The first few months of 2019 saw more expansion of urban wine bars, catalysts for growth and increased interest in older communities. Highlights included a discovery of the legendary Opus One on a wines-by-the-glass menu, a new pizza and pasta place run by a chef who was part of the longest pizza ever made and the return of Family Winemakers of California to the San Diego Fairgrounds with many wineries from Paso Robles. We have three such wineries on our Top Ten.
All our wines are equal in excellence and are listed in alphabetical order with varied pricing to fit most any budget.
• Cass Backbone Syrah, Paso Robles, 2015, $49. Cass has more fun making those distinct Rhone Valley French wines than any winery I know, from Syrah to Viognier and on to Grenache and more. This Syrah was awarded Double Gold in the 2019 San Francisco competition. Seven hundred and fifty cases were made with savory aromas of cherry and plum with muscular tannins. Visit casswines.com.
• DAOU Soul of a Lion, Paso Robles, 2016, $125. Ranks with the most impressive wines in the world. This red blend connects Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot in a symphony of flavor and terroir. Visit daouvineyards.com.
• Ferrari-Carano Siena, Sonoma, 2015, $17. This is the 25th year of a Siena release, an owner favorite with Italian overtures and named after the beloved Tuscan city of Siena. Mostly Sangiovese with some Malbec, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon, it mates beautifully with pizza, pasta and Italian salads. Visit ferrari-carano.com.
• Frank Family Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, 2016, $24. This lovely easygoing red comes from Carneros in the south part of Napa Valley, and has the benefit of a cool, coastal climate by San Pablo Bay. Winemaker Todd Goff coaxes a sensitive, stunning Pinot that pairs well with most food, as only Pinot can do. Visit frankfamilyvineyards.com.
• Fonterutoli Chianti Classico, Tuscany, 2015, $27. Now this is Italian. Mazzei, the maker of Fonterutoli, and 2015, a classic growing year, are a combination that is the best in a decade. This is a “Super Tuscan” style wine with mostly Sangiovese and some Malvesia, Colorina and Merlot. The Mazzei family dates back to 1435 making wine. I feel that’s enough to guarantee goodness in wine. If you want to visit, the village is Castellina. Visit mazzei.it.
• Golden Eye Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2015, $40. Golden Eye is brought to you by the folks at Duckhorn Winery in Napa Valley. You know them. They gave us the Wine Spectator No. 1 wine in the world a couple of years ago, the 2014 Merlot Three Palms Vineyard. Pinot Noir is the smoothest, subtlest glamour red ever and Golden Eye is the James Bond of Pinots. Light a candle, open some caviar and enjoy it. Visit goldeneyewinery.com.
• Opus One Classic Blend, Bordeaux France, 2015, $350. An orchestration of old world and new world wine genius: Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi, and the wine world was permanently changed. Napa Valley is home to Opus One with grapes sourced from the renowned To Kalon vineyard. The latest release 2015 offers 81 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 4 percent Petit Verdot, 7 percent Cabernet Franc, 6 percent Merlot and 2 percent Malbec. Visit opusonewinery.com.
• Roth Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 2016, $20. Here’s a beautifully structured Cab that I look for when I want a value Red. Intense aromas of black cherry, cassis, wet stone and sweet oak, opens up the palate. Taste dark chocolate with firm tannins. A long finish is guaranteed. This is another Double Gold winner at the 2019 San Francisco competition. Visit rothwinery.com.
• Siduri Pinot Noir, Sonoma, 2015, $23. Siduri started as the dream of two Texas wine geeks who wanted to make Pinot Noir in California. Today Siduri has one of the largest selections of Pinot in the Golden State and sources them from five AVA districts, plus one from Oregon. Visit siduri.com.
• Vina Robles Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, 2015, $29. The third Paso Robles wine in the Top 10 and a classic grape for this wine country. Your palate will be pleased with the boysenberry and spice nuances making for a pleasing fruit flow. Visit vinarobles.com.
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