Wine Reviews: California New Releases

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-30-2019

I’ve been receiving a lot of new releases from California lately (especially rosés), so this report is my attempt to keep up!

This week, I’m taking a look at two Sonoma County wines from Sosie, which really wowed me with their brightness, freshness and lower alcohol vibes. California’s only Kerner wine (from David Ramey’s Sidebar brand) makes a delightful appearance in this report, while the Sidebar Zinfandel shows a red-fruited, bright as day appeal.

I also tasted some big name 2015 Napa Cabs (Beaulieu’s Georges de Latour Private Reserve and LaJota’s Howell Mountain), which showed why they’re popular and expensive.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2017 Sidebar Cellars KernerCalifornia, Central Valley, Lodi Mokelumne River
kernerSRP: $25
Light yellow color. Whoa, the nose explodes with mango, lemon curd, lots of sea salt, verbena, oregano, green olives — how cool. Bright and inviting on the palate yet there’s a lovely creaminess (sur lie aging really gives it this great texture), a fascinating mouthfeel and balance. Yellow plums, mango, lemon curd, there’s a complex host of minerals, white tea, lemon verbena, oregano, sea salt, chalk dust. This is really cool, delicious, versatile stuff. 100% Kerner from the sandy loam soils of the Mokelumne Glen Vineyard. No maloactic fermentation, aged sur lie in stainless steel. (91 points IJB)

2017 Castello di Amorosa Chardonnay Reserve - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $58
Bold yellow color. The nose jumps out with rich baked apples, orange marmalade, lots of honey, butter, cinnamon and nougat. The palate shows rich, buttery texture but medium acidity. Baked apples and glazed pear fruit, topped in honey, almond, ginger, cinnamon and floral perfume. A plump, rich style, but it wrapped together well. Aged 10 months in all new French oak, with 75% maloactic fermentation. (88 points IJB)

2015 Sosie Roussanne Vivio Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Bennett Valley
SRP: $38
Bold yellow color. Aromas pop with super tropical combos of pineapple, lychee, honey butter, almond, tropical flowers. Medium-bodied (only 12.9% alcohol) with moderating acidity, which really helps, and there’s a creamy, waxy texture. Flavors of yellow apples and pineapple, laced with floral potpourri, salted nuts, white tea, there’s some underlying mineral tones. Bold and tropical in flavors yet it’s nuanced and light on its feel – a nice combo to find in California Roussanne. Native yeasts, barrel fermented, all maloactic fermentation. (90 points IJB)

2015 Sosie Pinot Noir Spring Hill Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $43
Bright cherry colored. Nose shows fresh red cherries and pomegranate with lots of spiced tea, bay leaf, pepper, paprika, rose petals – this has a really spicy, savory nose that I love. Medium-bodied and really fresh with dusty tannins and bright acidity on a frame of about 13% alcohol. Red cherries, raspberries and pomegranate fruit blend well with notes of spiced tea, pepper, bay leaf, subtle coffee and cedar notes. Complex and could develop in the cellar but it’s already harmonious. Aged 16 months in 25% new French oak. (91 points IJB)

2016 Sidebar Cellars Zinfandel Old Vines - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $28
Bright deep ruby color. Aromas of wild red currant, raspberries, tangy summer plums, with spiced tea, lavender, clove, pepper and forest floor. Full-bodied but fresh with velvety tannins and zesty acidity. The juicy plums and wild raspberry fruit is topped in sweet clove, coffee, pepper, tobacco, and an earthy-mineral component. A gorgeous, vibrant Zinfandel. Includes 10% Alicante, 10% Petite Sirah and 12 other varieties compose 2% of the blend, aged in old oak for 12 months. From the Alegria Vineyard, which was replanted in 1950. (91 points IJB)

2016 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $33
Deep purple color. Nose boasts juicy, sweet black cherries, dark plums and blackberries, backed up by cocoa, vanilla and sweet tobacco. Velvety on the palate, full and juicy with medium acidity and plenty of juicy dark currants and plums. Notes of violets, coco, leather, tobacco, some savory notes as well. Easy-drinking, accessible now, yet shows some solid complexity and depth. Includes a combined 22% Syrah, Petite Sirah, Touriga Nacional, Malbec, and more. Aged 15 months in 30% new oak. (88 points IJB)

2015 Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry ReserveCalifornia, Napa Valley
SRP: $65
Bright purple color. Rich and bold on the nose with a solid core of black cherries and currants, roasted plums, with sweet cocoa, violet petals, clove, espresso, and some underlying earthy, savory notes. Full-bodied on the palate with a rich, velvety tannic structure, moderating acidity underneath helps keep it relatively fresh, but this is a big, smooth red with lots of juicy black fruit. Very pretty, though, with violets, clove, mint, vanilla and cocoa notes, with earthy undertones. Really opens up with air, so I’d recommend decanting or sometime in the cellar. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot aged in 60% new French, American and Hungarian oak for 22 months. (91 points IJB)

2015 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $150
Vibrant purple color. Nose shows deep, rich, pure fruit (blackberry, cassis, roasted fig), along with an intoxicating blend of violets, tobacco, eucalyptus, mint, and an earthy, rocky essence in there, too. So suave and texturally flashy the palate with a full, bold presence (15%+) but there’s a lively, elegant feel too, with velvety tannins and medium adity. Black currant and dark plums along with a complex mix of earthy, rocky, forest floor notes with sweet tobacco, espresso, mint chocolate chip, and a spicy potpourri element. Big stuff but it holds itself together really well, and while it can age wonderfully, I’m really surprised by how accessible this is right out of the gates. Includes 4% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec, aged 22 months in 90% new French oak. (93 points IJB)thumbnail (2)

2015 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
SRP: $125
Bright purple color. Gorgeous aromatics that shift and evolve wonderfully: dark currants, black cherries, complex waves of graphite, smashed rocks, menthol, tobacco, espresso, violets. The palate is full but suave, and the tannins show grip but rounded edges, while the acidity is really bright and keeps me salivating. Pure black currant and tart blackberry fruit is laced with tobacco leaf, graphite, violets, mint, coffee, dark chocolate, espresso. Air does wonders to this wine, so I’d recommend a serious decant if opening in the next few years, otherwise feel free to properly cellar this and forget about it for a long time. Includes a combined 25% Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Aged 22 months in 65% new French oak. (95 points IJB)

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