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The Heritage Red from Bedrock Vineyard is from a Zinfandel-based blend composed of 22 inter-planted varieties planted in the 1880s in Red Hill clay-loam soils, using no-till cover crop farming, and native yeast fermentation. Zinfandel really shines from these old, gnarled vines. The concentration of flavor that you get from the very low yields adds richness to the wines without having to pick them late and overripe. The nose shows a mix of violet, minty eucalyptus, and ripe, but not syrupy, purple plum. The palate shows additional complexity with a touch of cocoa powder, black tea, and black cherry. Rich and comforting, this will be excellent in the colder months! Michelle DeWyngaert
55% Zinfandel blended with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera and a touch of whites for aromatics from old vine plantings (up to 100 years old) around Sonoma County, fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel and raised in a nice bit of French oak for a bold, bright-fruited, silky, and satisfying wine that is unbeatable at this price.
Doug Tunnell would most likely call himself a farmer before he called himself a winemaker, as he takes his role as steward to the land very seriously. When he and his wife took over the Brick House property in 1990 it had been beaten down with industrial chemicals and they immediately halted all chemical treatments and began the conversion to organic, and then Biodynamic farming. As the name would suggest, the 'Dijonnais' bottling from Brick House comes from their eight acres of Dijon clone Pinot Noir planted on a south facing slope. Despite this being on of the warmest spots in their vineyard, this wine is light, ethereal, and elegant. Notes of dried earth, dusty rose petals, red plum, and shitake mushroom on the nose. On the palate are bright, crunchy red fruits, currant, red apple skins and freshly turned soil with gentle, velvety tannins. I enjoyed every drop of this bottle, but will certainly put a few away to see it evolve over the next five years or so. Michelle DeWyngaert
Deemed "The Perfect Red" for its supreme drinkability and sheer "yumminess", the 'Le Clairet' is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon with 5% Carignan (145 year old vines!) sourced from the iron-rich Wirth Vineyard in Solano County. Most of the Cabernet is destemmed, with a small amount left as whole clusters to line the bottom of the tank. Fermented spontaneously and pressed off the skins early to minimize the tannins, though there is still some good structure here. The Carignan , fermented carbonically to add freshness, is blended in right before bottling. Chewy red fruits and a touch of soft herbs with a medium-to-full body, it really is the perfect California red for just about any occasion. Michelle DeWyngaert
The Abbey Ridge Vineyard sits at one of the highest elevations in the Dundee Hills at ~600ft. These 40+ year-old vines are farmed organically and without irrigation; relying instead on cover crops to maintain the moisture/health of the soil. 2017 was a very successful and classic vintage for Oregon with no disease pressure. The winemakers describe this wine as having both rose petal and red fruit aromas as well as more savory notes of salumi, black pepper, and olive.
From the folks who run Hobo Wine Co., here we have the delicious new vintage of one of our favorite inexpensive Cabernets from California! Tart blackberry and ripe cassis mix with herbal hints and wildflower on the nose while broadly gracing the firm, rich, powerfully tannic palate. Sourced from many lesser known but sustainably or organically farmed vineyards throughout Sonoma county. Aged for nine months in neutral oak barrels.
Cooper Mountain Vineyards started in 1978 when Dr. Robert Gross and his wife, Corrine, planted the first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines in the unique soils of Cooper Mountain in the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Today, the estate has more than 100 acres dedicated to organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking. A great value and classic Oregon Pinot with notes of dried leaves, black cherry, macerated raspberries, and freshly turned earth. This vintage is a bit darker and denser than the previous vintage, but by no means overripe or heavy. A great pairing with roasted butternut squash with sage! Michelle DeWyngaert
Cathy Corison's wines eschew the bold, heavy-handed flavors and dollops of massive French oak embraced by her Napa Valley counterparts, instead focusing on teasing deeply concentrated, ripened fruit from the deep, stony alluvial soils of her vineyards in Rutherford and St. Helena.
