Hello, my wine-loving friends! Today I’m sharing another review of The California Wine Club to give you an inside look at their Signature Series and International Series.
Now, you may remember I previously reviewed their Premier Series, the most popular option. But in case you missed it, you can check it out here. This post also gives you all the deets on how The California Wine Club works and the options you can choose from.
But if you just want a quick rundown, here’s a recap of why I think it’s the best California wine club (and maybe one of the best wine clubs overall):
- You get high-quality wines from small producers that are hard to access outside the club.
- They have a “Love It” guarantee. This means if you get a bad or broken bottle or even one you don’t like, they’ll replace it or refund you.
- It’s super flexible — cancel online anytime, put your shipments on hold, or change your frequency.
- Awesome discounts on reordering wines you like or from their online store.
- VIP winery tours if you visit any of their partner wineries.
Keep reading to hear more about the wines I got from the Signature and International Series.
Also, they have a ton of great gift options like gift sets, gift certificates, and gifting shipments of a club series. These would be great to add to a DIY wine gift basket.
I was gifted a portion of the wines featured in this post, but all opinions of the wines are my own. As an affiliate, if you purchase through my links, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. I am so grateful for brands I love supporting what I do. Thanks for supporting them back!
The California Wine Club Review: Signature Series
Are you someone who appreciates the finer things in life? Do you own a wine fridge that’s larger than your kitchen fridge? Was your last wine-tasting party a re-enactment of the 1976 France vs. California blind tasting?
If so, the Signature Series is for you.
All kidding aside, I like this series because it gives me access to some of California’s best wines. These are the winemakers’ hidden gems that they keep in reserve behind cellar doors. But I don’t have to do the work to track them down.
I’m also trying to build up my wine collection beyond all the 2015 Bordeauxs I stashed. I know I can enjoy these wines now, but I’m excited to see how they evolve with age.
Here are a few more details about the Signature Series:
- Perfect for red-wine lovers, but you’ll also get an occasional white wine
- Prices average $136 for two-bottle shipments and $275 for four-bottle shipments
- Choose from monthly, every other month, or quarterly deliveries
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Signature Series: Jean Edwards Cellars
The first bottle in my shipment was a 2017 Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Jean Edwards Cellars.
The winery was founded by John and Karen Troisi in 2004. They enlisted the help of winemaker Kian Tavakoli, who started his career at the famed Opus One.
He worked his magic, and it paid off because in 2021 they were named by Napa Register as Best Winery, Best Winemaker, Best Hidden Gem, and Best Tasting Room. So, you could say they’re kind of a big deal!
Not to mention the wine I received was on James Suckling’s Top 10 list of Napa Cabs under $100.
The grapes for the Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon come from one of Napa’s most famous vineyards. The red rock soils and marine influence make it a sweet spot for Cabernet, resulting in ripe, bold, and concentrated flavors.
The notes say this wine can age up to 20 years. So, I used my Coravin to extract a taste of this without opening the bottle.
It’s a deep ruby-colored wine with silky tannins.
With 20 months in French oak, I got aromas of vanilla, toffee, and tobacco. And it was well balanced with fruit on the nose and palate — lots of black cherries, blackberry, and blueberry.
The wine is smooth enough that I could enjoy it on its own, maybe with a nice crackling fire and a good book. But it would also be amazing with a filet mignon and a red-wine sauce.
It’s a wine to enjoy with food and friends but, put in the words of Jean Edwards Cellars, “you’ll want to keep the bottle at your end of the table.”
Signature Series: Optik
The second bottle from the Signature Series was the 2019 Bien Nacido Vineyard, Block 11D3 Santa Maria Valley Santa Barbara Chardonnay.
The vineyard was planted in 1973 by brothers Bob and Steve Miller. Bien Nacido means “well born” in Spanish, representing their passion and commitment to bringing it to life. They believed it had potential.
Well, they were on the right track. Because in 2021 Wine Enthusiast included it in their list of “Ten Vineyards Behind the World’s Greatest Wines.”
The wine itself is a recent collaboration with acclaimed winemaker Joey Tensley. The fruit was hand-selected from a particular block of vines planted in 2009.
The western-facing slope gets consistent coastal winds that blow across the block. This thickens the grape skins and gives more concentrated flavors to the wine.
Joey has focused on reducing the amount of manipulation that’s done in the winery to bring out more of the natural fruit characteristics.
This 100% Chardonnay spent 10 months aging in French oak so it does still have some toastiness. But I also got a lot of lime flavors and aromas, as well as green apple and lemon peel. The finish was really long.
