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This is a Gewürztraminer that might just change a few hearts and minds about the grape. In the wrong hands, Gewürztraminer can become cloying and overpowering with the scent of Grandma's potpourri, but this wine from Kenny Likitprakong shows some serious restraint. Sourced entirely from the Rancho Llegado vineyard in Monterey County, the frequent cool winds of the area maintain the much needed acidity to balance this wine. Banyan was designed by Kenny and his father with their Thai heritage in mind, and as such this Gewürztraminer is the perfect pairing for South-east Asian cuisine or anything with a bit of spice to it. Though it is fermented nearly dry, it maintains a softness with notes of ripe nectarine, a touch of tropical fruit, sage, and bright, fresh gardenia blossoms. Michelle DeWyngaert
Brian and Stephy Terrizzi's Broadside project focuses on sustainably farmed vineyards and minimalist winemaking (native yeasts, minimal handling, neutral oak), as well as purity of flavor and varietal expression.Their Central Coast Chardonnay is a quintessential example of their wine growing and winemaking philosophy; a bright and creamy Chardonnay with ripe lemon and peach flavors and a saline minerality. The wine is fermented in tanks, then aged in 75% steel and 25% oak barrels, left on the lees and stirred regularly for a creamier feel on the palate.
Positioned for years as the quintessential white from Oregon, Pinot Gris has had a rough go of it in recent years as Chardonnay and Riesling have both surged in the Willamette. This 2018 bottling from Cooper Hill is a great argument for its continued cultivation. From vines planted in 1999, this is bright and snappy, full of pear and melon fruit with lime accents. There are traces of fresh green herbs and no shortage of acidity driving a clean fresh finish. Great value. Sam Ehrlich
The Johan Vineyard remains one of my favorite sites in Oregon for it's consistently high-quality, and terroir-expressive fruit. The vineyard is planted on marine sediment with broken granite and the Chardonnay block that Division has selected is grafted with "suitcase" cuttings from Meursault. For the fruit that survived the fires and smoke taint, 2019 was actually a great vintage for the Willamette valley with a relatively cool summer, and cool, dry conditions during veraison which allowed them to pick well into October. The wine was aged in one 300L neutral Austrian barrel, and one new 500L French puncheon. The location of the Johan Vineyard along the Van Duzer Corridor brings in wafts of cool Pacific air and adds brightness and salinity to the wines. This is an intensely mineral-driven Chardonnay when you first open it with bright acidity, and after being exposed to air it blossoms and presents its creamy silkiness on the palate. I highly recommend drinking one now and saving one in the cellar for several years. Michelle DeWyngaert
The endless drinkability of the Eminence Road wines is what I find most appealing, year after year. This is fully ripe and clocks in at just over 11% alcohol. It's lovely and crisp, with green apple and pear, a touch of stony reduction and no oak influence. There is a bit more weight than in past vintages that I've tasted. I'd be curious to try it again in a couple of year. Sam Ehrlich
The St. Crimson is a dry mead made from pressed black currants and NY state honey fermented with indigenous yeasts and then aged for a year in oak barrels. A beautiful deep ruby color, the nose is mix of cassis, raspberry, hibiscus, bruised herbs, and a whiff of something gamey. The palate is dry with juicy brambly fruits and a savory finish. This is delightful on its own on a cool fall evening, but also works well in cocktails, as the float on a NY Sour or in a spritz. Michelle DeWyngaert
A terrifically elegant Sonoma Chardonnay, from one of the more engaging and thoughtful CA winemakers with whom I've had the pleasure of tasting. Samantha Sheehan doesn't have any secret recipe. She works with top sites that are meticulously farmed and makes serious and terroir-driven wines. This is incredibly open and feels genuinely ready to drink, with aromas of lemon peel, dried honeycomb and ripe stone fruit. There is a real core of minerality here and excellent drive in the finish. Very good wine and worth buying enough to drink once a week at least. Sam Ehrlich
Situated in one of the coldest regions of Southern California, this Chardonnay from Santa Barbara County manages the perfect balance between richness and weight, with bright, mouth-watering acidity. Unlike the stereotype of California Chardonnay, the "movie-theatre butter" flavor that comes from an over-abundance of diacetyl presents as a creamy and tangy cream fraiche instead. The proximity to the Pacific Ocean and sandy soils of the vineyard give this wine it's freshness and an aroma of seashells on the nose with soft, white flowers, yellow apple skin, tarragon, and french vanilla. On the palate is an immediate rush of acidity like freshly squeezed lemon juice, followed by the rounded, creaminess of yogurt and finishes with a lingering the lingering stoniness of smooth river rocks. An excellent deal for well-made, organically farmed, food-friendly Chardonnay. Michelle DeWyngaert
The Valravn Chardonnay comes from a blend of Sonoma vineyards, 40% Sonoma Coast, 30% Russian River & 30% Sonoma Valley, all farmed without synthetic chemicals . The fruit from the Russian River valley is fermented in barrels, but the remainder is fermented in stainless steel to maintain their freshness, with 40% of the blend going through malo. The wine is aged in French oak, with just 25% new barrels used. On the nose notes of buttercup daisies, yogurt, fresh yellow apple, ripe pear, and lemon oil. On the palate is a nice creaminess up front, followed by bright acidity, and finishes with a mouth-coating silkiness. Notes of creamy white peach, juicy pear, lemon, and a tiny touch of lemon pith on finish to maintain balance. A fantastic deal for well made Sonoma Chardonnay! Michelle DeWyngaert