Reserve: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma County) by Louis Martini

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma County) by Louis Martini, Napa, California.

Not all wines have to be an intense, even sometimes laborious exercise for the senses. There are times when one just needs an honest wine. Not every bottle has to be an occasion. Sometimes I just want to contemplate other matters and not necessarily have to focus so intently on the wine. These are the moments that I resort to the unsung heroes of my cellar – The Pleaser. A wine that doesn’t overwhelm your senses or demand your attention. A wine that hits a few key notes and maybe offers an interesting suggestion or two. A clean, well made, honest wine, most importantly, for a great price. These wines I stock by the case.

This Louis Martini Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon is just that. A winner. It embodies the value proposition. A hint of that Sonoma dirt, good fruit, dry plum and blackberry, a touch of cedarwood, balanced body, a finish characterized by a moderately dry tannic grip and a touch of spice. It is always available and for a good price that makes a case an approachable proposition for most.

This is the wine that draws you in and draws your interest towards their signature wines such as their Napa Cab and Monte Rosso Cab Franc, both of which are noteworthy and in my reserve.

I love a winery that not only puts out great signature wines, but also makes a good flagship wine I can enjoy on any given day.

Nice work!

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Review: 2017 Merlot (Grand Selection) by Lapostolle, Chile

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Merlot (Grand Selection) by Lapostolle, Valle del Rapel, Chile.

Healthy nose full of plums and dark cherries. This wine is a pleaser. With subtle hints of leather and damp cedarwood in the back, it is very approachable. Not overly complex or abstract, it strikes a good balance essential to broad appeal.

Body follows suit with plenty of good fruit in the form of tart plums and blackberry. Faint oak and a touch of leather play in the background. Bold and slightly dry tannins provide firm structure. Tannins develop a dry, fine grained texture in the finish leaving the palate thoroughly parched and tingling with a touch of spice. This wine is young but shows really well for its age.

This wine is by all accounts a Pleaser. A great every day sipper. I can see even the most advanced palate indulging in what it offers just as much as the beginner enthusiast. At a price point of under $15 it presents great value and punches above it’s weight. I’m not the least surprised. This comes from a winemaker whose every wine so far has left me scratching my head. I like what these folks are doing down there in Chile.

Bien hecho amigos!

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Reserve: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon by Prolific Vines

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon by Prolific Vines Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.

Deep, dark, rich color. Slightly warm, restrained nose with notes of blackberries, and subtle dark plum. Terroir is subtle and in the form of a slight sandy, loamy leather. Oak is very measured, and makes its presence known through a very distant licorice and cedarwood. You would likely miss it.

Body is precise. Balanced front to back. Fruit is carried over as a slightly dry dark plum. Crisp, measured tannins provide clean structure, creating a classic foundation from attack to finish. Transition to finish is seamless, culminating in a subtle back and forth between creamy and dry tannic grip, ultimately leaving the palate parched. A reminder of its youth. A hint of spice caps the experience. This is more of a nuanced Cab than most people might be accustomed to. I suspect this ultimately has to do with the climate. It does not have the typical overpowering characteristics of say a Northern California Cab (aggressively acidic, tannic, spice).

This is a great Cabernet Sauvignon. It is showing surprisingly well for its relatively young age. It should age quite nicely, given more time to further integrate. I would pick up a few bottles. Enjoy one now and revisit this vintage in about 5 years. This is a pre-release look at this vintage. I previously reviewed the 2016 and looking at my notes, the 2017 is very reminiscent of it, surprisingly consistent if not a tad more mature.

It was nice to finally visit this little estate tucked away in the Santa Cruz Mountains (see photos from my visit below). I especially want to thank Dr. Julie and her husband Albert for being to kind and gracious for hosting me and giving me an extended tour of the property and the vineyard. It was a real treat. It was inspiring to see the amount of work they have put into making this passion of theirs become a reality. This is what I love most about being off the beaten path.

