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Wall Street Journal Wines

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Dear friends,

Yes, yes! Can you believe this name for a wine club?

In these Coronavirus times I have continued investigating wine clubs. I started purchasing Shannon Ridge, then joined Naked Wines, and after a while I joined Wall Street Journal Wines ( I had seen their ads in an airline magazine and had them in mind. Then Jose told me he had ordered a case and he liked them much.

They offer significant discounts when you join the first time. I got a case of 12 bottles plus two extra bottles and two glasses for $69.99 plus shipping and tax.

I am not promoting this wine club but offering my commentaries about their wines in case they help. You will be able to compare them with the printed reviews that they provide with the wines.

Ricardo Llovet

Shroud Mountain 2018, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, CA

This was one of our two favorites in the first shipment.

Aromas of plum and prune, smoke and cinnamon. In mouth it was smooth, silky, dense and exuberant. The aftertaste was very long with developed, rich and elegant bouquet.

After the first impression and as we drank it, it began to show more its sweetness speaking about Lodi Valley’s sun and grape ripeness. It may also be due to the small proportion of Petite Sirah. It reminded me of a beautiful bottling from Suisun Valley wine that our friends Jen and Casey gave us once.

In spite of the sweetness we decided to rate it pretty high.

Food pairing: We had it with the first, and not last, Sally’s spicy pulled pork.

My rating: 91 pts.

RCA Victor "His Master's Voice" 2018, Cabernet Sauvignon 67%, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Merlot, Petit Verdot, CA

I was amazed when I saw this. I remember my father’s records from RCA Victor “His Master’s Voice” with fondness. This label took me to those childhood years and I dreamt forgetting to take tasting notes. Therefore, see the published ones: sumptuous blackberry, black cherry, and plum, plus subtle spice notes. I wondered how much of the price was the royalty to use that brand name.

Food pairing: Dreams.

My rating: 88 pts.

Black Saint Peter 2018, Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, CA

A curious Zin. It was fruity, as a Zin would be, but the predominant aromas were of culinary herbs and spices. You may think I am crazy but I detected oregano and fennel in it. In addition to the typical fruits we smelled and tasted blood orange, and even peach. On target acidity on medium-light body.

It was a wine more similar to some Primitivos from Puglia than to its origin in CA. Interesting.

Food pairing: We had it with pasta with a rich red sauce.

My rating: 90 pts.

On the Line 2018, Petite Sirah, CA

Huge slow dense legs and alcoholic smell. Then we looked at the label and saw 14.5%.

Intense, overpowering aromas of very ripe strawberry, blueberry, golden raisins and pepper.

In mouth it showed drying tannins and full body. Two effects emerged within the prior aromas. One was some bitterness, possibly due to some sort of aggressive extraction. The other was sweetness that became more dominant at every sip and so typical of many CA reds.

Petite Sirah, a hybrid of Syrah and almost extinct Peloursin, was created in France but is most abundant in CA where it has been making a stance recently. One could say that it has become more American than French (like the Argentinean Malbec or the Chilean Carmenere). I enjoy them much because they are usually bold and full bodied.

Food pairing: We had it with a grilled porterhouse. We have reduced our beef consumption but once in a while we make an exception, and this Petite Sirah deserved it.

My rating: 89 pts.

Purple Owl 2019, Pinot Noir, CA

Red cherry, red licorice, clay and possibly turmeric. Sally said that it brought to her the view and the aroma of Sedona AZ. There was some residual sulfide smell in there.

In mouth it was light and silky with long aftertaste.

Food pairing: I had it with a platter of red cured meats.

My rating: 89 pts.

Ricochet 2018, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, CA

Red cherry, cranberry, maybe some mountain herbs and alcohol. I checked after smelling and saw 14.5%. In mouth it showed light texture and some bitterness. The alcohol level also let itself noticed in the throat.

Food pairing: I had it with a caprese salad with prosciutto. It would have gone well with a meat carpaccio with arugula.

My rating: 86 pts.

GFF 2018, Zinfandel, Lodi, CA

Dark fruits. Deep. Some spicy chocolate in there. Perfect acidity and mild tannins. Tasted two bottles and confirmed the tasting notes. We will try more.

