May 27, 2022

Bri's Best Bottles: May Edition

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

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

 

La Folie Sparkling Rosé NV $20 (France)

“La Folie” from Maison Mirabeau is an interesting sparkling blend of Négrette, Colombard, Syrah, and Grenache. This wine is made in the Charmat method, where the second fermentation happens inside of a stainless-steel tank instead of in the bottle. This is a method to make sparkling so that the wine retains its freshness and fruit flavors and aromas. This is a generic Vin de France, meaning that the grapes can come from anywhere in France. I found this wine light, refreshing, and lively. At $20 a bottle, this is a great buy.

 

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Pere Ventura Tresor Brut Rosé NV $16.99 (Penedès, Spain)

A great sparkler for the wine geek! This Pere Ventura wine is made from the Treppat grape, which is an indigenous Spanish grape that is almost extinct. I’ve only seen it one other time. A Cava from the Penedès region of Spain, which is my go to Champagne alternative. Cava is always made in the traditional method just like Champagne, but we’re talking about $15-$20 a bottle instead of $40 or $50+. For those who think that Prosecco is a good alternative for Champagne, they’ve got it all wrong!

 

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Lucy Pico Blanco 2021 $24 (Monterey, CA)

This Monterey white blend from the Pisoni family is a winner on all fronts. The Lucy Pico Blanco is a blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, and is named after the famed mountain peak in Monterey County. Interestingly enough, Monterey County has some of the largest plannings of Pinot Gris compared to any other coastal region in California. And to set the record straight, I am not a huge fan of Pinot Gris. My Pinot Gris experience lies mostly with Oregon Pinot Gris and I find them to be hollow, linear, and missing that certain something. I call this Pinot Gris but with a soul, aka a mid palate. Of course, there are the typical citrus and high acid elements you would expect for a Pinot Gris dominant wine, but hints of stone fruit fatten up the wine a bit. Plus, a nice white flower note to round things out. 

 

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deNégoce Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2018 $16 (Yamhill-Carlton, OR)

deNégoce is an interesting DTC (direct to consumer) model. They source and bottle wine and then sell it directly to consumers in half case and full case increments. No middleman, no distributor, no retailer, etc. The wines are available for purchase on the website as “futures” meaning they have not been bottled yet. The earlier you buy them, the more you save. A great model for wine people who don’t have the time to constantly shop for wine to drink. People who have expensive wine taste, but want to save some moolah! I am absolutely in love with this wine. It comes from the renowned Yamhill-Carlton area of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. In this area, the uplifted seabeds exposed by the Missoula floods give us the best Willamette Valley wines. Here we have a full, rich Chardonnay in the style of Montrachet in Bourgogne. There is no hiding or shying away that this wine is squarely in that style. Beautiful citrus notes leading into red apple pie, plus honeysuckle and a hazelnut finish. This wine really deserves some kudos here. Texture, creaminess and richness abound.

 

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Dracaena Wines Chenin Blanc 2020 $26 (Clarksburg, CA)

You may be wondering what the heck a dracaena is. It is a tree. Husband and wife, Mike and Lori Budd are the founders of Paso based Dracaena Wines. The back story is that their beloved Weimaraner Draco passed away in 2011. Along the way, they discovered the Dracaena tree, better knowns as the Draco tree. They planted a Draco tree in the spot Draco used to eat.  In 2016 Lori and Michael quit their corporate jobs in NJ, moved to CA, and started a winery. They had been hobby winemaking before that in a crush facility. What to name it? They decided to keep Draco’s memory with them and named it: Dracaena Wines. They produce 400 cases annually with a focus on Cabernet Franc. This Chenin Blanc is a really lovely stand out though for a Paso white serving all of the acidity and freshness. With Dracaena you come for the Cabernet Franc, but you stay for the Chenin Blanc. 

 

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Spirit Horse Vineyards Rosé 2021 (Rogue Valley, OR)

Heather Rader was a horse loving corporate executive Looking for more. Along the way she and her husband came to Napa and started Spirit Horse Vineyards. The beautiful thing about this winery is that they also have a rescue horse ranch on site. They are used as therapy horses with young girls in a mentorship and leadership program called Off the Vine. So, while you are sipping one of their wines, you will know that you are helping to support this project. All of the horses are either rescued from the racing industry or other situations (i.e. they were abandoned). I never feel the need to wax poetic about rosé, because I really don’t think the wines are that serious or meant to be serious. This is just a good one. Drink it. Trust me.

 

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Adelaida Winery Counoise 2018 $40 (Paso Robles)

Established in 1981, Adelaida is a 12,000-case estate winery in the mountainous Adelaida District in western Paso Robles, CA. Situated at 2,000 feet of elevation, 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Adelaida specializes in single vineyard wines from both the Adelaida and Willow Creek Districts.  They are family owned and the estate vineyards (and walnut orchards) are 100% organically certified. Counoise is a relatively unknown grape from the south of France. These days it is used as a blending grape in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This wine is very pale in color and serves up heaps of pepper (green peppercorns), baking spices, plus a marked minerality. But a really nice texture and mouthfeel. A really interesting and unique wine. 

 

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Two Shepherds Cinsault 2020 $42 (Lodi, CA)

Located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, Two Shepherds just completed their 12th vintage. They are now at 3,500 cases a year, and growing. They craft natural wines, from unusual and rare varieties and organically farmed grapes across the North Coast, many of those vines are 45-100+ years old. Owner William has been called the “insane master of small lots” by some. And this Cinsault proves to be no exception, with only 175 cases made. And the funnest fact from this blog post is that the Cinsault for this wine is grown in the oldest surviving Cinsault vineyard (135 years old) in the WORLD, the Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi. This wine is pale, berry noted, floral noted, and chillable. Crushable, as the kids say. If you see a bottle of Two Shepherds wine, just try it. 

 

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Graham’s 10-year-old Tawny Port $39 (Portugal)

Winemaker Charles Symington uses only the highest quality grapes from the Symington family estates vineyards in the Douro valley of Portugal for this Graham’s Tawny Port. Many know the ever-popular ruby Port style. But it’s the Tawny Port style that to me is really worth checking out. Tawny Ports tend to have a brown or more tawny color with complex nutty aromas among other things. If you don’t want just a straight up sweet dessert wine, but you might want something after dinner that is not fully dry, Tawny Port could be your jam. This 10-year-old Tawny Port still actually has some ruby color to it. I’m also getting really prevalent fruit notes still, though all the fruit is quite mature/ripe. Fruits such as figs, dates, and prunes. In terms of the nuttiness factor, I get a strong garrapiñada flavor on the back palate. Garrapiñadas are “street nuts”. New Yorkers know what I’m talking about. My family is from Argentina and I have such a vivid memory of going to “capital” in Buenos Aires and smelling this in the streets.

 

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Graham’s 20-year-old Tawny Port $65 (Portugal)

I’ve already told you about the 10yo Tawny. Now The 20-year-old Tawny Port is serving me ALL of the nuts. The category is: NUTS. Nutstravaganzza. And don’t forget that really interesting note of dried orange peel. The color you will note is more brown than that Ruby color we saw with the 10 year old Tawny. This is definitely a sipper. Spectacular for sure. 

 

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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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