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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.
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 'Giuliano' is the Cameron Winery ode to the great white wines of North-Eastern Italy, which shares many similarities with the terroir of Dundee Hills. This bottling is a blend of Auxerrois, Friuliano, Muscato, Pinot Blanco, and Pinot Grigio from the Abbey Ridge and Clos Electrique vineyards. The folks at Cameron tell us this year the wine "expresses notes of white peaches, marzipan, roses, quince, and a hint of earth and sea air. It has luscious, round, rich, viscous mouth filling flavors of lemon pâte de fruit, tangerine zest, and a touch of sea salt. " Can't wait to try it myself!
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.
A delicious and aromatic skin-contact white blend of 60% Gewurztraminer, 40% Pinot Gris! The name of the wine refers to the type of qvevri (clay amphorae) used for fermentation, discovered in Georgia in 6000BC, largely thought to be the first occurrence wine-making in the world. Their technique of fermenting white grapes as whole clusters, skins and all, inspired Chad Stock when creating this bottling. The fruit is fermented on the skins at low temperatures giving it a gentler tannic structure, and then aged for ten months in 75% neutral barrels, 25% third-use French oak. Notes of ripe juicy apricots, sea salt, almond blossoms, and a burst of classic Gewurz spiciness on the palate. Michelle DeWyngaert
Just a few bottles left of this beautiful Sylvaner from the Willamette Valley! It's not often I get to taste an example of Sylvaner from Oregon let alone from vines planted 55+ years ago. Winemaker Chad Stock seems to coax the most amount of flavor from this often subtle variety. The fruit is fermented and aged in 25% neutral barrique and 75% stainless steel. The aroma is vibrant, juicy kiwi and melon, soft white flowers, and on the palate crisp, fresh fruit and lime zest, with a stony, river-rock minerality. Michelle DeWyngaert
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 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 wines from Eminence Road get better and better each year, and this year's Lamb's Quarter Chardonnay is no exception. As these wines are made with very little intervention, there is a real sense of rusticity from the barn they're made in, and the limestone and loam soil the vines are grown in show prominently on the palate. For this bottling, the grapes are destemmed and allowed the macerate for two days on the skins before fermenting in stainless steel tanks. The wine spends 22 months on the lees, and then bottled by hand, unfined and unfiltered. On the nose are notes of crisp yellow apple, fresh cider, clean linens, and chalk. The palate is bright, with yellow and green apples, Meyer lemon, and crushed rock on the finish giving it a lovely bit of texture. Michelle DeWyngaert
From the east side of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes, this Riesling grown on loam over shale and limestone saw 20% affected by botrytis this vintage. The grapes were crushed and destemmed, then allowed to macerate on the skins for two days. It was then fermented and aged in stainless steel for 11 months on the lees, then racked and bottled without filtration. Light, dry, and just a touch of tannin on the finish.
This was such a fascinating and delicious find! The meads of Enlightenment Wines are always unique and special, but I particularly enjoyed this sour sparkler made from apple blossom honey, lactic bacteria and local well water. As you first take a sip you notice the sweetness of the honey which transitions to a tart, mouth-puckering finish akin to drinking a dry sour beer. The nose is intense and earthy with notes of baked apple and cedar, and on the palate the honey gives way to crisp green apple and crème fraîche. Michelle DeWyngaert
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
For this batch of Floral Terranes still cider, Erik Longabardi and Benford Lepley headed upstate to Livingston Manor and Hillsdale, to collect apples from higher elevations with a mix of wild trees and some from an organically farmed orchard. The juice is fermented and then aged in neutral barrels until bottling. This cider is simutaneously rustic and elegant, like a barn dressed up for a wedding. There's notes of standing in the orchard, fresh leaves and bark, and white flowers and linen. It's lean and crisp on the palate, perfectly dry and with just a bit of grippy tannin on the finish. Michelle DeWyngaert
The creators of Floral Terranes drive through the towns of Long Island and seek out random uncultivated apple trees and grape vines. For the 'Suburban Moraines' cider, 10% of the apples used come from these discovered trees, and the rest of the blend is a mixture of Black Twig and Winesap apples from Breeze Hill Farm, Peconic, Long Island. There's a very pretty herbaceous quality to this cider like fresh sage, lemon balm, and chamomile tea, backed by notes of Pink Lady apple, creating a crisp, dry still cider. Michelle DeWyngaert
Hermann J. Wiemer saw the great potential of the Finger Lakes to create high-quality cool-climate Riesling as they do in his native Mosel, Germany. The winery was founded in the 1979, one of the first in the region, and continues to be a benchmark for excellent Finger Lakes Riesling. Despite the incredibly challenging weather conditions which can lead to disease-pressure, they are committed to sustainable farming by not using herbicides or insecticides, and reducing their need for fungicides by managing the canopies to increase airflow. The dry Riesling is an excellent example of the great potential of this region for cool-climate varieties.
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.
