June 7, 2018
Easy Access Wine

Easy Access Wine #1

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 […]
June 2, 2018
Jean Vesselle Champagne

JEAN VESSELLE Champagne, Brut “Reserve”

I know this Champagne well. It’s as good as ever. In the broad-shoulders category of Champagne because of it’s blend (80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay) and the region (Bouzy, Montagne de Reims – clay-rich soils). Smell and taste baked red apples, red currants, raspberry, pink roses and tellicherry peppercorns. Mouth-filling, moderately creamy, roasted almond/roasted lemon finish. This is a solid bottle of bubbles from a tiny, family-run Champagne house! 
May 30, 2018
Innocent Bystander Sauvignon Blanc

INNOCENT BYSTANDER Sauvignon Blanc 2017

If you’re wary of Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, you’re not alone. It falls into the “too ___” complaint box, as in too grassy, too green, too tart. I suggest you give this a try as it possesses the distinctive flavors of NZ SB but not too much of anything. Smell and taste lime blossoms, pink grapefruit, fresh white peaches, Granny Smith apples and a fresh herb trio of fennel, lemongrass and Italian parsley. Bright, tingly acidity and pleasing texture on the back end. Good stuff. This wine is imported and can be purchased from Old Bridge Cellars in Napa. […]
May 30, 2018
Brokenwood Semillon

BROKENWOOD Semillon, Hunter Valley 2016

If you’re a fan of bright-acid white wines that sing even sweeter with food, then quality Semillon from Australia’s Hunter Valley should be in your repertoire. And here’s an excellent one to start, or continue. Smell and taste grapefruit, crisp green apples, lemon oil, lemon/lime, kiwi (frankly, if you can think of a fruit that is green and tangy, you can make a case that its flavor is in here), celery hearts, lemongrass. It’s medium-light bodied, high intensity and, while very lean and fit throughout, has a roundness to it on the finish. All these descriptions are common for world-class […]
May 22, 2018
Villa Varda Friulano

VILLA VARDA Friulano 2017

A native grape to Friuli, Friulano flourishes next to the better known, better-selling Pinot Grigio grape (Villa Varda also makes a delicious Pinot Grigio for about the same price, by the way). Zippy and earthy (in a crushed white rock kind of way), the Villa Varda Friulano brings together a bright, citrus-driven fruitiness and a chalky, mineral-y earthy character. Wound up to the point of being austere, it is almost too much so. Almost, that is, as the orchard fruit, Eureka lemon and grapefruit flavors “pop” on the mid-palate. This is a really nice match with fresh goat and sheep milks […]
May 10, 2018
Maison L'Envoye Bourgogne Blanc

Maison L’Envoye Bourgogne Blanc 2014

There’s an ocean of Chardonnay out there. What to choose of the, oh I don’t know, 50 different Chardonnay labels standing in front of you? Afraid there’s no secret sauce to share with you. I can give tips, however, which leads me to this specific recommendation. Check out a few Bourgogne Blancs when you’re in your local wine shop or grocer with a strong wine selection. There should be a few available as there is a lot of it imported into the U.S. Bourgogne Blanc (labeled simply as “Bourgogne,” and you can see it’s a white wine) is pretty much […]
April 22, 2018
Murgo Etna Bianco

MURGO Etna Bianco 2016

Best known for red wines, Sicily’s Etna wine region is capable of making delicious (and great value) white wine as well. This MURGO Bianco is 70% Carricante, 30% Catarratto (both native grapes of the region). This starts with a piercing, citrus zest, spring blossoms, rocky aroma. Tangy, lemon/orange acidity and exotic honeysuckle flavors. Very dry, very crisp. Drink this as you would a cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc or quality Northern Italian Pinot Grigio. Also, interestingly, this has similarities to dry Riesling. I’d like to taste this side by side with a good, dry Riesling from Alsace, Australia or Washington and see […]
April 22, 2018
Sarrazin Rully Sans Nom

SARRAZIN Rully “Sans Nom” 2015

Sarrazin’s “Sans Nom” comes from two estate vineyards that give different qualities to the wine. First impression is ripe and fleshy, too much for some tastes. Melons, citrus custard and pineapple with medium acidity. On the back palate and finish the wine “freshens up” with more fresh, tangy citrus, green applesauce and a mineral kick. A smooch of new oak smooths any sharp edges that may have been there. I can only think it comes from different vineyard aspects and soils. In the end, this is a delicious White Burgundy to drink anytime.   I so love Rully (from good […]
April 22, 2018
Vadiaperti Coda di Volpe

