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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
A classic example of Sonoma Coast Chardonnay that exemplifies the balance between ripe California fruit, a kiss of oak, and the freshness that you get from the coastal winds that whip up through the region. 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, with this vintage only going through 75% malolactic to maintain its freshness and keep the butteriness to more of crème fraiche note on the nose. The palate has a delicious creaminess bit a bit of butterscotch and vanilla, but the bright notes of lemon zest and green apple keep this wine refreshing and food-friendly. Michelle DeWyngaert
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.
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!
I look forward to skin-contact Pinot Grigio (aka Ramato) every spring/summer as they make a perfect substitute for a refreshing rosé when you're looking for just a little more structure. The 2019 Cameron Ramato has a gorgeous rose-gold, coppery color from the extended skin-contact in the fermentation. There was very little of it made this year so I have yet to try one, but the winemakers describe the aromas of "marzipan married with lemon & pomegranate. In the mouth flavors of bitter almond and nectarines linger on the pallet which is rich and slightly tannic."
The Peter Martin Ray Vineyard in Santa Cruz sits way up at 1800ft elevation. This history of this vineyard dates back to the 1940's, but the Chardonnay vines were replanted in the early 1980s. The fruit from here is highly sought after because of the uncompromising farming of Peter Ray, and the unique saltiness and minerality that is imparted to the grapes.
The Trout Gulch Vineyard in Santa Cruz is the southern-most site used by Ceritas. A mere 3.5 miles from the ocean with sandy, marine-sediment based soils, this Chardonnay is the most expressive of the the salty maritime air. The vines were planted in 1980 at an elevation of 750ft above sea-level with well draining soils and a cooler average temperature than surrounding appellations . This keeps the grapes from here concentrated with an abundance of acidity. This is certainly a Chardonnay to savor with fresh seafood or shellfish!
Humbly labeled as "Willamette" this wine is actually 100% from the Four Winds Vineyard. At ~800ft elevation on the McMinnville Coast, it is one of the highest and also one of the closest to the coast in the Willamette Valley. In true Crowley style, this wine is subtle, finessed, and perfectly representative of the terroir of this region. Though it is aged in 33% new oak, it is administered with a deft hand. On the nose the oak is barely perceptible. Instead you are enticed with notes of chamomile, lemon zest, and yellow apple skins. This vintage was cooler for Willamette which meant the grapes could be picked later giving the wine lots of brightness on the palate rounded out by the oak treatment and a silkiness that develops as the wine rises in temperature. Drink this with something that won't be too overwhelming to let the delicate flavors shine; like lemon butter-poached halibut, or a creamy primavera. Michelle DeWyngaert
Such a great value from the Willamette Valley! Made to resemble a classic Alsatian edelzwicker, or field blend, it brings together fruit from six different vineyards and five different grapes: Pinot Blanc, Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Muscat. The grapes are pressed and fermented in stainless steel with native yeasts, and then malolactic is blocked to maintain the bright zippiness of the wine before being cold-stabilized and filtered. As the name suggests, this is a tasty, super drinkable blend that will be just as delightful with or without food. Notes of freshly picked nectarine and orange blossom mingle with fresh herbs, almonds and both green and yellow apple. Tastes like springtime! Michelle DeWyngaert
Though perhaps not yet widely planted in the Pacific North-West, the Division team's love of Loire Valley wines inspired them to craft their own Sauvignon Blanc, 'La Frontière'. The fruit comes from two certified organic sites, the Redford-Wetle Vineyard from the Eola-Amity Hills, and the Allegre Vineyard in Columbia Gorge. Though typically Division likes to pick on the early side, in order to avoid the streotypical "greeness" of Sauvignon Blanc they chose to pick this vintage on the riper side (and fortunately cooler weather this year meant the longer hangtime led to more balanced acidity and greater complexity). The juice is fermented on the lees in large, neutral oak barrels. The winemakers describe this bottling with flavors "ranging from ripe honeydew to lemongrass and some grapefruit citrus notes". 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.
