The United States has come a long way since its entry into the wine world more than 300 years ago. It is now the 4th largest wine producing region in the world, with nearly 3,000 vineyards spanning all 50 states. In the late 1970s, a government regulated appellation system was established to assure at least 85% of grapes would be grown within the specified AVA shown on the label. With a climate that ranges vastly from coast to coast, distinct grape varieties can thrive in various U.S. wine regions. California’s climate is ideal for producing rich, tannic and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah wines, such as in the warm Napa Wine region, while the cooler coastal areas of Sonoma allow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to excel. Just North of California lies the Pacific Northwest, which is comprised of Oregon and Washington. While Oregon has been producing some of the highest rated Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines, according to our United States wine ratings, Washington has become better known for their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling wines, particularly those from the Columbia Valley. Most recently, New York State wineries have had success with growing and producing wine from such grape varieties as Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The scenic Finger Lakes region has become quite the place to visit due in large part to its friendly tasting room environment as well as a recent increase in highly rated Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines found in our United States Wine Guide. With the number of vineyards on the rise in states such as Virginia, Idaho and New Jersey, the U.S. now offers an eclectic array of wine options.
In 2005 Charles Smith introduced three high-end Syrahs. In 2006 Smith has made a wine better than each of these, by combining them into a single wine—Royal City Syrah. Rich scents of purple fruit, smoked meat, cedar, lead pencil, moist earth and so on proclaim a wine with genuine gravitas. There is nothing missing, from the first sniff to the last sip, the wine…
Impossibly aromatic. Hard to imagine greater claret perfume. Shows the most refined mingling of smoky oak, cassis, cherries, roasted coconut macaroon, cocoa puff and spice scents. Absolutely first rate, as good as anything Napa Valley produces. Compellingly, addictively delicious, but so dry and voluptuous. Classic wine, with perfect alignment of fruit, acids…
A perfect score has to be considered in the context of its region. Shafer’s 2004 Hillside Select is tremendous as a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that competes with its peers at the highest levels. It’s always a fabulous wine, but in warm 2004, Shafer’s amphitheater vineyard sheltered the grapes, ripening them to perfection yet protecting the “iron fist in a…
Tasted in a flight of great and famous Napa wines, this Cardinale stood at the head of the pack. Starts with a very fine nose of cedar, cassis, ripe blackberries and violets, then turns dramatic and refined in the mouth. Shows vast depth and length, with the finish a full minute of sweet fruits and spices. Marvelous tannins, so plush and elegant, so powerful yet…
This wine dazzles with perfection. Sourced from vineyards throughout Sonoma County, it refutes the belief that a great Cabernet must come from a single vineyard. It does not. The master’s art of blending, coupled with demanding vineyard practices lends completeness. The blend is 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec, making it an extraordinary success…
Initially a rather subdued Frog; as if it has been tamed down. Then, suddenly, There’s a plush core of blackberry fruit, and the classic Cayuse funkiness is there, drenched in liquid rocks and cured meat and drying tannins. It’s all in proportion and a fine reflection of the steely vintage. As it opens gracefully you discover that it is a stunningly refined Frog…
In a stunning lineup of Cayuse Syrahs, the En Chamberlin wins by a nose. It’s smooth and silky, with a tongue-bending blend of flavors that include blood and iron, umami and salt, at first overtaking the pure fruit, but adding tremendous depth and power. The endless finish unfolds into a wine with exotic spices and complex layering.
A spectacular Pinot Noir, but a very young one, and extremely dry. It’s a wine of great structure, with rich acids and tannins framing extraordinarily complex flavors of grilled cherries, strawberries and raspberries, with complicating notes of cola, pomegranates, orange zest, anise, dusty Asian spices and smoky sandalwood. A truly great Pinot Noir from a great…