The American West Coast continues to expand in the number of wineries it supports — well over a thousand of them, many from seldom-heard-of places — and many producing varietals that are less well-known than chardonnay and merlot.
We have a great variety of them here, some from well-known wineries, and others from lesser-known producers who are spreading their wings into new markets across the country.
But there are also some great imported wines in this review of 25 new releases, including two stellar ice wines from Canada’s Niagara Peninsula.
Get out your corkscrew or untwist a cap, and enjoy!
Wines for review were provided by their producers or importers at no cost to the writer.
Ruby Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2017 ($15). Juicy, with a light spritz and fruity sweet apple and lime flavors.
J Dusi Paso Robles Pinot Grigio 2017 ($16). Softly floral with a fruity tang on the finish.
Opolo Central Coast Roussanne 2017 ($23). Floral but not sweet, with flavors of apple and stone fruits, mainly apricot.
Cliff Lede Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($24). Mellow in body, but rich in flavors that are more botanical than sauvignon’s normal lime and kiwi. If gin were a wine, this would be it.
Groth Hillview Vineyard Napa Valley Chardonnay 2016 ($35). A good chard for people who like a blend of spicy tartness and creamy fruitiness.
Inniskillin Niagara Peninsula Vidal Ice Wine ($105/375 ml). This is a true ice wine made from naturally frozen grapes that have survived the birds and are picked in the middle of the night in the first really frigid weather of December or January. In Canada (which makes the best ice wine in the Americas and perhaps the world), the hybrid grape vidal is a favorite. This wine is similar to a Sauternes, with racy acidity, a tart sweetness that is luscious on the palate, and flavors of dried apricots and pears with hints of citrus and beeswax.
Inniskillin “Gold” Niagara Peninsula Vidal Ice Wine 2014 ($144/375 ml). This is a beautiful, barrel-aged wine with creamy flavors of dried apricots and pears — think of it as a flaky cream and fruit tart, but with more depth and complexity. The alcohol percentage of this ice wine (and the previously mentioned Inniskillin) is 9.5 percent. Bring on the foie gras!
Inman Family “Whole Buncha Bubbles” Russian River Blanc de Noir 2014 ($68). More straightforward than complex, with tons of bubbles, a great mouthfeel, and a mineral-y finish.
Cline “Ancient Vines” Contra Costa County Zinfandel 2016 ($15). Do you like a fruit-forward, juicy zinfandel? This is it, although some zin fans may prefer a little more balance and nuance.
Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano 2016 ($15). Decant for an hour or two — lots of tight cherry flavor with dusty tannins.
Poliziano “Lohsa” Morellino di Scansano 2015 ($16). Prune-y, stewed fruit flavors with lots of tannins.
Ruby Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015 ($22). Lightly gamey with root-like flavors and balsamic notes, which pairs nicely with the flavor of marinated cherries.
Grochau Cellars Redford-Wetle Farm Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Gamay Noir 2016 ($23). Lean and quite tart with a strong cherry flavor, but not to be mistaken for a gamay from Beaujolais.
Cooper Mountain Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2014 ($25). Unusual flavors for a pinot noir, with blueberries mixed in with the cherries, and dusty floral tannins.
Cooper Mountain “Life” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2016 ($28). A good food wine — a little gamey and barnyard-y, especially on the nose, but with lively cherry flavor.
Cooper Mountain Willamette Valley Gamay Noir 2016 ($30). Juicy, but tight and tannic, with lots of lean acidity.
E. Guigal Saint-Joseph Rouge 2015 ($31). A bargain for lovers of Northern Rhone syrahs — a classic profile with dried blackberry flavor mixed with brooding savory notes and lots of dusty tannins. For those who want their pleasure now, as well as those who prefer to wait.
Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2016 ($36). This one needs more cellar time or long decanting — lots of cherry fruit and savory gingerbread notes, and loads of tight tannins.
Ruby “Laurelwood Blend” Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir 2015 ($36). Lean, with dark cherry flavor, some cola notes, and fresh wood notes.
Ramey Sonoma Coast Syrah 2015 ($40). Straightforward flavors of dried blackberries and dark cherries, mixed in with chocolate brownies — delightful!
Cooper Mountain Meadowlark Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2014 ($50). Enjoyable, but different from most pinot noirs in that it has a very lean profile after the initial burst of cherry flavor.
Inman Family OGV Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2015 ($53). A lovely, complex wine with dominant cherry flavor — both fresh as well as those you find marinated at the bottom of a Manhattan glass.
Groth Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($65). A mellow, elegant wine with plummy flavors and softly infused wood notes.
Ramey Cole Creek Vineyard Russian River Valley Syrah 2014 ($65). Dried berries, dark chocolate, and earthy notes, with a floral lift at the end.
Ramey Rodgers Creek Vineyard Sonoma Coast Syrah 2014 ($65). By now you may have noticed we’re big fans of Ramey syrahs, and this is the favorite — like a big, juicy blackberry pie, with earthy notes of chocolate and baking spices; a desert island wine. Red wine is not only delicious, but can boost longevity and ward off depression. Here are 18 other reasons why you should drink a glass of wine every day.