Wine Reviews: California Reds

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-03-2019

I’m back this week with a diverse handful of newly-released California reds.

I’ve long been a fan of Adam Lee’s Siduri Pinot Noirs. It was purchased by Jackson Family a few years ago, but based on this and other tastings, I’ve found the aesthetic seems to be staying true to form. Adam’s first Siduri Pinot was producer from Anderson Valley fruit, and while tasting two 2017s, I was reminded about what drew me to these wines in the first place.

Napa’s Frank Family comes through with a Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon that bring a lot of personality for wines in their respective price ranges. And Louis Martini’s Sonoma and Napa Cabernets show themselves as accessible, fun but also “serious” wines that offer lots of value.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2017 Cline Cellars Carignane Ancient Vines - California, San Francisco Bay, Contra Costa County
SRP: $23
Deep purple color. Aromas of sweet plums, black cherries (warm, mulled fruit) with cocoa, cola and sweet black pepper glaze. Full but fresh with suave tannins and medium acidity. Roasted plums and black cherries, the fruit is warm and rich, backed up with notes of spicy pepper, leather, coffee and charcoal grill. Fun, yummy, a solid choice to pair with pretty much anything that’s been grilled. All Carignane aged 12 months in French oak, 35% new. (87 points IJB)

2017 Siduri Pinot Noir Anderson Valley - California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
SRP: $40
Deep ruby color. Bright and juicy nose of raspberries, red currants, cranberry sauce, with lots of roses, violets, rhubarb and wild herbs. Plum and juicy texture but lively acidity, with dusty-light tannins. Crisp raspberries, cherries, pomegranate, tangy and chilled, with rose petals, rhubarb, mint and cola elements. Fruity and fun, but elegant, spicy, lively. It’s good to see Siduri keeping things going in this style. A blend of three-vineyards around Boonville, aged 15 months in 35% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

2017 Siduri Pinot Noir Edmeades - California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
SRP: $50
Medium ruby color. Lovely aromas of fresh cherries, raspberries and red plums, topped in cola, rhubarb, white pepper, violets, and some earthy-clay notes. Plush yet zesty on the palate with dusty tannins. Bountiful but crisp fruit (cherries, strawberries, raspberries), and I get notes of spiced tea, rhubarb, cola, violet petals and earth. Plump and fruity but vibrant and complex as well, this should do well with two or three years, but it’s very accessible now, too. From a block of Pommard clone in the Londer block of this vineyard, 50% whole cluster fermentation, aged 10 months in 33% new French oak. (92 points IJB)

2016 Bear Flag Wine Zinfandel- California, Sonoma County
SRP: $30
Light purple color. The nose is juicy and sweet with black cherry, blueberry and raspberry jams, mixed with yummy notes of coffee, cola, sarsaparilla and vanilla. Full-bodied with smooth tannins and surprisingly fresh acidity. Lots of plums, raspberries, black cherries and blueberries, all cooked down into jams with notes of mint, sweet pipe tobacco and cola. Velvety, plush, fun, fan-friendly, but it also sports complexity and vibrancy. There’s this cool earthy, incense, pipe tobacco thing on the finish, too. Really yummy. (89 points IJB)

2016 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $58
Bright purple color. Big and juicy on the nose with currants, plums and black cherries, suave and fruity but complex notes of eucalyptus, tobacco, mint and dark chocolate notes. Full-bodied on the palate with a warm, inviting feel; velvety tannins, medium acidity. Very pretty fruit (black cherries, currants, dark plums), dark but tangy, and it’s paired well with notes of mint, eucalyptus, tobacco and vanilla. Harmonious and smooth, accessible young but has the structure to hold for a while as well. Includes a combined 10% Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this spends 20 months in 1/3 new French oak. (91 points IJB)

2016 Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $38
Bright purple. Juicy, tangy aromas of cherries, plums and raspberries, with cola, mint, chewing tobacco and cracked pepper. Full but suave on the palate with velvety tannins and surprisingly fresh acidity. Jammy raspberries, cherries and plums, but the fruit shows a tangy edge, and it’s accented by notes of spicy mint, tobacco, black pepper, hints of espresso and vanilla. So fun to drink bow but this could age for a few years. Includes 9% Petite Sirah, this spends 16 months in 1/3 new French oak. (90 points IJB)

2016 Provenance Vineyards Deadeye - California, Napa Valley
thumbnail (8)SRP: $50
Deep purple color. The aromas are dark and deep (currants, blueberries, blackberries), with anise, cocoa, vanilla and spice rub notes. This is big, juicy and deep on the palate, a mouth-filling presence with velvety tannins and enough acidity to moderate things. Waves of dark, smooth fruit blend well with cocoa, mint, scorched earth, cedar and tobacco. Graphite and mineral elements on the finish. Big (15.5%) but it holds itself together very well. Sourced from fruit from St. Helena, Howell Mountain, Oakville and Spring Mountain, aged 18 months in French, American and Hungarian oak (50% new). (90 points IJB)

2016 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $40
Medium purple color. The nose is sweet and inviting , with plums, black currants and fig paste, and notes of cedar, cocoa, coffee and scorched earth. Full-bodied with a bold presence on the palate, smooth tannins but they provide some grip, medium acidity. Flavors of juicy dark plums and blackberries (deep but the fruit has a nice tangy edge). Notes of cocoa, cedar, coffee grounds and mint add complexity. A nice warm, slightly earth aesthetic. This is really pleasant yet complex — Louis Martini’s Napa Cab is killer for the price. Aged 21 months in 30% new French and American oak. (90 points IJB)

2016 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Sonoma County
SRP: $20
Light purple color. The nose shows plum sauce, black cherries and currants, warm but fresh fruit, mixed well with anise, cocoa, tobacco and vanilla. Full-bodied with a smooth, suave yet fresh appeal. Juicy and fresh black cherries, plum and cassis. Notes of tobacco, vanilla, clove and forest floor are woven in nicely. This is a really fun, accessible and early-drinking Cabernet, but complex, too, and consistently one of the better Cabs in this price range. Sourced from Frei Ranch and Barrelli Creek Vineyards, this includes some Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot and Merlot, aged 16 months in oak. (88 points IJB)

Comments (2)

  1. I love Siduri, Isaac, but I was bummed when they sold. I’ve been to their industrial park tasting room a handful of times, but this last time (March 2019) might be my last. The tasting experience has completely changed. They used to pour you 4-6 Pinots side by side, so you could compare. This was the best thing they had going for them: the ability to demonstrate (especially to newer wine drinkers) just how different the same grape can taste when grown in different places. (What better way to teach someone about the concept of terroir!?) I always brought new people there purely for this educational exercise. This last time I was there, they poured us one wine at a time, and it was kinda lame. I didn’t get a very good answer for why they changed the tasting format. The price point, too, has shot up about $20, which turns me off. I don’t even think I bought a bottle last time I was there.

  2. Eric, I totally hear that too, and I was bummed as well. I miss tasting with Adam back in the day, but I haven’t been back to taste there in four or five years. These new releases were solid, but there’s nostalgia for me too, as Siduri was one of those producers that really got me stoked about California Pinot early on. Cheers!