July 28, 2022

Bri's Best Bottles: July Edition

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

Without further ado, I bring to you my best bottles for the month of July!

Acquiesce Winery Picpoul Blanc 2020 $30 (Lodi, CA)

Y’all know my love for Acquiesce Winery and Vineyards in Lodi, California. A female owned wine label that (defiantly) only produces white and rosé wines in red wine country. What is so fun about Sue Tipton‘s wines is that she focuses on Rhône varieties. And even the Rhône varieties that most of us have never heard of! Not only does she grow those grapes and make those wines, but she also bottles them varietally, which means she’s bottling them with those obscure grapes specifically on the label. This means that the majority of the grapes that are used to make the wine in the bottle are that grape. Versus white Rhône blends, which are very common. With her wines, you have an opportunity to try things that are very rare and very hard to come across. This Picpoul Blanc gives deep stone fruit notes really popping into the tropical fruit realm. Off the chart acid, and a slight oiliness which is a characteristic I regularly find in white Rhône wines. BUY HERE

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Chateau Canteloudette Entre-Deux-Mers 2020 $15 (Bordeaux, France)

We are in Bordeaux between two seas, or Entre-Deux-Mers, as you see on the label. Bordeaux is a region in France that is famous for its incredible red wines. Which means that a lot of times people sleep on their white wines. A white Bordeaux is really nothing to ignore! As a reminder when we are in the Old World, or in Europe, we can only grow certain grapes in certain regions. In Bordeaux the white grapes allowed are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. So, if you’re a Sauvy B drinker, and want to try something different, reach for a white Bordeaux. You really don’t need to know more than that. If you see a wine bottle that says Bordeaux on the front of the label and it’s white, it’s gonna be Sauvy B based. This Chateau Canteloudette wine is super easy to drink, a daily drinker, porch pounder if you will. We don’t need to go any deeper than that. This is your “I’m having a bunch of people over, throw a few bottles on ice type of wine” and everyone will be happy. BUY HERE

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The Mill Keeper Chardonnay Multi-Vintage $28 (Napa Valley, CA)

Third generation farmer Tom Gamble is at the helm of The Mill Keeper, with the goal of delivering quality wine at competitive price points. Tom has farmed high-quality fruit in the Napa Valley for the last three decades and brings his skill set to The Mill Keeper. What is unique about this wine, and about the Cabernet Sauvignon I will speak about later, is that these are both “multi vintage” wines. Meaning that the grapes that were used to make the wine in this bottle came from more than one year or more than one harvest. To give you some context, I would say something like 95% of wines on the market come from a specific vintage. You will almost always see that vintage or year on the front of the label. Exceptions can be some really cheap sort of bulk wines or interestingly enough, Champagne. In Champagne, multi vintage blends are very common. You will see the letters NV on the front of the label of a non-vintage champagne. Needless to say, this is an interesting decision by Tom, and I wanted to know his why. And here are his words exactly: (With a multi-vintage wine) “We can make a wine that over-delivers on quality for a consumer-friendly price point. The idea for The Mill Keeper started with making wine from dropped fruit; we experimented with winemaking techniques for years until we got it right, and along the way, we found that blending vintages made for a pleasing more affordable wine overall. We’ve done surveys that show that Millennials that are new to wine find quality and price to be far more important than vintage. We currently have the happy challenge of trying to keep up with demand. I will keep making my high-end luxury wines under the Gamble Family Vineyards brand, but with The Mill Keeper I am having a blast introducing a new generation to wine at a price they can afford. Coexistence. It is possible.” And now let’s quickly move to the glass. I almost would not call this one a Chardonnay by the nose! It is definitely a lighter style Chardonnay that would be delightful served with a cream or butter-based pasta or fish to cut through the fat in the dish. BUY HERE

wine tasting southern california

Two Wolves Rosé 2021 (Santa Barbara County, CA)

Two Wolves is a vineyard and winery owned by Alecia Moore a.k.a. the artist Pink. She has gotten a lot of attention in the wine world because of her intentionality and commitment to learning the craft of growing grapes and making wine. If you follow her and the winery on social media, you will frequently see her studying for wine certifications, riding a tractor, showing the steps of the fermentation process, etc. Without knowing much more, it does feel like there is a hefty dose of authenticity in what she’s doing up in Santa Barbara wine country. I have been on her allocation list since the beginning and I’ve been hoarding her wines for the last three years. Recently I realized it was time for me to taste the rosés that I had in my cellar, as I had one from 2019, 2020, and 2021. Wanted to make sure none of them were past their prime. This current release rosé is made from Grenache grapes. And I don’t know if you can tell from this picture, but this is one of the palest rosés I have ever seen. It would almost be mistaken for a white wine in the glass. Which means we have very little skin contact during fermentation, as the skin contact is what gives a rosé it’s color. Don’t be fooled into believing people who say that the darker the rosé, the sweeter the wine. Sweetness has absolutely nothing to do with the color. This wine was ethereal and on another level. It was just so vibrant and so mouthwateringly juicy and delicious and I cannot wait to try all of the other wines! BUY HERE

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Lucy Rosé of Pinot Noir 2021 $22 (Monterey, CA)

