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!

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

Shop Louis Martini wines on

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 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.

Shop Martin Ray wines on

Wine Review: 2017 Pinot Noir by Artesa

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Los Carneros, Limited Release) by Artesa.

Restrained, delicate, subtle are its hallmarks. The nose greets you with that all too familiar Carneros dirt. It’s very subtle but unmistakable. If you’ve had quite a few wines from this region, then you know what I’m talking about… LOL. I love it! There’s an even fainter hint of manure. It’s a very pleasant leather overall. The terroir is very nicely expressed through the vine and into this wine. Aside from that there are subtle sweet berry, cherry and floral notes.

Body is crisp. Clean. Balanced. This is a Pinot in the traditional sense. Light buttery tannins create a very easy laid back mouth feel. A hint of oak and cherry pull through into the body. A seamless transition to an otherwise dry, smooth finish, followed moments later by gentle spice.

This is a very clean, well made Pinot Noir. A textbook Carneros Pinot Noir. If you’re looking for a good starting/reference point, you can’t go wrong with Artesa. Treat yourself to the view from the estate at the top of the ridge. Take some time to go over their mouth watering assortment of representative wines. Well done Artesa!

Thanks to and their extensive library, you can now get most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Artesa Pinot delivered to your doorstep.

Shop Artesa wines on


Reserve: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Louis Martini

Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Louis Martini, Napa Valley.

A textbook Big Napa Cab. Deep rich color. Clean, crisp nose characterized by tart plum and a hint of cherry on the back which quickly dissipates giving way to a neutral terroir undertone. There is a noticeable absence of any heat in the nose. Surprising for a wine with 15.1% ABV. The full, chewy, fruit forward body follows, with lots of blackberry, and buttery tannin. This massive Napa Cab is surprisingly balanced. A testament of the winemaker’s craft. A creamy transition to a smooth, moderately tannic finish. An enduring spicy heat finally keeps the palate warm long after. This wine must have started out as a real beast to tame. It is very approachable now and should further develop nicely over the next few years. Well done guys🍷😁👌🏽

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

Shop Louis Martini wines on

Reserve: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon by Sterling Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon by Sterling Vineyards, Calistoga, Napa Valley.

Dark rich color. Upon opening, I am hit with an intense bouquet of floral notes (lavender comes to mind) that quickly vanishes, giving way to intense plum, berry and mineral terroir. As it opens, a sweet cherry vanilla emerges then vanishes. I get the feeling this wine did not appreciate being disturbed this early in its journey. Body is big, heavy, dry, very spicy. None of the nose carries over other than the mineral terroir. Transition to finish is seamless as tannins turn slightly creamy just before infusing the palate with a lasting spicy grip. At 14.9% ABV, this is a big Napa Cab by all accounts. Despite this it still exhibits good balance.

This wine has a long road ahead, on its journey to its fullest expression. I probably won’t be opening anymore of this vintage for another 5 years or so. I look forward to seeing how it develops over time.

This is a well built wine.🍷😁👌🏽

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

Shop Sterling wines on

Wine Review: 2018 California Rose by Empathy Wines

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 California Rose by Empathy Wines (of the most notable Gary Vaynerchuck), Napa California.

I was fortunate to receive a case of this Rose at launch. Thank you @myteslaadventure @reallifestarman!

In case you aren’t familiar with Empathy Wines, it is one of Gary Vaynerchuk’s (@garyvee) recent ventures. I cannot remember the last time I indulged in a Rose. I have been waiting for the perfect day to review it. With a protracted winter and rainy spring, today seemed better than any other day.

Nose has very crisp, fresh floral notes, rich in watermelon, berry and cucumber. If you dig deeper you can pick out a very faint hint of the terrior. That gets me every time! The nose may be fruit forward but the body less so. The watermelon and cucumber roll over into the body very nicely. A slight oak and diminished acidity allow these subtle characteristics to shine through. The body ends in buttery smooth transition which dominates the experience through the finish. There’s a very very faint spice note which fades away gracefully leaving you wondering what that was all about as you take another sip.

I have never seen a Rose quite like this. It is subtle, complex, and structured. It is very well built. This is a Rose I am perfectly fine with. Great job @empathywines and @garyvee! 🍷🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