Wine Reviews: California New Releases

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-22-2021

This week, I have a handful of new wines from all over California worth getting excited about.

I’m a big fan of the dynamic wine scene in Paso Robles, so I was delighted to taste three new-to-me wines and chat about Paso with the winemakers over a Zoom meeting. They focused on the region’s well-known calcareous soils, and each winemaker (from Linne Calodo, Caliza and the aptly-named Calcareous Vineyard) spoke about the importance of these soils in their wines. The three wines I tasted are good examples of how that ancient ocean bed soil can result in some exciting wines.

Some value Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Nielson in Santa Barbara County also make an appearance, and a cool Chenin Blanc. Lastly, La Pelle’s new offerings continue to show why they are worth watching.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

White wines

2018 Caliza Winery “Sidekick” USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $36
Rich yellow color. Aromas of rich apricots and baked apple, with tones of honey, graham cracker, with notes of flowers, honey and even some fresh chanterelles. The fresh acidity is really nice, surprisingly so, and it balances that classic, creamy texture. Flavors of apricot, baked apples and pineapple, rich fruit but it stays surprisingly fresh with tones of yellow flowers and honey, almond, white tea. Delicious, focused stuff. 90% Roussanne and 10% Viognier, aged in French oak. (90 points IJB)

2020 Aperture Chenin Blanc USA, California, North Coast
SRP: $30
Light yellow color. The nose pops with lemon, quince and yellow flowers, with interesting spicy, herbal, white floral elements. Crisp acidity, punchy texture, a citrus-infused delight with chalky, oceanic, crushed shell tones, with some white tea and minerals. Bright and fun but a lot of complexity, too. From a Clarksburg vineyard, this is aged six months on the lees in used French oak and stainless steel. (90 points IJB)

2019 Nielson Chardonnay USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $16
Medium yellow color. Aromas show apricots and lemon drops with lemon verbena, light butter, some bright, sudsy, floral tones. Crisp but flesh on the medium-bodied palate with lemons and peaches, bright but not light on the flavor. Lemon drops and honey mix with some almond and some brighter floral tones. Approachable, fun, yummy, value-driven stuff. Aged eight months in French oak, stainless steel and concrete eggs. (87 points IJB)

2019 La Pelle Sauvignon Blanc USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $45
Pale straw color. Wow, the nose pops with limes, kiwi and papaya, topped in floral perfume, daisies, lemongrass and sea salt. Pure and vibrant on the palate with a racy, stony presence and deep texture. Lemons, white peach and orange peel, crunchy fruit mixes well with stony, oyster shell and mineral tones, and elements of flowers and honey. This is nervy, vibrant and balanced Sauvignon Blanc, with a salty finish. A whole lot to ponder and enjoy in here, and it will reward patience in the cellar, too. (93 points IJB)

Red Wines

2018 Nielson Pinot Noir USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $19
Deep ruby color. Juicy strawberries and red cherries are met with rhubarb, rose petals and some cola. Fleshy, juicy strawberries meet with light tannins and vibrant acidity. Cherry rhubarb pie flavors mix with white pepper, black tea some oregano. Fun and fresh despite the juicy fruit, this has a smooth, accessible feel but shows solid complexity for the price as well. Aged 12 months in French oak. (87 points IJB)

2018 Calcareous Vineyard “Lloyd” USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $65
Vibrant purple color. The nose shows a whole lot of spicy, earthy, savory tones, with mesquite and leather over top of cherries and lively currants, cocoa and anise. Full-bodied but so fresh and lively, it maintains a tanginess that is refreshing throughout. All sorts of plums and currants, the fruit deep but crunchy and mixed with complex tones of grilled herbs, black tea, black pepper, sage and leather. Highly delicious, but has lots of tricks up its sleeve and needs age, too. An estate blend of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot, aged 18 months in 40% new French oak. (92 points IJB)

2018 Linne Calodo “Overthinker” USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles Willow Creek District
SRP: $95
Light purple color. Ooh, the nose shows deep cherries and currants with enticing notes of leather, mesquite, violet petals, black pepper and black tea. Full-bodied but moderated well by the acidity, and the tart plums and black cherries are deep but crunchy. Complex iron, meat, graphite and creosote tones add complexity. This really needs time to open up and show its floral, meaty and earthy tones. Give this a decant or a few years, but it’s exquisite. 55% Syrah, 38% Grenache and 7% Mourvedre. (92 points IJB)

2019 La Pelle Cabernet Sauvignon ­- USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $80
Deep purple color. On the nose, it’s exciting the way the roasted red peppers, sage, tobacco and earth tones mix with tart currants and black cherries, with coffee and dark chocolate tones. Structured well with a solid backbone and vibrant acidity to support the tangy black currant fruit. Complex tones of roasted red peppers, savory spices, tobacco and earth, and elements of coffee and clove. There is a ton going on here, and it maintains a fresh, earthy, flinty mystique. This will do wonders in five or six years, but it’s impressive how balanced it is so young, too. Includes 2% Petit Verdot aged 18 months in 50% new French oak. (93 points IJB)

Comments are closed.