Wine Reviews: American Wines

For our latest wine panel, we asked our panelists of wine retailers and professionals to taste and grade American wines.

These wines could be any style within the category, from anywhere in the country.

As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’re a retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, contact Editor Kyle Swartz at [email protected]

Rating System

Five Stars (100-92): A top-flight wine, superior in taste and character, and providing a superior price/value ratio.Four Stars (91-86): A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.

Five Stars

(97) Alexander Valley Vineyards ASR Petite Sirah 2018 (CA)

Kevin Hall showcases his passion for small-lot projects (568 6-btl. cases) with this special offering. This second vintage is sourced from two special lots that were grafted over to old head-pruned vines in hillside and valley floor sites. Almost perfect growing conditions yielded perfect fruit. Hand harvested, then soaked for 24 hrs., yeast inoculated and then punched down for maximum color and fruit extraction. After vinification, the wine was aged in a 20-month oak barrel program. Inky, dark and perfumed, with blue fruit berries dominating on the nose. Balanced acidity, with hints of vanilla and dark chocolate lead to a smooth, lingering finish. I just love experiments that turn out like this! ($49.99)

(96) Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2020 (CA)

Cool climate is the place for chardonnay, and the Russian River Valley in Sonoma certainly delivers. Estate fruit combines with the best winemaking techniques: night harvesting, cold fermentation, judicious program for oak aging and malolactic fermentation. A subtle addition of viognier, and you wind up with a very balanced wine with great body. Citrus notes on the nose yield to soft pear notes on the finish. Great value for the money, and the perfect complement to pasta with shrimp in a cream sauce. ($21.99)

(96) Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (WA)

Canvasback reflects the Washington State portion of the Duckhorn portfolio. Sourcing from the famed Red Mountain appellation virtually guarantees exceptional fruit. Bordeaux-style blending (primarily cabernet, with merlot, petit verdot, syrah and malbec), mountain-fruit sourcing and a 20-month French-oak aging program yield spectacular results. Beautiful color and soft berry aromas yield to a smooth lingering finish, with plum and dark chocolate notes. An excellent example of Washington State cabernet, perfect for that rib-eye coming off the grill. ($45.99)

(95) Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2020 (CA)

AVV takes pinot noir very seriously. Russian River-estate sourcing highlights four legendary Burgundian clones. Hand-harvested lots were kept separate, with Dijon 777 undergoing a 48-hr. cold soak and tank fermentation, while the other lots utilized a technique known as cryoextraction for maximum flavor and color extraction. After vinification, the lots underwent a 10-month French oak-aging program. Dark fruit notes dominate the nose, with subtle pepper spice undertones. Beautiful color, with a unique California interpretation of the classic Burgundy grape. ($37.99)

(94) Floorshow Red Blend (CA)

Bold and full-bodied. Dark berries, oak, vanilla and spice intermingle seamlessly on the palate. Soft and sumptuous tannins give this wine a long and lingering finish that leaves you wanting more. ($49.99)

(93) Truth & Valor Zinfandel 2020 (CA)

This is a great example of a super juicy zin from Paso Robles. Full and broad on the palate. Jammy, overripe cherries and a hint of mandarin peel on the finish elevate this wine to make it not feel so heavy. Great choice for any get-together, as it pairs well with a variety of foods. ($24.99)

(93) Tablas Creek Grenache/Mourvedre/Cournoise 2021 (CA)

Made from vines brought from Beaucastel, this organic rosé is pretty, pale pink and yummy. Mouthwatering peach and wild strawberry with just a hint of the sea. Perfect for an afternoon picnic with butter and cucumber sandwiches. ($33)

(93) Sheldrake Point Winery Dry Rosé 2021 (NY)

This Finger Lakes wine is 100% cabernet franc rosé. The nose has ripe strawberry aromas, the taste is mouthwatering with hints of fresh berries, ripe cherries and fresh stone fruits. The finish lingers, with additional hints of ripe summer fruit with just a touch of tannin. This wine has enough to keep you interested, with or without food. ($18)

(93) Raywood Chardonnay (CA)

Ripe apple and pear on the palate. Wonderful acidity to support this lightly oaked chardonnay. ($9.99)

(92) Raywood Moscato 2021 (CA)

Bright peaches and green apple on the nose, backed up by a slight sweetness and balanced acidity. ($9.99)

(92) Bishop Pine Vineyards Chardonnay 2021 (CA)

