Who’s ready for a nice glass of wine to ease their way out of winter — and the pandemic — and into warmer, more inviting months? As we fitfully wind our way into summer, we’re taking a look back at the past 6 months of wine reviews to highlight our favorite, warmer weather-friendly releases to drop in recent memory.
1. 2019 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Russian River Selection – You can rarely go wrong with Gary Farrell’s Russian River Selection chardonnay. This 2019 expression has all the trimmings, balancing apple and vanilla notes with a crisp lemon-driven acidity. A beautiful wine at a price that seems remarkably reasonable considering the quality. $35
2. 2019 Merry Edwards Chardonnay Olivet Lane – We love Merry Edwards’ pinot noirs, but overlooking its chardonnay would be a crime. This standout is a showcase of the best of California chardonnay, folding together apple crumble, lemon curd, and a slight touch of marshmallow sweetness. Impossible not to love. $68
3. 2020 Zenato San Benedetto Lugana DOC – This Italian white is made from 100% trebbiano di Lugana grapes, which are similar to verdicchio. Complex and fruit-forward, the wine showcases guava, green banana, apple, and lemon, all swirled into a gently acidic and lightly herbal palate. Mineral notes on the finish give it a clean, crisp conclusion. $16
4. 2019 Bryn Mawr Riesling Estate Eola-Amity Hills – Here’s a fun riesling from Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills region, brighter and fruitier than the typical, floral-heavy wines made from the grape. Low in alcohol but big in character, it’s an iconic summer sipper well worth seeking out, particularly at this price. $26
5. NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru – Nothing to celebrate? Any day’s a good day to pop a luxe Champagne like this blanc de blancs from Bruno Paillard, an extra brut comes across like a breadier, yeastier version of green apple-heavy Chablis, studded with a spray of fresh herbs, notes of fresh melon, and lemon peel on the finish. Creamy and delicate, making it easily approachable during warmer weather. $80 [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]
6. 2017 Sosie Pinot Noir Spring Hill Vineyard – One of my favorite pinot noirs of the season, this Sonoma Coast offering is a beautiful, cherry-heavy wine that offers some of the expected density of a cold-climate wine: dark chocolate, hazelnut, and a hint of pepper. At the same time, it’s never overtly aggressive, working well on its own or as a solid meal companion. $45
7. 2020 Aridus Sauvignon Blanc Arizona – New Zealand by way of Arizona: This is a monster, tropical-heavy sauvignon blanc up top, lightly sweet and spicy, with a finish that evokes a fresh squeeze of lemon. Definitely a contender for your next “guess where this wine is from” blind tasting. $28
8. 2020 Mandrarossa Costadune Perricone Rose Terre Siciliane IGT – Nothing says summer like a bright and fruit-filled rose. This bottling of syrah from Sicily fits the bill perfectly, offering notes of peaches, lemon curd, and hints of coconut and banana, with a lightly spicy finish. $16
9. 2018 Dutcher Crossing Maple Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel – Zinfandel is built for summertime, and while this intense bottling may look as dark as night, it’s full of fresh fruit: raspberry and blueberry pie, with nutmeg and cinnamon late in the game. Light tannins give the wine some urgency, but otherwise it presents as approachable and refreshing. $50
10. 2019 Dutton Estate Pinot Noir Jewell Block – A racy pinot with plenty to love, this all-around winner features a bold acidity plus notes of tea leaf and cola and a finish that offers hints of milk chocolate and mint. Florals, citrus, and fresh berries all make an appearance in a complex, collectible bottling. $69
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