Wine Reviews: California Reds

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-17-2016

This group of California red wines arrived late in the season, after I had already conducted several single-blind tastings. So, I threw them all together. There are some serious goodies in here from Shafer, Galerie and Stonestreet. With bold, delicious reds like this, I say let it snow!

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Review: 2013 Galerie Cabernet Sauvignon Pleinair - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $50
Rich purple color. Gorgeous blackberry and cassis, rich but elegant, and deep aromas of violets, cinnamon, vanilla and coffee mixed with dark earthy/spice elements – a lovely combo. Study tannic backbone on this wine but the refreshing acidity keeps it feeling silky. The black currant and blackberry fruit is a big dense at this young age, but shows tons of flavor and lots of potential for further development. I already get a host of cinnamon, charcoal, rocky soil, espresso. A complex and pretty wine that has its best to come. Definitely a winner in this price range of Napa Cabs. Aged 20 months in about half new French oak. (92 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Frank Family Vineyards Petite Sirah - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $35
Dark purple color. Dark and deep on the nose, with saucy plums and blackberry pie, a lot of other nuances: clove, coffee, vanilla, violets and potting soil. A massive and chewy presence on the palate with sturdy tannins and medium-low acidity (but just enough to keep this from being too dense. Blackberry and boysenberry, the fruit is chewy but shows a fresh edge, and I get lots of espresso, charcoal, black pepper and smoke. Rich, delicious, a bit compact now but this will age nicely for quite a bunch of years. Aged 20 months in 1/3 new French oak. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Shafer Merlot - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $55
Dark purple color. On the nose, a dark core of saucy plum, black cherry and black currant, along with mocha, crushed rocks, violets, cola, campfire smoke and coffee. Very full-bodied with a huge and viscous presence on the palate, medium/low acidity. Black cherries, roasted plums and black currant, the fruit is dense but laced with flavors of violets, loamy soil, charcoal, vanilla, cedar, bourbon and spiced coffee. Huge and hedonistic, this goes for the jugular, but it is excellent for this style. I’d love to bury a bottle for five to seven years. Includes 14% Malbec and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine is aged 20 months in 85% new French oak. (92 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Shafer Relentless - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $87
Deep purple color. Intensely dark aromas of blueberry, blackberry and boysenberry topped in charcoal, magic marker, black pepper glaze and vanilla. Massive texture on the palate, this has a glycerin-like feel with grippy tannins and just enough acidity. Dense blackberry and blueberry fruit doused in shaved coconut, espresso, mint chocolate chip, black pepper glaze and sarsaparilla. Wow this is so delicious but so young. Can’t wait to see what happens to it in five to eight years. Aged 30 months in all new French oak, this contains 3% Petite Sirah. (93 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
SRP: $45
Deep purple color. Smells of black currant, plums and roasted figs, peppered with eucalyptus, sage, rich earth and spiced chai. Full but fresh with sturdy tannins but vibrant acidity that keeps it balanced. Plum and black currant fruit, rich but tart, topped in smoky earth, eucalyptus, cedar, graphite and violets. Complex now but will be better in 3-4 years. This outperforms a lot of Napa stuff in this price point. Aged 18 months in 37% new French oak. (91 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Bruce Patch Zinfandel Equavinity Landy Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $30
Juicy purple color. Smells of vibrant black cherries and juicy raspberries, sweet cola, eucalyptus and pepper. Full-bodied with velvety tannins and surprisingly fresh acidity. Tart black cherries and plums blend so well with sweet violets, eucalyptus, vanilla cola, and really interesting notes of barbecue sauce, cayenne and black pepper. Long and complex but fresh with great balance and some structure for aging. Wow, and for $30?! Aged 20 months in American oak. (91 points IJB)

Comments (3)

  1. Thanks for the great reviews. The 2013 Shafer Relentless sounds amazing after reading that!

  2. Not sure why Stonestreet has never caught on like some other Cabernets. It’s still a fine value in the overheated Cal Cab market.

  3. My thoughts exactly. For the price, it punches above its weight.