Winemaker Chris Walsh is able to source fruit from several high-quality, organically farmed vineyards in and around the Amador County area to make his low-intervention wines. The 'Space Oddity' is a refreshing bottling of Verdejo from the Heringer Vineyard in Clarksburg which is currently in conversion to organics. What makes this bottling so interesting is the blend of techniques used. One third of the grapes are fermented on the skins until dryness, 1/3 with the skins for just 12 hours, and 1/3 directly pressed which give this wine a beautiful texture on the palate. The nose is clean and herbaceous; a mix of sage and fresh grass with a bit of ocean breeze, and the palate is crisp and lemony with the sea breeze translated to a creamy, salty finish. Michelle DeWyngaert
Enlightenment Wines is a Brooklyn based meadery focused on using all NY state produce and foraged herbs/botanticals and ferments only with native yeasts. 'Night Eyes' is a unique sparkling blend of honey, apples, and cherries fermented together and then infused with sumac and rose hips. It is fermented dry and then goes through a second fermentation in the bottle leaving it fruity, but crisp at 12.5% abv.
Disclaimer: this is not made from apples (but it is fantastic). Raphael Lyon, the man behind Enlightenment Wines, had been crafting some serious mead in Clintondale, NY for some time before he moved his operation to a small space in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Made from wildflower honey and fermented to dryness, it sounds like something you may have had before, but Lyon’s process is anything but the norm. The wildflower honey is allowed to spontaneously ferment in used red wine barrels sourced from local wineries, with no SO2 added at any time, and is aged in barrel for one year before bottling. Though Raphael doesn’t advertise it, Nought is a single barrel release and will have subtle differences depending on what kind of honey is used (and where the honey is from) as well as other variances in the winemaking process. All of his meads are bottled unfined and unfiltered. Nought is heady on the nose with blossom, toasted coconut, honey-roasted walnut, red berry fruits, and bergamot. It is quite round on the palate with ample acidity and a vinous quality not found in many other meads. It finishes bone-dry with apricot, pineapple stalk, and a hint of orange peel. This is a seriously exciting foray into mead. Thanks, Raphael! Tim Gagnon
This is the 10th iteration of the Jeanne d'Arc for Folk Machine; a bold, quirky skin-contact wine. The grapes now come from a vineyard on Merritt Island, a small island in the Sacramento River Delta, rich in fertile, loamy soils and subject to the cool winds and fog from the San Francisco Bay. This year's blend is 94% Chenin Blanc with 6% Marsanne for extra creaminess. The grapes are destemmed and fermented in open-top containers left with the skins for five weeks. The juice is then pressed and aged in neutral oak barrels before bottling unfined and unfiltered for a hazy orange glow! Michelle DeWyngaert
A unique new arrival from our friend Kelley Fox! The 'Nerthus' is a blend of 60% Gruner Veltliner from the Chehalem Mountain Vineyard, and 40% Early Muscat from the Eola Springs Vineyard. The Muscat spends about twelve days with the skins before being pressed, and the Gruner has six days of skin-contact before being pressed and added to the Muscat in 1.5 ton, open-top fermenters where they both ferment to dryness. After completing malo-lactic fermentation, the blend is aged in stainless steel for seven months. This is an elegant skin-contact wine if ever there was one. More of a pale gold than orange color, with a bouquet of wild flowers, fresh and dried, ripe apricot, and wet stone on the nose. On the palate the Muscat characteristics hit you up front, but the finish is all Gruner; crisp, a little herbaceous, and tough of white pepper leave you salivating and wanting another sip. Michelle DeWyngaert
This new vintage of the Freedom Hill Pinot Blanc is even brighter and fresher than the previous one, while still maintaining the beautifully rounded edges that I love about barrel-aged expressions of this variety. Freedom Hill is situated in the Eola Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley upon an ancient seabed, which lends its seashell minerality to this wine. The grapes are pressed whole cluster into stainless steel for fermentation and then racked into neutral French oak for malolactic fermentation and aged for roughly six months. On the nose is a delicate mix of fresh and candied peach, fresh cream, soft white flowers, and a sprinkle of sea salt. The palate is balance of Meyer lemony acidity and creamy peach puree and farm-fresh salted butter. This made the perfect companion to a goat-cheese and herb-laden pasta dish! Michelle DeWyngaert
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
California Sauvignon Blanc has a reputation for being either overly ripe or overly oaked, but in the hands of the Maître de Chai winemakers and with 50-year-old vines, it can show remarkable restraint and complexity. The Herron Vineyard in Sonoma Valley was planted in 1969 by an enthusiastic teenager from Oaxaca, Rudy Rodriguez, and has been farmed organically ever since by Rudy's family and Phyllis and Wynne Herron, the current owners. The soils are never tilled and only occasionally mowed to maintain the health of the soil and intricate micro-biome of the vineyard. Today the vines are super low-yielding creating concentrated, flavorful Sauvignon Blanc. The nose displays a mix of wet stone, nectarine, lime, and a touch of lemongrass. On the palate, the wine shows ripe pear and pink grapefruit with plenty of acidity, but with softened, rounded edges owing to the neutral barrel fermentation and élevage. Michelle DeWyngaert
This is a single vineyard Chardonnay from Komorebi only a few miles from the Sonoma Coast up at 900ft elevation. After working with many famous vintners to improve their agricultural practices, Matt converted this vineyard to biodynamics and dry-farming when he took over the land for his own project. The grapes are whole-cluster pressed and then fermented and aged in concrete eggs.
