California Wine Tasting Notes

It may seem inappropriate to lump all California wine tasting notes into one page. California is a huge wine producing region with many sub-regions throughout the state. Just about every style of wine is made, white to red, dry to sweet. Also, dozens of grapes are grown, from Cabernet and Merlot to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. However, as our taste in wine has evolved, we drink less and less California wine and rarely go to California wine tasting events. Don't get us wrong, California does make world class wines from a range of areas and grapes. However, the general style is not what we look for in great wine. This is simply more of a subjective stylistic preference. If you love California wine, more power to you.

That being said, California does make many outstanding wines that we appreciate from time to time. In fact, many of the wines in our cellar are California wines that we purchased when we first got into wine and hadn't yet discovered the regions we love the best (Burgundy, Germany, Alsace, Italy, etc.). Everyone is entitled to their own opinion so explore wines on your own without being biased by others if you can help it. Find out where your own wine explorations take you!

For more introductory info about various wine regions including German wine, see our Wine Regions page!

If you are looking for information about touring California wine country, be sure to check out our California Wine Country Tours page!

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January 13, 2008
Opus One Napa Valley 2004
Opus One is one of the most famous producers in California, based in the Napa Valley. It started years ago as a joint venture between Robert Mondavi, another one of the most famous wine makers in the area, and Château Mouton-Rothschild in Bordeaux. The goal was to make a classic, Bordeaux-styled wine that would be one of the prestige wines of California.

This wine showed nice, ripe, almost sweet fruit aromas of cassis liquor and some toasty oak and vanilla. Classic California wine tasting notes for a Cabernet-based wine such as this. In the mouth it was powerful and sweet with very ripe black fruits and oak nuances. Suave and well build, this is a very well made wine. It is not our favorite style, both being Cabernet and being clearly Californian in its ripeness and pretty modern with its ample toasty oak. However, this was nice nonetheless and should age nicely for several years to come. If the oak integrates and it gains complexity, it will get even better.


November 16, 2007
Arrowood Saralee's Vineyard Syrah Russian River Valley 1994
This is a single vineyard Syrah that Arrowood started to produce in the early 90's. They only made a small amount of it and it received great scores from reviewers. I bought a bottle years ago on release and it has been sitting in my cellar ever since.

The nose shows pretty, smokey oak, licorice, blackberries and a hint of smokey bacon. Mostly seems like oak complexity in this wine but it is pretty nonetheless. The mouth is quite silky for a California wine tasting note of a Syrah. Black fruits and sweet, smokey oak vanillin. Big oak, but it is suave and integrated. Much of the complexity here seems to come from the smokey oak as in the nose but the texture is elegant and integrated. Very nice. Not my favorite style of wine, but this was very pleasant to drink. I don't think it will get any better with longer aging.

Check back as we will post more California wine tasting notes periodically as we are fortunate enough to taste them!



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Return to the Wine Tasting Guide tasting notes page.



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