'Entre Nous' is a blend of fruit from La Colina Vineyard in Dundee Hills and the Four Winds Vineyard in the McMinnville Coast, all 100% Pinot Noir. This blend brings the ripeness and juiciness of the more inland vines, and the lift and elegance from the coastal influence. A small portion of new oak barrels and the rest neutral, frames this wine with a touch of baking spice, nothing dramatic, that will only continue to integrate as it ages. The nose has a beautiful floral, rose water aroma with notes of freshly picked white cherry, raspberry, and a sense of the volcanic soils that line the Willamette Valley. The palate is perfectly clean, almost austere with powdery tannins, but balanced by ripeness and power from the La Colina fruit. Michelle DeWyngaert
This is the newest release of Dashe's Vineyard Select, meant to be a food-friendly, "bistro wine". The blend is 80% Zinfandel, 9% Teraldego, 5% Tannat, 3% Mourvedre, and 3% Petite Sirah. The fruit for this bottling is sourced from a variety of vineyards Sonoma County, Contra-Costa, and Clarkesburg to create the perfect balance of ripeness and complexity. Each variety is fermented separately then aged for 14 months in 1-year-old French oak. Though I have not yet tasted this vintage, the Dashe wines have been a staple at Chambers Street for their consistently tasty Zinfandel. Michelle DeWyngaert
An incredible value from some of the oldest vines in the Willamette Valley! This vineyard (previously named the Charles Coury Vineyard) was actually first established as the Rueter family homestead in 1883, but because Prohibition the vines were ripped out and eventually replanted in 1965 from a handful of Alsatian and Burgundian vines. Today the estate, which sits on the northern border of Willamette at an elevation of 360-625ft elevation on Laurelwood soil, is organically and dry farmed amongst an array of beehives and cover crops. The fruit is separated by block/clone, blended together for the perfect balance and then aged for 11 months in 10% new French oak. The 2019 estate Pinot Noir is incredibly satisfying; sapid, luscious, blackberry bramble, dusty soil, soft herbs and just a kiss of sweet spices. Yum! Michelle DeWyngaert
A beautiful example of Pinot Noir from the Demeter certified Johan Vineyard in the Willamette Valley. Exposed to cooling winds from the Van Duzer Corridor, it is the last picked of the Day Wines giving it a delicate freshness. The grapes are left 30% whole cluster during fermentation and then the juice is aged for 18 months in 15% new French oak, the rest neutral. This wine feels like Oregon to me; simultaneously lush and juicy, and also crisp and vibrant. Notes of freshly turned soil, wild raspberries and currants, dried leaves and herbs unfurl with time in the glass. On the palate it begins with crunchy red fruit, follows with the earthy sweet and savoriness of roasted beets, and finishes with lingering gentle, but present tannin. While the vibrancy of the fruit is fully enjoyable now, this should continue to improve for many years to come. MIchelle DeWyngaert
So far everyone's first reaction to this wine has been "wow, that's tasty!" This is 100% Gamay from the beautiful, high elevation, Carousel Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Like drinking strawberry sherbet, but in the best way! Juicy strawberry, pink grapefruit, soft, fresh herbs, and luscious, creamy bubbles on the palate with the tiniest kiss of sweetness on the finish. As delightful a pet-nat as the label implies, I only wish there was more of it available! Michelle DeWyngaert
The Salmagundi is a seemingly random mix of grapes, but is actually a very carefully blended snapshot of the Applegate Valley where the Côt, Syrah, and small amount of Sangiovese are sourced from. The name of the wine is a reference to an old English dish of various meats and stewed vegetables presented together where, like the wine, it is the combination that makes it delicious.
Drew Family Cellars was established in 2000 with a mission to create age-worthy, cool climate California Pinot Noir. They settled in the coastal appellation of Mendocino Ridge and planted their own estate in what was once an orchard, at 1250ft elevation. This bottling is a blend of fruit from their organically farmed estate and lots from like-minded farmers at the Valenti, Fashauer, Perli, and Wendling vineyards. The grapes are fermented with 20% whole-cluster bunches and aged in 10% new French oak, with the rest in neutral oak barrels. Upon opening the wine was a bit leaner and more red fruited than the previous vintage, but with some air/time open it became richer and plummier as I had come to love from the Drew Family. Notes of dried violet, anise, dried herbs, purple plum, and cassis, with gentle tannins, and a nice balance of acidity and concentration that makes me think of pomegranate juice. Michelle DeWyngaert
We love Steve Edmunds and everything he stands for - he's a nice guy, a great winemaker and a talented musician (I once did a campfire duet with him of Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," a memory I'll treasure forever). But let's get back to his wines, and in particular this 2015 North Canyon Road Syrah. It is sourced from two vineyards in the Sierra Foothills: Fenaughty, planted in the late 1990s, and Barsotti, with vines quite a bit older. The volcanic clay of Fenaughty contributes rather dramatic floral notes and silky texture, while the ancient granite of Barsotti gives brightness and tension. The result is truly classic Syrah, with notes of violet, blue and red fruit, a dash of white pepper and cool freshness at the back end and generally evocative of the Northern Rhone wines that first inspired Steve. This already has five years of age but will continue to improve for another ten years and likely beyond. Sam Ehrlich
Let me start by saying this is not your parent's Zinfandel. This is a delightfully refreshing, 100% carbonic maceration of Zinfandel from the high elevation, Baldinelli Vineyard in the Shenandoah Valley. The vines here are roughly 30 years old, grown on sandy-loam soils, which comes through on the palate with powdery tannins. The juice goes through a long 21 day fermentation, then age for eight months in tank to preserve its freshness.
