December 22, 2022

Bri’s Best Bottles: December Edition

A new month awaits, which means a new batch of wines for me to share with you for my Best Bottles: December Edition. If you miss the IG Live, don’t fret, all the wine details are below. You can also re-watch it on Instagram.

In my line of work, I taste A LOT of wine. And I found that tons of wines slipped through the cracks. I couldn’t possibly cover every single wine in a blog post or on social media, so I came up with the idea to highlight the ten “Best Bottles” that I drink every month.  Without further ado, I bring to you my best bottles for the month of December!

Gérard Bertrand An 825 Crémant de Limoux 2019 Brut Rosé $20

Your bubbly hack, if you are a champagne lover like I am, and want to save a little bit of money: look for the word “cremant” on the label. Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France, which I’m sure you’ve heard a million times. Cremant is a sparkling wine made in France, and made in that same method as they make Champagne. So, it’s a nice trade, similar quality level, and you save a few bucks. You can easily find cremants starting at around $20, whereas Champagne rarely starts below $40 or $50. This wine very much over delivers for its price point. A beautiful brute rosé style made with Pinot Noir. It is clean, precise, and fresh. Highly recommend this bubbly especially if you’re looking for something wallet friendly for New Year’s Eve. BUY HERE

A hand holding a bottle of Gerard Bertrand An 825 Cremant de Limoux Brut Rosé 2019 wine

Masciarelli Villa Gemma Colline Teatine Bianco IGT 2021 $20

We are in central Italy on the east coast in Abruzzo with the Masciarelli family. Gianni Masciarelli founded the winery in 1981 and since his passing in 2008 his wife and daughter have become the regions pioneering winemaking duo. This wine is everything I want in an Italian white: high acid and food friendliness, and that characteristic bitter almond note. The wine is made from a blend of Trebbiano, Pecorino, and Cococciola, which I’ve never heard of! This is a perfect example of an “Old World” wine beating out most New World wines at the same pricepoint. And I mean beating out in terms of QPR (the quality overdelivering for the pricepoint). BUY HERE

A hand holding a bottle of Villa Gemma Colline Teatine IGT Bianco wine

Traversa Sauvignon Blanc 2022 $12 Uruguay

I bet you’ve never had a wine from Uruguay! I hadn’t either until I attended a virtual tasting a couple of weeks ago and tried a slew of wines from there. I was greatly impressed. This little Sauvy B stunner at $12 a bottle was fantastic. Traversa is one of the larger producers in the country, so you might have a chance at finding it online or at a wine shop. This wine was fresh but not really lean. The fruit is moving into tropical notes including passion fruit. I also got a lot of citrus and also really nice acidity. What’s not to love for $12?

A hand holding a bottle of Traversa Sauvignon Blanc wine

Rombauer Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay 2021 $40

All right everyone. This is a classic. A truly classic wine. If you have ever described a Chardonnay as “oaky and buttery”, you have Rombauer Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay to thank for that. And yes. I am aware that oaky buttery Chardonnay isn’t for everyone. But guess what, most wines aren’t for everyone. We all have our own subjective tastes and preferences, and that is perfectly fine! But I can tell you, sometimes I do want that warm familiar hug from a full-bodied rich white wine, and this gives me that. I found myself seeking wines in that category during the pandemic. Things were so difficult, and harsh, and scary. I didn’t want linear, angular wines with harsh sharp notes. I wanted soft and round and comforting. Comfort wine, like comfort food. Isn’t that funny? BUY HERE

A hand holding a bottle of Rombauer Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay

Villa Gemma Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Superiore 2021 $20

Another beauty from the Masciarelli family, we have the Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo which is a beautiful, deeply colored rosé made from the Montepulciano grape. I already drank this wine or else I would pour a glass and show you how deep it deeply colored it is. There is some misinformation out there that I’ve heard people regurgitate about the darker a rosé, the sweeter it is. Spoiler alert: the color of a rosé has no indication of the sweetness level. The darker color of a rosé just means that the skins were left to macerate and marinate with the juice for a little bit longer during fermentation. Lighter colored rosés have less skin contact. And wine gets its color essentially from the skins so that’s really all it tells you. The only other thing you can deduce is that a dark colored rosé can be a more structured, fuller wine. Those very pale, light pink rosés tend to be quite light, sometimes vapid, and just almost a little too easy to drink for my taste. I like a little bit more “there there” with my rosés. BUY HERE

A hand holding a bottle of Villa Gemma Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo wine

