A new month awaits, which means a new batch of wines for me to share with you for my Best Bottles: April Edition. If you miss the IG Live, don’t fret, all the wine details are below. You can also re-watch it on Instagram.
In my line of work, I taste A LOT of wine. And I found that tons of wines slipped through the cracks. I couldn’t possibly cover every single wine in a blog post or on social media, so I came up with the idea to highlight the ten “Best Bottles” that I drink every month. Without further ado, I bring to you my best bottles for the month of April!
A spectacularly solid sparkling from a classic (female founded!) producer in Sonoma. Last year I visited J. Vineyards & Winery for the first time and had an incredible meal in their Bubble Room aka their tasting room. J specializes in sparkling, though they make an entire line of still wines as well. This Brut Rosé is their flagship rosé sparkling that (in my opinion) is the best bubbly in Sonoma. Winemaker Nicole Hitchcock crafted this wine with all 3 champagne grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. J is one of the only wineries in the US to have a French coquard press. They are quite rare these days. They are a special press that keeps the clusters in place during the press, which minimizes skin and seed contact, which can make wine taste extracted or harsh/abrasive. The wine is spent 24 months en tirage, which encourages a rich and deep complexity. Really a stellar, consistent wine that can make for a lovely wine tasting gift for almost anyone. BUY HERE
A little background on Clif Family. The Clif Family Winery tasting room is situated right on Main Street, the main drag in St. Helena in Napa Valley. And if the Clif name sounds familiar, it’s because they’re the same family who brought us Clif Bars back in the 90s! Avid cyclists, Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford started Clif Bar & Company in 1992 and moved to Napa Valley in 1997, with Clif Family Winery starting soon thereafter. Today, Clif Family farms 90 acres of CCOF and Napa Green Certified estate vineyards in the Howell Mountain and Oak Knoll District AVAs and sources fruit from Napa and Mendocino vineyards. They also grow fruits and vegetables in Howell Mountain where 70% of the food items they serve at the tasting room is sourced from. A heads up that this vintage is sold out, but they do have other rosés in their portfolio. The grapes for this wine come from the CCOF (aka organic) certified Valle di Soto vineyard in the Oak Knoll District of Napa. This wine has more structure than most hyper quaffable rosés. Which would make this perfect for something along the lines of a corporate wine tasting or team building event. It was aged in both natural oak and stainless-steel tanks. Think of rosé of Cabernet Franc as a rosé for someone who wants more “there there”. I get Asian pear, cherries, and stone fruits. Yum-o.
This wine is made by Oak Ridge Winery in Lodi, a woman and 4th generation family owned and operated winery. The winery is owned by three sisters of the Maggio family, plus the winemaker and assistant winemakers are all women! You can also find women in most departments: HR, tasting room, sales, marketing, in the lab, the cellar, and on the bottling line.
This wine is vibrant and fun, just like the label! All grapes are sourced from their sustainable farmed family-owned estate vineyards in Lodi and are farmed according to the Lodi Rules specifications. I’m getting super rich tropical vibes such as pineapple and guava, plus notes of lemon curd. Perfect as a wine if you’re on a budget or looking for a wine tasting gift for a friend. BUY NOW
Weingut Stadt Krems was founded in 1452 and is one of the oldest wineries in Austria. If you know your Austria geography (anyone…Bueller?), Kremstal is located between Kamptal and Wachau. All grapes are grown according to certified sustainable farming practices. The wine is vinified in stainless steel tanks and rests a short period on the fine lees. This wine is dry, dry, dry. It’s giving notes of citrus, stone fruit, and flowers, plus a healthy dose of minerality. A good wine to cut the fat in foods such as pork or sausage. Perfect for something like a corporate wine tasting event to keep things refreshing. BUY NOW
This wine comes to us from South American. But not Argentina….Uruguay! Uruguay is a small but mighty winemaking country with 164 wineries. Most of the wineries are family-owned and only 7% of wine from Uruguay is exported, so it’s gonna be hard to find. This wine from Bodega Cerro Chapeu is 70% Trebbiano and 30% Malvasia and is fermented in stainless steel tanks sur lie for 6 months. I get so much stone fruit notes plus aromatic and floral notes both on the nose and palate. BUY NOW
Let’s hear it for boxed wine. Talk about the comeback kid. Wine in a box used to be terrible…really bad. And the issue wasn’t necessarily in the format. It was in the fact that only terrible wine was produced and packaged in a box. Now the conversation around packaging and sustainability has progressed and people can wrap their head around the idea that the bulk of the carbon footprint in a bottle of wine, is from the bottle itself because glass is so energy intensive to produce AND is quite heavy in terms of transport. And now here we are with a quality wine in a BOX. This wine comes to us from GEA Root: 1, Chile’s first 100% certified sustainable winery. It is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah and is 100% delicious. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and some of the wine was aged for 4 months in both French and American oak barrels. This is a no fuss, chillable boxed red, screaming to be taken to a BBQ where wine drinkers will be present. BUY NOW
Villa Maria was founded over 60 years ago in New Zealand. Fun fact, they were the first major winery in New Zealand to move to 100% screw cap back in 2001. This wine is a fruit-driven style of Pinot Noir, giving red cherries plus baking spices. Super-duper light in color and very easy drinking. Exactly what should be expected from a sub $20 Pinot Noir. BUY NOW
Still in the southern hemisphere with this Pinot Noir from Mascota Vineyards. This wine is varietally correct, meaning I can clearly detect that I have Pinot Noir in my glass, both on the nose and in the palate. It’s actually giving me Russian River Valley Pinot Noir vibes. Aged 12 months in French oak, this wine is textured on the palate and an overall beauty. BUY NOW
This is one of those workhorse, well-priced Cabs that we all need. I don’t know about you, but a quality $20 Cabernet Sauvignon is #1 hard to find and #2 much needed. From the Benzinger Family in Sonoma, they are a pioneer of sustainability with both certified organic and biodynamic farming methods in their estate vines. All fruit sourced is certified sustainable, at minimum, including for this wine. This wine serves up dark fruit, black pepper, plus oak spice and toast, seeing as it was aged in oak for 16 months. Perfect as a wine tasting gift for someone that’s looking for a quality Cabernet Sauvignon; & for $20 I ain’t mad at it! BUY NOW
From historic Bodegas Lustau we have their fino Sherry. The Lustau family has been growing grapes for Sherry since 1896 and actually making Sherry since 1931. What is Sherry, you ask? It’s a fortified. What’s a fortified wine, you ask? It’s a wine (made from white grapes) that is fortified (or strengthened) with a high alcohol grape spirit. If you’ve never had a Sherry, they’re all a bit pungent. Definitely try before you buy to understand if you enjoy the style. This fino Sherry is fresh, dry, high acid, and has a mineral character to it. Give me all the salami, cheese, gambas, and patatas bravas. This is a classic tapas wine! BUY NOW