Outstanding California Wines
New reviews of Syrah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and more from across the Golden State, each priced under $40
2010 Landy Sweetwater Springs Petite Sirah - 93 pts Wine Spectator. A huge wine, not for the faint of heart. Offers vivid aromatics of coffee and campf...
“Red and black fruits with a mineral backbone are the hallmarks of this wine and appellation. All clusters are hand-sorted upon arrival, destemmed into ½ ton open-top fermenters, punched down five times per day, and pressed directly into new Burgundian French oak barrels.” – Jeff Cohn
Aromatically this wine has a roaring combination of black cherry that swirls in between blackberries and graphite. At times supple and soft, but also showing a firm mineral structure to support the powerfully rich fruit. This wine will only get better with time.
Tight, firm, intense and concentrated, this is slow to unfold but does so with depth, focus and complexity, targeting mineral, dried berry, wild berry, blackberry, underbrush and cedar flavors, with ripe, chewy tannins. Drink now through 2022.—J.L.
While sporting the requisite varietal traits of cracked pepper and game, this deeply draughted offering is driven first and foremost by unstinting, optimally ripened fruit. It is a very big, absolutely mouthfilling wine as is the wont of its maker, but, as with Mr. Cohn's best, it is balanced and never threatens to be too much of a good thing. Its length is impressive as is its unwavering focus, and it has the right combination of stuffing and structure to get better and better for at least another half-dozen years. --CG
The 2008 Syrah Rockpile exhibits an opaque blue/purple color followed by a dense nose of blueberry pie intermixed with blackberry, pepper, flower and new saddle leather aromas. Dense, rich and full-bodied with silky tannins and a heady finish, it should drink well for 5-6 years.
As much as we like the depth and wonderfully rich fruit evinced by JC Cellars Syrahs, we are even more impressedby the fact that their winemaker manages to go right to the brink withoutgoing tofar and somehow achieves exceptionally fine balance in wines of such high ripeness. This very rich wines is just such a case, and it exhibits a wealth of very deep, fully ripened blackberry fruit played against a full measure of oak and subtle touches of pepper and stones. It comes with an uncanny sense of brightness amidst it riper themes, and its careful blending of firm acid and fine-grained tannis ensures six to eight years of very positive growth.
Sonoma’s Rockpile appellation has found a real champion in JC Cellars, and it ability to produce big, well-ripened red wines fits the winery’s style to a tee. This very ripe, very full-bodies effort leads with effusive aromas of framboise and chocolate with lots of peppery spice as a reminder of just what it is. In the mouth, it progresses from suppleness to fairly sizeable tannins, and there is little about it that can be “refines”. Whether time in the cellar changes that is a question only answered years down the line, but as tough as it is as the finish, it never lets go of fruit and should take to aging quite well. $60.00
The 2007 Syrah Rockpile Vineyard (458 cases) needs some additional bottle time. Meaty, roasted herb, espresso, blackberry, and chocolate aromatics ooze from the glass of this black/purple-colored wine. Intense, full-bodied, and loaded with tannin and extract, it should drink well for a decade.
Offers wonderful purity of flavors, with a mix of rich blackberry, wild berry and boysenberry fruit that's intense, focused, supple and structured, gaining complex mineral, anise, sage and cedar flavors. Long on the finish. Drink now through 2017. 458 cases made. –JL