Sometimes a wine's first impression, especially while young, cannot show the full breadth of what it has to offer. That was definitely the case with this gorgeous Syrah from Enfield Wine Co. My first pour of this bottle I thought was nice, but not particularly expressive; a few days later and our team was enamored! The fruit for this bottling comes from the highly-acclaimed Hayne's Vineyard with a view of San Pablo bay on one side and Mt. Tamalpais on the other keeping temperatures cool and consistent. The soil here is deep alluvial cobblestone, with a top layer of white volcanic ash giving the vines great drainage and the fruit, distinct minerality. The nose is both savory and sweet with black currant, wild blackberry, cured meat, thyme, and mulch. The palate has soft, gentle tannis, with great acidity, and a touch of menthol and walnut skins. I cannot wait to try this wine again in 5-10 years to see how it has evolved as it clearly has a long life ahead of it. Michelle DeWyngaert
This vintage of "Pretty Horses" is actually a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 10 % Grenache, 10% Pinot Noir and a small amount of Graciano creating a unique and perfectly food-friendly California red. Enfield Wine Co. sourced most of the fruit for this vintage from the famous Rorick Heritage Vineyard, with the rest from Shake Ridge in Amador County, and a bit of the Pinot Noir from the Heron Lake in the Wild Horse AVA. Inspired by the wines of Rioja Alavesa, this wine is designed to be drank young, though shows great structure for short-term aging. The nose shows a melange of red and blue fruits, stewed cherry, blueberry, cedar, and fresh tobacco leaves. The palate is fresh and on the fuller side of medium-bodied with easy-going tannins and opened up nicely after a few hours (even a few days) with air. Michelle DeWyngaert
Drinking a Pinot Noir from Eyrie Vineyards is all the proof you need that these wines of the Willamette Valley deserve a place on the world's list of the most expressive and age-worthy wines. This single vineyard bottling from Roland Green stuck out the most to me in a tasting of five different Eyrie Pinots for its intense and captivating aromas. The Roland Green vineyard is positioned at about 550ft elevation planted over 30 years ago on rich volcanic soils, and like all their vineyards, the vines are own-rooted, non-irrigated, and certified organic. The nose is a powerful blend of ripe red and black cherry, tree bark and damp moss, a bit of salt and on returning to the wine, a touch of something smoky, like peat. The palate is concentrated with flavor and acidity. A beautiful wine that I cannot wait to revisit! Michelle DeWyngaert
Another stellar vintage of Folk Machine Pinot Noir showcasing the best of Central Coast fruit. More on the leaner side of Pinot Noirs rather than some of the fuller, higher octane wines from further inland. Kenny Likitprakong blends fruit from the Mission Ranch and Cedar Lane in Arroyo Seco, and a bit from the Brosseau and Tom Ritchie Vineyards in the Sonoma Coast. The grapes were fermented whole cluster with native yeasts and then kept on the lees with just occasion stirring to enhance the texture of the wine. On the nose are notes of ripe strawberry, red currant, sweet basil, and a bit of fresh potting soil. The palate is lean and fresh, with the softest tannins, finishing as a decidedly earthy example of California Pinot Noir. Serve this with a chill and pair with nearly any dish! Michelle DeWyngaert
I can't say that I've had much Syrah from Willamette, and indeed the Havlin Vineyard is relatively young (planted in 2009), but I'm already intrigued to find more. The vineyard is 100% dry-farmed and LIVE sustainable certified. The soil here is silt loam over ironstone bedrock, which not only helps keep the yields low on these younger vines, but also imparts a distinct mineral backbone to this wine. 20% whole cluster in the fermentation, aged for 18 months in neutral French oak, and then bottled with just a bit of SO2 in accordance with Mike Hinds' minimalist philosophy. The nose is rich with a touch of dark, bitter chocolate, and the palate presents a really beautiful, concentrated texture with black pepper and dried herbs. Perfectly savory, this wine is calling to be paired with something roasted. Michelle DeWyngaert
A perfect embodiment of crisp fall air and crunchy leaves, this is one of my favorite "chillable reds." The 'Cascadia' is a co-fermented blend of 84% Pinot noir, 10% Syrah, 4% Grüner Veltliner, and 2% Gamay from a selection of vineyards in the Willamette Valley that Franchere winemaker Mike Hinds either leases and farms himself or works closely with the vineyard owners to insure organic practices, low yields, and no irrigation is used. The grapes are crushed by foot with 50% whole clusters and then aged for nine months in tanks. The nose shows notes of forrest floor, savory herbs, cranberry, wild raspberry, and cracked pepper, and the palate is light, refreshing, and with powdery tannins holding it all together. Michelle DeWyngaert
For the first time, the Ghostwriter Pinot Noir was bottled entirely from Ahlgren Vineyard fruit. Winemaker Kenny Likitprakong described this vintage as more high-toned and a bit leaner than previous vintages. The grapes are fermented with 50% whole clusters and then aged in neutral barrels. This wine is a tribute to the late Dexter Ahlgren who had lovingly planted and tended this nearly hidden vineyard in 1976.
