This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.
It’s time for a round-up of new releases from California. I gathered together some of the samples I’d received over the winter and early spring and collected them into this catch-all report.
I recommend a lot of small production, hard-to-find wines from California (because those are the greatest), but it can be harder to find larger production, widely available wines from California that deliver deliciousness and some excitement. The Q Wines are available in retail stores nationwide from WX brands, and they really deliver in their price points and availability.
The Eighty-Four Wines are the result of a project between Elias Fernandez and Doug Shafter, named after the year in which they began making wine together. And we have a Chard and a Pinot from Alder Fels. Lastly, throw in some Cabs and blends from Napa producers Silverado Vineyards, Rombauer, and Shafer. Most of those wines need time but are great examples of the beautiful reds coming out of Napa from the 2013 and 2014 vintages.
2015 Q Collection Pinot Noir - California, Sonoma Coast
Light ruby color. Nose: tart strawberries, raspberry leaf, red apple, some smoky, green herb notes. Medium-bodied on a fresh frame with light tannins and bright acidity. Red apples, strawberries, wild raspberries, the fruit is crisp but juicy, and tastes of a higher quality than the price point might suggest. A bit lean, and some shortness on the finish, but it shows some interesting cigar box, rhubarb and white pepper notes. (87 points)
2015 Q Collection Chardonnay - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
Medium yellow color. Aromas of dandelion, tulips, juicy bruised pear, some toasted almond and peanut shell, hints of honeycomb. Juicy and pleasantly plump texture on the palate but moderate acidity keeps it refreshing. Lemon curd, yellow apples and pear, mixed in nicely with notes of honeyed white tea, butterscotch, some hints of white flowers and chalk. Tasty and crowd-pleasing without being heavy, and it stays quite fresh. Solid buy. (87 points)
2014 Q Collection Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa Valley
Juicy purple color. Aromas of jammy currants and black cherries, light roast coffee, cola, eucalyptus, hints of roasted chestnut and violet. Full-bodied but juicy with soft tannins and moderate acidity. Fleshy black currant and blackberry jam with some violets, cola and eucalyptus. Fun, approachable, great early drinker but this tastes “real” and far less baked or sweet than a lot of sub-$20 California Cabernets. Another good buy from this brand. (87 points)
2015 Adler Fels Chardonnay The Eagle Rock - California
Bright gold color. Fresh but richly tropical aromas of papaya, kiwi and white peach with white and yellow flowers and honey notes. Full and creamy yet pleasantly fresh on the palate, with yellow apples, papaya and peach fruite. Notes of almond, barley, honey and floral perfume. Forward and packed with flavor but a bit of needed freshness, too. Half the fruit comes from the Russian River, half from Monterey. (87 points)
2014 Adler Fels Pinot Noir The Eagle Rock - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
Deep ruby color. Bright and juicy aromas of raspberry and strawberry jams, candied red cherries, cola and rose petals. Medium+ bodied with soft, easy tannins and moderately fresh acidity. Flavors of juicy strawberries and jammy raspberries play well with cola, sweet roses, rhubarb pie, vanilla. A fun, slightly candied style, but a tasty, plush Pinot for early drinking. Most of the fruit comes from Santa Rita Hills, about a quarter from Russian River. (87 points)
2016 Eighty Four Wines Albariño - California, Napa, Carneros
Light gold color. An aromatic burst of wet grass, lilies, dandelions and spring rain on top of some lemon and green melons. Precise, lip-smacking acidity on the palate, but some rich texture as well. Lemon meringue, nectarine and green melon fruit, which are matched with notes of straw, sea salt, white pepper, flower stems, a long sense of mountain stream minerality in this wine. Incredibly fresh, surprisingly complex, unsurprisingly delicious. The more Napa Albariño I taste, the more I fall in love with it, and this is a great example. (90 points)
2013 Eighty Four Wines Malbec - California, Napa Valley
Rich purple color. A boisterous, plum-laded nose along with blackberries, tobacco, mint, chestnut, graphite and coffee grounds. Full-bodied with moderate-grip to the tannins, a full and velvety wine but it boasts some vibrant acidity. Red and black cherries and currants, the fruit is ripe but crunchy, and mixed with potting soil, coffee, mint, violets, graphite and eucalyptus. Rich and expressive but structured nicely for some cellaring, too. 100% Malbec aged 20 months in ¾ new French oak. (90 points)
2013 Fortress Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Reserve - California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley
Rich purple color. Smells like black cherries, roasted currant, sweet figs, along with dark roast coffee and vanilla. Full and juicy on the palate with medium/soft edges and moderate acidity. Juicy currant and black cherry fruit mixes with vanilla, sweet herbs, charcoal pit, earth and smoke. Fun stuff to rink over the next few years. Includes 8% Malbec, 3% Petite Verdot and 1% Merlot, aged 28 months in 35% new oak. (88 points)
2014 Rombauer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa Valley
Light purple color. Deep red and black currants, yet fresh and juicy, also loaded with eucalyptus, menthol, cola, coffee and violets. Full-bodied, velvety but grippy tannins, medium/low acidity. Juicy black cherries and currants, laced with espresso, dark chocolate shavings, mint, eucalyptus, sweet clove. Very pretty, well-structured for near-term aging or a good decant, but surprisingly approachable. Includes 11% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, aged 17 months in 70% new French oak. (89 points)
2013 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon GEO - California, Napa Valley
Dark purple color. On the nose, it gushes with dark but vibrant plums and black currant, a deep floral and earth element mixes with clove, coffee and mole sauce – lots going on. Full-bodied, mouth-filling, sturdy tannins but medium acidity helps keep it fresh. Currants, blackberries, gorgeous fruit, velvety but fresh; the fruit is laced with iron, dark chocolate, coffee. Seriously structured, but seriously beautiful, with time to spare in the cellar. 88% Cabernet with 12% Petit Verdot, all from Mt. George Vineyard, aged 17 months in 38% new French and American oak. (92 points)
2013 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Solo - California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
Such dark purple color. Gorgeous deep currants and blackberries, with roasted herbs, smashed rocks, iron, violets, some tobacco and clove, such aromatic complexity to unpack. Full and sturdy on the palate but some freshness despite the density. Gorgeous, deep fruit (plums, currants, blackberry), mixed with smoke, roasted chestnut, smashed rocks, minerals, some vanilla coffee and coconut but mixed in well. Long time ahead. All Cabernet from the Silverado Vineyard, aged 18 months in about half new French oak. (93 points)
2014 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five - California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
Opaque purple color. The nose is deep, complex and constantly evolving with a core of blackberry and dark currant fruit, smashed rocks, rich loamy soil, anise, tobacco and violets – lots to unpack. Fully loaded on the palate, a viscous wine with medium-low acidity and a powerful tannic grip. A young but gorgeous wine texturally, and concentrated blackberry and cassis. The fruit’s matched with flavors of anise, charred earth, cocoa powder, espresso and graphite. A sleek and enticing presence despite its youthful density. Best to let it sit for a few years, I think, but this should hold up for many more. Includes a combined 5% Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, aged 10 months in all new French oak barrels. (93 points)