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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.
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