The grapes for this earthy Albarino come from Matthew Rorick's organically farmed vineyard in Calaveras County. The vines grow on very steep-east facing slopes of limestone topped with schist. The grapes are crushed whole-cluster into where they go through spontaneous primary and malolactic fermentaion and then remain on the lees until bottling for extra creaminess. This wine is has a deep-golden hazy glow in the glass with this very pretty aroma of wildflowers and meyer lemon zest, opening up to reveal a bit of dried hay and crushed rocks; clean, but rustic. The palate shows juicy, salted yellow plums and tangerine, and finishes with the flavor of tart lemonade and a chalky minerality from the limestone soils. Michelle DeWyngaert
Maître de Chai sources this beautiful Chardonnay from the Rorick Vineyard in Calaveras County of the Sierra Foothills AVA. Way up at 2000 ft above sea-level, Matthew Rorick farms these 45-year-old vines on steep slopes of blue limestone and schist. The farming is done organically and the wines are made with native yeasts, fermented in and aged in neutral barrels for 11 months. The 2019 vintage is a little riper and and more fleshed out than the previous vintage but still maintains a core of crisp acidity. On the nose are ripe and baked yellow apples, fresh hay, sweet herbs, and a bit of salty buttermilk. As the oak is neutral it merely acts to soften the edges and brown the orchard fruit notes a bit for a decidedly old-school California Chardonnay. Michelle DeWyngaert
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. "
A light, summery white blend from winemaker extraordinaire Martha Stoumen! The Post-Flirtation White is a mix of 23% Roussanne, 26% Marsanne, 10% Muscat Blanc, and 33% early-season Colombard fermented dry and clocks in a whopping 9.5% alcohol.The first three come from the First Generation Farmers in Contra Costa who work to inspire the next generation of growers to farm chemical-free and reduce food waste. Their climate is warm and sunny, with cool ocean breezes and sandy soils, bringing ripeness and a touch of sea-salt to this blend. The Columbard comes from the RIcetti Vineyard in Mendocino, planted in 1948 and brings brightness to the mix. Martha describes this wine as, "A beautifully light bodied wine that would complement a variety of foods from Dim Sum to oysters. Take me anywhere!" Michelle DeWyngaert
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 high-elevation, alpine vineyards of the Trinity Lakes AVA in California are the perfect place for varieties from the Jura like Savagnin. Organically farmed Savagnin from the Shasta-Trinity Vineyard is direct-pressed and then aged for nine months in neutral French barrels, then bottled unfiltered with just a small amount of SO2. This wine is beautifully rustic, like a fancy ski lodge. Notes of dried herbs and chamomile, lemon rind, bruléed pineapple and almonds. Bright and juicy fruit, make way to a crisp and savory finish. A great pairing with melty raclette and spicy radishes! Michelle DeWyngaert
This bottling from Methode Sauvage was inspired by the wines of the Jura and Savoie regions, and with fruit from the high-elevation Trinity Alps, they seemed to have captured the essence. The Trinity Lakes AVA is one of the northern-most, remote regions in California, perfect for cool climate varieties like those used in this blend: 50% Savagnin, 30% Chardonnay, and 20% Riesling. The grapes are direct-pressed and then aged for six months in neutral barrels. The result is an incredibly satisfying, clean and balanced white wine. The nose recalls it's mountainous origins with fresh herbs and oud, followed by juicy nectarine and naval orange. The palate is medium bodied with vibrant acidity and a pleasant creaminess that extends the finish. Michelle DeWyngaert
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
Every so often I taste a wine that truly tells a story like this Chardonnay from Perkins Harter. The winemakers were inspired by their favorite wines from Chablis and certainly there is a nod to that here, with their use of neutral oak and salty sea-breeze quality, but there is also a unique Johan Vineyard quality to this wine. After allowing this to decant for an hour or so, the nose paints a picture of the farm from which it comes. There are cows grazing on fresh grass in the distance, fruit trees are blossoming, the rain from the previous day can still be sensed. On the palate I imagined a really fresh butter had been made from the milk of the cow who was grazing, mingled with notes of crisp green apple, lemon skin, and peach blossom. There's a really nice tension of acidity and freshness against the weight and stony texture. The lingering finish and balanced structure lead me to believe that this wine will continue to age gracefully for the next 5-10 years. 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
This is a new bottling for Evan Lewandowski! A dry sparkling Moscato Bianco from the Lost Hills Ranch, farmed by Evan and Sam Bilbro. The fruit spent ten days on the skins and stems, fermented in neutral barrels, and remained on the lees for twelve months. The wine is bottled with a liquer de tirage from the juice of 2019 vintage for refermentation where it remained for another ten months.
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 'Naomi' is 100% Grenache Gris from the century-old vines on Gibson Ranch. The fruit is direct-pressed whole-cluster, and bottled with just a small does of SO2.
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."
A unique still, dry cider from Catskills cidery Scrumpy Ewe! The blend of apples includes (Bittersweets) Bulmer’s Norman - 22.5%, Major - 22.5%(Bittersharps) Kingston Black - 22.5% (Sharp) Liberty - 22.5%, and West Fulton Wild Apples - 10%. This is a rich, full-bodied cider described as "Leathery, minerally, complex, [with] heavy tannic structure."
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
More of a ramato in style than an "orange" wine, this coppery coral, skin-fermented Trousseau Gris is hitting its peak right now. After two years of aging it is drinking more like a savory Bandol rosé with bit of extra texture on the finish. The fruit comes from 40 year-old Fannuichi Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, just up the road from the Two Shepherds farm so that winemaker, William Allen can keep a keen eye on it. It is possibly the only planting of this obscure variety in the United States. The grapes are destemmed and see five days on the skins before finishing the fermentation in neutral barrels where they aged for six months on the lees, and an additional two months before bottling. Between the lees, skin-contact, and barrel use, this is a beautiful textured wine with richness to it. Notes of white cherry, hibiscus, and freshly turned soil on the nose, and juicy white peach, walnut, and a mineral saltiness on the palate. A joy to experience as it evolves in the glass and over several days open. Michelle DeWyngaert