It is Mimi Casteel's incredible dedication to 'regenerative agriculture' that makes this wine from the Willamette Valley so special and sought-after. Her farming practices go beyond organics and work to actively restore the health of the soil and the land surrounding the vineyard, creating a living, breathing ecosystem. She believes, and I can't help but agree, that this unlocks more flavor and complexity in the grapes because more nutrients and biodiversity is available to the vines. Positioned along an east-facing slope of the Eola-Amity Hills, the Hope Well vineyard experiences an intense diurnal shift that helps maintain freshness even in this warmer vintage. This year she destemmed the grapes completely, with very gentle extraction, and then aged the wine in 10% new French oak, with the rest in neutral barrels for 10 months. Michelle DeWyngaert
I rarely suggest judging a book by its cover, but in this case the label speaks so well to its contents! The 'Mirabai' from Kelley Fox blends fruit from two neighboring vineyards, 75% from the Maresh Vineyard and 25% from Weber. The Dundee Hills parcels were both planted in the 1970's so the vines are fully mature, and sit on Jory soil. The quality of the farming coupled with Kelley's intuitive sense and strict aversion to additives in the cellar allows the land to shine through in this bottle. The grapes are crushed as whole clusters, fermented in small lots, and aged ~7 months in neutral French oak. The nose is a delicious perfume of turned soil, freshly shaved beets and rhubarb, wild cherry, ripe strawberry, and wild flowers. The palate is vibrant, with light-to-just-medium body and powdery soft tannins that linger between sips. I hardly wanted to share any of this bottle with my colleagues! Michelle DeWyngaert
One of the first wines I ever loved was old-vine California Zinfandel, so I was very excited to taste this expression from Maître de Chai. The Stampede Vineyard was planted in the early 1920s with own-rooted Zinfandel on decomposed granite. Inspired by the wines of the famous Ridge Vineyards, this bottling is a field blend of mainly Zinfandel, with a bit of Mission and Carignan. The fermentation is done with 50% whole cluster bunches in open-top neutral oak and then aged for one year. The wine is a classic Zinfandel mix of fresh, ripe, and also dried red plum and raspberry. The tannins are present and driving, but not aggressive, well balanced by its fresh acidity, and a peppery finish. This wine will be excellent with flavorful game meats, and I look forward to trying it again in several years to see how it has progressed. Michelle DeWyngaert
As the name suggests, this is designed (and absolutely succeeds) as a perfect companion to your dinners at home, of which we are enjoying a lot of these days. This is their first blended wine and it hits all the right spots. A mixture of Grenache and Barbera, with a bit of Zinfandel and Cabernet blended in for backbone. The grapes are destemmed, fermented with native yeasts and then aged in neutral barrels for a year and a half. On the nose are perfectly ripe black cherries, squashed raspberry, star anise, and rosemary. The color is a light, transluscent ruby, but on the palate is more body and concentration that it would lead you to believe with notes of juicy red plum, cranberry, and a slight grip of tannin to keep you from drinking the whole bottle in one go. Michelle DeWyngaert
A beautiful, classic Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from a selection of vineyards making this an incredible value for Napa fruit. The idea was to take lots of Cabernet that didn't quite make it into the higher end bottling and blend them together without too much extraction, for a fresher "table wine" offering that you don't feel guilty opening right away. The fruit is fermented at cool temperatures, low and slow, then aged for 20 months is mostly older oak with a just a few new barrels for a kiss of spice. Notes of plums, black cherries, and sage, with a touch of hoisin and baking spice. What is most exciting about this bottling is the general sense of energy - it's snappy and bright with a slightly gravelly texture. The oak influence is hardly noticeable, just delicious Napa fruit that has obviously been well-looked after.
Sean Minor is a negociant production working with high quality vineyards throughout the central and north coast of California to create fresh, easy drinking, great value wines like this classic California Pinot Noir. Fermented with 100% de-stemmed grapes to emphasize the ripe fruit and aged in oak barrels to give it those quintessential sweet oak spices.
Mount Eden Vineyards have been the standard bearers of quality California fruit since the 1940's, and have remained focused on healthy winegrowing as the key to making great wine. Positioned near the coast of the Santa Cruz Mountains up at 2000ft elevation, they are perhaps more well known for their cool-climate loving varieties, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but their Cabernet Sauvignon is just as compelling. Because of the high altitude and ocean wind this wine does have great acidity, but being positioned above the fog line gives their vines abundant sunlight and drier conditions leading to a complete ripeness, even for the Cabernet. It was a very low-yielding year, but that made the fruit all the more concentrated. The blend is 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc & 1% Petit Verdot aged in 100% new French and American oak for two years. The extended time in barrels and subsequent years resting in bottle mean have allowed the oak flavors and tannins to fully integrate. Notes of blackberry, ripe purple plum, cassis, rosemary, thyme, cacao nibs and forest floor mingle on silky, powdery tannins. This still shows vibrant fruit now, but should also mature beautifully with another 5+ years in the cellar. Michelle DeWyngaert
Planted 25 years ago on a former seabed that had been uplifted millons of years ago (but which is still littered with seashell fossils!) the 'Scallop Shelf' bottling is a blend of different clones and plots from the Peay estate vineyard. The vineyard is certified organic, and nearly dry-farmed (except for an occasional need in the hottest points of August), they remain untilled, and fertilized by their own compost made from leftover pomace. This blend is created to highlight the cool, coastal climate and elevation of the vineyardl intended to be the most floral, elegant of the three estate bottlings.
