Wine Reviews: California New Releases

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-16-2019

Welcome back for another roundup of new releases from California!

I’ve been getting a lot of new wines from California, and this report has a good amount of the staples: Chardonnay, Pinot, Cabernet, Zinfandel. There are a couple value-driven wines that deliver, and some exciting new releases from Sonoma’s Anaba and Lake County’s Hawk & Horse.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

White wines

2017 Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay - California, Central Coast
SRP: $16
Nose gushes with pineapple, lemon curd, baked apple, with vanilla and honey butter. Plump and creamy texture, medium acidity, lots of yellow apple, pineapple and lemon crème. Flavors of rich toasted marshmallow, vanilla crème cookies, honey, also some fresh floral tones. Fun, accessible stuff. (85 points IJB)

2017 Carmel Road Chardonnay UnoakedCalifornia, Central Coast, Monterey
SRP: $22
Bright nose of peaches, green melon, lemon, white flowers and honeysuckle. Fresh and bright on the palate, this is pleasantly vibrant on a medium-bodied frame. Lemon, white peach and apricot fruit, accented with flowers, honey and chalk notes. A lively and bright style of Chardonnay at a good price. All stainless steel, 13.5% alcohol. (87 points IJB)

2016 The Hess Collection Chardonnay PantheraCalifornia, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $45
Aromas of apricot, lemon curd, orange marmalade, with ginger, honeycomb and vanilla. Texturally, this is plump and full yet shows medium acidity, and the balance is on point. Yellow apples, apricot and orange marmalade, with honey, ginger, vanilla and cinnamon crumb cake. Yet there’s this aspect of saline and minerals that makes it pop. Aged 15 months in 35% new French oak, 14.3% alcohol. (88 points IJB)

2016 Anaba Chardonnay Dutton Ranch - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $42thumbnail (6)
Deep yet pretty scents of apricot and yellow apple, cinnamon and nutmeg, sea salt and flowers, the aromas are bold yet they make me salivate. Pristine and fresh on the palate with crisp acidity and smooth texture. Apricot, yellow apples, orange marmalade, and I get complex notes of chalk, sea salt, yellow flowers, ginger, white tea. Wow, this is really pretty stuff. Aged 17 months in 27% new French oak, 90% maloactic fermentation. (92 points IJB)

Red wines

2016 Carmel Road Pinot Noir - California, Central Coast, Monterey
SRP: $25
Warm strawberry and cherry compote on the nose with rose petals, cola, rhubarb and white pepper. Medium-bodied palate, light tannins, medium acidity, this is a juicy and fresh style, full of pleasant red cherry, raspberry, strawberry jam. Secondary notes of clove, cola and rhubarb add some complexity. A juicy and fun style but the freshness keeps it food-friendly and so easy to drink. Aged 9 months in French oak, 13% new. (87 points IJB)

2016 Anaba Pinot Noir- California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $42
Nose boasts bright cherries, raspberries and strawberries, along with vibrant red flowers, dandelion, white pepper, rhubarb and spiced tea. Medium+ body, velvety tannins, bright acidity, the balance is quite nice. Raspberries and red cherries are topped in roses, herbal tea, white pepper, sage and raspberry leaf. Not light (lots of juicy fruit) but it has a vibrant feel and freshness to it. Drink now or hold for a few years. Aged 20 months in 35% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

2016 J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP $40
Bright but deep aromas of black and red cherries, raspberries and strawberries, along with roses, rhubarb, clove and spiced tea. The palate is ripe but vibrant, full but suave, with light tannins and fresh acidity. Flavors of red plums, cherries, raspberries and strawberries, plenty of ripe fruit but it is complemented by notes of cola, clove, rhubarb, potpourri, black tea, earth. Rich but nuanced, delicious but complex. (90 points IJB)

2016 Gehricke Zinfandel - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $30
Aromas of blackberries, plums and raspberries, all tossed together in a simmer pot with violets, rhubarb, cedar and vanilla. On the palate, it’s full-bodied (15.1%) with soft tannins and enough acidity to keep it lively. Raspberries, plums, black cherries, the fruit works well with cola, cedar, birch and sweet vanilla notes. Aged 17 months in French oak. Fun, chewy, barbecue-friendly stuff. (88 points IJB)

2016 The Hess Collection Lion Tamer - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $45
Smells of sweet plums, black cherry jam, juicy and plump with violets, cocoa, vanilla and coffee. Full-bodied but smooth with soft tannins and medium-low acidity. Sweet clumps of plum, black cherry and blackberry. Laced with vanilla, toasted marshmallow, dark chocolate and cedar, with some earthy hints. Full, hedonistic and fun. 40% Malbec with Zinfandel, Ptite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedr and Merlot. Aged 22 months in 40% new French oak. (87 points IJB)

2016 Lucas & Lewellen Cabernet Sauvignon Valley View Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $25
Nose shows lots of plums and sweet black cherries, topped in roasted coffee, grilled herbs, pepper and cocoa. Rich and velvety style with smooth tannins and medium acidity, which adds freshness. Generous helpings of plums, black cherries and currants, and add in some clove, rosemary, pepper, and vanilla and coffee, which harmonizes well with the warm fruit. A highly drinkable Cab now, but it shows depth, and has a lot to offer for a California Cabernet at this price point. Includes a combined 25% Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, aged 21 months in 40% new French oak. (88 points IJB)

2016 Three Finger Jack Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon East Side RidgeCalifornia, Central Valley, Lodi
SRP: $22thumbnail (5)
Rich, deep aromas of plums, blackberry, mixed with coffee, violets, clove, a warm and inviting nose. Full-bodied (15%), this is a full-on style with a rich, chewy feel, medium tannins, some moderating acidity, but it’s actually all balanced together quite well. There’s a nice combo of rich black cherries, plums and blackberries, and complex notes of scorched earth, clove, smoky cedar, violets, a littler earthy-mineral notes, too. Highly delicious but also quite complex, and far more interesting than a lot of California Cabernets in this price range. (88 points IJB)

2014 Hawk and Horse Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - California, North Coast, Red Hills Lake County
SRP: $75
Gorgeous aromatics, like waves of blackberries, red and black currants, along with violets, black pepper, red pepper flakes, complex earthy and coffee notes. Full-bodied, this Cab sports velvety tannins and bright acidity, and it’s balanced very nicely. Tart black cherries, juicy dark plums and blackberries, this wine is laced with complex notes of pencil shavings, pepper, leather, scorched earth. Accented well with dark chocolate and espresso notes. I’d love to see what this does in five years. Impressive Lake County Cabernet. Aged 23 months in 90% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

2013 Hawk and Horse Vineyards Latigo - California, North Coast, Lake County
SRP: $50/375ml
Aromas of warm berry compote, along with pepper, earth, charcoal, lavender and clove. The palate is balanced nicely with velvety tannins, bright acidity, balanced sweetness. Juicy black cherries, roasted figs and dates, mixed well with elements of clove, anise, violets, sweet caramel. There’s also this lingering minerality, too. What a beautiful fortified dessert wine, this really surprised me. All Cabernet (from estate vineyards planted at about 2,200 feet), aged 29 months in new French oak, fortified with oak-aged brandy. 17.9% alcohol, 13% residual sugar. (91 points IJB)

<85 points

N.V. Dark Horse Limited Brut RoséCalifornia
SRP $13
Nose shows strawberry candies, raspberries, red apple peel, with sliced cucumber and white pepper. Medium/light-bodied with crisp acidity and faint bubbles. Reed apple peels, white cherries, with spicy, herbal tones. Light, fun, simple.

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