Publication: Wine Spectator

New reviews of impressive Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and more from Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles and beyond

Tasting Highlights’ wine reviews are fresh out of the tasting room, offering a sneak peek of our editors’ most recent scores and notes to members.

Grape varieties have different thresholds for value. For example, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon can be costly to grow, leading to wines with higher prices. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find affordable wines made from such grapes, and California has plenty. This week’s selection demonstrates this with a varied mix of Golden State wines made in sizable volumes and priced for $30 or less.

Alma de Cattleya is a brand from Sonoma winemaker Bibiana González Rave. It offers affordable expressions like this week’s top-scorer, a mouthwatering Sauvignon Blanc with lime blossom, passion fruit and Meyer lemon notes. It ferments in neutral oak barrels and stainless steel, which helps concentrate its flavors. Other well-known Sonoma wineries deliver great value as well. Hanzell‘s iconic estate bottlings are often tight in their youth. But the winery’s Sebella Chardonnay uses younger vines and additional grapes from other growers, resulting in apple tart flavors and fresh acidity that are ready to enjoy now. Crossbarn is an appellation-focused label from Paul Hobbs. Hobbs’ primary lineup consists of high-priced wines from prime Napa and Sonoma vineyards. But this crisp Chardonnay provides good value with grapefruit flavors and savory undercurrents.

There are several wines priced less than $20 this week, including Carol Shelton’s juicy yet well-structured Wild Thing Zinfandel. It over-delivers with lively raspberry, toasty spice and roasted sage flavors. Highlands 41, a new brand from Riboli Family Wines, offers a crisp and affordable Pinot Noir with a gunflint finish. For fuller-bodied reds, Kenwood’s Merlot is juicy with crushed red currant and dried raspberry flavors, and Greg Norman’s open-knit Paso Robles Cabernet displays cherry pie and raspberry paste notes.


Zinfandel Mendocino County Wild Thing Old Vine 2018

Score: 91 | $19

WS review: A juicy bomb of fruit, this red is also well-structured, with lively raspberry, toasty spice and roasted sage flavors that linger on a snappy finish. Drink now through 2028. 9,085 cases made.—Tim Fish


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Click here to learn more about Carol Shelton Wines

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