Purchased from BevMo, $12-13
Aaron: I was very fond of this merlot. When I first started merlots were pretty much all I drank because I found them to be fruitier and easier to palate (without tasting like watered down grape juice). I had gotten away from them recently but was interested in this one because of its “milk chocolate” claim (yay for marketers talking up their wines). Regardless, I found the richness and smooth finish very appealing and highly recommend this as a casual wine that most people can agree upon. 90 points
Teri: I have to agree with Aaron’s option of this wine and found it to be rich in both a pleasant nose and taste. Ghost Pines makes its wines slightly different by using grapes from vineyards in different regions (aka AVA’s) and the result is a complex and stimulating wine. The nose was light but carried an enjoyable mix of red fruits and a hint of vanilla. The taste was long and smooth with flavors of dark berries and a hint of mocha. This wine is sure to be a favorite for any occasion and at around 12 dollars a bottle from BevMo you don’t have to splurge. 91 points
Purchased from Mumm Napa, around $20
Aaron: This sparkling wine from Napa wasn’t bad. I like carbonated drinks and so generally am fond of champagnes and sparkling wines. I found this to be melow and palatable but not the stand out fireworks you might expect from Mumm. Good enough, but not the highest on my list. 70 points
Teri: This was my favorite out of all the sparkling wines we tried while at Mumm in Napa. The taste is light with hints of melon and apple with a medium to dry finish. It was perfect for our New Year’s celebration this year. It would pair well with light cheeses, crackers, nuts, and seafood for a festive occasion that requires something that bubbles. 87 points
Purchased at Gilliam’s winery in Napa, $35. Small winery, only selective areas will carry this wine.
Aaron: If ever there was an example of great wine selling, Guillians is it. This very small, private winery was one of the highlights of our trip and reminded me why I prefer small vineyards. This particular vintage was opened specially for us as the winemaker felt that there were some inconsistencies from year to year. We tried it and fell in love. It’s the first Cab Franc bottle that I’ve ever had and I would highly recommend it. The flavors were full but not overbearing and the nose was very pleasant. 90 points
Teri: This wine holds a special place in my heart because of the story behind it. Searching for smaller private winery’s on our trip to Napa this one was suggested to us by the docent at the visitors center. We called ahead and made a reservation…directly with the wine maker herself, Shawn Gulliam. Shawn treated us like family spending over an hour with us talking about each of her wines, describing her wine making process, discussing the nature of the spring mountain region, and even opening up a few new bottles just for us. I have had only tasted a few Cab Franc in my life and this one was by far the best. It had a nice full body flavor of darker berries with a smooth lingering finish and a hint of oak. If you have a chance, visit Shawn Gilliam in the spring mountain region of Napa and prepare to be impressed. 88 points
Information on Guilliam’s Viniards:
Purchased from Rombauer, Napa for $35 (you can find this in wine stores from 27-40 dollars a bottle)
Aaron: This is my absolute favorite wine (of all those I’ve tasted). The strong, fruity flavor overwhelms the mouth and stands up to most meat-heavy dishes (my personal preference), however the finish is smooth and lasting. The lack of harshness is what really does it for me; while other strong varietals like syrahs etc, have a hint of burn on the aftertaste. Personally, if I want a burn I’ll drink a single malt scotch, so this wine is perfect for me! The dark fruit flavors are very pleasant and there is a strong jammy flavor throughout the palate. Honestly, I don’t particularly care for overly sweet wines, however the thickness of the flavor is really special. 97 points
Teri: If you normally don’t like Zinfandel’s don’t skip this one over. It contains a mild nose but the flavor is full of dark berries and floral nodes. It also contains a hint of sweetness and a slight strawberry jab flavor that stays on your tongue, like a very mild port but without the harsh kick or brandy flavor. The flavor stays on your palate standing up to any meal you want to pair it with. It goes especially well with red meats and hearty meals. This bottle, priced a little on the higher side, might not be one you have a budget to purchase every day but if you are looking for a nice bottle for a special occasion this one is a great choice. 93 points
Teri: This wine contained a very light nose with a hint of red fruits and a slight smell of acid but the taste made up for it. Flavors of strawberry and raspberry come forward strongly on the palate with a slight hint of chocolate. The finish is VERY smooth with a slight jam taste that lingers in your mouth. Only around 7 to 9 dollars a bottle I would buy this bottle again and enjoy it with meats, pasta dishes with red sauces, or even a nice hearty bowl of soup. 78 points
Aaron: I was pleasantly surprised by this wine. For the price, I’d recommend it any day. Nice smooth fruity flavors filled the mouth and the finish was soft with a jammy lingering. A glass of Radius is perfect for those people who are just getting accustomed to wine drinking, or seasoned professionals who are drinking only to taste. I would buy it again and bring it to a party where I wasn’t quite sure of the tasting abilities of the attendees.