Saturday, July 1, 2017

Wine Reviews: New Releases from California

This week I’m back with another round-up of new releases from all over California.

The Quilt wines are a new brand from Copper Cane, Joe Wager's project, sourced from various Napa appellations. This is a higher-level brand, with some gutsy pricing, but the deliciousness delivers. In keeping with the company style of producing bold, decadent wines, these are massive and highly delicious examples.

J. McClelland is producing some exciting wines from Napa’s Oak Knoll appellation, three of which I tasted for this report. Named for John McClelland, who spent 50+ years making wine in California for labels like Steele Canyon Cellars, these are moderately priced but very high quality wines.

The Malibu-based winery Dolin Estate wowed me with two impressive offerings, especially the Blue Note red blend from a Malibu Coast vineyard. We also have some reliably delicious wines from Napa’s Frank Family, a stunning Cabernet from Grgich Hills, and some Zinfandel from Dry Creek.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2014 J. McClelland Chardonnay - California, Napa Valley, Oak Knoll
SRP: $35
Rich yellow color. Aromas of yellow pears, juicy green apples, buttered toast, a host of honey and floral tones. Creamy and plush texture with vibrant acidity makes a balanced but bold Chardonnay. Lime drizzled on apricots and baked pears, followed up with integrated elements of almond, nougat and butter with some mineral dust on the finish. Delicious, long, impressive depth. 30% barrel-fermented, aged in oak for 12 months. (90 points)

2014 Dolin Estate Chardonnay Bien Nacido - California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
SRP: $39
Light yellow color. Aromas of lemon curd, apricot, melted butter, graham cracker. Full-bodied with pleasant creaminess and fresh acidity. Rich but pure and vibrant with lime, apricot, bruised apple, richer elements of toasted nuts, lemon curd and honey mix well with sea salt and chalk dust. Packed with flavor, delicious but so lively. Fermented in 1/3 new French oak, 100% maloactic fermentation, aged 13 months in oak. (90 points)

2015 Quilt Chardonnay - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $35
Light gold color. Nose shows buttercream, lemon cake, key lime pie, yellow flowers, some chalk notes. Decadent, full-throttle style, this is but partially balanced out by quite fresh acidity. Bruised apple and rich yellow pear fruit mixes with roasted peanuts, candied pecans and orange marmalade flavors. 15 months in 70% new French oak, all maloactic fermentation, this is a burly style, but a delicious expression of Napa Chardonnay. (88 points)

2015 Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay - California, Napa, Carneros
SRP: $35
Rich yellow color. Aromas of almond paste, whipped honey, buttercream, but also peaches and pears drizzled with lime. On the palate, this is bold but balanced, creamy but moderate acidity. Bruised apple, peach, apricot, rich fruit but stays fresh. Pretty yellow flowers, clover, honeysuckle, lemon curd, notes of peanut brittle and buttercream are mixed together well. A Chardonnay that should please many a palate, fermented and aged in 1/3 new French oak. (89 points)

2016 Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel - California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
SRP: $12
Medium watermelon color. Juicy red apples and watermelon on the nose with some white pepper, basil and green tea leaves. Medium-bodied, moderate acidity, fleshy texture with flavors of cherries and watermelon. Notes of white pepper and basil mix with whipped honey and cream notes. Tasty, crowd-pleasing stuff. (86 points)

2015 Frank Family Vineyards Pinot Noir - California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros
SRP: $35
Deep ruby/light purple color. Nose shows spiced cranberry jam, black cherries, rhubarb, rose hips, chewing tobacco. Fleshy texture with velvety tannins and medium acidity. Juicy red plums, Thanksgiving cranberry sauce, rhubarb pie, rose petals, pepper. This is ripe and plush but fresh, earthy, complex, and it finishes with notes of cocoa and clove. Two to four years could do interesting things for this wine, but shows well right out of the bottle. 10 months in 1/3 new French oak. (89 points)

2012 Dolin Estate The Blue Note - California, South Coast, Malibu
SRP: $45
Light purple color. Awesome aromas of black cherries, raspberry jam, roasted fig, coffee, candied pecans. Lovely balance on the palate with bold texture, velvety tannins, moderate acidity keeps it fresh. Tart plum, blackberry, the fruit is loaded with coffee, charcoal, tar, cedar and cola. This was an eye-opening wine for me in the sense that it was absolutely delicious, showed solid balance, lots of depth, and it’s the first wine from this area I’ve tasted. A blend of 44% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, aged 21 months in oak. The vineyard sits 1,450 feet above the Malibu coast. Intriguing and special stuff. (91 points)

