March 24, 2022

Bri’s Best Bottles: March Edition

A new month awaits, which means a new batch of wines for me to share with you for my Best Bottles: March 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 5pm (Pacific), where in 30 minutes or less I share with you a grouping of wines I’m enjoying this month.  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 March!

Albert Bichot Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Réserve $24 (Bourgogne, France)

The Bichot family has been in Burgundy since the 1200s. Currently the 5th generation Albert Bichot male is at the helm of this almost 200-year-old wine business. Over the centuries they have expanded and now own 6 estates across all of Burgundy from north to south. They are currently focused on transitioning their Cote d’ Or vineyards to organics. In this bottle we have a general appellation blend of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I recently served this as an aperitif with various appetizers at a dinner party and it was a huge hit! I think we’re so used to Prosecco these days being people’s “house Champagne”, that when you give them something nice and dry, they’re pleasantly surprised. 

Albert Bichot Brut Réserve

Robert Hall Sparkling Grenache Blanc 2019 $35 (Paso Robles, CA)

A 20-year-old producer in Paso Robles, Robert Hall is one of those tried-and-true Paso places to visit. Incredible wines from easy on the wallet pricepoints to premium (close to $100 a bottle) pricepoints. Their standard tasting is $20 a head for 4 different wines and they have a very well-priced food and wine pairing for $50.  Robert Hall is also one of those brands that is relatively easy to find out there. They have their black label wines that are in distribution. You can find these $20(ish) wines in grocery stores and wine shops. Today we’re talking about their 2019 Cavern Select Sparkling Grenache Blanc.  Cavern Select is their more premium line that is only found in their tasting room. So, guess what, you have to visit Paso (or join their wine club) to taste this. This is a gorgeous wine with notes of lemon peel, minerality, and even some stone fruit (such as apricot). 

Robert Hall Sparkling Grenache Blanc

Agusti Torello Mata Xarel-lo 2019 $12 (Penedès, Spain)

This Agusti Torello Mata is a fun one! I bet you’ve never had a STILL Xarel-lo. You might be asking yourself: what’s Xarel-lo? Xarel-lo is one of the three main grapes found in Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine. The other two are Macabeo and Parellada. Personally, I have never seen a still wine made out of any of those three grapes, so I think they’re pretty rare. Also, these three grapes, including Xarel-lo are quite neutral and make a neutral wine. This is not a wine to blow you away or to give you very complex flavors. This is a great sort of unassuming white wine, when you want something to fill a void. Maybe you just want a simple, easy white?  I recently served this at a dinner party with a palate cleansing course. The group was coming off of a bigger red wine and red meat dish, into a pear/endive/goat cheese course and this fit like a glove! Remember, not all wine has to be serious. 

Wine Agusti Torello Mata 2019

Quinta da Fonte Souto 2019 Branco $25 (Alentejo, Portugal)

This Quina da Fonte Souto white was a stunner! It’s for the Chardonnay lover searching for more. Wondering what else is out there. A full-bodied, round wine made from both Arinto and Verdelho. A lot of the same winemaking processes here that you’d see in Chardonnay: oak fermenting, oak aging, and bâttonage. If you were once Chardcore and are now in a wine rut, give this wine a try. Smoky, toasty, vanilla notes, but lots of fruit for sure plus great acidity, which (in my book) trumps everything. You cannot have a quality wine without good acid structure. 

Quinta da Fonte Souto White 2019

Paco & Lola Albariño $15 (Rías Baixas, Spain)

Albariño has a special place in my heart, if only because I just love it. I don’t have a romantic story and have never visited, I just know that if I meet an Albariño, I’m gonna like it. A year ago, I remember trying an aged version of a Paco & Lola wine (a 2012 to be specific) and it knocked my socks off. With this wine, we’re back to youthful, fresh, and fruity. If Sauvy B is your go to, then you will LOVE Albariño. Albariño is truly my summer water. 

Wine Paco & Lola Albaraiño Rías Baixas España

Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato 2020 $20 (Friuli, Italy)

We’re now moving to northeast Italy in the Friuli region, near Venice for this Attems Ramato wine. You’ve probably heard of Pinot Grigio, but you might never have heard the term Ramato. For one, Pinot Grigio (or Gris) gets its name from the rosey-grey color of the skins. Historically in the Friuli region, the Ramato style of Pinot Grigio was the preferred style. Ramato style is where the Pinot Grigio skins stay in contact with the juice during fermentation (which is not normally the case for a white wine). A wine gets its color from the skins. So when we leave the Pinot Grigio skins with the juice during fermentation, we end up with a copper/rosey colored wine. In this case, the contact was only for 10 hours, but you can clearly see the color. This is the same method used to make orange wine. Same process. This wine is very rosé in style with red fruit notes + some citrus notes. Very easy drinking, fresh, and lively. 

Wine Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato

McCay Cellars Cinsault 2018 $40 (Lodi, CA)

Back to Lodi! I seem to take a trip here every single month with Best Bottles, only because I love my Lodi wines. Lodi has a lot of heart, hands down. It’s a multi-generational agricultural community with some of the kindest and most openhearted people I have ever met. McCay Cellars is a great stop if you are wine tasting in Lodi. Mike’s got an urban, industrial feel tasting room with a nice outdoor patio. But just cause you don’t get the vineyard views, doesn’t mean you’re not getting top quality fruit and juice in your glass. I have had probably 3 vintages of this Cinsault and it is my favorite McCay wine each time. From the Bechthold Vineyard planted in 1886, this is some old ass fruit! Cinsault is delicate and floral and bright red fruited. Exquisite.  

Wine McCay Cellars Lodi Appellation Cinsault

Chateau Briot Bordeaux 2018 $15 (Bordeaux, France)

Chateau Briot is under the umbrella of the Ducourt family. They’ve owned this property in Entre-deux-Mers for over 40 years, and it’s known for making easy drinking, approachable Bordeaux wines. Remember, no region is a monolith, and Bordeaux is no exception. This is a great example of a crowd-pleasing red, but with enough body and weight to satisfy even the “big red” lover. I recently served this wine at a dinner party for 12 people and it was the favorite red on the table. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot.

Wine Chateaux Briot Bordeaux 2018

Rockbridge Vd'Or 2017 $25 (Virginia)

Virginia: they make wine? Yep, Virginia makes wine! In fact, they make a lot of wine. The types of grapes grown in VA vary from some of the usual suspects because of the weather. It is extremely wet and cold, so sometimes hybrid grapes need to be used. These hybrids are specifically bred to be “winter hardy”. The vines won’t freeze and they produce higher sugar levels in cold climates, perfect for this wine. This Rockbridge wine is made from majority Vidal Blanc plus some Vignoles and Traminette. This is an icewine, meaning the grapes are harvested directly form the vine in the wintertime, when they’re frozen. Frozen grapes are pressed, meaning only a small amount of concentrated (and sweet) juice comes out of them. This sweet, concentrated juice, becomes sweet, concentrated wine. The wine is viscous, as you’d expect with notes of honey and orange blossom. Was perfect with a lemon tart! Also, this wine has won gold medals at the Virginia Governor’s Cup at least two years in a row. 

Rockbridge V d'Or Virginia White Wine 2017

 

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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