I very much look forward to visiting them again soon. If you do decide to attend one of their tastings, don’t forget to ask Dr Julie if she has any of her Tomato Jam on hand. It is simply sublime and unlike anything you’ve had. You won’t be disappointed. Join their club to secure your annual allotment of this very limited and unique wine.

Reserve: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon by Lapostolle

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Valle De Colchagua) by Lapostolle, Chile

Dark opaque color. Slightly restrained but still fairly big, warm and heavy nose. Lots of dark plum and blackberry secondary notes. Swirl vigorously and unlock tertiary notes of oak which conspire to create the faintest hint of licorice which turns to more of a cedarwood vibe as it opens up.

Body is very balanced and greets you with good acidity accompanied by a mouthful of tannins in the form of plum skins. From there everything quickly simmers down as the body becomes restrained. Big, massive and dry tannic grip ushers a transition to a slightly warm and spicy finish leaving your lips dried shut – a dead giveaway this wine is young and while it shows sush poise and character, I believe in 5-10 years it will be a a beautiful gem of a wine that will surprise any palate. It is a fantastic wine now but with a little more time to develop it will be a remarkable piece.

I have reviewed some amazing wines by this Chilean winemaker before and this one does not disappoint. Not only are their wines extremely well crafted, they present tremendous value. Bien hecho amigos!

Reviews of wines by this winemaker

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Lapostolle wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2017 Pinot Noir (Black Pine) by Roger Roessler Wines

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Black Pine) by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma, California.

Ahhhh. Just right. Beautiful aromatic nose with berries (my little boy says cranberries), a leather reminiscent of wet sandy forrest floor, black licorice and cedarwood notes.

Body shows a tight balance. Buttery tannins go hand-in-hand with mild acid. Subtle oak, dry fruit accompanies a fairly neutral terroir expression creating a lush mouth feel. A transition to finish with minimal fanfare capped with mild spice and subtle tannic grip reminds you that this typical Roessler Pinot, while beautiful right now, has a bit more in store for you if you are willing to be patient.

Spoil your palate. Stop by the tasting room or order any one of their monthly case deals. Explore artisan crafted Pinot from up and down the pacific coast. He’s done all the homework for you to enjoy. Well done Roger and Company!

Wine Review: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) by Martin Ray

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) by Martin Ray.

Dark inky color. Out of the bottle, big warm plum nose permeates the surrounding area. Closer inspection reveals notes of licorice, dark cherry and a touch of marshmallows. Swirl vigorously to unlock hints of cedar as licorice turns black.

Body shows precise balance and crisp structure from attack to finish. Other than the dark plum, little other fruit carries over. It is dry overall. Plums quickly morph into crisp dry tannins, providing good mouth feel through a slightly creamy transition. Finish is swift, clean, ending in a interesting play between buttery and dry tannic grip. A moderate but firm spicy heat takes over the finish, warming the chest.

This is my first wine from Martin Ray and I must say I am impressed. It comes across as precise, measured, clean, with a strict adherence to core principles. It sparks a curiosity to explore more of their signature wines. Amongst its peers, it presents good value. Nicely done Martin Ray!

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Martin Ray wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Wine Review: 2017 Tajinaste Tradicional (Valle de la Orotava) by Bodega Tajinaste

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Tajinaste Tradicional (Valle de la Orotava) by Bodega Tajinaste, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.

Deep brooding ruby color. Thick intense earthy nose with a punch of old wet driftwood, alluvial soil and volcanic mineral rock. In the back is a subtle sweet cherry and cranberry. I like this… Body is light, bright, crisp and surprisingly restrained. Mild acid goes hand-in-hand with mild tannins. Some leather carries over. Blackberry and black currants quickly dominate the palate albeit with restraint. Smooth transition to finish adds a slightly creamy tannic grip and hint of spice. The nose is simply amazing and ever present throughout the entire experience.