VADIAPERTI Coda di Volpe 2016

I love the fruitiness of this wine. From beginning to end get orchard fruits (peach, pear and apple), fresh orange and a little bit of lemongrass. Take all this and drizzle a thin stream of honey over the whole kitten-kaboodle. It’s not sweet by most definitions, but I do perceive a little more “sneaky sweetness” than in most wines. Which I have no problem with, and from my experience I speak for the majority.   Campania, near Naples and the Mediterranean, south of Rome (it’s the SHIN of Italy). The grape Coda di Volpe, native to Campania, translates to “tail […]
April 22, 2018
Odinstal Weissburgunder

ODINSTAL Weissburgunder “350 NN” 2013

Crisp citrus and slightly chalky nose moves to tastes of white peach, green apples and “minerality.” Particularly earth-driven and intense for Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder is German for PB). Long finish of citrus zest, spring flowers and chalk dust. I put this particular Pinot Blanc squarely in the “crisp white” category. Odinstal Winery is in Germany’s Palatinate, which covers most of the southwest quadrant of Germany. It is the warmest wine region of Germany, lending itself to the making of dry wines.
April 22, 2018
Oudart Champagne

OUDART Champagne, Chardonnay 2008

Family vineyard and winery (an RM) in the Côtes des Blancs. By tasting I’m guessing it has spent at least 6 years on its lees, which would explain its round, creamy texture. Get ripe pears, lemon cream, fresh pastry and apple butter in this luxurious-style Champagne. A delight to drink 10 year old, vintage Champagne for “just” $55!
March 28, 2018
Vadiaperti Fiano

VADIAPERTI Fiano di Avellino 2016

Zesty, zippy, “electric” white wine with an unmistakable “minerality” weaving through. Smell and taste lemon zest, citrus blossoms, Granny Smith apple (skin-on), crunchy pear and crushed chalky rocks. The best Fianos (like this) marry tangy with creamy a la bright Chardonnay (think Chablis) and dry Riesling. Similar, but different. The Vadiaperti is spot-on delicious and invariably a great introduction to crisp, southern Italian white wine for someone in your wine-loving clan.   Fiano is grown is a small region in Campania, near Naples and the Mediterranean, south of Rome (it’s the SHIN of Italy). While Fiano has a long-storied history […]
March 25, 2018
Hirsch Riesling Zobing

HIRSCH Riesling “Zobing” Kamptal 2013

The racy acidity, intensity and of-the-earth, rocky flavor of Riesling shines through in this delicious, great value Austrian Riesling. Fruit comes from terraced, rocky vineyards in the Kamptal region, part of Austria’s top winegrowing area (along with the Wachau and Kremstal). This is loaded with smells and flavors of citrus, stone fruits, white flowers and rocks! Very dry, laser-like and intense, this shows what Austria can do with Riesling, and at a fantastic price.
March 14, 2018
Selbach Oster Riesling Himmelreich

SELBACH OSTER Riesling Himmelreich Halbtrocken 2016

I tasted this wine amongst a hundred different wines of every type within 2 hours, so my notes are limited. I scribbled down one word: perfect. Not a perfect wine per se, but is perfect for what it is. And that is, fruit galore (lemon-apple-peach-kiwi), high acidity, a little residual sugar to balance the tangy, and on the finish that long “taste of the land” you invariably get from steep hillside Mosel Valley Riesling. One thing you can count on life is that a bottle of Selbach Oster Riesling will be very good! Current caretaker/winegrower Johannes Selbach is a hands-off […]
March 14, 2018
Vincent Dampt Chablis 2015

VINCENT DAMPT Chablis 2015

Pretty, aromatic nose of lemon blossoms, Meyer lemon, mango and lime precedes flavors of the same plus butter pastry, lemon tea and white chalky earth. Has lively acidity, fresh fruit all over the place and just enough “taste of the land” to make it interesting. Undeniably tasty and versatile: good drinking by itself and particularly tasty with meaty white fishes (like halibut) and straight-forward white meat preparations. Dampt grows this Chardonnay in a vineyard between two Premier Cru vineyards across town from Chablis’ Grand Cru sites. 40 year old vines on average. Steel tank fermented and aged. More Information Vincent […]
March 14, 2018
Wassererhof Pinot Blanc

WASSERERHOF Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige 2016

This is high-quality Pinot Bianco (aka Pinot Blanc, aka Weissburgunder) as it should be. Lovely, bright fruit, ample acidity, more mouth feel than Grigio, crisp and lingering 15 second finish. In the fruit realm get pears, green apples, Meyer lemon and nectarine. Aging on its lees is for body, not flavor. This is a great anytime drinker.
March 14, 2018
Ca Lojera Lugana

