California needs more wines like this! Tocai Friulano, aka Friulano in its homeland of Friuli, Italy and Sauvignon Vert in California (unless it’s Muscadelle…yeah, it’s confusing) has about 50 acres planted in California. That number recently went down when THIS vineyard, “Graziano” in Mendocino’s Potter Valley, was converted to Vermentino. Quoting Prima Materia’s Pietro Buttitta, it’s “probably a good idea, but a wistful one as this bottling has great tension and complexity.” This is true. Good Tocia Friulano needs to breathe and stretch. And enjoyed chilled not cold: 60 degrees is good. My Prima Materia Tocai Friulano 2017 tasting notes […]
It’s tricky to make a luscious style of Viognier without going overboard on alcohol and oak. I think Clif Family walked the fine line by achieving full flavor development and simultaneously keeping the nuance of the Viognier grape. Get honeysuckle, dried lemon peel, sliced fresh peaches, ripe apricots and melons and white pepper. Fuller flavored, as expected from a Viognier that hits 14.5% alcohol, but not “hot.” All Oak Knoll District fruit is southern Napa Valley. Mostly fermented in neutral French oak barrels. Clif Family continues to make consistently tasty red and white wines from their Estate vineyards on Howell […]
40% Viognier, 40% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne from Boudinaud’s Estate vineyard. All steel tank fermented and aged. Big on the fresh citrus: lime juice & zest, orange slices, grapefruit, honeysuckle, Key lime, fresh pineapple. Medium-light bodied and a refreshing thread of acidity. At under $15/bottle this is definitely case purchase worthy. Imported and sold by Wine House San Francisco in the Dogpatch neighborhood of The City. Pay them a visit!
Not your average Gewurztraminer, the tightly-spaced, hillside, low-yielding Gewurz vines used for “Deep End Blend” makes for an outstanding wine. Smell and taste grapefruit marmalade, orange zest, white pepper, mango, dried apple slices and tarragon. This is fermented dry to 13.9 alcohol, which is low by most measures for excellent California wine, but high for cool-climate Gewurztraminer. You have to go to Alsace to find a worthy comparison for the Deep End Gewurztraminer. Super-impressive. Buy some from Navarro Winery before it’s all gone.
All lemon zest, grated ginger, white pepper and lemongrass a la dry Southern French Muscats you can find if you look very hard. Dances lightly on the tongue with acidity, spice, jasmine and fresh, cutting citrus. Glistening acidity, no oak, racy as all get out. A natural match with grilled and/or spicy shrimp dishes. Read all of my Navarro Winery reviews HERE.
First off, the Navarro Vineyards Dry Gewurztraminer smells awesome. Honeydew melon, fresh ginger, peach, grapefruit, orange blossoms and white pepper. The taste moves on to orange zest, more melons and fresh-cut flowers. (Steers away from the honey/lychee/oily style of Gewurz). Medium/high acidity, typical of cool Anderson Valley wines and a ballerina-like strength and lightness. Fuji apples, green tea and a dash of peppery spice on the finish. Could drink this wine all day and night. Navarro only sells their wine retail winery-direct. It is one of the few wineries that I purchase wine from on a consistent basis. Amazing values, […]
The fresh, crisp character of top quality Oregon Pinot Gris is here. Get fresh apples, peaches, oranges, lemon zest and honeydew melon plus the mysterious “minerality” found in such wines. Flowers and citrus dance lightly over the palate, bright acidity invites food pairing ideas. Less oily than many Oregon PGs, which is an observation, not a judgment. Makes the wine more Sauvignon Blanc-like in body. More Information Oregon Pinot Gris is hard to beat when it comes to refreshing white wine to drink either alone or with lighter foods. Fresh, aromatic, dry, oily, fruity and floral. A great drink all year […]
