The new California: dinner with Kutch and Sandhi

On Monday night I had dinner with two very interesting Californian producers: Rajat Parr of Sandhi Wines, and Jamie Kutch of Kutch wines. It was hosted by Roberson Wine (www.robersonwine.com) who import these wines into the UK, at the impressive Bar Boulud.

This are the new faces of California: wines of natural balance and complexity.

Rajat Parr [...]

Sine Qua Non Shot in the Dark - 100 points or 86?

I have just written up Thursday night’s tasting of cult Californian wines.

It was an eye-opener. One wine in particular polarized option. For me it was the worst wine of the night: over-ripe, and with an unpleasant roast coffee overtone. One or two others liked it. Robert Parker gave it a perfect 100 points out [...]

A brilliant, natural California Grenache

Now this is a superb wine. Before opening it, I admit I was expecting something very sweet and ripe, in the new world mould. But what I got was something thrilling, elegant and amazingly drinkable. It’s from a vineyard planted in 1910, with vines on their own roots. Birichino, pronounced biri-kino, seems a very interesting [...]

Two Californian Chardonnays

Californian wines are somewhat under-represented in the UK. Here are a couple of impressive Sonoma Chardonnays that I liked quite a bit, and which show restraint, balance and complexity.

Marimar Estate Son Miguel Vineyard Chardonnay ‘Acero’ Unoaked 2009 Russian River Valley, Sonoma
13.5% alcohol. Powerful and rich textured with pear and peach fruit as well as a [...]

Two Cabernets from Napa Valley: Silverado and Grgich Hills

I’ve only visited California’s most famous wine region – Napa Valley – once. But I was quite taken by the place. It’s actually a really good place to grow wine grapes, and makes some really superbwines. You can’t bash the wine region for the stylistic extremes and bad taste of some of the wineries, while [...]

Another serious Napa wine

So, after my good experience with Cain’s Five, here’s another serious Napa wine – this time, a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. Again, this was drunk, not tasted. It also passed the drained bottle test – after tasting it, I took it along to dinner at my friend Rob’s place (he’s a fellow Man City fan, btw), [...]

Cain Five 2004: a serious Napa Bordeaux blend

I have a soft spot for Cain. It was the first winery I visited in Napa Valley (fairly recently, actually) and I was impressed by the thoughtful approach of Chris Howell. Cain ‘Five’ refers to the fact that the wine contains all five Bordeaux red grapes, and it’s an elegant, rather European-styled wine, made from [...]

Grape juice concentrate and Mega Purple

Grape juice concentrate is a controversial topic in winemaking. It’s widely used, but people don’t really like to talk about it, because it sounds a bit like cheating. It’s a brave winemaker who shows journalists this widely used trick of the trade. Normally, it’s kept hidden away.

Most controversial of all is a substance called Mega [...]

Back from California

I returned home from my all-too-brief California trip on Friday. Mercifully, the effects of jet-lag have been minimal this trip. I slept through every night while I was there, and have slept through since my return. I’ve not needed to go to bed early, either. My only conclusion is that tiredness + a reasonable dose [...]

Some more Sonoma pics

On my way home now, but here are some more Sonoma pictures. The light was just so good this week.