Virtual Vino will return in the new year!
May 13, 2021

Bri's Best Bottles: May Edition

A new month awaits, which means a new batch of wines to share with you for my Best Bottles: May 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 the 10 wines I am going to enjoy in the month of May (if I haven’t enjoyed them already)! If you missed the IG Live, don’t fret, all the wine details are below and you can re-watch it on my Instagram. 

Without further ado, I bring to you my Best Bottles for the month of May.

Champagne Boizel Brut Rèserve NV ($49.99)

Let’s get started with a little Champagne for my campaign. The Boizel house was established in Epernay in 1834. This wine is made in the traditional Champagne blend of Pinot Noir (55%), Chardonnay (30%), and Pinot Meunier (15%). It was aged sur lie in Boizel’s historic chalk cellars for 3 years. And the wine is made with 30% reserve wines (from the previous 2 vintages only) to ensure consistency and freshness.  As for the tasting notes, I got brioche on the nose and back palate.  White flowers plus citrus and stone fruits. Super bright and lively acid. A textured, creamy wine that is great on its own, but would also shine with food.

L’Ecole 2019 Semillon (Columbia Valley, WA) $17

L’Ecole is a third-generation family owned winery instrumental in establishing the Walla Walla Valley wine region. This wine was one of their very first wines from 38 years ago. “Sunshine in a bottle” as it was described to me by their General Manager, Constance. Semillon is a tough grape to grow and can also be found in Bordeaux (Graves and the Entre-deux-Mers) and in the Hunter Valley of Australia.  A vibrant nose with a range of citrus notes. Zippy acidity. Overall, a bright and cheerful wine that I love love love. 

Dr. Frank Wines 2019 Rkatsiteli (Finger Lakes, NY) $16.99

Dr. Konstantin Frank (a Ukrainian immigrant) was the first to plant this grape in the United States. There are currently only 10 acres of it planted in the US. This grape is literally the oldest grape known to man and has been grown in the country of Georgia since 3000 BC. It’s a bit similar to Muscat, in that it’s very aromatic. A beautiful wine that you can really appreciate (especially when you know its lengthy history). This wine gives green fruit (pear), citrus (grapefruit and lime zest), and stone fruit (white apricot) with mineral undertones. A very good palate weight (this ain’t a porch pounder!) with a textural mouthfeel and lengthy finish. On the palate: a tropical party in my mouth with flavors of stone fruit (apricot), tropical fruit (pineapple), white flowers, lemongrass, citrus (orange zest), and herbaceous notes. Rkats Rocks!

T. Berkley 2018 Norgard Farms Chenin Blanc (Mendocino County, CA) $30

Taylor of T. Berkley Wines is on a quest for the perfect Cabernet Franc. But every red wine needs a white wine friend. I recently met him via Zoom and tasted this lovely wine with him (always a treat to taste with a winemaker, even if only virtually). T. Berkley draws inspiration from the Loire Valley to craft California expressions of both Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. This wine gives citrus, green fruit, and stone fruit. Plus, a strong minerality and saline character. Quite a stunner.

Aslina 2019 Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa) $21

Proprietor Ntsiki Biyela is South Africa’s first black female winemaker. Aslina launched in 2017 and was named after Ntsiki’s grandmother, Aslina. As an aside, the wine industry in South Africa has been decimated. In an effort to curb COVID infections, the government put a ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products (with the idea being that people would get together less if they could not buy those two things). Needless to say, this has been terrible for the industry. Exports have been permitted, so you can help SA by purchasing a bottle of South African wine. As for tasting notes: rooty tooty fresh a fruity. A lively and varietally correct Sauvignon Blanc that is a crowd pleaser.

Château du Molin-a-Vent 2018 Couvent des Thorins (Beaujolais, France) $25

For one, this wine is available at Whole Foods stores across the country!  I love when I share a wine that is accessible and easy to find. Also, this ain’t that Nouveau style. So if you’ve been burned by BeauJo, don’t fret. This is that Cru BeauJo life. There are 10 crus in the northern Beaujolais region, where the best examples of Beaujolais are made. Here we are in Moulin-À-Vent, where the most structured and ageable Cru BeaJo’s reside. This producer is organic (two thumbs up) and vegan (for those who care). I’m enjoying this tonight with beef stroganoff. It’s not just about Cab Sauv with beef. Don’t get boxed into that corner!

Saracina 2018 Skid Row Malbec (Mendocino County, CA) $40

From everything I’ve heard, the 250-acre Saracina ranch sounds like a lovely place to visit. In addition to wine, they also make olive oil and honey. They were founded by the Fetzer family in 2001. And it’s still family owned….just a different family ☺ with the Taub Family. How did this wine get the “skid row” name? In the course of making beer on the property back in the late 19th and early 20th century, donkeys used to drag or “skid” logs to hop barns. These carved tracks became known as “skid rows”.  A combination of luscious and juicy red and black fruit. Chocolatey and velvety. Almost Merlot like. Here for it.

Brown Estate Zinfandel 2018 (Napa Valley, CA) $45

In 1980 The Browns 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 our own wine. They established the Brown Estate label officially in 1996 when they harvested what would become their first bottling of Brown Zin. Big, ripe, and jammy red and black fruit prevail. Exactly what I want in a Zinfandel. Got BBQ?

Denner Vineyards 2018 Dirt Worshipper (Paso Robles, CA) $80

Denner is a bit of a cult Paso producer, so I’m told. They’re known for their Rhone and Bordeaux style wines. High points and a small production have brought high prices! The tasting room is stunning with very modern architecture. This is their only non-estate wine made from 98% Syrah, 1% Roussanne, and 1% Viognier All co-fermented. It smells like the deepest, darkest berry fruit. Certainly tastes like a Rhône red with a new world injection of ripe, juicy fruit. Good tannins. I dig it.

Lo-Fi Brand Aperitifs Dry Vermouth ($26)

LOVE this Vermouth!! What is vermouth? Vermouth is a fortified wine (can be red or white) that is flavored with aromatic herbs. This Lo-Fi dry vermouth is a white wine and grape spirit (made from Muscat Canelli and Chardonnay grapes) and infused with herbs and spices, including fennel, elderflower, coriander, and anise. Mixes fantastically with soda or tonic.  A major party in your mouth. Floral on the front palate. The mid palate brings herbaceousness. And a bitter note on the back palate. Also fennel…lots of fennel. And the best part: no artificial colors or ingredients.

That’s all folks….see you next month!

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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