2013 J. McClelland Merlot - California, Napa Valley, Oak Knoll
SRP: $35
Light purple color. Rich, pretty aromas of violets, sweet pipe tobacco and cola on top of juicy red and black cherries and plums. Full but not heavy with velvety tannins and moderate acidity. Dark plums, tart black cherries, the fruit meshes with tobacco, violets, potting soil and notes of cedar and vanilla. This could unfurl for a few years, but it’s good to go now, although it really opens up with air. Includes 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine spends 28 months in French oak. (90 points)

2013 J. McClelland Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa Valley, Oak Knoll
SRP: $45
Light purple color. Nose shows juicy blackberries, saucy dark currant, and a whole lot of chewing tobacco, mint, coffee grounds, fallen leaves, bell pepper – the aromas are complex and firing. Full-bodied on the palate with nice grip to the tannins with medium acidity to balance it all out. Tart but rich black currants and black cherry fruit, and I love the level of earth and spice complexities: tobacco, mint, charcoal, charred herbs, bell pepper. Notes of cedar linger on the finish. Structure and depth are impressive but it maintains a spicy and fresh style, which balances out very nicely. (92 points)

2014 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $52
Light purple color. Tart black currants, black cherry, plum skins, mixed in with vanilla, cola, but also some mint, eucalyptus and spicy pepper. The palate shows dry but velvety tannins and some moderate acidity, surprising balance and freshness. The black cherry, tart blueberry and cassis fruit is fresh and vibrant but plenty ripe, and mixed with notes of tobacco, soy sauce, potting soil, and integrated cedar, vanilla and coffee notes. Yummy but also structured, this could do nicely with three to six years in the cellar, but delicious now. Includes 8% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc, this wine is aged 20 months in 1/3 new French oak. (90 points)

2014 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $72
Rich purple color. Gorgeous aromatics of currants, dark plums, so much spicy, herbal and savory tones as well: pepper, sage, mint, dusty earth, leather, soy. Full and structured well with taut tannins and lively acidity. Gushing plums and tart currants glide over the palate despite the youthfulness of the wine. So much earth, charcoal, pepper, leather, sage, woven in with cedar, mocha and clove. Gorgeous stuff but built for the long haul, this is another killer vintage of a perennial performer (in my book). Includes 14% Merlot and a combined 7% Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, aged 21 months in 60% new French oak. (93 points)

2013 Quilt Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $100
Bold purple color. Nose shows dark currants, black cherries, lots of violets, vanilla, graphite, charcoal, lots going on. Bold and ripe on the palate with gushing dark plums and blueberries on a frame of chewy tannins, plush mouthfeel, and moderate acidity that helps it from being too intense. Creamy vanilla, coffee, sweet pipe tobacco, roasted chestnut, this is an extracted, gushing style, but it’s all held together quite well, and straight delicious. 70% new oak, all Cabernet from valley floor fruit. (90 points)

2014 Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $37
Deep ruby/light purple color. Dark and saucy red and black berry fruit on the nose, along with coffee beans, black pepper, tobacco, root beer and eucalyptus. Full-bodied, dry but rounded tannins, medium-low acidity. The palate is loaded with blackberry and raspberry, some roasted fig and plum cake, and mixed with cocoa, coffee, roasted chestnut, root beer and chewing tobacco. Hedonistic and rich but nuanced. Includes 14% Petite Sirah, this wine is aged 16 months in 1/3 new French oak. (89 points)

2014 Mounts Family Winery Zinfandel Old Vine - California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
SRP: $36
Rich ruby color. Aromas of dark cherries, jammy blackberry and raspberries, also cola, sweet barbecue, roasted chestnut and vanilla. Full-bodied and burly, this is a chewy, rich wine with velvety tannins and low acid, but it’s so delicious. Plump black cherries, jammy raspberries and blackberries, fig paste. I get complex notes of bourbon, cola, coffee, sweet barbecue sauce, black pepper. Big, bold, but quite nice. 15.8% alcohol, this spends 17 months in 60% new French oak. (88 points)

2014 Mauritson Wines Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley - California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
SRP: $35
Light purple. Nose of fig paste, plum cake, black cherry ice cream, with some scorched earth mixed in. Full-bodied, so smooth, velvety tannins, low acidity, a chewy wine. Rich black fruit and roasted figs, laced with milk chocolate, sarsaparilla, roasted chestnut, also some earthy, peppery tones. A burly hedonistic Zinfandel for near-term consumption. All Zin, 14.6% alcohol, this spends 14 months in mostly French oak. (87 points)

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist. 

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