Friday, June 2, 2017

Wine Reviews: New Releases from California & Washington State

Good morning, everyone. This week, I have a round-up of recent wines from California and Washington State. There are a few Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays from California that represent a good spread on the spectrum of price and style. Napa’s Ehlers Estate impresses with their Bordeaux blends, per usual. And I also received some seriously good value wines from Washington State, which is consistently a good source of wines high in quality and value.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2016 Freemark Abbey Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
SRP: $25
Pale straw color. Smells of ruby red grapefruit, guava and lemon with honey, perfume and hints of sliced green peppers. Medium+ bodied with a pleasantly plump texture but vibrant acidity. Chunky pineapple and guava fruit with a drizzle of lime juice, and I get some waxy/honeyed elements, white tea, vanilla, almond. A rich style but stays vibrant and crisp. The French oak barrel-fermented notes are woven in well and don’t dominate the other elements. Includes 5% Semillon. (88 points)

2016 Matanzas Creek Winery Sauvignon Blanc - California, Sonoma County
SRP: $15
Medium yellow color. Lots of ruby red grapefruit on the nose with guava and gooseberry along with sliced jalapeno and cut grass. Fresh and lip-smacking on the palate on a medium-bodied frame with lots of ripe fruit: chunky pineapple mixes with grapefruit and gooseberry. Honeysuckle and oregano add some interesting spice, but it’s balanced quite nicely. Solid for the price. Includes 4% Semillon, fermented in stainless steel with 8% old French oak, made from three different vineyards in Knights, Alexander and Bennett Valley. (87 points)

2016 Matanzas Creek Winery Sauvignon Blanc - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
SRP: $20
Light yellow color. On the nose, I get grapefruit with white peaches and lime juice along with white and yellow flowers, some saline and chalk notes. Medium-bodied with zesty acid on the palate and pleasant creaminess, but the wine stays bright. Green pear, white peach, drizzled with lime juice, laced with green tea, lilies, chalk dust and ocean spray. Crisp, vibrant, lip-smackingly good stuff. Includes 7% Semillon, fermented in mostly stainless steel with 15% old French oak. (88 points)

2016 Rombauer Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa ValleySRP: $24
Light yellow color. Bursting with aromas of guava, pineapple, lime, lemongrass, honeysuckle. Plenty of texture on the palate, a plush feel but bright and crisp acidity. Lemon/lime on top of pineapple, guava, banana peel, with notes of lemongrass, nettle and honeycomb. Lots of flavor and fruit but solid complexity and this retains such a sense of freshness and vibrancy. Lovely stuff. 90% stainless steel, 10% old oak. (89 points)

2016 Shooting Star (Jed Steele) Sauvignon Blanc - California, North Coast, Lake County
SRP: $14
Deep straw color. Nose shows lemons, apricot and guava with some white pepper and green onion elements. Medium-bodied with creamy texture and moderate acidity. Tropical approach with pineapple, guava, a squeeze of lime, and hints of white pepper, lemongrass and whipped honey. Fun, crowd-pleasing stuff at a solid price. (86 points)

2015 Shooting Star (Jed Steele) Chardonnay - California, North Coast, Mendocino County
SRP: $14
Pale yellow color. Nose of buttered bread, baked pears and rich yellow apples with some whipped honey and toasted almond. Full-bodied with a bold and creamy texture but some moderate acidity keeps it balanced. Juicy apricot and yellow plum fruit mixes with baked pear, cinnamon apple, and some toasted nuts and whipped honey. Straightforward, tasty stuff. (86 points)

2015 Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch - California, Napa, Carneros
SRP: $52
Rich golden color. A gorgeous nose of lemon crème, apricot jam, baked apples, lime juice, walnut, crumb cake, some floral and salty notes thrown in there as well – wow. Full-bodied, rich and waxy with plenty of creaminess, but the acidity is so clean and refreshing. Tart lime mixes with guava, lemon curd and baked apple, backed up by complex elements of ginger, buttercream, honeyed tea, almond, chalk dust – the complexity is awesome. This wine would be heavy and way too rich, weren’t for the brisk acidity and vibrancy, so the balance is very impressive. Aged 14 months in 75% new French oak, the rest stainless steel. (93 points)

2015 J. Rochioli Chardonnay - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $49
Light gold color. Aromas of nougat, walnut and honey butter mix well with sea salt and chalk dust, on top of lemon meringue and juicy apricot. Plump and rich texture but this is bright and shows a refreshing personality. Lemon curd, key lime pie, apricot and green apple, the fruit is mixed with complex almond, caramel, ginger, sea salt and sea shell notes. Complex, balanced, an exciting Russian River Chardonnay, aged 9 months in 30% new French oak. (91 points)

