Michael Cervin
Michael Cervin

Michael Cervin is Bonfort's Wine Editor. He is the author of eight books including California Wine County) and he contributes and spirits articles to various publications including Robb Report, Forbes Travel Guides, The Hollywood Reporter, Old Liquors Magazine (Netherlands), The Whiskey Reviewer, The Tasting Panel, Fine Wine & Liquor Magazine (China), Decanter (London), Sommelier Journal, IntoWine.com, and many others. He is also professional wine and spirits judge serving at the Taste of Rum Festival in Puerto Rico, The Best of Vinho Verde Awards in Portugal, The Critics Challenge, San Diego Wine & Spirits Challenge, and San Diego Spirits and Cocktail Festival, The Central Cost Wine Competition, The San Francisco International Wine Competition, The California State Fair, and others. He is currently the wine buyer for the Santa Barbara Airport.

2014 Bootleg Red Blend: Illicit Quality

Though to “bootleg” means to hide contraband, or illegally make something, the 2014Bootleg Red Wine offers nothing but transparency. A kitchen sink blend of Syrah, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot, the fruit is mainly from Napa with about 13% of it coming from Mendocino. There’s a rustic, almost unfinished qualityto this, a sense of hand worked and not company-made. It’s full of blackberry, blueberry,cocoa powder, red raspberry, rough and tumble tannins and a slight edginess.

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Bonfort’s Wine of The Week: 2013 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon, 95 Points

Josephine Tychson became the first female winemaker on record in the Napa Valley when she established what would become Freemark Abbey in 1886. We don’t know forcertain how good the wines were then, but the 2013 Cabernet would make her proud.Pulled from five different vineyard sites, all located in Rutherford, this is a winecombining grace, structure and finesse. Comprised mainly of Cabernet, there areadditions of 8.6% Merlot, 9.7% Petit Verdot and 2.9% Cabernet Franc.

Summer in a Can

Barefoot Moscato Spritzer: Sometimes, simplicity is best. Barefoot’s line of canned spritzers are in that vein, simple beverages but delightfully executed and quite tasty. The Moscato uses Muscat of Alexandria and Chenin Blanc along with carbonated water then adds natural flavors of peach, tangerine and honey making this wildly drinkable. Yes there is an element of sweetness to the Moscato and floral notes to the peach and honeysuckle, but it’s all so well balanced that you’d be forgiven for drinking more of this than you probably should.

Wine of the Week: : 2016 Murrieta’s Well The Spur, 90 Points

Though Livermore Valley has a long and enviable wine history dating back to the 1840s when grapevines went into the ground, it nonetheless has been overshadowed by its northern neighbors. That oversight is being corrected with a slew of exceptional wines.

Murrieta’s Well traces its heritage back to 1884, and though The Spur was only created as a blend in 2010, it shows what this Valley can produce.

Bonfort’s WOW, Groth 2015 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

It was 1981 when Dennis and Judy Groth purchased a 121-acre parcel of land in Napa and from that day to this the focus has been on producing a handful of wines but specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon. Their 2015 Reserve Cabernet is such a comprehensive Cabernet, allowing the fruit to be the star power with support from 100% new French oak barrels. Harvested over a two-week period in Oakville, this lush fruit reaches out with blackberry, blueberry, cassis, black currant, plum, and cedar box with an acidity that belies the structure of the wine.

2013 Northstar Merlot: Finding True North

A silky smooth version from Washington State, this is a middle of the road Merlot, allowing non-Merlot folks to step towards this grape without sacrificing what they want in terms of flavor, structure and drinkability. There is plenty of boysenberry, blackberry, blueberry and black cherry, with back notes of resin, minerality, cedar and vanilla. 2013 Northstar Merlot is a blend in the truest sense of the word, Mainly Merlot with 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Petite Verdot, this is fruit from 10 different vineyards with vine age averaging…

Wine of the Week: 2015 Chappellet Cabernet Franc, 92 Points

Chappellet Winery has been crafting wine for over 50 years. It has always been a Cabernet Sauvignon house, but hiding in the shadows is its stellar Cabernet Franc. Made of Cabernet Franc with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% each of Malbec and Petite Verdot, this is a generous wine, popping with red and black berry flavor and giving you something different, something softer, smoother and more approachable. There are strong notes of blackberry, black cherry, boysenberry, sweet vanilla, smoke and anise make the wine in your glass immensely drinkable…