This Monterey rosé from the Pisoni family with Lucy is a winner on all fronts. A beautiful nose of wildflowers and sea spray give you a hint as to what’s to come on the palate. Speaking of the palate, high acid reigns, but there is more to this wine than just that. A lot of these sort of vapid rosés can lack depth. But there’s some gumption with this wine (there’s some booty!), there’s something behind it. I also get a beautiful blood orange note on the palate, and there is a nice crisp tartness to the fruit. Helloooooo coastal rosé. BUY HERE

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Sosie Wines Rosé of Syrah 2021 $32 (Sonoma, CA)

Sosie Wines is a Sonoma based winery with a tasting room just off of the Sonoma Square. I hope to go visit during my trip up north in the next couple of weeks. I will report back! This is a really lovely rosé to highlight for people who want a bigger more structured rosé. A lot of rosés can be quite light, watered down, and vapid. This is not that! For one this is a rosé of Syrah. Syrah is a sort of bigger more buxom grape that delivers good structure and color and vibrancy and tannins. In the summertime we’re always talking about porch pounders, and I would not call this wine a porch pounder. It really is quite structured. And though this term is overused, it is a true “rosé for red wine drinkers”. I recently enjoyed it with some Brazilian barbecue takeout that included grilled shrimp, plantains, black beans, and yucca flour. And it was an absolutely perfect pairing. BUY HERE

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El Coto Rioja Crianza 2019 $19 (Rioja, Spain)

Grab your passports, because we are in Rioja, Spain with this Tempranillo based red wine. Remember, back in the Old World, which is where we are here (in Europe) we have a lot of rules and regulations when it comes to growing grapes and making wine. The Rioja aging system is one of those highly regulated processes. With Rioja we first start with Crianza, then we move to Reserva and then we move to Gran Reserva. Each level up is going to require more cellar and or bottle aging. For a wine in Rioja to be labeled Crianza, it has to have spent at least one year aging in oak barrels. For the Reserva level we are talking about a minimum aging (between oak and bottle) of three years. At least one of those years has to be in barrel followed by a minimum of six months aging in bottle. For Gran Reserva we are talking about a total aging of at least five years with at least two years in oak barrels and two years in bottle. Note that this aging structure is solely for red wines. The Rioja white wines have different qualifications. OK, let’s get to the wine. I had a lot of thoughts about this wine when I first put my nose to it. This would be a wine that so many people wouldn’t give the time of day to unfortunately. Whether it’s people who like really high-end Napa Cab or people who drink that mass produced commercial grocery store glug that taste like a fruit bomb and a charred barrel had a baby. This El Coto Rioja wine is so bright, the fruit is so red, and beautiful violet notes dance out of the glass. The palate is juicy, fruity and just delightful. Especially as a red wine in the summertime. In fact, chill me up Scotty! I would put this bad boy on ice for about 20 or 30 minutes before enjoying it and it would be <chefs kiss> BUY HERE (2017 vintage)

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Kukkula Pas de Deux 2018 $60 (Paso Robles, CA)

Pas de Deux from Kukkula in Paso Robles is a Grenache dominant blend with Syrah. Pas de Deux means “a dance for two” or “a close relationship between two people or things” in French. With the idea being that Syrah and Grenache, both red Rhône varieties, dance beautifully together. Kukkula (kook-koo-luh) in Finnish means the hill or high place. Finnish Kevin Jussila and his wife Paula moved to Paso in 2004 to start the process of building their home, winery, vineyard, and olive orchard. Kevin had no formal winemaking training when he started making wine in 1992 in the basement of his Topanga, California home. Kukkula focuses on organic, dry farmed, low intervention wines from Rhône varieties in Paso Robles. Loved this wine. Definitely a dance between the lighter Grenache and the deeper, more soulful Syrah. BUY HERE

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Terra d’Oro Zinfandel 2018 $18 (Amador County, CA)

We are in Amador County near Sacramento with this 2018 Zinfandel from Terra d’Oro. Zinfandel is one of those grapes that a lot of people have opinions about. Whether they’re thinking about white Zinfandel or whether they’re thinking of overripe jammy cheapy grocery store Zinfandel, Zinfandel is actually quite a noble grape that can do great work in the bottle and in the glass. When handled correctly you end up with a robust and juicy wine that actually is quite light and not overwhelming. It sort of seems like a juxtaposition, and it kind of is. As long as you have some acidity and strong fruit intensity with a throughline of balance, you know you’ve got a good Zinfandel in the glass. This wine is showing beautiful red fruits and gives a really nice warming characteristic, which is usually because of a slightly higher alcohol that Zinfandel has, and this is no exception with 14.5% ABV. BUY HERE

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The Mill Keeper Cabernet Sauvignon Multi-Vintage $35 (Napa Valley, CA)

And we are back with The Mill Keeper by Gamble Family Vineyards. This is their Multi-Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. The same conversation and notes we discussed with the Chardonnay will apply here. This really is an easy drinking Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. And those words don’t usually flow together! Soft tannins and balanced fruit make for a really pleasant drink. Call this “the lighter side of Napa”. BUY HERE

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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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