2014 Shooting Star (Jed Steele) Cabernet Sauvignon - California, North Coast, Lake County
SRP: $15
Deep ruby color. Bursting with sweet plums, red cherries, even pomegranate, with some cola and bell pepper. Full-bodied with chewy tannins and medium/low acidity. This is a rich but balanced Cabernet with an accessible style and friendly black cherries and summer plums. Notes of vanilla, dark chocolate and eucalyptus add some complexity. In the dice-rolling category of $15 California Cabernets, this is solid stuff. From Dorn Family Vineyards and Shannon Ridge vineyards in Lake County, this is aged 15 months in 20% new oak. (87 points)

2014 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc - California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
SRP: $60
Deep ruby color. Gobs of vibrant red and black cherries on the nose along with a medley of violets, graphite, loamy earth, balsamic glazed mushroom. Medium/full-bodied with structured but velvety tannins and gushing black cherries and dark plums. Waves of fruit with notes of loam, pencil lead, black tea, mushroom and cedar. Rich, complex, but also approachable and downright fun. Delish. All Cab Franc aged in 50% new French oak. (91 points)

2014 Ehlers Estate Merlot St. Helena - California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
SRP: $55
Deep ruby color. Suave and enticing aromas of red and purple flowers, accenting juicy plum and red currant fruit, with notes of red clay, roasted herbs and cigar box. Such fresh acidity on the palate, which frames the wine nicely while velvety tannins give it backbone. Tart red currant and some dark cherry notes, mixed with allspice, tobacco, sage, roses and cedar. A rocky mineral and floral finish. Very pretty but should age nicely for at least 4-6 years. Includes 7% Cabernet Franc, the wine’s aged in 50% new French oak. (92 points)

2014 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon “1886”
- California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
SRP: $110
Rich purple color. Aromas of tart black currant and blueberry with lots of graphite, loam, eucalyptus, hint of tomato leaf, and add in some cedar and vanilla notes. Full-bodied but so, so silky with suave but structured tannins and delightfully refreshing acidity. Crushed blackberry, tart blueberry, such pretty fruit with elements of coffee, dark chocolate, pencil shavings, sage and eucalyptus. Long, stony, earthy minerality on the finish. This has a ton of fruit and flavor, but it’s not your extracted, overly heavy, brooding style of Napa Cabernet – this is vibrant, fresh, gorgeous, gravelly St. Helena Cabernet. (94 points)

2013 Jordan Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
SRP: $55
Rich purple color. Aromas of tart black cherries and currants, loamy soil, graphite, charcoal, spiced coffee and eucalyptus. Full-bodied with silky but structured tannins and refreshing acidity that keeps the wine bright despite the rich black currant and dark plum fruit. Notes of incense sticks, roasted coffee, black tea mix with toasted nuts, vanilla and cedar elements. Packed with flavor and fruit but shows significant complexity and freshness. Ready to go but should age nicely for 3-5. Includes some Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, this wine is aged we months in a mix of French and American oak. (90 points)


2016 Long Shadows Wineries Pinot Gris Nine Hats Benches Vineyard - Washington, Columbia Valley
SRP: $14
Pale yellow color with a slight spritz. Aromas of peach, guava, sea salt, cucumber slices, honeysuckle and dandelion. Medium-bodied with fresh, crisp acidity, this wine has an exciting minerality and vibrancy to it but shows some creamy texture. Flavors of apricot, white peach, salted lime, crisp but generous fruit, with notes of orange blossom, floral perfume and sea salt. Very impressive for the price. (90 points)

2016 Long Shadows Wineries Julia's Dazzle Rosé Benches Vineyard - Washington, Columbia Valley, Horse Heaven Hills
SRP: $20
Medium copper color. Aromas of sour cherries, strawberries, nettle, white pepper, some hops and basil notes. Medium-bodied with a fruity/chunky mouthfeel but bright acidity. Plump peach and melon meets red apple and tart strawberry, backed up with honeyed tea, nettle, spicy white pepper and basil notes. Finishes with crispness and a shot of minerality. This is a Pinot Gris rosé sourced from the Benches Vineyard, and it’s a cooperation from Long Shadows founder Allen Shoup and winemaker Gilles Nicault. (88 points)

2013 Shooting Star (Jed Steele) Blaufränkisch Blue Franc - Washington
SRP: $14
Pretty ruby color. Crisp, cool red cherries and red apple peel on the nose with black pepper, tobacco and some bay leaf and earthy elements. Medium-bodied, soft tannins, moderate acidity, this is a pleasant and easy-drinking wine but very tasty with its ripe red cherries, plums and red apple. Notes of clove, pepper, rose hips and tobacco. Juicy and playful but also interesting and complex, especially for the price. All Blaufrankisch from Horse Heaven Hills, Washington. (88 points)

2015 Long Shadows Wineries Nine Hats - Washington, Columbia Valley
SRP: $20
Light purple color. Aromas of black cherries, a mix of blackberry and raspberry jams, with vanilla, cola and some pepper. Plush texture on the palate with light tannins and medium/low acidity. Bold and fruity with black cherries and blackberries, some roasted figs, and ntoes of cocoa powder, vanilla and slight earth. Simple, fun, early-drinking, crowd-pleasing. 50% Syrah with 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 2% Malbec. (86 points)

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist. 

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