Klinker Brick Winery Brickmason 2019 $17 Lodi

Klinker Brick is one of my favorites up in Lodi, California which is near Sacramento. Lodi is historically an agriculture town that has a steep, strong history in grape growing. The Felten family at Klinker Brick has been around for quite some time. Farrah Felten, who has taken over the family business from her parents is a 6th generation farmer.  Joseph Smith, from Belize is their winemaker. This wine is a blend of mostly Zinfandel, plus Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah. Big, juicy, and delicious. BUY HERE

A hand holding a bottle of Klinker Brick Brickmason 2017 wine

Montecucco Fondo di Pio Sangiovese Riserva 2015

We are in Tuscany with this beauty, specifically in Montecucco, which is a small region nestled between Brunello di Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano in Maremma. That’s a mouthful! I absolutely love this wine. I hate generalizing, even though I do it all the time, and am about to do it again. Sorry not sorry. Generalizations help you get a quick and easy grasp (hot take if you will) on a complicated subject. This wine definitely has a little bit of rusticity to it and there’s generous oak use here, with the wine aging two years in barrel. You really have to dig earthy, Old World Italian reds to dig this wine. I’m also getting some nice savory herbaceous notes. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, these are everything that I want in an Italian red.

A hand holding a bottle of Montecucco Fondo di Pio Sangiovese Riserva wine

Robert Hall Cavern Select Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 $95

It is December and I wanted to give you a couple real high-end, big ‘ol reds. These wines are great for gifts or are great if you want a really stellar bottle of wine on the holiday table this year.  Robert Hall is one of my favorite Paso wineries, definitely a classic. This is not one of those hip, cool, Instagrammable spots resting on its laurels and not making very good wine. This is a place that delivers solidly delicious wine and really top-notch hospitality and food experiences. They also have events with live music and other fun things which is just so Paso. You’ve probably heard of and seen Robert Hall before, as they have some more value priced wines that you can find at grocery stores and big box wine retailers. The “Cavern Select” line is only available to wine club members. But Robert Hall is such a great winery that becoming a member is never a bad idea! I want to also remind people that sometimes when you see brands widely distributed (i.e. in grocery stores), it’s easy to think “oh that’s what they do and that’s their jam”, when a lot of times they also have more high-end, premium lines.. It is nice to have those delicious daily drinkers around $20 bucks but if you really want something special, they’ve also got that too. BUY HERE

A hand holding a bottle of Robert Hall Cavern Select Cabernet Sauvignon

Blackbird Vineyards Paramour Napa Valley Red Wine 2017 $135

And a real stunner here. This is a Bordeaux blend but not with the usual suspects (Cab and Merlot) as your main grape. It’s 56% Cabernet Franc, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Merlot. Going along the same with the theme of not shying away from oak use, this wine sees 21 months in French oak barrels, 75% of them new. I get so many beautiful, rich cedar notes. I’m thinking of the line in the movie, Overboard with Goldie Hawn when she walks into her custom-made closet on the yacht and says “I asked for cedar” and she makes them remake the entire closet. I digress. This one is quite beautiful. Dark black fruit with a little bit of raspberry peeking through. The finish is long. So so long. Which is a marker for a quality wine. That is probably the number one thing that I’m looking for when I’m looking to review or rate a wine and think about where it sits quality wise. A long finish where the wine stays with you and those flavors really linger, that’s the thing. That’s the moment. A great gift for the Cabernet lover in your life. And a gorgeous bottle! BUY HERE

A hand holding a bottle of Blackbird Vineyards Paramour 2017 wine

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you’re looking to Up Your Wine Game and Drink Better, consider booking a private in-person or virtual wine tasting experience.
Brianne Cohen Wine Educator
Brianne Cohen is a certified sommelier, wine educator, consultant, and writer based out of Los Angeles.

Since March 2020, Brianne has educated and entertained over 5,000 people through her “Virtual Vino” online wine tastings.

Brianne holds the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Diploma certificate, one of the most coveted wine certifications in the world. When she’s not helping others Up Their Wine Game, she can be found judging at international wine competitions.

Brianne aims to make wine approachable and conversational, to surprise and delight with unexpected, distinctive wine finds, and to give people knowledge (and confidence) about wine in their everyday lives.

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Sample Policy

As a wine writer, I frequently accept samples for review on my  website and on my social media channels. Please contact me at brianne@briannecohen.com to discuss sending samples for review. I promise to always be honorable with the samples. I will evaluate all wines in good tasting settings and with no distractions.

All reviews are my opinions, and mine only. Because of the volume of samples I receive, I cannot promise that all samples received will be reviewed, but I will do my best.

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