CA’ LOJERA Lugana Bianco 2016

Made from 90% Verdicchio (aka Trebbiano di Lugana). This light, solid-structured white wine smells & tastes of kiwi, lime, river rocks, fresh white flowers and honeydew melon. All steel tank ferment and aged. This is crisp and refreshing as all get-out and still with a texture that gently lingers on the 15 second finish. Drink this by itself or with vegetable pasta & light fish dishes. Lugana: an Italian DOC in Lombardy, which sandwiched between Veneto and Piedmont in Northern Italy. Ca’ Lojera is located on the southern end of the impressive Lake Garda, and 20 miles west of Verona.
March 14, 2018
Barbadillo PX Cilla

BARBADILLO Pedro Ximenez Sherry “La Cilla”

Dynamite “PX” Sherry. Candied orange, dark honey, caramel, stewed and spiced apple. Super sweet, seductive, buttery and just plain yummy. Obviously, this is for dessert wine lovers. I deny those who eschew dessert wines to not enjoy this. For what you get, $32/bottle is a screaming-good deal.   Barbadillo is a big operation with many arms (different wines and labels, including private label wines) but you don’t see too often in the U.S., especially in California. While it’s very popular in Spain, Japan, the U.K and Belgium particularly, the U.S. is not “hip” to Sherry in general. The myriad styles […]
March 14, 2018
Barbadillo Amontillado Principe

BARBADILLO Amontillado Sherry “Principe de Barbadillo”

A gorgeous Amontillado. Round and powerful in the mouth with flavors of lemon honey, dried apple, salt cured green olives and Filbert nuts. Dry, with a richness that substitutes for sweet (from the near 15 years of aging: 8 under the flor, 7 without). Extremely versatile in your evening (with dinner, or before with cheese & nuts, or after with cheese & nuts), I prefer it as my nightcap.   Barbadillo is a big operation with many arms (different wines and labels, including private label wines) but you don’t see too often in the U.S., especially in California. While it’s […]
March 14, 2018
Jacky Blot Triple Zero

JACKY BLOT Petillant-Naturel “Triple Zero”

100% Chenin Blanc. Crisp and brooding nose of bright citrus, pears, white spring flowers and chalk. Taste is 2 parts soil, 1 part fruit: river rocks, oyster shells, lemon-apple, quince. The concern is that this will be dry to the point of being mean, but not so. The lees-aging in barrel gives just the right amount of flesh. Really delicious, and a bargain for this quality and character. A Pet-Nat, which is single fermentation that finishes in bottle. 100% Chenin Blanc, called Triple Zero because it is Zero Chaptalization, Zero Liqueur at bottling, Zero dosage. Ferment and aged 2 years […]
March 14, 2018
Nigl Gruner Veltliner Freiheit

NIGL Gruner Veltliner “Freiheit” Kremstal 2017

Nigl, one of Austria’s best known wineries for making quality wine, presents Freiheit (Freedom in German) as their entry-level Gruner. It’s lip-smacking good. Medium-high acidity, apple, grapefruit and crunchy pear smells and flavors along with subtle, tell-tale varietal sensations of white pepper, celery root, fennel and green lentils (not to intimidate you with the last three…you need to search for these flavors to get them, really). Enjoy this as you would a dry, crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio…a really good one!
March 14, 2018
Vincent Dampt Chablis Lechet

VINCENT DAMPT Chablis “Cote de Lechet” 2015

I’ve quickly become a big fan of Vincent Dampt’s Chablis wines. His Cote de Lechet, from 55 year old vines growing in limestone and marl (Kimmeridgian soil) is classy, bright, perfectly ripe and earthy (especially on the finish). Get preserved lemons, apple butter, fresh sweat, chalk, lemon thyme and green tea. Round and tingly on the palate. 25 second finish of citrus fruits and chalky soil. Steel tank ferment and aged on its lees. Vincent Dampt grew up in a winegrower family in Chablis. He went to winegrower school at the ripe old age of 14. Before returning home, he […]
February 25, 2018
Rafael Palacios Louro Godello

RAFAEL PALACIOS “Louro” Godello 2016

From the cool northwest corner of Spain comes this delicious white wine made mostly from the Godello grape (the native grape Treixadura complements). While dry, it has a honeyed, ripe peach and lemon verbena quality that some may interpret as off-dry. Has a delicious, slightly round mouthfeel that comes from its ferment in large, neutral oak barrels and aging on its lees 4 months before bottling. This is the kind of wine that just makes me smile.
February 20, 2018
Fritz Haag Riseling Trocken

FRITZ HAAG Trocken Riesling 15

Apple blossoms, lemon verbena, green tea and light honey nose quickly moves to flavors of cool, crisp Granny Smith apple, ripe grapefruit and sea shells. Rich, substantial texture (due to the ripe, wonderful 2015 vintage in Mosel, and the residual sugar left behind) and a long finish of citrus, flowers and crushed rocks makes this a Great Value flirting with “Best of the Best” status. Delicious with every food you can think of besides red meats and confection.