As if you needed an official holiday to pour a glass
There are 20 national and international wines days in 2022, most of them dedicated to a particular grape variety or style. Today, though, is National Wine Day—a free for all to drink whatever you like (but not to be confused with National Drink Wine Day on Feb. 18).
In my house, every day is wine day, but if you want to raise a glass in toast to the [un]official holiday, here’s a baker’s dozen that deserves your attention.
Ancient Peaks Chardonnay, 2020, Paso Robles. A sophisticated interpretation of Chardonnay that belies California’s reputation for overproducing the variety. This one has a stony edge to it, good freshness and ripe tropical fruit profile. A bit of anise uplift on the finish.
Balletto Chardonnay, “Teresa’s Unoaked” Russian River Valley. Smooth, clean and showcasing pristine orchard fruit and a hit on anise. Nice lees-y mouthfeel. Excellent with a cheeseboard (we had pecorino, manchego and Vermont goat cheese).
Gabb Family “Bees Knees” 2021, Western Cape, South Africa. Fruity, wine blend of 85% Chenin Blanc and 15% Viognier, has lots of yellow plum and apple, classic Chenin notes of honey and waxy. A pleasant substantial wine for late spring into summer. Delicious with grilled sausage and pasta dishes.
Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo DOCG 2019. From Italy’s Campania region, this is a medium-bodied and savory white wine in a slightly oxidized style (a good thing: think ripe yellow apples), but with plenty of steely bravado. Rich enough to stand up roasted meats and fish dishes with cream sauce. (Taub)
Ram’s Gate Pinot Blanc Carneros 2020, Sonoma. The pale-yellow white is a lighter style than what you find in Alsace or north in Oregon. Zingy lemon and herbal nose, tarte yellow-plum palate. Fresh acid and mouthwatering palate makes this a terrific and versatile food partner.
Early Mountain “Foothills” 2020, Virginia. Tart and bright dark cherry and black raspberry give this medium garnet-colored wines a bright lift. Dry, with mouthwatering acid, clean and unencumbered by oak or other manipulations. A blend of Cabernet Franc (43%), followed by almost equal parts of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and 5% of Manseng,
Grape Creek Bellissimo red blend 2018, Texas. An Italian-styled blend driven by Sangiovese from a region that’s become a wine laboratory (everything grows here!). This one is balanced by 22% Merlot, which gives is a very “user-friendly palate” says the winemaker. Smooth, juicy, modern, pleasant Super T style–good with a chill for the BBQ.
Mascota Unanime Merlot 2018, Argentina. Lots of ripe blue and black fruits accompany a nice steak of iodine, chalky tannins gliding over milk-chocolate notes. A bit of broccoli rabe-like bitterness keeps it interesting. Good candidate for chilling before serving.
San Felice Chianti Classico DOCG 2019. For those who think Chianti is a relic from the past, this smooth, modern version is chockful of plump strawberry and tart red fruit (think red fruit skin), integrated tannins are silky and ripe, a pleasing tomato leaf tasting note brings it all down to earth. Perfect with pizza.
Seven Hills Winery “Ciel du Cheval” vineyard 2019, Walla Walla, Wash. A red blend of Bordeaux grapes from an old block on the famed Red Mountain sub AVA. Powerful and deep with plenty of spice and black fruits, it’s still a smooth and silky ride on the palate. Nice layers of iodine and mineral, with a milk-chocolate wrapper. Drink with hearty grilled meats.
Early Mountain Rose 2021, Virginia. An intriguing smoky nose is followed on the palate by strawberry and cranberry and tart red cherry notes in this light pink, Merlot-driven rose. More substantial than a yacht quaff, this wants to go with food – charcuterie or a BBQ.
Hampton Water. The brand was created by Bon Jovi and his sone, the wine made by renown Roussillon winemaker Gerard Bertrand, and marketed to a flashy fashion-y lifestyle crowd, as the name implies. A fun, quaffy drink for spring – fruit is on the neutral side, but hints of spring cherries. Good with red or green Thai curry.
“The Pale” by renown Bordeaux winemaker Sacha Lichine is a lighter-styled entry into the ever expanding rose market. Pretty bottle for the table. A little neutral on the fruit—some strawberry notes—but is more driven by an herbal/savory profile. Don’t take it too seriously: Do drink it straight from the bottle (!)