‘Tis the season–for new releases. And I’ve just got my hands on the latest sauvignon blanc from Justin Vineyards & Winery. One of the nice things about a fresh, young bottle of sauvignon blanc is that you don’t have to wait to enjoy it–it’s loaded with flavor and ready to drink now. Central Coast fruit displays tropical and citrus fruit flavors with a little herbal character in the background, Here is a crisp, finely textured sauvignon blanc just made for spring and summer days ahead. 16.00
Okay, the name of this wine is quite a mouthful–but as it turns out, the wine itself is quite a mouthful. Decoding German wine labels takes a little doing but there is a lot of information packed in there. Wine maker Nik Weis’ “Alte Reben” refers to “old vine”–in this case a very select 22 acre parcel in the cool climate Saar Valley. “Kabinett” denotes a riesling made from grapes picked during the initial harvest–the grapes are ripe, but over-ripe.
A bit drier than most Kabinetts, “Kabinett Feinherb” has lip-smacking acidity balanced by just a bit of residual sugar. The flavors are so rich and lush, it is just hard to put the glass down. This bottle is made for Asian food of almost any kind. At just over 10% abv, Feinherb could also play well at lunch for on a picnic. 18.00
Cosentino Winery has dressed up Cigar Old Vine Zinfandel–one of its long time favorites–with a cool new label. Some clever graphic designer created a classy cigar band look for the label. I know it’s supposed to just about what is in the bottle, but really, doesn’t great packaging make an impression–especially as a gift.
The newly released Cigar lives up to its reputation as a big, bold Zin–coming in at 15.5% abv. That translates into a big mouthfeel. Deep fruit character, spice, coffee, and chocolate all come together on a long finish. 20.00
RE:FIND Limoncello is heavenly–‘nough said.
Except it’s hard not to rave on about it. The color is like liquid sunshine, the aroma all about fresh citrus, and the rich mouth-feel of tangy lemon pulls it all together. For those who think Italy has a lock on this magic elixir I say check out what Paso Robles’ RE:FIND Handcrafted Spirits can do with locally grown Femminillo St. Teresa lemons and their own high proof vodka distilled from local grapes. Doesn’t get much more home-grown than that. 26.00/375ml
Outside of a nasty earthquake now and then, New Zealand is a little bit of heaven in the South Pacific. With its pristine environment and generally cool climate, it’s no wonder that NZ produces classy (and affordable) wines like 2015 Catalina Sounds Sauvignon Blanc and Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir. Sourced from the renowned Marlborough region at the north end of the South Island both wines show wonderful varietal character. The Sauvignon Blanc is a mouthwatering combination of fruit and acidity. Looooong finish. SRP 16.00
2015 Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir is brings on cherry and raspberry flavors wrapped around soft tannins and balanced acidity. This little beauty drinks like a lot more than the SRP of 19.00
Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc takes its name from the fact that the number of vineyards in the Marlborough wine region has increased almost exponentially in the last twenty years. Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc proves that there is always room for quality. Citrus, guava, and and herbal qualities make this little gem the perfect poster child for the region’s acclaimed Sauvignon Blanc. SRP 13.00
2014 Nanny Goat Vineyard Pinot Noir comes from the far south of the South Island–and
at 45 degrees south latitude, the Nanny Goat Vineyard is likely one of the southern-most wine regions in the world. Of course “South” means cool in the Southern Hemisphere and Nanny Goat is a true cool climate Pinot. Black cherry and cranberry ride along on a wave of herbs and smooth tannins. Worth the long trip from the ends of the earth. And a deal at SRP 23.00
Mount Veeder Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is in a class of its own. And while the label may say “Napa Valley”, the grapes that go into this intensely concentrated cabernet come from mountain sides high above the Napa Valley floor. Mount Veeder Winery’s rugged vineyards mean that virtually everything is done by hand–and it shows. Winemaker Janet Myers considers the 2014 vintage to be a, “Classic Mount Veeder with hallmark flavors of earth, dark berries and chocolate, and hints of sweet bay leaf.” Location, location, location…you can taste it in the glass. 44.00