After a few sips, I took another whiff and could smell buttered popcorn.
This wine would be amazing with Maine lobster and melted butter.
The California Wine Club Review: International Series
Are you a world traveler or dream of being one? Do you want to explore the world of wine without leaving your living room? Or try new grape varieties not often found in the U.S.?
Despite its name, The California Wine Club is not just about California wine. The international series will introduce you to wines from throughout the world.
As someone who loves to travel and discover new wines, I like that this series helps fill in the gaps between trips.
I can experience Old World wines from France, Italy, and Spain. And uncover New World favorites from places like Australia, South America, and South Africa.
And all the wines come from small, family wineries, many of which have been making wine for hundreds of years.
Here are a few other things you should know about the International Series:
- Choose your own adventure with all red wine or a mix of red and white wine
- Prices start at $83 for two-bottle shipments
- Shipments can be monthly, every other month, or quarterly
International Series: La Bodega de las Estrellas
I was excited to see the wines in my shipment were from Spain, a place that I think is undervalued.
La Bodega de las Estrellas is located in the Castilla-La Mancha region in central Spain. This area has very hot and dry summers and cold winters. The vines are grown as low bushes to protect the grapes from heat. One benefit of the lack of rain is they don’t have to deal with vineyard diseases, so the vines can be very old.
The winery was the first in the region to use organic vine growing and winemaking. They don’t add any sulfites or artificial substances and they use indigenous yeast.
In The California Wine Club “Uncorked” booklet that comes with each shipment, I liked learning about the clay amphorae that La Bodega de Las Estrellas uses in the fermentation and sometimes aging of their wines.
The benefit is that they’re highly temperature stable, resulting in a slow, controlled fermentation. They also don’t give the wine any extra flavors or aromas like oak does, so this allows the flavors of the grape variety to really shine on their own.
But like oak, the clay amphorae do allow for micro-oxygenation — a fancy way of saying it lets in a little bit of oxygen. This makes the wine less astringent and bitter while preserving the ripe fruit flavors.
It also increases body, gives the wine softer tannins, and a better finish. Seems like a winner in my book!
Dionisos Ego 2018 Castilla Tempranillo Cabernet Blend
Tempranillo is Spain’s number one red grape (also known as Tinta Roriz in Portugal). It’s most commonly found in Rioja, a region in Northern Spain.
Dionisos Ego is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the Cabernet adding tannin and structure to the wine.
Blending French varieties with local grapes is common among the top wineries in the Castilla-La Mancha region. This came about in the ‘90s after vines and winemaking techniques from California and Bordeaux were brought to the region.
I could see that the wine retained great fruit flavors from the clay amphorae fermentation, with ripe red cherry, red plum, and some dried fig. I also got cedar and spices from the 12 months it spent on French oak.
It would pair great with a Spanish rice dish, like a chorizo paella.
Ego Vinum 2019 Castilla Verdejo Macabeo Blend
Verdejo is one of my favorite Spanish white wines, usually found in Spain’s Rueda region. It’s herbaceous, with high acidity, and it goes great with food.
Macabeo is the main grape used in Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine. But it’s also known as Viura in the Rioja region. It’s typically lighter-bodied with medium acidity.
Ego Vinum is a 50/50 blend of the two and has a slightly orangey color. It smelled a little like wet stone, which is likely the minerality from the soil the grapes are grown in. It also had great fruit flavors, including lime, honeydew melon, and some peach.
It’s meant to be consumed young, while it’s still at its freshest. It would go great with this Cowboy Caviar recipe.
My Verdict: Signature Series & International Series
The wines I got from the Signature Series were outstanding examples of what California can produce. I think this is a great choice for anyone who appreciates top-quality wines, especially if you’re cellaring some of them.
I like that you can set the frequency so if you only want to get these special wines every few months, you can do that. And then supplement with one of the other series for your “drink now” wines.
Since I tend to drink wines from all over the world, the International Series is perfect for exploring beyond California. Plus, it’s like getting a surprise every month in the mail since you never know which country you’ll get next!
The wines I received were delicious and I even learned something new about fermentation and aging in clay vessels.
And don’t forget they have great gift options too!
BTW, if you haven’t yet, make sure to grab my free Wine Tasting Planner. It has 20+ wine night theme ideas, including the exact ones I’ve used for my wine tastings. Plus, a timeline, food pairings, games, free printables, worksheets, and more. Get your copy here.
Are you a fine wine lover? Or an international explorer? Or both?