Richard Luftig, one of New York's best sommeliers, has made a Cabernet known for phenomenal quality and price: Pied a Terre Cabernet! Always one of our best-selling American reds, 2015 is a deep, ripe, and focused vintage for Pied a Terre. This is a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon that has classic California character but more structure and reserve than a lot of riper wine. The tannic structure is tightly woven, with fine acid backbone and lush cassis, blackberry, and slightly redder berry fruit. This is a California Cabernet meant to be consumed with food, and will pear excellently with New York strip steak, pork loin, or coq au vin. Andrew Farquhar
This is a refreshing, savory rosé with fruit from a handful of excellently farmed vineyards in Mendocino and Sonoma. The blend is predominantly old-vine Carignane from the Venturi Vineyard, with about 17% Zinfandel from Venturi and Hawkeye Ranch, with a splash of Pinot Noir for fruit, French Colombard for freshness, and a little Muscat for aromatics. Each variety was fermented separately, whole cluster pressed and left on the skins overnight (except the Muscat which was destemmed and saw five days of skin-contact) then blended together and aged for five months on the lees before bottling unfined/unfiltered with just a tiny amount of SO2.
This is the flagship wine for the Stolpman Vineyards which best represents their vines and the greater Ballard Canyon each year. The Stolpman Estate Syrah is helping to define what a California Syrah really is with its ripe, sun-kissed fruit, that remains concentrated without becoming jammy or "hot" with alcohol. Thankfully the 2018 vintage only saw one heat spike, and it came in early July so the vines had a chance to recover, and allowed for a prolonged hang-time. The grapes were fermented with 50% whole clusters and aged for ten months in neutral French puncheons with sulfur only added at bottling.
Turley has long been regarded as one of the benchmark estates for old vine Zinfandel, and this bottling is made from a blend of fruit from vines aged 41-129 from parcels that were either two small for their own vineyard designate bottle, or new to the Turley family.
This Turley Bottling is an homage to Joe Duarte, a grower who first introduced the Turley's to the incredible vineyards of Contra Costa. The blend consists of fruit from the Evangehlo, Mori and Salvador vineyards; all with a vine age of 100+ years! The winemakers describe this one as having the "softest, silkiest tannins" in the lineup!
This is a single-vineyard bottling from the Dusi Vineyard, on the west side of Paso Robles, which consists of own-rooted, head-trained vines planted in 1945 on mostly alluvial soils. The warm climate and dense soils lead to this fuller-bodied, richer style Zinfandel.
This is a single-vineyard bottling of the Kirschenmann Vineyard which is owned and farmed by the Turley winemaker, Tegan Passalacqua.The vines were planted in 1915 on their own roots in silica-rich sandy soils of the east side of the Mokelumne River AVA. The proximity to the river keeps these vines cool which brings more freshness to the wine.
From one of the oldest vineyards in the Turley repetoire, the Ueberroth Vineyard was planted in 1885! The proximity to the Pacific, and the limestone soil makes this one of their most vibrant, high acid bottlings of Zinfandel. The vines are own-rooted, head-trained, gnarly vines that create concentrated, flavorful berries for this highly allocated wine.
The Fredericks Vineyard was planted in 1937 on a hillside up at 900 feet elevation, a rare find indeed. The vines are head-trained on steep terraces and certified organically farmed. The wine is aged in 80% neutral, 20% new oak (of which 80% is French oak) for 15 months before bottling.