Bonfort’s Wine of The Week: Dutton Goldfield 2015 RRV Chardonnay, 91 Points

Dutton Goldfield has had a stellar reputation with Chardonnay since they opened their doors in 1998. The Chardonnay, actually a Chardonnay musque clone from their Rued Vineyard site, provides more aromatics than other Chardonnay clones. There is certainly an obvious malolactic element evident on the nose and in the palate, but it is tempered with zesty fruit, lemon-lime, manuka honey, tropical fruit mélange, tangerine, crème brulee, even wisps of gardenia…

Wine of The Week: Louis Martini 2015 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 90 Points

For eight decades Martini has been at it pressing grapes and making wine. Its Sonoma expressions of Cabernet have always been consistent and provide a hallmark of quality from the Dry Creek Valley. The 2015 vintage is no exception. Comprising mainly Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Franc, this is a rich and layered wine offering notes of blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, and black cherry with a mild tannic structure that makes this extremely drinkable now and a great…

Wine of The Week: Dalla Valle 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, 94 Points

Dalla Valle’s nearly iconic Napa vineyard is surprisingly just 15 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. From that they are able to extract excellent fruit and consistently craft excellent wines. Supple and earthy with restrained fruit and a surprising acidity, this 2014 fires on all cylinders. At first there are soft notes of black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, bing cherry and raspberry. As the wine graces the palate you pick up notes of cedar, wet earth, cocoa, resin and light tobacco smoke.

2014 Ladera Howell Mtn. Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is Howling Triumph

Howell Mountain is one of the notable places in Napa for quality Cabernet Sauvignon fruit. The area consists of two types of specific soil; a volcanic ash and iron-rich red clay, and these come to bear in the Ladera Cab. There’s also a provenance to Howell Mountain as it has been producing wine since the 1880s. Ladera’s Reserve Cabernet generously reflects both of these. Comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon and just 3% Petite Verdot, the wine was aged in all new French Oak for nearly two years, which is indeed extensive…

Bonfort’s Wine of The Week: 2011 Roederer L’Ermitage – 90 Points

Mendocino’s Anderson Valley has made a name for itself with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Roederer Estate takes advantage of that using only estate sourced fruit for their premier sparkler, L’Ermitage. The Mendocino winery was founded in 1981, and this wine is overseen by winemakers from both Anderson Valley and the Roederer Estate in France. L’Ermitage is comprised of 52 percent Chardonnay and 28 percent…

Wine of The Week: 2016 Calera Mt. Harlan Chardonnay- 92 Points

In 1975 Calera’s first wine made its way to the public. Calera, which is Spanish for “lime kiln” – a reference to the limestone kiln still on the property today – is located in the Gavilan Mountains, east of Monterey Bay in San Benito County. This site was chosen to plant Chardonnay specifically because of its limestone soils, which is clearly evident in this wine. What’s so compelling is the zesty-ness…

2016 Damarias Reserve Chardonnay Gives Truth To Balance

In 1974 Sonoma’s Landmark Vineyards was founded by a group that included Damaris Deere Ford, the great-great-granddaughter of John Deere, inventor of the first steel plow. Now she has a Chardonnay named after her. Pulling fruit exclusively from the cool Lakeville section of the Petaluma Gap this was aged for 15 months in French oak, just 35 percent of which was new. The Damarias is an amalgam of soft notes of crème brulee, guava, lemon custard, lime kefir, pear, red delicious apple, with back notes of pistachio…

Kutch McDougall 2016: Restrained, Quirky and Winsome

Jamie Kutch seems to love plots of land that reflect their unique characteristics. The fruit from this wine from McDougall Vineyard, an elevation of just over 900 feet and a scant three and a half miles from the Pacific Ocean on the Sonoma Coast, shows what he can do with the right fruit and vineyard. Dijon clone 114 was whole cluster pressed (and punched down by foot), then aged sur lie for…