All wine reviews, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Red wine, Sonoma

2006 Moon Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Produced: Moon Mountain
Grape: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot
Region: Sonoma County, California

From vineyards, located in the Mayacamas Mountains, on the western side of Mt. Veeder – this wine could be considered as one of the best values known.

Moon Mountain vineyards, spread high above the fog line, (at nearly 2,000 ft elevation) are overseeing Sonoma Valley. It would be fair to say that they have some of the most difficult wine growing conditions in California.  Vines are growing on the steep, south-facing slopes, in a very unique soil punctuated by volcanic rock outcroppings, consist of thin, well-drained soils derived from volcanic ash and lava.

The combination of soils and more than generous sunshine stresses the vines to produce small crops of superbly concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. Vines are farmed organically and get as much personal attention, as possible.

Grapes are harvested by hand, in early morning hours, before the heat kicks in to preserve the rich flavors. After crushing the whole berries it underwent a hot fermentation to better extract color and rich tannin from the skins.

The wine was aged for 18 months in small, medium toast American and French oak barrels deep in the winery’s caves. It’s constant temperature of 60°F and very high humidity enhance the concentration of fruit flavors.

Tasting notes:
One of my colleagues used to call wines like this PRETTY. That’s what came to my mind, when I first tasted Moon Mountain. Wine, that makes you smile.

A beautiful dark ruby color in the glass, and sweet aroma of ripe dark berries. In my mouth it was a superb, impressive but silky wine, full of concentrated rich flavors.

It reminded me of sweet black currant, my mom grew in our backyard. The rich fruit flavors were gently dusted with cocoa and light spices of the oak. I loved the sweet mouthfeel of this wine, with never ending, generous finish.

I would say this is a very unique Sonoma Cabernet that would impress a lot of wine lovers. Approachable right now, but it can also improve with 3-5 years in the bottle.

No, this wine is not a collectible, it wouldn’t last for 10-15 years (my guess), but it also doesn’t cost $80-$100 per bottle. You can get this superb Cabernet Sauvignon for around $15 or less. Isn’t that an incredible value!

I just recently learned that Moon Mountain winery operates under the new management. I only hope that they will take full advantage of that unique place high in the mountains, and keep producing the same high quality, amazing wine.

Dry – Off dry- Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: around $15.00

Suggested food pairing:
Not so Greek Musaka,Beef Brisket with roasted grapes, Flank steak with shitakee sauce, Pistachio crusted leg of lamb, Beef Bourguignon and many more

All my wine blogs

How do I pick wines for my reviews?

I have been asked many times about how do I decide which wine to write a review on. So I thought it was time to explain how some particular wine ends up reviewed on my blog, and why some others not.

Every wine, listed for review. was chosen for a  reason.

Wines that I wrote a review on, are those that I considered a great example of its variety, or an exceptional value (no matter how big or small the price tag). Of course, it’s all based on my best knowledge and personal opinion.

Which means you can only find reviews on wines that I enjoyed. But again, it’s my personal and subjective taste.  Since I am buying wine in regular wine stores, I am tasting wines that are available to you as well.

When I discover new wine that catches my attention, I like to share it with you. Having the privilege to taste hundreds of wines every month, it is always a wonderful feeling to discover something that stands out. I don’t have any other interest behind it, I also don’t promote  somebody’s wine for profit.

If I reviewed wines that were sent to me by the winery, I will state it clearly in the review.

Orientation prices are listed just to give you a simple idea what price range that particular wine belongs too. Prices might vary from state to state, from vintage to vintage and of course from retailer to restaurant….

California, Old vines, Red wine, Zinfandel

Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2008

Winemaker: Charles G. Tsegeletos
Grape: 100% Zinfandel
Region: Carneros, California

See other wines from this producer:
Cline Cashmere

Cline to me is probably the most significant producer of Zinfandel in California.
Fred Cline, in honor of his grandfather, first founded Cline Cellars near Oakley, California in 1982. Here, he preserved and restored many ancient vine sites to their best potential as premier California vine sites.

Cline family relocated the winery from Oakley to Carneros region of Sonoma in 1991 to a beautiful, 350-acre estate. This region, mainly known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot was another inspiration for Fred Cline. He planted a typical Rhône varietals including Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne here.

Grapes for Cline’s 2008 Ancient Vines Zinfandel were harvested primarily from Lodi and Oakley. Over 20 percent cames from the oldest, most historic Zinfandel blocks in Oakley, Contra Costa County. These grapes were originally planted by Italian and Portuguese immigrants in the sandy, phylloxera-resistant soils more than 100 years ago. These old vines produce stunning concentrated fruit year after year.

Zinfandel from Lodi (57% of blend) came from historic vineyards along the delta waterways. The rest of the blend was carefully selected from prized vineyards in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Lake County. Individual lots of Zinfandel were harvested separately by hand, as they ripen. They were de-stemmed and very gently crushed, leaving some whole berries in the must, contributing to a rich fruit character.

