Category Archives: Wine Recommendations

Top Underrated Wine Regions

There are a plethora of underrated wine regions and grapes in the world. That is to say that the wine geeks know and love them, but the general wine public do not. Could be because they are hard to pronounce, or the labels are confusing, or they are not as hyped up or available in stores. Whatever the reason, the wine geeks will continually try to push these underrated wines onto the everyday wine drinkers until they become popular, and then we will move onto something else. So, in the effort to educate, here are my top picks for underrated regions in the wine world:

Alsace: Hands down, one of the best regions for white wine ever. Pinot Blanc is refreshing trimbachin its simplicity, Pinot Gris is rich and round, blends are unique and complex, and the Cremants (sparkling) from Alsace are devine. Not to mention affordable. In all, a region producing an array of whites – from sparkling to dry to sweet - that are ideal for food and easy on the wallet.

Loire: Wait, did I say Alsace was hands down best for whites. Hmmm… I take it back. Because there is also the Loire. Another French region so often overlooked, the Loire produces food-friendly whites, reds, rose, sparkling and sweet wines, with a huge range of flavors, from refreshing Muscadet to steely Sancerre to off-dry Vouvray to light and fresh Chinon (a red wine).  And it’s all so damn good, with one underlying aspect: acidity! These wines are all crisp and perfect with food. So if you love acid, buy a bottle (of anything!) from the Loire. Your palate will thank you.

Western Australia: Australia gets lots of love, but Baroassa Shiraz, Clare Valley Rieslings and Yarra Valley Pinot are diverse and all, but you have to try Margaret River wines to leeuwin vineyardstruly understand the depth of Australian wine. All the way across the country, Margaret River is a region with a climate similar to Bordeaux, which results in incredible Cabernet and Cabernet blends. For whites, they make some of the best Chardonnay I’ve had, definitely the best in Australia. Just give Leeuwin Artist Series or Cullen a try. You’ll be in heaven.

Austria: I’m hesitant to even put this on here because Austria is gaining some ground in hype and availability of its wines. Gruner Veltliner is obviously the top white to try (one of the best to pair with those vegetables that never pair well with foods), and then you have a whole line up of hard-to-pronounce reds like Zweigelt and Blaufrankish. They won’t be your typical Cab/Merlot/Pinot flavor profile, but they are interesting and.. you guessed it. Food friendly (do you see my theme here?).

So give some of these wines a try – for the ones you can find – and broaden that palate. You’ll be well on your way to wine geekdom.

Spring Sips

Much of the East Coast may not be feeling it, but spring is almost here! In fact, tomorrow is the first day of spring and our palates are SO ready. Spring wines, like fashion, means lighter, fresher and floral. Some spring picks to get you in the mood for warmer weather include:

Torrontes: Floral and fruit-driven are the hallmarks of this delightful white from Argentina.Think aromatics of Viognier, acidity of Sauvignon Blanc. Delicate and dry and super-drinkable. Our pick: Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes

Riesling: Known for its enticing aromatics, excellent acidity and manageable alcohol levels, eroicalabelRiesling is ideal for spring. But aren’t all Rieslings sweet, you ask? Absolutely not. Many Rieslings are dry or just slightly off-dry and make excellent sipping for daytime spring weather. Our picks include the Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling from Washington State and the Clean Slate Riesling from Germany. Both are super-refreshing and excellent values.

Rhone Blends: Reds or whites, Rhone blends are what I like to call all-season wines. Whether you’re looking for something to get you through the heat of summer or warm up by the fire in winter, or, in this case, something perfect for milder spring weather, Rhone blends will do the trick. It’s not that they are boring, it’s more like they are versatile wines, matching with a myriad of foods and changing seasons. And both reds and whites often display those floral aromatics we’re looking for in spring! Pick up a d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier-Marsanne if you’re interested in white wine, a bottle of Delas St. Esprit Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge for reds.

Pinot Noir: Bright and juicy Pinot Noir just feels so spring-like. Red cherry, a touch of spice and a supple texture… everything perfect for spring. I’d spring for the Chehalem 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir, a classic Oregon Pinot, rich and balanced, offering juicy acidity and ripe fruits.

You may have other wines that lead you to think spring. so make sure you browse our Spring Clearance sale and load up for the warm weather (or for those still in snow, the soon-to-be warmer weather). Happy Spring!

Top 5 have-on-hand everyday drinking whites

Spring is coming! I’m not sure when, but I have a feeling (and am hoping) it is right around the corner. I have already started to build up my “wish list” on Wine.com for perfect spring wines. Which brings me to the follow up post for the Top 5 everyday drinking reds to have on hand… my Top 5 everyday drinking whites to have on hand! This list is a bit easier. White wines are often seen more as easy drinking everyday kind of wines. And you can often find more gems at affordable prices when shopping whites over reds. So finding 5 awesome whites under $20 is not as much as a challenge as my top 5 reds. That said, finding wines that can wow you a bit, lift your spirit, and most likely please MOST palates is my goal here. So I shall share my top 5:

Broadbent Vinho Verde – Perhaps I’m getting a bit ahead of myself because you could buy this by the case all summer, but it’s also lovely for spring and one of those amazing, affordable, everyday wines. It’s crisp, refreshing, with green fruit, citrus and a hint of effervescence that makes it a joy to drink. Alcohol is under 10%, which makes it more quaffable than most whites.

Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino 2011 – I’ve always been a fan of this wine. Something about it is perfectly spring-y. Probably the mix of refreshing citrus and smooth tropicality (not a word, I know) that makes it so lip-smacking. What I mean is that you have zesty acidity backed by a ripe fruit mouth feel that gives it a lovely balance, one that pairs well with many food or just pleases the palate on a warmish spring day.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling 2011 - You would think I worked for Ch. Ste. Michelle with how many times I recommend this wine. But I can’t praise it enough! I was eroicalabelpouring it when I met my husband, we served it at our wedding, and it’s a regular staple in our cellar. What I like about it are the subtle Riesling characteristics in a dry style. It is not profoundly complex, nor it is it terribly simple, it’s just the right balance at the right price point, able to drink with lemon chicken, chinese take out and lots of vegetable pasta dishes we start pulling out in the spring and summer. I’d take it to any dinner party, brunch or outdoor soiree as well.

Merryvale Starmont Chardonnay 2010 – It is Chardonnay and whether you love it our hate it, there are still many Chardonnay lovers among us. I prefer Chardonnay that leans towards the mineral side, but appreciate nuances of butter and oak, as long as they are done well and are not overwhelming. This is a great value that fits the bill. While I could live off of drinking Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault, I certainly cannot afford to, so I look for good Chardonnay that pleases the palate without overwhelming it. A good one to bring to parties and picnics or to have on hand for Chardonnay lovers, whether the like the butter bombs or the restrained version, this is an overall winner.

La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Luberon Blanc 2011- I am telling you, if you want something under $10 to pop open whenever and wherever for any reason, this is the wine to have. We’ve ordered it by the case for parties, brought it to neighborhood happy hours and opened it when the weather was too good at 3pm to not have a glass of something in your hand. Not complex or heavy or complicated, just simple and easy-drinking and amazing value. Have it on hand. By the case.

Top 5 have-on-hand-everyday-drinking reds

The problem comes up in our house, what wine do we serve? Being in the wine business, we often have wine, but not the RIGHT wine. We have samples to try but not always delasCdRappropriate ones for a meal. Then we have lovely wines that are meant for the cellar or long-term ageing. But having that everyday wine, that’s ready to drink now, not going to break the bank, will go with everything and will suit many palates, is a rarity in our house. Which set me out to find those perfect wines. Being winter, we often reach for reds, so I will post my finds on those perfect red wines today. These wines are also ideal to bring to any neighborhood get-together, dinner party or other such gathering as they are likely to be enjoyed by many wine drinkers! My top 5 are:

Peter Lehmann Clancy’s 2009 – Made by one of our favorite producers in the Barossa Valley, this blend delivers inviting fruit, garnering reviews that call it “smooth & inviting” and even use the term “slurp.” A wine that is great for larger parties, a casual night at home or to pull out when neighbors or friends stop by.

Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – Another Australian gem, year after year I love this wine. I think it is the distinct sweet herb characteristic (could say eucalyptus, but it often reminds me more of mint) that comes through on the nose, as well as the typical Cabernet characteristics that come in a very balanced package. It’s a Cab, but not too tannic or overwhelming – very good with food.

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2008 – This is one of those wines that goes down almost too easy… Ripe fruits, a rich texture and a dose of spice make this a balanced, harmonious wine that lingers on the finish. Wine Spectator also says it’s “hard to stop sipping.”

Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir 2011 – This has almost always been a favorite. I say almost because I though 2010 was a bit off… But the wine came back full force in 2011, with the delicious ripe, rich, central California Pinot style that is silky smooth and easy going down. If you love vanilla, clove spice aromas and that silk texture in wine, you will love this bottle.

Delas St. Esprit Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge 2010 – I have a soft spot for the Rhone, and 2010 was a killer year, so the deals to be had are many. Delas is an excellent producer and this savory CdR is one of those wines you can have with a winter stew or a summer BBQ. It has that savory pepper spice thing going on, with lots of berry fruit to match. Lovely value.

So were you to stock up on a few bottles of red, these wines (all under $20) are the ones I’d highly recommend. You will never feel lost when looking for a perfect dinner wine, a wine to take to a friend’s house, or a bottle to give as a gift. They are the “go-to” winners. Cheers!

Are you ready for some football… wine?

superbowlwineThough not a pro-football fantatic, I keep up with what is going on and being in San Francisco, it’s hard to ignore all the to-do. Plus, Super Bowl watching parties are always fun with the food and WINE. Okay, and beer, too. For this year, here are some picks for what you should be sipping while watching pigskin.

King Estate Signature Collection Pinot Gris 2011 – Easy-drinking, palate-pleasing – this wine is for everyone, with awesome acidity and rich texture.

Peter Lehmann Layers White 2010 – From crab cakes to seven-layer-dip, this super aromatic and rich white will hold up to it all.

Tait The Ball Buster 2010 - This one needs little explanation. It’s decadent and delicious – perfect for February football.

Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 – This wine hails from the Sierra Foothills, original gold country. Since the term “49ers” refers to those who pioneered their way out to California in search for gold, we find it appropriate for 49er fans to sip on some spicy Zinfandel from gold country, particularly this one at an awesome value.

Raymond Field Blend R Collection 2011 – You may not be on the field to watch the game, but you can sit back and enjoy this savory, spicy, rich fruit field blend that practically melts in your mouth.

If these don’t suit your palate, stock up for the big game with your own favorites & enjoy!