Sourcing seems to be the secret for this very good offering using vineyard lots from all over the state, with Arroyo Seco for complexity and Lodi for fruit forward characteristics. The free-run juice is fermented in stainless steel, then transferred to oak barrels for a 10-month aging program, including malolactic fermentation and site segregation, before being gently filtered, blended and bottled. Classic tropical fruit flavors with a touch of vanilla and butter. An absolute steal at this price ($8.99)

(92) Hall Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (CA)

Classic, rich Paso mouthfeel: big, juicy and well-integrated. Notes of black currants, red and black fruits dominate this cabernet, with a hint of olive brine on the entry. ($21.99)

(92) Sobon Estate Cougar Hill Zinfandel 2020 (CA)

Single-vineyard offering from Sobon Estate. Typical notes of black cherry and bright red fruits are met with smokey tobacco and black peppercorns in the midpalate. The tannins are present but not overwhelming, and integrate well into the finish. ($22.99)


(91) Verada Tri-County Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (CA)

A definite people-pleaser, with grapes hailing from San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Sonoma County. The red fruit and cherry cola notes are rich but delicate, and further elevated by the soft tannins and velvety finish. ($20.99)

(91) Sundry Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (CA)

Fragrant toasted marshmallow and vanilla envelop the senses and balance out the cherry cola, cassis and plum notes. Smooth and elegant, with a long and silky finish. ($19.99)

(91) Matchbook The Arsonist Red 2018 (CA)

An opulent blend, complex and exotic. Licorice, fennel and plum blend with savory herbs, leading to a long, seamless finish. A perfect wine for any grilled meat. ($32)

(91) Verada Tri-County Chardonnay 2020 (CA)

This light-bodied, elegant chardonnay presents with bright citrus notes of lemon and creamy butter, with hints of soft honeysuckle and crisp apple. Great to take along on picnics, and a perfect match for any cheese board. ($20.99)

(90) Sobon Estate Hillside Zinfandel 2020 (CA)

Notes of cherry cordial dominate this lighter-style zinfandel. Intensely ripe strawberries lead into expressive tannins that lend to its longer finish. ($13.99)

(90) Forge Cellars Riesling 2019 (NY)

From the shores of Seneca Lake, this sustainable winery, hidden away from the world, is producing some of the best riesling from this area. Working with Saint Cosme of Rhone Valley fame, they have created a fresh, dry riesling with balanced acidity, lovely pear overtones and a touch of tangerine. Pairs with just about everything! ($25)

(90) Courtney Benham Rosé 2021 (CA)

This wine is a lovely cotton candy pink color with bright notes of strawberry candy and lemon zest. Light and refreshing, easily paired with light hors d’oeuvres, or equally enjoyable on its own. ($17.99)

(90) Forever Vineyards Pinot Noir 2020 (CA)

This wine opens to ripe raspberries and luscious dark cherry notes. Subtle tannins envelop the palate on the finish. Great value for the price. ($14.99)

(90) Muirwood Chardonnay 2019 (CA)

This wine has a slight toastiness to the aroma and the palate. Sipping it, you will also get soft fruit flavors (honeydew melon and golden delicious apples) to balance it on the tongue. Almost has a slight almond note to the finish. A wine that is even better with food. ($12.99)

(90) Montoya Chardonnay 2019 (CA)

This Monterey wine is pretty golden in appearance, with light, fresh fruit aromas on the nose. Initially, the wine tastes of hints of candied pear, but lingers with vanilla and butterscotch on the finish. Lightly wooded. Pleasant, almost chewable finish. ($13.99)

(89) Muirwood Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (CA)

This wine opens with toasty notes of wood and ripe blackberry. Almost like rain that falls quickly on hot asphalt. From the glass, one immediately gets ripe summer fruits, plums, black cherries and wood. It has some tannins, but the fruit and the tannins work well together. Great wine for dinner. ($17)

(88) Acrobat Pinot Gris 2019 (OR)

This is a clean pinot gris, with fresh aromas of cut grass and pineapple. On the palate, it has more body than you would expect from a PG, but has pleasant touch of granny smith apple on the finish. The wine is dry, with a touch of citrus fruit notes. This is a great first course, enjoy with cheese, drink on the porch on a warm day wine. ($12.99)

Want more reviews? Our wine panels in the past year have included:

Sparkling WinesThe Best Wines Under $30Old World WinesThe Best We Drank in 2022Southern HemisphereSpring and Summer WinesRosé WinesPinot Noir

Feature photo by Eva Fan on Unsplash.The post Wine Reviews: American Wines first appeared on Beverage Dynamics.
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Author: Kyle Swartz