The fruit for this Carignan comes from the 75 year-old vines of the Trimble Vineyard in Mendocino, which Two Shepherds shares with Porter Creek. As this is one of their coolest sites it is the last to be picked, somehow managing to be both rich and flavorful, but also light on it's feet and only 13% ABV. The grapes are foot-stomped and fermented whole cluster going through carbonic maceration, which gives it lift and freshness, then aged for ten months in neutral barrels. On the nose are notes of crunchy red currant and cherry, plum skins, some dried red fruits, dried herbs, and touch of leather as well. The palate is juicy and plump with soft, lingering tannins. Perfect with the slighest chill right now, but this will surely improve even more in the next 5-10 years. Michelle DeWyngaert
This is such a great value for Sonoma Pinot Noir! By creating lasting relationships with high quality, organically farmed (some certified, all avoid using chemical sprays and employ cover crops where possible) vineyards, the winemakers of Valravn are able to offer a snapshot of the Sonoma County for a really great price. The fruit is fermented in open-top stainless steel with about 15-20% whole clusters used, and then aged in ~20% new French oak for one year. For each vineyards fruit, the wines are fermented separately and then blind-tasted before creating the perfect blend. On the nose are notes of clove, stewed cherry, treebark, red plums, and a touch of black pepper. The palate is juicy and concentrated, with notes of baking spice, red currant, raspberry, sun-baked soil, and even a bit of blueberry. Very tasty California fruit with just the right amount of new oak! Michelle DeWyngaert
A really lovely bottling of California sunshine, this Chardonnay from Bacchus is fruit-forward, buttery and easy drinking. Enjoy with roast chicken or creamy pasta dishes. Bacchus is a project from winemaker and wine director David Gordon who set out to create high quality wines at a great value that showcased the best of California vineyards. I'm not saying you should sneak this into a movie theatre to make the perfect pairing for popcorn, but I'm also not *not* saying that..Michelle DeWyngaert
The mission at Banshee has always been to create quality, enjoyable wines that don't won't break the bank despite the appellation name. The grapes are gently pressed and then fermented with native yeasts, only going through 75% malolactic to maintain its freshness and keep the butteriness to more of crème fraiche note on the nose. This vintage is a blend of fruit from the Heintz Vineyard and the Bohemian Vineyard. Aged for nine months in 25% new French oak, and the remainder in neutral barrels, for just a kiss of oak flavor on the palate.
This is a Gewürztraminer that might just change a few hearts and minds about the grape. In the wrong hands, Gewürztraminer can become cloying and overpowering with the scent of Grandma's potpourri, but this wine from Kenny Likitprakong shows some serious restraint. Sourced entirely from the Rancho Llegado vineyard in Monterey County, the frequent cool winds of the area maintain the much needed acidity to balance this wine. Banyan was designed by Kenny and his father with their Thai heritage in mind, and as such this Gewürztraminer is the perfect pairing for South-east Asian cuisine or anything with a bit of spice to it. Though it is fermented nearly dry, it maintains a softness with notes of ripe nectarine, a touch of tropical fruit, sage, and bright, fresh gardenia blossoms. Michelle DeWyngaert
Brian and Stephy Terrizzi's Broadside project focuses on sustainably farmed vineyards and minimalist winemaking (native yeasts, minimal handling, neutral oak), as well as purity of flavor and varietal expression.Their Central Coast Chardonnay is a quintessential example of their wine growing and winemaking philosophy; a bright and creamy Chardonnay with ripe lemon and peach flavors and a saline minerality.
There's a quality that seems to run through all of the Broc Cellars wine; I like to call it "sunniness", as though Chris Brock is literally capturing California sun and bottling it. The 'Amore Bianco' is 100% Tocai Friulano from the beautiful Fox Hill Vineyard in Mendocino, a haven of Italian grape varieties, which sits on rocky sandstone and quartz. The grapes are fermented on the skins in a combination of sandstone jars and steel tanks, then pressed into neutral French oak where it ages for eight months before bottling unfiltered. This wine really does taste of Italy by way of California. All of the tell-tale signs of great Italian white with an herbaceous quality and slightly bitter finish, but with brighter, riper fruit. On the nose is grapefruit, lemon oil, tarragon, basil, and sea salt. The palate is juicy is slightly textured, a squeeze of lemon juice, almond skins, and herbaceous, almost vegetal savoriness. As the label suggests, this is a great option for those hard to pair vegetables like artichoke and asparagus! Michelle DeWyngaert
Clos Electrique is the organic and dry-farmed estate vineyard for Cameron Winery. As one of the warmer sites in the Red Hills of Dundee, the grapes are picked earlier to maintain a balance of ripeness and acidity. For their Chardonnay from this vineyard, the wines are meant to emulate the richness of Meursault. This vintage is described by the winemakers with notes of "notes of honeysuckle, creme Anglaise, lemon curd, marzipan and orange blossom. The palate mirrors the nose along with unctuous mouth feel resulting from 2 years contact with the yeast lies prior to bottling."
The 'Marena' bottling is a blend from their younger vines of the Heintz, Teac Mor, and Porter-Bass vineyards, meant to showcase a snapshot of the region and vintage. The wine is fermented and aged in neutral barrels on the lees and goes through full malolactic-fermentation with native yeasts.