Food pairing: I just had it with no food. Its depth and structure did not need any solid items to go with.

My rating: 91 pts.

GFF 2019, Zinfandel, Lodi, CA

How can a wine change so much from vintage to vintage? This one did not even taste to me as a Zin. I would have said in a blind tasting that it was a Grenache. Plum aroma with taste of plum and cherry paste with hints of pepper.

Food pairing: I tasted it with no food to compare it to the 2018 under equal conditions.

My rating: 87 pts.

TRI-TIP 2018, Malbec, Paso Robles, CA

Lots of fruit. Fruit paste and jam. Really powerful fruit. Too much for me (I would have preferred some more depth) but Sally loved it. She said: plum, cherry, chocolate and coffee bean. It felt to me as Dellallo’s fig compote.

Food pairing: We had it with my meatballs in onion and carrot sauce.

My rating: 89 pts. (average of Sally's higher and mine lower)

Zapapico 2018, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

Tasted right after the Paso Robles Malbec in the same night.

Deeper and with riper fruit. A lot of fruit in there, although not as much as in the Paso Robles. Blackberry, cherry, blood orange peel, dry cooking herbs and pepper. A real pity that the generous use of Sulphur was obvious and interfered with the wine aromas.

Very dry, a bit sour and dry texture in mouth.

Food pairing: We had it with my meatballs in onion and carrot sauce.

My rating: 87 (without the Sulphur it would have been higher).

Capital 2018, Zinfandel, Lodi, CA

Pleasant fruity aroma. Typical Zinfandel. However, it was in my opinion a level down from the GFF 2018.

WSJ Wines seems to get a lot of wines from Lodi.

Food Pairing: We had it with baby back ribs.

My rating: 87 pts.

All Out 2017, Red Blend, El Dorado, CA

Red fruits puree with some hints of black cherry, tangerine peel and chocolate.

In mouth it showed mild acidity and very mild tannins. I thought it was a decent wine with no sharp edges. Sally loved it much.

First time I have a wine from El Dorado, as far as I know. I had to research it. Locared in the foothills of Sierra Nevada it has magma soils of great acidity. Elevated above the central Valley, it seems to have a promising future. Let's watch for it.

Food pairing: Home made hamburgers.

My rating: 88

Late Arrival 2018, Barbera, North Coast, CA

I just did not get much from this wine other than a mild smell of red fruits and some cured meat like prosciutto.

Next time I will get a Barbera from Alba or Asti.

Food pairing: Panini sandwitch of prosciuto and fontina

My rating: 82 pts.

Bold Move 2019, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, CA

Blackcurrant and (after reading the black label notes) gingerbread. But Sally and I also detected an intense aroma of roasted paprika. In mouth we noticed plum and fig. Medium body with plump texture and perfect level of acidity. Really a bold wine.

The roasted paprika aroma will expand many people’s palate!

Food pairing: Inspired by the aroma, we decided to fry some Spanish chorizo and pip sourdow bread in its juices. A really good pairing discovery.

My rating: 89 pts.

DOOH?CKEY 2018, Red Blend, Lodi, CA

The back label says black currant, blackberry and vanilla. Sally and I detected raspberry, cranberry sauce, pepper and nutmeg. We agreed on the silky tannins and, definitively, this wine had a very nice and precise acidity, enough to give it life without becoming a nuance. Very pleasant and too easy to drink. Danger!

Food pairing: We had it with red peppers stuffed with quinoa, garbanzo beans, and feta cheese

My rating: 89

The Arch 2019, Pinot Noir, Lodi, CA

Correct Pinot Noir. Ripe cherry aroma and flavor. No defects and not spectacular. Good for the price.

Food pairing: Stew of tuna fish with red peppers in tomato sauce.

My rating: 87 pts.

Shadow Slant 2018, Wahluke Slope, WA

Aromas of black currant, anise and orange peel. Alcoholic.

In mouth it had an enticing attack tikling the tip of the mouth and some evolution confirming the fruits. Medium body, medium acidity, domesticated tannins. A middle of the road Cab easy to drink.

Food Pairing: We had it with Thanksgiving leftover turkey

My rating: 87 pts.