Here’s a tasty, dry, no-oak Sauvignon Blanc-alternative white wine to check out. From the hills east of Lodi where Spanish varietals, like Albariño, have established a strong foothold. Smell and taste lemon verbena, grapefruit, fresh sliced peaches and a whisper of chalk dust. Medium acidity. Orange wedges and citrus blossoms on the finish. Have with whitefish ceviche or French Fries & mayo. More Information Ragbag Wines is a new label owned and made by Steven Mirassou, owner/maker of Steven Kent Winery in Livermore Valley. This Albariño is indicative of the Ragbag mission: tasty, pure and pretty weekday wines, well-priced and meant […]
Five grape blend, in order, of Sauvignon Blanc (33%), Semillon, Chardonnay, Orange Muscat and Viognier (10%). The aromatics of Muscat and Viognier pop from the glass. Satisfying, creamy texture of Semillon and Chardonnay. The tang of Sauvignon Blanc keeps it all fresh and lively. Really well done…fun drink. Fermented dry, which, by nature of the blend and the flavor profile, surprises some. Enjoy it with fish tacos. More Information I’m a big fan of Murrieta’s Well, especially since Robbie Meyer (of Peirson Meyer Winery) came on board as winemaker in 2014. All the wines are fruit-forward and rich while showing […]
Napa winery Localism ventures out to Lodi (“Silvaspoons Vineyard,” although this is not stated on the label) for their Torrontes, a wine grape most associated with Argentina. The Localism Torrontes sports awesome aromas of citrus blossoms, grated fresh ginger, lemon cucumbers and honeysuckle. Light and easy-going in the mouth. Bright acidity, very light bodied (I’d like a little more body) and very refreshing. Delicious with sashimi, green salads and spa treatments. More Information This is Mom & Pop Winery through and through. Ryan and Nicole Knoth do it all. Ryan is the winemaker (his moonlighting job and he makes high-end […]
Blend of Viognier, Chardonnay, Vermentino and Orange Muscat. Orange blossoms, honeysuckle, mango and Meyer lemon aromas move to tastes of the same with a food-friendly bittersweet note of lemon bitters and peach pit. Floral, exotic, fresh and MORE than just exotic and fun. The chalky/lemon herbal finish makes for an interesting wine for food pairings. Raw oysters with Taquine is the winemaker’s first choice. More Information Best known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their Estate “Heron Lake Vineyard” in Napa & Solano’s Wild Horse Valley, Olivia Brion Winery “dabbles” in small lots of interesting wines from Santa Barbara […]
An excellent representation of Pinot Gris, this has a slightly oily texture, honey-coated pears, lemon custard and honeysuckle/elderflower floral aromas. A little fresh apricot, sliced ripe green apple, grated fresh ginger and white pepper for good measure. Light bodied, no barrel flavor, great acidity and 13.5% alcohol. A great drink by itself or with food (friends and I shared a bottle with chicken liver and onions). More Information Navarro Vineyards has famously (in the Cal “wine biz”) maintained a 100% consumer-direct policy in California. In other words, you won’t find Navarro in retail stores! There’s a story behind this, but […]
Southern French white blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier. It’s fresh, aromatic, fruity, fleshy. Get fresh melons, peaches, pears, light floral and tropical. No oak. Medium acidity. Stood up to my squash ravioli in tomato sauce. This is my house white wine, and a Hall of Fame Value! If you’re looking for delicious, great value wines with a little “taste of sunshine,” look to Costieres de Nimes. Located on the Rhone River, south of Southern Rhone Valley. Speaking sort-of subjectively, this is my favorite sub $15 white wine I’ve ever had. More Information Notes from the importer: “Tired of always […]
This is made from two native white varieties of Thermenregion: Zierfandler and Rotgipfler (50-50). See Austria wine map below and you’ll notice Thermenregion starts immediately Southwest of Vienna. It’s quite warm here for winegrowing – more like Bordeaux than Germany, which is rather surprising at first. This is a delicious, aromatic white wine with lots of exotic floral, lemony, viscous pleasures. Get lemon bitters, candied grapefruit, ginger, dried apples, wildflowers. On the oily/fleshy side, which is interesting. Usually “aromatic whites” like this are more light-bodied. I compage it to a stronger Viognier.
