15 West Coast Red Wines Worth Exploring

A wide variety of varietal bottlings and blends from many terroirs shows the breadth of California (and Washington) winemaking.
Staff Writer
red wine


Increasingly, winemakers are producing different varietals and different blends.

While cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and merlot varietals are still the bread-and-butter of West Coast wines, increasingly there is interest in producing wines from lesser-known varietals such as grenache. Additionally, winemakers are making more blends of various red grapes, especially for the lower-price categories.

Here is an interesting selection of recent releases of red wines from Walla Walla to Paso Robles:


The Other Guys “Leese-Fitch” California Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($12). Very floral and perfumed, with little complexity.

The Other Guys “Leese-Fitch” California Merlot 2014 ($12). Lean, straightforward merlot with some savory and smoky accents.

The Other Guys “Leese-Fitch” California Pinot Noir 2014 ($12). A solid but not complex wine with good structure and dark cherry and caramel barrel flavors.           

Charles Smith “Substance” Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($16). Good intensity of ripe, red fruits with balancing acidity and a touch of creaminess in the finish.          

SLO Down “Stand Out” California Red Wine 2012 ($18). A cab-merlot blend with perfumed, tart-berry flavors – OK, though not impressive.

True Myth Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($18). Warm and generous, yet sturdy – though more like a merlot in taste, with its cherry and raspberry fruit.

Purple Heart Napa Valley Red Wine 2013 ($20). Not complex, but with rounded blackberry and raspberry flavors with a touch of creaminess.

SLO Down Wines “Sexual Chocolate” California Red Wine 2013 ($26). A big, lusty wine with caramel and cherry flavors, firm tannins, and tangy finish.

Quivira “Elusive” Dry Creek Valley Red Wine 2013 ($36). A syrah-based Rhône blend that is fruity yet lean, still a little tight, with tart red-berry flavors and good acidity.

Quivira “Wine Creek” Dry Creek Valley Grenache 2013 ($36). Juicy yet lean, with great black raspberry flavors.

La Follette “Sangiacomo” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($38). This one comes from the big and burly school of pinot, with lots of red fruits.

Artesa Napa Valley Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 ($40). Fragrant and floral, with some root and cola notes and a touch of tanginess, but a little short on the finish.

Charles Smith “K Vintners” Walla Walla Syrah 2013 ($40). The best syrahs – such as this one – have complex savory and earthy components, including dried fruits, smokiness, and integrated tannins. A rich but not lush wine.

Clos Pegase “Hommage Tenma Vineyard” Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($50). Well-structured with a nice integration of fruit and oak and dark cherry flavors.

Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($55). The Jordan is always an elegant, even mellow, cab, with rounded purple fruit flavors and some toasted, creamy barrel notes.

Chappellet Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($63). A lean wine with dark berry flavors and a hint of caramel oak and a few savory notes. Still tight, so decant first.

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