Mountain Drive 2018, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Co., CA

Just a nice Cab with blackberry and vanilla flavors and nice subtle bouquet.

Food pairing: WSJ’s recommendation was barbecue and we agreed.

My rating: 89 pts.

Amelior 2018, Cabernet Sauvignon, CA

Cocoa mouse with blueberry and blackberry paste and, Sally said, dry figs. The aroma was much more promising than what the taste revealed. In fact, in mouth, at least our bottle, was a little bit vinegary.

Food pairing: We had it with pork wok.

My rating: 84 pts.

Deeply Rooted 2018, Merlot, Mendocino Co., CA

So difficult to say what the aroma and taste remind me off!!! It may be me today. But it is nice, balanced, medium bodied, soft, with the right acidity, and just very drinkable. I can’t stop!

Food pairing: We had it with argentinean empanadas.

My rating: 89 pts.

Pila N.5 2019, Cabernet Sauvignon, Navarra, Spain

Lots of plum with hints of carnation and licorice in the aroma (the label says blueberry, black currant and licorice). In mouth it is silky with some slight acidity, but above all overly sweet. My guess is that they cut the fermentation to prevent an alcoholic grade higher than the advertised 14.1% leaving in there some residual sugar. I would have let it ferment more. But that’s a big guess, since I do not really know what happened, and I may be wrong.

Food pairing: We had it with piquillo peppers stuffed with ground meat

My rating: 86 pts.

Silver Puffs 2019, Sauvignon Blanc, CA

This wine was not a typical Sauvignon Blanc. We are used to the ones from Bordeaux, Loire Valley and New Zealand, but many in California, and clearly this one, only resembled them from a far distance. Some grassy notes were there but they took the qualities of dry Mediterranean herb instead of fresh and humid Atlantic grasslands. But the real deal in this wine is an unabashed flavor of candied melon that invades the mouth. Medium acidity and body let the flavor shine with no distraction. To me it was too flavorful. Sally loved it much.

Food pairing: We had it with baked hake, both in the glass and added to the hake for the last 5 minutes of baking.

My rating: 89 pts.

Salt Shaker 2019, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma Co. CA

Pretty much the same story as Silver Puffs. This one was, however, more citrusy and showcased intriguing tropical fruits.

Food pairing: We had it gambas al ajillo (shrimp scampi).

My rating: 88 pts.

Highway 253 2019, Gewürstraminer, Mendocino Co. CA

Aromas of honeysuckle, succulent apple, litchee, lemon rind, sandal and anise. Yes, a lot of things in there!

Playful in the tip of the tongue with the litchee coming up stronger during the evolution. Lubricated feeling with medium body. Clean finish.

Food pairing: Believe it or not it went well with crispy crunchy ginger cookies with white cheese sread.

My rating: 89 pts.

Ocellus 2019, Pinot Grigio, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA

Aromas of lime, apple, ripe cantaloupe and possibly ripe pear accompanied with some cooking herb. In mouth it is medium everything (acidity, body) and not much bouquet.

Food pairing: Grilled swordfish

My rating: 85 pts.

Ricochet 2019, Chardonnay, Mendocino Co., CA

Ripe apple, cantaloupe and lavender in a Chardonnay with little signs of oak. In mouth it is tasty, with some pine tree leave notes, dense and with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Food pairing: We had it with tofu with shallots in soy sauce

My rating: 86 pts.

Vesuvium 2018, Falanghina, Beneventano IGT, Italia

Interesting wine from the volcanic terroir just North East of the Vesuvius mountain. This is the volcano that buried Pompei. Its Falanghina varietal has tropical fruit and mineral characteristics. This wine was no exception and conveyed equilibrium between acidity and ripeness, medium body, neither aqueous nor buttery.

Food pairing: Spaghetti al vongole

My rating: 89 pts.

Inside Track 2018, Chardonnay, Napa Valley

This wine comes from the highly reputed Napa Valley and has been barrel aged for 12 months. Given that introduction and an elegant label, I had high expectations. However, the wine seemed to me as correct and pleasant with ripe apple, tropical fruits, pine tree needles and honey but just one of many.

Food pairing: We had it with a quick and dirty version of a boullabaise.

My rating: 87 pts.


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