The “must” (grape juice, skins and seeds) were then fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to extract rich flavors and excellent color. After the fermentation the wines were pressed and aged in American oak for approximately 7 months.

Tasting notes:
Another rich, concentrated Zinfandel that is worth to try! Bright ruby red color and great aroma of ripe dark fruit, dark cherries and chocolate. On the palate really smooth, pleasant fruit bomb, with soft tannins and big body. Pleasant, bittersweet chocolate finish.


Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: around $ 18.00

Ideal food pairing:
grilled beef, Beef brisket with roasted grapes, barbecue meats, goulash, Flank steak with shitakee sauce, Beef Chorizo, My best Chili recipe and many more

Argentina, Malbec, Mendoza, Red blends, Red wine

Cuvelier Los Andes Coleccion 2005

Winemaker: Adrian Manchon (consulting: Michel Rolland)

Grape: 62% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 8% Syrah and 3% PetitVerdot.
Region: Mendoza, Argentina

This wine is only one of 3 wines produced by this Bodega. You might also want to look for:
CUVELIER LOS ANDES GRAN VIN (higher percentage of Malbec in the blend, longer aging – 2005 vintage received 94 points from R. Parker)

CUVELIER LOS ANGES GRAND MALBEC (100% Malbec, best selection, 2005 vintage got 91+ from Tanzer, 94 from R. Parker)


Bertrand and Jean-Guy Cuvelier, owners of this property, also own Château Leoville-Poyferre in St Juilen in the heart of the Mèdoc and Château Le Crock in Saint Estèphe in Mèdoc, Bordeaux. Their art of blending and an experience with high quality Bordeaux wines comes well in use in Argentina as well.

They can work here with highest quality Malbec in the foothills of the Andes, at 1000 meters above the sea level. As the season of France and Argentina are in an opposite, it is a great opportunity to produce different wine projects at two different parts of the world.

The grapes for this blend undergo extensive selection at the sorting tables. They are than led by gravity to thermo-regulated small stainless steel tanks and go through a cold maceration process before fermentation begins.

Wine aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. Cuvelier Los Andes wines are neither fined, nor filtered in order to guarantee greatest expression of the fruit and its natural potential.

Tasting notes:
Intense purple-red color coating glass, promising a big body. Very rich aroma of rip red fruit, ripe plums, red and black raspberries, and spice of the oak. To decant this baby is a must! Don’t spill any on you though… that stain may never go away.

On the palate it is generous yet smooth, strong expression of rich Malbec and Cabernet. Muscular and sexy red that will give you a seductive, lingering finish. This wine will age gracefully if you prefer to lay it down for a few more years.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: around $ 20.00

Ideal food pairing:
Steaks, Lamb burgers, dark meats as game, Beef chorizo, Flank steak with shitakee sauce

California, Chardonnay, White wines

Acacia Chardonnay Carneros 2007

Winemaker: Matthew Glynn
Grape: Chardonnay
Region: Carneros, California

See other wines from this producer:
A by Acacia Pinot Noir
Acacia Pinot Noir Carneros

Although I always enjoyed Pinot Noir from this winery above all, the other Burgundy varietal, Chardonnay is also very important part of their portfolio. Maybe it’s this winemaker’s background (he gained his experience in numerous wineries in California, New Zealand but most importantly in Burgundy, France where he learned the traditional techniques of Grand Cru and Premium Cru wines) or the great potential of Acacia vineyards.
Whatever it is, Matthew’s focus on traditional Burgundy varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir definitely pays off. Acacia today produces several levels of Chardonnay (in all price ranch) expressing different character of this interesting grape. Acacia Vineyard 2009 Cuvee 304, Chardonnay Carneros Sangiacomo Vineyard 08, Chardonnay Russian River Valley 08, Chardonnay Carneros Winery Lake Vineyard 08 and Acacia Vineyard Chardonnay Carneros Marsh 08.
I will be interested to taste some of these single vineyard wines. Carneros, known as one of the best regions for Chardonnay (right there with Sonoma and Russian River) offers a distinguish character to this variety, very similar to Burgundy. So, just like in Burgundy, you can grow grapes on separate lots, close together, yet every lot will have its own unique characteristic. That’s what I find so excited about wine.
The grapes for this Chardonnay were sourced from a few Acacia vineyards on windy Carneros slopes. Grapes were briefly soaked to extract more flavors, than pressed and fermented in oak barrels. Instead of synthetic yeast, Acacia used a natural yeast, founded on the grape skins to preserve the natural flavor of their fruit. About 70% of wine underwent malolactic fermentation.
Tasting notes:
Rich and lovely aroma of fresh cantaloupe, peach and spicy vanilla. This Chardonnay is velvety and creamy on the palate, with multiple layers of flavors from sweet fruit to citrus, nicely balanced with acidity. Opulent, yet elegant with a generous finish. A great effort for a reasonable price.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: around $ 16.99

Ideal food pairing: