A new month awaits, which means a new batch of wines for me to share with you for my Best Bottles: August Edition. This month we’re returning to the IG Live format to present the video portion of this post. I’ll be there tonight at 6pm (Pacific), where in 30 minutes or less I share with you a grouping of wines I’m enjoying in the month of August. If you miss the IG Live, don’t fret, all the wine details are below and you can re-watch it on my IGTV channel.
Without further ado, I bring to you my best bottles for the month of August!
TILIA (named after the local linden tree) is a wine brand from Mendoza, Argentina where sustainability has always been at the core of their practices in the vineyards, in the winery, and in their local community. They were the first winery to carry the Bodegas de Argentina official certification of sustainability seal on its label. Interventions are kept to a minimum and biodiversity is encouraged in the vineyards. They also offer summer school programs to children of harvest workers. The coolest fact I learned about TILIA is that they use traditional irrigation systems to access pure Andean spring water onsite through ancestral canals developed by the indigenous Huarpe people hundreds of years ago. And now, the wine! Torrontés is a white grape indigenous to Argentina and has a unique profile. To me, Torrontés is the most perfumed grape. It literally smells like fresh white flowers…..like a perfume you’d dab behind your ear. This wine is definitely floral with a good serving of tropical notes.
This Imagery Chardonnay is an easy to find and affordable wine to satisfy the Chardcore crowd. See what I did there? This is one of my go-to $20 and under Chardonnays. A touch of malo and a touch of oak give the wine a nice full, round feel. If you hate over oaked and overly buttery Chardonnay’s….then give this one a try. It’s nice and balanced on both fronts. It’s also serving me Red Delicious apple vibes. Quite yummy!
In 1980 The Brown family purchased an abandoned ranch in the eastern hills of the Napa Valley. They rehabilitated the crumbling home on the property and planted vinifera grapes — which for a decade they farmed and sold to local winemakers. In 1995 the kids (Deneen, Coral, and David) decided to make their own wine. They established the Brown Estate label officially in 1996 when they harvested what would become their first bottling of Brown Zinfandel, their signature wine. Today we enjoy their Chardonnay! Made from sustainably grown wine grapes with small amounts of naturally occurring and added sulfites. Nothing else. This ripe Chardonnay leads with flavors of pineapple and guava (hello warm Cali climate), followed by hints of jasmine, orange and lemon custard. On the palate, the wine is rich but still crisp and elegant. Pair with crab cakes, fresh seafood, creamy pasta dishes, and grilled corn slathered in butter. You will find this black-owned winery on the diversity tab of my website, along with a listing by state of black-owned wineries.
The Loire Valley has been the homeland of the Saget family for nine generations. Megalithe is the icon wine of Saget La Perrière, with the goal to showcase the beauty of aged Sauvignon Blanc. I wouldn’t normally tout an almost $70 Sauvy B, because….why? But this one is special and I felt deserved a spot on this list. I know I’ve got some hardcore wine geeks in the room, who might love to give this a try. 40% of the wine is fermented in new oak barrels and stays in barrel for 9 months to age. Regular lees stirring adds texture and richness. The other 60% is vinified and matured in stainless steel vats, to preserve the fresh characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc. What is so special about this wine is the age. At 2016, it is now 5 years old and is showing an incredible depth of flavor and layers on layers on layers.
In California, the Russian River Valley is the place for Pinot Noir. This Raeburn Pinot Noir is another one of those great finds, as finding good Pinot Noir around $20 is a tall order! This wine gives me blueberries 4DAYZ. It’s a super fresh wine with great acid. I absolutely love this wine. This is your weeknight Pinot to satisfy everyone. Actually, this would be a great event wine. Getting married? Hosting a big bday bash? This Pinot Noir is crowd pleasing and of a solid quality that I would feel comfortable serving to anyone…..novice or enthusiast.
And now for a totally different take on Pinot Noir. We are in Burgundy, or Bourgogne, the ancestral home of Pinot Noir. Domaine Jacques Girardin lies in the south of Burgundy in the commune of Santenay, the most southerly of the Côte d’Or. Premier Cru (or 1er Cru) tells us that we are almost at the top of the Burgundy quality pyramid, with Les Peuillets being the vineyard name. Let’s get one thing out of the way….Burbundy (at least quality Burgundy) is expensive. I mean wildly expensive….some of the most expensive wines of the world. To experience a 1er Cru Burgundy at $50 is a rarity…..so if you can find this wine, I suggest you buy it. Beautiful red fruit and rose petal notes jump out of the glass. Elegance to the max.
Coming across the Atlantic, we are back in the US of A with this red blend from Tamarack Cellars in the Columbia Valley of Washington. And this is a true red BLEND…..lots going on here: Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Mourvedre, Grenache, Counoise, Sangiovese, and Petit Verdot. The beauty about blends is that they showcase the best of each grape, while delivering a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. Domestic red blends at these approachable pricepoints tend to showcase fresh fruit characteristics and warm spices. Personally I’m not a fan of most $10 or less grocery store red blends. They tend to have a residual sugar level that is too high for my taste. This Firehouse Red is spot on.
This is a fun one to share, as I cut my teeth on Italian wine when I worked at the Wine Expo (in Santa Monica) probably 10 years ago. I had JUST started getting into wine and was thrown into this wine shop/bar that served nothing but grower Champagne plus Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese still wines. I knew nothing about any of those categories, but I learned fast. One style of wine that we sold endlessly was the “ripasso” style. We’re taking it back to the Old World with OG Valpolicella producer Tedeschi who dates back to 1630. Valpolicella is known for a style of wine in which the grapes are dried after harvest in order to concentrate flavors. This is called appassimento. The base level wine (without appassimento) is called Valpolicella. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the high quality (very expensive) Amarone wine, made with harvested grapes that are extensively dried in the sun, giving the wine a ripe, higher alcohol, raisin-y effect. In the middle we have Ripasso, where a basic Valpolicaella wine is refermented on the dried skins used to make Amarone. So ,the fresh Valpo style gets a nice dose of those dried, really concentrated grapes. Ripasso is sometimes called “poor man’s Amarone”, as you can get some of the aromas and flavors of Amarone, without paying the price!
That’s all folks…..see you next month!