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California North Coast: Eyes Wide Open

United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, Jan 2022

As is our custom, we present our reviews of new releases from Sonoma County and neighboring North Coast appellations in a series of installments over the coming weeks. This report focuses on the 2020s and the 2019s, which I first covered in last year’s article. There’s a lot to talk about, so grab a glass and settle in. This might take a while.

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The 2019 Napa Valley Cabernets: A Deep Dive

United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, Jan 2022

My annual report on Napa Valley is jam-packed. The 2019 Cabernets are big, bold wines that show the extroverted side of Napa Valley. There are plenty of fabulous wines at all levels, but 2019 does not have the across the board consistency of a truly great vintage, so readers will have to be selective.

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Cellar Favorite: 2001 Kunin Syrah Alisos Vineyards

United States: California, cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites

Antonio Galloni, Dec 2021

Kunin’s 2001 Syrah Alisos Vineyards is an eye-opening wine. Still wonderfully fresh at age twenty, the 2001 impresses with its soaring floral/spice aromatics and vibrant, dark red-toned fruit.

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Breaking News: Justin Willett Acquires Iconic Fiddlestix Vineyard

General Interest, United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, Nov 2021

Justin Willett’s acquisition of the iconic Fiddlestix Vineyard is sure to make waves for many reasons. For over a decade Willett's superb wines at Tyler have placed him in the upper echelon of Santa Barbara producers. With this investment Willett sends a strong message that the future of Tyler is very much as an estate winery in the Sta. Rita Hills and makes him one of the biggest advocates of the appellation. At Fiddlestix, Willett leads a team with partners Erik Mallea and Todd Gray of Willett-Mallea Farming and entrepreneur/wine lover William Borgers.

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Santa Barbara: On the Road…Finally!

United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, Oct 2021

Santa Barbara continues its streak of superb vintages with the 2019s. Chardonnay and red Rhône varieties are particularly strong, while the Pinots are just a bit less consistent. There’s plenty more to explore in this report, including Bordeaux blends and the first of the 2020s. As I have written before, the vinous landscape in Santa Barbara has so much to offer.

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Cellar Favorite: 1977 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Glen Ellen Vineyards

United States: California, cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites

Antonio Galloni, Oct 2021

Needless to say, readers who own or can find the 1977 will enjoy more than a wine, as the 1977 represents a piece of history.

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The Enduring Power of California’s Old-Vine Field Blends

Fellowship, United States: California, featured

Caitlin Miller, Aug 2021

My discovery of Zinfandel, and more specifically its role in California’s old-vine field blends, came late in my wine education. The word ‘discovery,’ of course, is an overstatement; I had tasted Zinfandel before and associated a very specific set of characteristics with it: big, high-octane, low to medium quality - or sweet and pink. I thought this description was also well-supported by my own research; I had sampled many of the grape’s defining wines and found those views to be fairly accurate. But this was different...

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California Vineyard Series: Kamen Vineyard

California Vineyard Series, United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, May 2021

With its undulating hills and striking contours, Kamen is one of the most evocative estates in Sonoma. The vineyard is just a short drive from the town square, yet it feels very remote. Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen bought his property in 1980, mostly for the views, as he tells it. “I had just sold the screenplay for The Karate Kid and I wanted to celebrate,” Kamen told me recently.

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Cellar Favorite: 2011 Saintsbury Pinot Noir Brown Ranch (magnum)

United States: California, cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites

Antonio Galloni, Feb 2021

Saintsbury was the first winery I visited in Napa Valley. Tasting the wines always brings back so many memories; both of that trip and the time I spent selling the Saintsbury Pinots in my restaurant days just after college.

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Vinous Santa Lucia Highlands Map: Behind the Scenes

California Vineyard Series, United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, Jan 2021

For the last two years Alessandro Masnaghetti and I have been hard at work on a map of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Our first edition is nearly complete. Formal approval of a change in the AVA’s southern boundary is all we are waiting for to wrap things up. In the meantime, we are going take you behind the scenes in this article, which represents a summary of our work so far. It will surely be updated and refined in the coming months.