucy black currants and black cherries, the fruit is matched with anise, eucalyptus, dark coffee and charred vanilla bean flavors. Could use air or a year or two. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with 24% Merlot, 2% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc, aged 20 months in 70% new oak. Tasted sighted. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Freemark Abbey Cabernet SauvignonCalifornia, Napa Valley, Rutherford
SRP: $70
Juicy purple color. Aromas of hedonistic dark fruit (blackberry jam, black currants) but waves of mint, tobacco and eucalyptus lift it up. Full-bodied, dry and bold tannic structure but the edges aren’t too rough, medium acidity. Saucy blackberry and cassis, add in grilled herbs and eucalyptus. Cedar, vanilla and cigar box elements are bold but woven in nicely. Finishes with a kiss of acid and some earthy flavor. 3-5 years will help this unravel a bit. Includes Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, aged 28 months in about 70% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

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