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The Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard in Napa
© Kurt-Inge Eklund

California Wine: Hal Oates’ Top Picks

January 23, 2016

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Hal Oates of Porthos, Andrew Harper's wine concierge, shares his top two picks for California wine this year. For personal wine recommendations and seasoned expertise, email Hal and the Porthos team at [email protected].


Like Andrew Harper, Hal Oates and the Porthos team are dedicated to providing honest, unbiased reviews and ratings for discerning Andrew Harper wine lovers. The Porthos team of wine experts has provided hundreds of Andrew Harper subscribers insider access to the world’s rarest wines for their private collections, as well as private tours to exclusive wineries in Napa.

Hal and his team sample more than 5,000 wines annually, which leads us to take their recommendations very seriously, especially when it comes to bottlings from their home state. The following are Hal’s favorite California wines from his tastings in 2015:

Chardonnays from Lewis Cellars

“Chardonnays from Lewis Cellars are perennial high-scoring favorites that I collect personally. The Lewis ‘Barcaglia Lane’ Chardonnay is a majestic effort, with a sumptuous combination of dazzling tropical fruit flavors balanced by finesse typical of Burgundy’s legendary Corton-Charlemagne in riper vintages. Since many upper echelon ‘reserve’ Chardonnay bottlings have recently crept over $100, I consider this Lewis ‘Barcaglia Lane’ to be quite a value, as it is priced under $80."

>> Related: 10 Highest Rated Wines of The Year

Napa Cabernet Sauvignons from Tor Kenward

"I met with Tor Kenward at The Restaurant at Meadowood for a private sampling of the 2013 release of his eponymous Napa Cabernet Sauvignons. I had lofty expectations of Kenward’s boutique Cabernets, because Robert Parker had already awarded ‘Perfect 100’ point barrel-tasting ratings. I was immediately captivated by the cashmere-like texture and the galaxy of deftly balanced dark fruit flavors. My favorites were the sublime TOR Cabernet Sauvignon Melanson Vineyard from a site near Colgin and Bryant on Pritchard Hill, and the profound TOR Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard from the most prized vineyard in Napa. These ultra-rare wines are still priced under $200, yet they deliver quality reminiscent of many of the ‘cult’ Cabernets trading for three times as much.” — Hal Oates

© Lewis Cellars
© Dan Mills Productions

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