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
A new month awaits, which means a new batch of wines for me to share with you for my Best Bottles: March 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 March!
One thing I love is a good Sauvignon Blanc dupe. I don’t mean a wine that tastes exactly like Sauvy B. I’m talking about a wine that’ll satisfy my craving for something refreshing, high acid, clean, and crisp. Let me tell you Picpoul de Pinet does that! Some call Picpoul “the oyster wine” because it goes so well with said oysters. One of the major markers for Picpoul is its salinity or saltiness. #Seaspray Bottom line, I want this wine all day erreday. Picpoul is the new porch pounder. You heard it here first!
A great wine made by a great person. Alecia Moore aka the music artist Pink. I have always been a fan of Pink and her music. She’s also got this kick ass, edgy, authentic, and gritty way about her that I just love. She’s a fierce supporter of human and LGBT rights, which aligns with who I am. When I heard back in 2019 thst she was starting a wine brand, I was super interested to see how this was going to play out. Unsurprisingly, Pink’s process has been pretty authentic, like herself. She took WSET classes to learn more about wine, she grows grapes, she makes wine, she rides a tractor….all the things. She’s not just slapping her name on a brand. So admittedly, while I did simply buy the first batch of wines just because of her name, I have now been supporting her brand since the beginning, because the wines are actually quite good. This is a super delicious Sauvignon Blanc that is elegant….not the first word you think of with this grape. Bottom line, there’s nothing I don’t love about her and her wines.
Domaine Bousquet is a large family-owned estate in the Mendoza region of Argentina, my family’s motherland. All of the reserve wines for this brand are hand-picked and certified organic estate fruit. They are also certified regenerative organic. Regenerative agriculture is the rehabilitation of land through organic and biogenic farming techniques focusing on restoring soil health and increasing organic matter which enables carbon sequestration. That’s a mouthful, I know. Think of it as organic or biodynamics PLUS. Regenerative organic farming includes the tenets of eliminating herbicides, eliminating synthetic fungicides, composting, planting cover crops, incorporating animals into the ecosystem, social fairness standards, and biodynamic preparations, though those are not required. They are only the 4th winery in the world with this certification. The others are Tablas Creek in Paso Robles, Troon in southern Oregon, and Fetzer in California. Back to the wine! This wine does see some oak. Fermentation in Oak and the wine is aged for 6 months in oak, but that doesn’t translate a ton on the palate. A really pretty Chardonnay. I got a nice bit of white flower notes. The wine is fresh, vibrant, and balanced. BUY NOW
A premium estate-bottled, single-vineyard Provence style rosé anchored by Grenache plus a few other varietals to round it out. Your perfect “Spring sipper” with notes of stone fruit (peaches and apricots), plus watermelon and raspberries. Rooty tooty fresh and fruity. An easy drinking and versatile wine that would pair with most all lighter fare. BUY NOW
I’m actually enjoying this wine as I am writing this blog post. #Meta. There’s something so great about all-purpose utilitarian wines; specifically in Italy. Every region has a set of specific grape varietals that are grown there and each region has some great table wines that honestly are not to be missed. And this is one of them. We are in the Abruzzo region in central Italy with the humble Montepulciano grape. This wine is a dark berry color; none of that light pink Provence color. Remember that the color of a rosé is not an indicator of its sweetness. This wine does actually have a lot of savory notes, which I love. So in addition to the sort of expected berry and watermelon notes, we also have citrus (grapefruit) and some herbaceousness. A porch pounder of a 1L bottle for $23! BUY NOW
Another humble wine from Italy that majorly over delivers. Ferdinando Principano started with 7 hectares of vines in the 90s from his father and grandfather and he now owns and farms 21 hectares. He works the vineyard by hand, and encourages biodiversity. Ferdinando purchased an adjacent forest, created a pond near the vineyards, which has encouraged both migratory birds and frogs to stop by for a visit. All wines are low intervention in the winery. “Dosset” is the local Piemontese word for Dolcetto, the grape. This wine is on the spectrum of natural wines, but it’s on the lower end of the spectrum in the sense that it really does taste like wine, but with this itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny air of funk to it. This wine would be fantastic served slightly chilled, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it at room temperature. 11% and alcohol, which also makes me a happy camper. No oak. BUY NOW
Cabernet Sauvignon tends to make big, bold, and structured wines, and this one is no exception. The wine is gusty and serving up notes of red + black fruits, smoke/toast, and fresh cracked black pepper. Well-made, high quality Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be $100+ per bottle. This wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged in 30% new oak and 70% used oak. And oak, can significantly increase the cost of a wine. This one is a steal at $40! BUY NOW
La Follette focuses on single vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from well-respected family-owned vineyards in Sonoma. This one from the Heintz Vineyard is no exception. The Heintz family (3rd generation now) has owned the land for over 100 years and meticulously cares for their Pinot Noir grapes. The wine is both delicate yet powerful; that perfect tension you want in a Pinot Noir. The Alicia Keys of red wine if you will. Perfumed notes on the nose abound with a welcome spiciness on the palate. BUY NOW
We are in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region in southern France, specifically in the Corbiéres sub-region. This is an area known for making wines from Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. The wines from this region can have a marked herbaceous note, and this one is no exception. Maxime was actually born in Burgundy but he was not born with hereditary rights to a domaine so he came to Corbières, where he farms 11 hectares and manages it all on his own. The vines are certified organic but also incorporate biodynamic practices in the vineyard management. This one is a blend of Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah. It’s light bright and quaffable. BUY NOW
I have to say that this was MY JAM the last month. I have gotten into vermouth and soda as a nice easy low alcohol aperitif. Yes, vermouth is generally a touch higher in alcohol than wine. In this case I think it is 16%. But you’re only using a couple of ounces in each drink versus a full glass of alcohol. I like two ounces of vermouth over ice, and topped off with bubbly water and garnished with a squeeze of some sort of citrus. It honestly doesn’t matter what citrus, FYI. It is refreshing, bright, and just the perfect amount of bitterness. I actually hate true bitter flavors in beverages. Things like quinine in ginger ale, digestif type beverages like Fernet, or aperitifs such as Camapri or Aperol. But vermouth, yum yum. BUY NOW