In true Division fashion, the Chardonnay 'Un' is exactly what I was hoping for, straddling the line between "Old World" restraint, and "New World" abundance. Meant to capture the nature of the vintage, this bottling is a blend of fruit from five vineyards across the Willamette Valley all farmed organically, biodynamically, or in transition with the help of the Division team. This year for Oregon saw a cool, albeit humid summer, which thankfully gave way to a milder, drier fall, which allowed the grapes ripen slowly, but completely. One the nose is fresh pear, almond blossom, and bit of peaches with cream or yogurt (the tangy, European kind). The palate has plenty of acidity to hold this perfectly rich, ripe, barrel-softend fruit. The wine is aged in a mixture of French and Austrian oak; each selected to minimize oak flavor, but impart gentle wood tanin and bring softeness to the finished product. A delightful Chardonnay! Michelle DeWyngaert
The Drew Family estate began on an abandoned 26 acre apple orchard, so it only makes sense that they have also been inspired to craft cider alongside their wine. This is a refreshingly crisp, sparkling, dry cider, with just enough ripe fruit to keep it from being tart. Made from their certified organic Gravensteins, Philo Golds, & Rhode Island Greens apples, fermented with indigenous yeasts in a combination of 80% stainless steel, and 20% neutral oak to round out the egdes, then re-fermented in bottle with a small addition of organic cane sugar. This cider is fresh, floral, and very tasty. A perfect aperitif! Michelle DeWyngaert
The team at Early Mountain Vineyards is working hard to put Virginian wine back on the map. Their aim is to craft low-intervention wines, that are sustainably farmed; experimenting with various organic, biodynamic, and pruning techniques to figure out how best to support the health of the vineyards in this region. The Petit Manseng bottling is 95% Petit Manseng, 3% Sauvignon Blanc, 2% Chardonnay and reminds me of a great Jurançon with notes of sweet almond blossom, honeysuckle, and tangerine. The palate is lush and juicy, with notes of honey, orange oil, nectarine, and hazelnut with a touch of bitterness on the finish from the extended skin-contact to leave it balanced and dry. Michelle DeWyngaert
Edmunds St. John continues to produce some of the most consistentl, high-quality California wine on the market. This tasty white blend of ~55% Vermentino and 45% Grenache Blanc is a testament to that. The fruit is from the Fenaughty Vineyard, previously an orchard, which sits at 2800ft elevation in the Sierra Foothills on the North edge of Carson Ridge. This vintage had a bit of slow start due to a very cold winter and a very wet spring, but in the end the quality of the fruit was great, albeit with lower yields. The juice was fermented in stainless steel and brought to a low temperature to discourage malo in order to maintain its bright acidity.
The St. Crimson is a dry mead made from pressed black currants and NY state honey fermented with indigenous yeasts and then aged for a year in oak barrels. A beautiful deep ruby color, the nose is mix of cassis, raspberry, hibiscus, bruised herbs, and a whiff of something gamey. The palate is dry with juicy brambly fruits and a savory finish. This is delightful on its own on a cool fall evening, but also works well in cocktails, as the float on a NY Sour or in a spritz. Michelle DeWyngaert
This vintage of the La Clarine Viognier is a mixture of fruit from the granitic Cedarville Vineyard, and the volcanic Sumu Kaw Vineyard in the Sierra Foothils. The fruit is fermented together as whole clusters and then aged in tanks.
This is a deeply colored 100% Gewurztraminer from the Beckenridge Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. The grapes are destemmed and crushed, but remain on the skins for 20 days, with daily punchdowns to extract all that delicious aroma and texture. The juice is then pressed into neutral barrels and kept on the lees for 10 months. We have not yet had the pleasure of opening one of these beautiful bottles, as their small batches make it tough to get a sample, but the winemakers describe this wine with notes of "black tea, rose petals, and sea salt. "
The 'Moonstones' is 100% Chenin Blanc inspired by the wines of the Loire. The fruit comes from the limestone-rich Vista Verde Vineyard in San Beninto County, close to the coast. The juice is fermented and aged in neutral barrels and goes through natural malolactic fermentation. The winemaker describes this wine with "a heavy amplification of acid, dried flowers, and sea breeze salinity".
