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November 13, 2021

Bri's Best Bottles: November Edition

A new month awaits, which means a new batch of wines for me to share with you for my Best Bottles: November Edition. As we creep towards the holidays, these bottles are great to be enjoyed on your holiday table, while a few are more winter themed wines that stand up well on their own. 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 in the month of November.  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 November!

Sella & Mosca Torbato Brut 2018 (Sardinia, Italy) $20.99

Sardinia lies south of France near the island of Corsica and off the west coast of Italy. Sella & Mosca lies on the NW corner of the island, just inland from the historic port of Alghero, which was designated a DOC in 1995. Sella & Mosca is the largest winery on the island (550 hectares planted) and almost the oldest. Fun fact: it is the second-largest contiguous vineyard in Italy!

When it comes to wine, Sardinia is known for Vermentino (on the white side) and Cannonau (or Grenache) on the red side. Today I bring you neither. Torbato originally came to Sardinia by the Spanish and today, Sella & Mosca is the only winery to make a 100% Torbato wine. They make a still version (which I have spoken about before) and this sparkling wine, which felt appropriate as we slide into the holiday season. This wine is simple, fresh, and would go famously with crudo. Sella & Mosca is credited with saving this variety, and they are the ONLY ones making a sparkling version.

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Monte Rossa Franciacorta Flamingo Rosé NV (Lombardy, Italy) $48

Pink Franciacorta from Monte Rossa comin’ in hot! I love playing the “if you drink this, you’ll like this” game. If you drink Champagne, you’ll love Franciacorta. And isn’t it just fun to say?! Franciacorta is a traditional method sparkling wine made in the Lombardy region of Italy. It’s actually made in the same style as Champagne. A cool fact about Franciacorta: about 70% of the vineyard area is organic (that’s good for you and good for the planet). This is a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend and is a perfect rosé sparkler if you want to bring something “different” to the party. Bright, fruity, and structure define this wine. I’d definitely drink it again!

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Luna Hart Grüner Veltliner 2019 (Santa Barbara, CA) $32

This is a 100% Gruner Veltliner from the notable Spear Vineyard in Santa Barbara area. If you’ve ever heard of me speak about Camins 2 Dreams winery in Lompoc, they source from Spear as well for both Grüner and Syrah. Luna Hart comes from the mind of Gretchen Voelcker, owner and winemaker. She makes wine for Piazza Family Wines, where they so kindly allow her to produce her own Luna Hart wines. They even include her wines in the tasting flights for guests! Piazza is located about 5 miles from Solvang. About this wine: slight skin contact, native fermentation, unfined and unfiltered. Basically, it’s interesting AF. This wine has acid for dayzzz and has an savory note on the nose and palate. Asian pear and ginger. One of the most interesting whites I’ve had in recent memory.

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Clif Family Dry Gewürztraminer 2019 (Anderson Valley, CA) $30

If Clif with one “f” looks familiar, it’s because this is the same Clif Family who own the Clif Bars brand. This is the other “G” grape, since we just talked about Grüner. Clif is based in Napa Valley, but the grapes for this wine are sourced from the Anderson Valley of Mendocino. I need to get myself there, as A LOT is happening in terms of wine. I can’t go 5 feet without tripping over a bottle with grapes from Mendo. This wine shows varietal typicity of Gewürztraminer: white flowers, stone fruits, and tropical fruits. And I’m here for all of it.

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Farmstrong Field Red Blend 2015 (California) $22

Faith Armstrong Foster, Farmstrong winemaker, has been described as honest, vibrant, and unfiltered, just like her wines. The Farmstrong label focuses on diverse California blends. In this case, Carignan, Zinfandel, and Syrah. A unique blend of grapes that aren’t traditionally blended. This is an elevated “CA red blend”. Forget the stuff at the grocery store, this is it. If you’re looking for something other than the ubiquitous Pinot Noir or Beaujolais on your Thanksgiving Day table, this is the wine. The one “must grab” Thanksgiving red.

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L’Ecole Estate Merlot 2018 (Walla Walla, Washington) $37

L’Ecole is a third-generation family-owned winery instrumental in establishing the Walla Walla Valley wine region in Washington. This wine was one of their very first wines from 38 years ago. Merlot, poor Merlot. She is still recovering from the dreaded “Sideways” effect, which was over 15 years ago. Everyone, the next time you hear yourself say or think “I don’t really like Merlot”, ask yourself if you really mean it. I think a lot of people think they don’t like Merlot or think they aren’t supposed to like Merlot. This is not that crappy Blackstone Merlot you had a decade ago. This is a solid wine. Actually, it was named one of the best Bordeaux blends in the world at the Decanter World Wine Awards. This wine serves up tobacco all day, erreday. It’s so tertiary, so complex, and so lovely. Give Merlot a whirl.

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Sella & Mosca Tanca Farrà 2015 (Sardinia, Italy) $25.99

I think I subliminally talk about Sella & Mosca a lot because I have a major case of wanderlust for Sardinia. It’s sort of like Universal Law….if I talk about it enough, it’ll happen, right? “Tanca Farrà” means “iron earth” in the Sardinian dialect, which refers to the high iron levels in the soil. This wine is 50% Cannonau (what the locals call Grenache) and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. Prominent (though well-integrated) tannins. And a nice long, tertiary finish. One of my favorite ways for a wine to finish.

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Alta Orsa Hillside Cuvée (Mendocino, CA) $32

Alta Orsa is a small, family-owned winery making Sonoma and Mendocino County wines. They use organic and regenerative practices and also practice no-till farming. These are all viticulture (grape-growing) buzzwords you’ll start to hear more of. In a nutshell, we’re talking about sequestering carbon and keeping the topsoil healthy. This majority Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and Merlot (30%) blend speaks softly but carries a big stick. There’s that tension and juxtaposition that I like. Red fruit plus darker black fruit. Olive tapenade and cassis and all those fun Cabernet Sauvignon notes that we know and love.

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Giannecchini Family Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel 2018 (Mendocino, CA) $45

Head pruned, dry farmed, old vine Zinfandel. It’s a special thing. This wine comes from the Shannon Family of Wines.  Giannecchini was the original family who farmed these Zin vines, which were planted about 110 years ago. This is a very dense wine. And this not a wine I’d have on the holiday table. Too many conflicting flavors for a wine of this structure. Ripe, almost baked fruit. Yet so dry. Bone dry. Sometimes you can feel a sweetness or a jamminess from Zinfandel, but not here. This is a deep and concentrated red to be enjoyed on its own…..perhaps while you’re curled up on the couch with a fire.

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Tedeschi Marne 180 Amarone (Veneto, Italy) $60

We’re taking it back to the Old World with OG Valpolicella producer Tedeschi who dates back to 1630. Valpolicella is known for a style of wine in which the grapes are dried after harvest in order to concentrate flavors. This is called appassimento. In the case of this wine, the grapes are placed in crates for about 4 months to dry, where they lose a percent of their weight. The water loss naturally increases the sugar content of the grapes. Tedeschi produces 4 different single vineyard Amarones. All of the wines are extremely rich, but this one is the lightest of the four. It does not have any of those jammy, raisin notes that Amarone can sometimes carry. Also, not a wine for the Thanksgiving table, but a nice wine to enjoy on its own or perhaps with a stew or a nice roast.

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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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