There's a not a lot of people in California working with Cortese, but Steve Matthiasson has had a lot of success with white, Italian grape varieties so we have high hopes for this one! Because the vines got more rain this season, the wines of 2019 are brighter and more delicate. The fruit comes from the Lost Slough Vineyard on the Sacramento River Delta which is composed of sandy soil and marine-sediment which adds salinity to this wine and cool, breezy nights there lead to lively acidity in the grapes. The wine is fermented and aged in neutral oak barrels and bottled with a minuscule amount of SO2. At 11.7% alcohol, this should be refreshing and dangerously easy to drink!
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
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."
The 'Golden Crab' is a blend of 50% Wickson Crab, 50% Golden Russet to create this bright, bold, dry cider from the Catskills.
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
Though we have yet to try this year's Marsanne, if it's anything like last year, it's a juicy, orange creamsicle of a wine! Sourced from organically farmed vineyards in the Columbia Valley, the juice stays with the skins for one week before aging in neutral barels, giving it a deep orange color and a bit of texture on the palate. As usual with Swick, the wine is unfiltered so it stays a bit hazy adding a little extra richness.
Joe Swick makes fun, gluggable, low sulfur wines from the Pacific North-West. This Verdelho comes from the Columbia Gorge AVA from the Douro clone of the grape (AKA Gouveio). The grapes are pressed as whole bunches and fermented in 2-4 year old barrels with native yeasts. The wine is then aged in the same barrels for six months with one racking and no lees stirring before being bottled unfiltered.
In 2011, Cindy, Bill and their son Tommy Wenzlau realized the dream a lot of us share, finding their ideal land to grow grapes and make their estate wines. Located in the western part of Sta. Rita Hills, the 100 acres property of rugged land canyons and 12 acres of vines allowed them to farm right away organically with biodynamic practices, with the goal of producing expressive, balanced chardonnay and pinot with a strong terroir identity. The proximity of the cold Santa Ynez Valley & the ocean and the temperature shift allow for the grapes to keep reasonable amount of sugar with structural acidity. They hired Justin Willett to work with them on the winemaking side : as the years passed, the reputation of the wines is growing, and very rightly so, to become a reference of the Santa Barbara region. Some words about the wines :“The 2014 vintage has its own signature, perhaps from the vines enduring the 2nd full year of severe drought. The benefits of training the vines to go deep (with low-irrigation) and regular application of thick blankets of mulch (to hold in moisture), have definitely assisted in lowering the stress on the vines. Overall, the yields were actually higher than usual for most of the region, including Wenzlau Vineyard. Perhaps it was some panic in the vines that caused the higher production in even our pruned-to-extra-low-yield vines. The winter of 2014 was mild and dry and bud break came a few weeks early, and so, in turn, did harvest. The result for this vintage is very fresh, mineral, deeply soulful, and pure juice. […] Coming from multiple blocks planted on Sorrento loam soils with varying degrees of shale, river cobble, silty clay and limestone, the Estate Chardonnay is a really fine example of all that the Santa Rita Hills can offer. […]. The 2014 is a great vintage for chardonnay, and this is maybe our favorite bottling to date. […] The wine saw 14 months in mostly neutral French barrels, on the lees the whole time and went through full malo. It was then racked to stainless steel tank for an additional 4 months prior to bottling and put to sleep in bottle. There is about 18-20% new French oak in the finished wine. There was no acidification or chaptalization.” The Wenzlau Family.
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 2018 Dry Riesling comes from a blend of three vineyard sites; 65% HJW Vineyard, 23% Josef Vineyard, and 12% Magdalena Vineyard to create a balance of ripeness and vibrant minerality. Grapes are harvested at Spätlese level of ripeness and then fermented dry with just .9%r/s. On the nose luscious peach and a bit of fresh pineapple with notes of almond blossoms and rainwater. The palate has a nice salinity with a bit of fresh herbs and wet stone as it opens up. This wine is crystalline and super refreshing! Michelle DeWyngaert