The makers Monument Wine Co., a new winery based in Portland, Oregon, were inspired by the wines of the Loire Valley for this bottling. More specifically a nod to whites of Cheverny (a category I have always loved) with this 50% Chardonnay, 50% Sauvignon Blanc which comes from two Applegate Valley vineyards managed by Herb Quady, the Layne Vineyard for Chardonnay, and the IronBird Vineyard for Sauvignon Blanc. This is rugged territory out in, what appears to be, middle of nowhere Oregon, with rocky granite/gravelly clay soils to feed the vines. The fruit is macerated together on the skins for one day, then gently racked into steel where it fermented and aged for nine months on the lees, bottled unfined/unfiltered with just a tiny amount of SO2. Like a great Cheverny, this wine is the best of both white wine worlds; simultaneously zippy and refreshing, and also ripe and rounded. On the nose are notes of cantaloupe, barely ripe nectarine, green pear, almond blossoms, fresh moss, and river rocks. On the palate is a a lovely richness from the ripe Chardonnay and the short time on the skins, some additional salty, cereal notes from the lees contact, and finishes with a fresh vain of acidity from the Chardonnay. Delicious and versatile as a food pairing! Michelle DeWygnaert
The wines from the Finger Lakes in upstate New York have a special place in my heart, and the Nathan K Dry Riesling is perfect example of why. This vintage comes from two sites on the West side of Lake Seneca. The grapes from the 40 year-old plot are aged in neutral barrels, while the fruit from the younger vines are kept in stainless steel. Both are aged for 10 months on the lees before being bottled unfined and gently filtered. In the glass this wine is the color of daffodils and all the aromas of springtime: soft white almond blossoms, ripe apricot, a bit of sweet herbs, wet stone, Meyer lemon zest, all with a slight drizzle of honey. The palate is vibrant and juicy bringing plenty of energy but balanced with enough weight so it does not feel the least bit sharp or thin. Enjoy this wine now, as I did, with a spicy red pepper flake, anchovy and parsley pasta, or put it in the cellar for several years and wait for those honeyed and golden notes to really come through! Michelle DeWyngaert
Sourced from the estate's George's Hill vineyard, named in honor of founder George Davis who purchased the land in 1977, this biodynamically farmed vineyard site produces some of the most exciting Chardonnay in the entire Russian River. This wine is big on texture and has great aromatic power, with notes of green apple, almond, and darker mineral, oily, almost saline notes. On the palate this wine has great, peppy acidity, though it is not quite light-bodied. A certain breadth comes through on the palate, with ripe peach character filling out the back end as it slips into a long, softly nuanced finish that cycles between cream, citrus, and hazelnut. Tastes great now, but will continue to improve in the cellar for at least ten years. Andrew Farquhar
Situated in one of the coldest regions of Southern California, this Chardonnay from Santa Barbara County manages the perfect balance between richness and weight, with bright, mouth-watering acidity. Unlike the stereotype of California Chardonnay, the "movie-theatre butter" flavor that comes from an over-abundance of diacetyl presents as a creamy and tangy cream fraiche instead. The proximity to the Pacific Ocean and sandy soils of the vineyard give this wine it's freshness and an aroma of seashells on the nose with soft, white flowers, yellow apple skin, tarragon, and french vanilla. On the palate is an immediate rush of acidity like freshly squeezed lemon juice, followed by the rounded, creaminess of yogurt and finishes with a lingering the lingering stoniness of smooth river rocks. An excellent deal for well-made, organically farmed, food-friendly Chardonnay. Michelle DeWyngaert
This year's 'Chillion', 100% Cortese from the 36 year-old vines on the Fox Hill Vineyard, spent eight weeks on the skins in a mixture of tanks and neutral barrels before bottling unfined, unfilted, and without any additives.
The 'Dabinett Spy' is aptly named for it's blend of 25% English Dabinett bittersweet apples, and 50% Northern Spy American sharp apples, with the rest of the blend made from Rhode Island Greening sharp apples. This still cider is dry, floral, and has a bit of tannin for a softly textured finish.
Scrumpy (a term for farmhouse cider in Europe) Ewe (referring to the sheep that graze their orchards) is a traditional cidery making cider the old-fashioned way up in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. The Farmhouse Dry cider is a blend of Old Winesap, Northern Spy, Spigold, Newtown Pippin, Gold Rush, Ida Red and Spartan apples fermented with native yeasts and aged for 10 months in a mixture of American and French oak. It is described by Scrumpy Ewe as having "hints of butter, lemon, floral, oak on the nose, full bodied."
An excellent, well-balanced example of California Sauvignon Blanc blended from three organically farmed vineyards in Mendocino. The fruit here is both fully ripe and surprisingly refreshing with notes of tropical fruit, pink grapefruit, and just a touch of soft, fresh herbs. This is a pleasant wine for drinking on it's own, but would be a great pairing for lighter proteins with a fruit chutney, or a vegetable quiche. Michelle DeWyngaert
Saralee Kunde is a bit of a legend in the Russian River Valley not only for her prowess in the vineyard, but also for her big heart. This parcel of Grenache Blanc in Catie's Corner Vineyard was actually specifically budded over to the variety in 2011 because of the Two Shepherds winemaker's passion for the grape. This expression is an ode to Saralee, and perhaps it is power of suggestion, but it seems to capture her joy and exuberance. The grapes are destemmed and spend about 2-4 hours on the skins, then fermented and aged in neutral barrels giving this wine soft, rounded edges. It is bottled unfined and unfiltered, but racked for clarity, and then spent several years in bottle, released this year when it was finally deemed ready. Ripe, fragrant cantaloupe and tangerine on the nose with honeysuckle and almond blossom. On the palate a bright acidity that is held within a juicy lushness, a bit of nutty hazelnut, fleur de sel, and a touch of almond skin on the finish. Michelle DeWyngaert