Old World comes to the New World. Over the years, a lot has been made of the fact that Oregon and the Burgundy region of France share the same latitude: 45 degrees North. For the past quarter century, there has been another connection. The Drouhin family–who have been making wine in Burgundy for over a century–have also been making wine on their estate in the Willamette Valley. As in France, Pinot is their passion, but that’s not the only grape on the vines in Oregon.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon (DDO) Chardonnay Arthur 2014 showcases what ideal weather and artful wine making can produce. Arthur shows wonderful body and a rich, full mouthfeel. And yes, there is that clean crisp acidity that you might expect from a classy French white. 35.00
Domaine Drouhin’s 2015 Cloudline Pinot Noir is a deal at about 18.00. And while the price looks like entry-level OR Pinot, this one can play with the big boys. Rich dark berry aromas and flavors carry through nicely to the finish. “Welcome to Oregon!” as DDO says of Cloudline. 18.00
2014 Roserock Pinot Noir from DDO was sourced from estate blocks in the Eola-Amity Hills part of the Willamette Valley. Look for spicy aromas and intense dark fruit flavors. Roserock shows the kind of balance and depth of character that should keep this handsome wine drinking well for years to come. 35.00
Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills 2014 Pinot Noir: You’ve got to wonder just how jealous the cousins back in Burgundy might be of this cheeky American Pinot. A classic marriage of aromas and flavors and aged in top quality oak barrels from the old country, Dundee Hills is an impressive cool climate pinot noir with complex layers of fruit and spice. 45.00
I just laid my hands on a couple of red beauties out of France. The first is Bellevue Seillan a blend of Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec from Gascony (Cotes de Gascogne). Perhaps best known as ground zero for the production of Armagnac, Gascony lies in the southwest corner of France where the landscape is rugged and the food is robust. Bellevue Seillan comes to you with just the fruit–no barrel ageing. The result is rich, fruit-forward wine with spicy accents. Perfect with roast chicken, charcuterie, and cheese–and fun to try a wine from this sometimes neglected corner of France. 35.00
The second gem, Lassegue Grand Cru, comes from the Saint-Emillon region of Bordeaux–specifically, an estate co-owned by esteemed vigneron Pierre Seillan, his wife Monique, and the Banke/Jackson family (Jackson as in the late wine legend, Jess Jackson), making it one of the few estates in Bordeaux with American ownership.
A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Lassegue Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is striking rich in color, aroma flavor thanks to the elements imparted by each of the varietals. Think dark fruit: cassis, blackberry, dark cherry. Twelve months in French oak and further bottle time have mellowed this complex, full-bodied Grand Cru. 90.00
You’ve probably seen the Campo Viejo labels–it’s a well-established Spanish house, perhaps best known for their Riojas. But at this time of year, I’ve got my eye on their cavas. And just as a reminder, cavas are Spanish sparkling wines made in the traditional Champagne method–for a fraction of the price.
Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva is a blend of three classic white varietals, aged for eighteen months. The result is a clean, crisp bubbly with some complex white fruit characteristics. Perfect with almost any food–or just for a spur of the moment celebration. Such a deal: 13.00
Campo Viejo Cava Brut Rose derives from Trepat– a red grape indigenous to northeastern Spain–and frequently used to make roses. Campo’s rose is robust–with plenty of red berry flavor and aroma–delivered by the lively effervesence of this classy cava. Nice: 13.00
RE:FIND Distillery [ e ] Vodka, finished in whiskey barrels, doesn’t look like vodka, and doesn’t taste like vodka. It looks like a well-aged rye and it tastes like a rich, full-bodied rye. In talking with Monica Villicana–proprietor of Villicana Winery and RE:FIND Handcrafted Spirits–along with her husband, Alex, [ e ] Vodka is actually finished in rye whiskey barrels and on closer tasting, I picked up some spicy rye notes. It ocurred to me that [ e ] would make a great Manhattan. So, using some top shelf vermouth (La Quintinye Royal Rouge and La Quintinye Extra-Dry in equal parts) I made a Perfect Manhattan–one of my wife’s favorites. It did not disappoint. She said it ranked with the best she ever had (at The Stockade, in Kingston, NY). Me, I love sipping it from a snifter–the rich mouth-feel imparted by the glycerol from the distilled red wine juice gave this little beauty some real hang-time on the palate.
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