So how do you know it is good? You look at it. It is translucent red with hints of violet. it looks appealing. You take in its aroma and it smells of bright red fruit. raspberry and currant with a hint of cinnamon. You draw it to your lips and it just plain feels good. and then the flavor dance begins. There is a completeness that can't be described in words. You know it when you smell it, when you taste it and especially when you feel it.
Robert Sinskey Vineyards
With a humble beginning of just 15 acres of vineyard land in the early eighties, RSV’s has grown to just under 200 acres of prime vineyard in five Carneros locations and a small 4.8 acre estate vineyard next to the winery in the Stags Leap District. The wines are 100% estate-produced. Rob Sinskey, Winemaker Jeff Virnig, and Vineyard Manager Kirk Grace, have created unique methods to grow and produce Pinot Noirs that are silky, elegant, and complex. They also make two California Bordeaux style proprietary reds (the RSV Vineyard Reserve from the Carneros and the RSV Stags Leap District Claret) that have a sense of place and exhibit incredible tactile qualities. The vineyards are farmed and the wines are made 100% organically. RSV also produces limited quantities of Merlot, that explodes with bright fruit character, a non-malolactic Chardonnay that is full flavored with natural, mouth-watering acidity, a whole cluster pressed Pinot Blanc that is free of oak influence, a delicate salmon-colored Vin Gris of Pinot Noir and a few other goodies… just for the fun of it.
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It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just granted an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country unto itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.