Survey feedback from Chuck S (thanks, Chuck): “I would appreciate a few ratings on wines that might be considered to be somewhat mass market wines. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to go to a Safeway and find a really good wine that Dan has recommended.” Great idea! And in response, here’s my inaugural easy-access selection: MAISON BARBOUOLOT Marsanne-Viognier 2017 $4.99 at Trader Joe’s, Napa CA. Posted June 7, 2018 I bought a bottle of this Southern French aromatic white last week. My wife, neighbors and I all loved it. It has the honeysuckle/jasmine aroma, pear/apple/tropicall fruit and ginger-spice flavor, palate […]
A Northern-Rhone Valley-style white wine, “Alina” falls into the “aromatic white” category with its bright citrus, apple blossom, honeysuckle, peach nectar personality. This is half Marsanne, half Roussanne, co-fermented in tank then aged in neutral barrel. Get white peach, fresh Meyer lemon, fresh pineapple and Key lime, all lightly coated with a springtime flower aroma. Medium/light bodied, refreshing acidity, loaded with flavor while keeping a semblance of restraint. I challenge a wine drinker to NOT like this…impossible! And for $28, golly. More Information Campesino Cellars is owned and made by husband/wife Griselda and Macario Montoya (Macario is the winemaker). They […]
Light, bright and intense, “White Study” is a unique, tiny-production wine that Hudson Vineyards makes as much for their own pleasure as to sell. Four grape blend: three Italian varietals Ribolla, Arneis and Friulano and Albariño (Spanish origin) finishing it off at 18% of the blend. Steel tank & neutral oak fermented and briefly aged. Smell and taste lemon zest, citrus blossoms, grapefruit, lemongrass, kiwi and Macintosh apples. High acidity – almost tingles on the tongue. No oak flavor. It’s hard to compare to other wines, but I’ll give it a go…Dry Riesling from a cool, coastal wine region. Fried […]
Mighty floral and aromatic from start to finish. Get orange blossoms, lemon zest, fresh ginger, pineapple and honeysuckle…and lots of them. It sits lightly yet intently in the mouth with fruit, floral and spice all playing their part. Fermented completely dry. That said, this super-aromatic white wine is the type some will call “sweet” by knee-jerk reaction. That would be incorrect. A little bit of lemon seed bitterness on the finish (so slight that it’s a good thing). I won’t say this is a wine for everyone, but in my fantasy world it would be! More Information Nicole Abiouness, long-time […]
Picpoul and Grenache Blanc, grapes commonly found in Southern France, are the ingredients in this tangy, low-alcohol (10.5%), mouth-watering white wine. I get “Lemon Three Ways,” as in lemon zest, lemongrass and lemon pulp. Green apples and honeysuckle too. If a wine can be called fun, this would qualify. Serve well chilled with shellfish, vegetable platters and fresh cheeses. Or all by its lonesome. All the grapes for this wine come from a “Windmill Vineyard” near Woodland and about 25 miles Northwest of Sacramento. More Information KEEP is an up-and-coming, husband & wife made/operated tiny winery based in Napa. They […]
Smell and taste orange zest, citrus blossoms, peaches, Meyer lemon and green tea. An “aromatic variety” by nature, this wine is certainly fragrant, but more restrained than most Cal-Rhone whites you will find. Light, satin texture is nice. Pure citrus/stone fruit/floral pleasure. nice tang of acidity on the finish is just right. While Roussanne, a notoriously late harvest grape, is prone to botrytis (“noble rot”), in 2016 the fruit came out clean as a whistle, according to Anthony Truchard. I like it both ways – with or without botrytis. Make me choose and I’ll go without. The Truchard Family has […]
Who plants Chenin Blanc on Howell Mountain these days? Super cool! Made in a dry style, and more structured than the Loire Valley Chenins (no surprise there). Get peach and green apple skins, honey, pears and mandarin orange. Aging on its lees (dead yeast and “pulp” leftover from fermentation) adds a pleasing French pastry flavor on the finish. While I am not going to choose this over a top-notch Loire Valley Chenin, it is a delicious white wine with more character and quality than most Napa Chardonnays at a similar price. QTR is primarily a high-end Cabernet producer. All their […]
A rare duck in California, “Pet Nat” for short is a single fermentation sparkling wine in which the fermenting wine is bottled and sealed until it’s time to drink. To use the lesser-known Malvasia Bianca makes it an even great oddity. Boy is it good. Orange and lemon blossom nose with green apple skins, fresh-squeezed Meyer lemons and kiwi. It’s aromatic but with restraint, which I find common for Malvasia Bianca in general…not overly aromatic. Since the wine was bottled while fermenting, the dead yeast/lees make the wine very cloudy. This results in more texture and mouthfeel. This is a […]
Gary and Ellen grow three rows of Viognier on their Oak Knoll property…enough to make around 200 cases each vintage. Perfectly exotic for the grape, the wine shows dried pineapple, lemon curd, mango, fresh ginger and honeycomb smells and flavors. Rich texture, no barrel flavors. Many Napa wineries offer lesser Viogniers for 50% more $. About Fortunati Gary and Ellen Luchtel started Fortunati (“Lucky” in Italian) in the mid 2000s. Most of their wines are estate fruit from their 10 acres in the Oak Knoll District (everything except Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel). Gary is a self-taught winemaker, graduating from […]
Stony Hill’s Riesling vines date back to the 1940s, and their age shows in the depth of flavor and deliciousness of this wine. Juicy Macintosh apple, summertime peaches, pineapple, then tarragon and white pepper. Not sweet, per se, but seekers of REAL dry whites should look elsewhere.