I went to college in Spain which is where I was first introduced to wine so I am familiar with the typically brash masculine expression in Spanish wines. However this one is certainly an exception. It is very approachable, enjoyable and interesting. I will be adding it to my cellar. It should make a fine example and representative of the Canary Islands. Bien hecho amigos!

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Tajinaste wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Guest Review: 2017 Pinot Noir by Sanford

Guest Review: 2017 Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills Appellation) by Sanford of the legendary Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara California.

I think I found the Prince of Pinot! Sanford 2017 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills Appellation is an elegant and well balanced Pinot.

Bright ruby red colored, light and fruity aromas of cherries, leather, and baking spices. On the palate, flavors of raspberries, red cherries, oak, and light peppercorn. At 13.5% ABV, this Pinot Noir has balanced acid and tannin structures, a delightful wine for any special occasion.

Need pairing ideas? Try pairing Sanford 2017 Pinot Noir with:

      • Roasted Chicken
      • Salmon or other fatty fish
      • Duck
      • Pasta dishes with pesto, a cream base, or mushroom sauce
      • Beef and garlic dishes

About our guest


Jenn is a Native Texan photographer, wine lover. She thoroughly enjoys learning about wine making, the history behind wines, and of course wine tasting. She also has a passion for travel and is on a mission to find amazing wines from around the world.

You can follow Jenn’s journey via his Instagram page @txblondevoyage


Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Sanford wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2017 Santa Barbara Pinot Noir by Pali

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Huntingdon) by Pali Wine Company.

We’ve seen a few wines from Pali. Alphabets and Riviera most recently. Now the Huntington. All Pinot Noir. All very distinct and quite representative of their various appellations. All medium to light bodied. All on the nuanced side of the spectrum.

The Huntington is a bold departure from the bunch. This is a Big California Pinot. It is unapologetic, jammy, chewy. A full mouthfeel. A dark, spicy, tannic affair. This is a bit of an eyebrow raiser for a Pinot from Santa Barbara County. I suppose even a WineSnob needs a break from the sometimes dreary monotony and strained palate that constant subtlety and nuance can sometimes contrive.

So here we are. I am staring down the second half of this bottle a full day later. It is laughing at me. I folded in confusion last night. I went to bed not sure how I felt about it. I could not fault it either. Not sure what to think. I feel like I lost to this wine. Even now it pretends to be a little more approachable, but then laughs all the way through the finish. This Pinot will eat Napa Cabs for breakfast. I will lay down right next to a Syrah for 15 years and still chuckle at the irony.

Yeah yeah yeah, black currants are more pronounced a day later. Mineral leather too. It’s jammy but not sweet. It’s got big bold tannic structure, a basket-full of berries and an Indian kitchen’s worth of spices. But I feel like I’m still losing. I thought this was going to be another clean crisp “laydown” from Pali. I thought it would be another easy smooth pleaser. But Nooooo! This wine plays dirty. Really dirty.

Pick up a few bottles, lay them down for at least 5-10 more years. Let them mellow out. Taste the magic. You might have better luck taming it that I did last night. I’ll see you again in 2025 Pali Huntington.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Pali wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Wine Review: 2017 Sonoma Pinot Noir by Pali

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Riviera – Sonoma County) by Pali Wine Company.

Shy nose. A little plum and dark berries. There’s a hint of that Sonoma dirt in the back. Body is fruit forward but shows good balance overall with mild acid and moderate tannins. A good overall mouth feel with notes of cocoa and cherries. Smooth finish which quickly dries out with a touch of spice. The wine paired excellent with smoked BBQ ribs.

This is a great EDC (Every Day Consumption) wine. It presents good value at an approachable price point. It’s definitely what I call a pleaser. Wine is all about mood and if you’re in the mood for a good well made wine without necessarily over analyzing the experience or breaking the bank, you should consider this wine. It is still a little on the young side. I think it just might surprise you 2-3 years from now.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Pali wines delivered to your doorstep.

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