Last week I recapped some highlight wines from my travels, including Napa, Sonoma Coast, Willamette Valley, and Baja, Mexico. This week, I want to give a shout out to the stellar stuff that’s happening a little closer to home.
Earlier this year we were fortunate to host winemaker, Brandon Sparks-Gillis of Dragonette Cellars for an afternoon of superb wines. I’ve always been impressed with the quality and attention to detail that comes from these guys, and their 2014 Dragonette Cellars, Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, $39.99, really shines as an outstanding Pinot in this price point. There’s a lot of Pinot out there these days, and this one gets the MVP award this year: focused and precise, with perfect acidity, but also a richness and weight filled with bright strawberries, and the freshest Bing cherry. Pretty dried rose petal and the slightest hint of pickling spices round out this medium framed beauty, and it ends with a kiss of earth and just baked rhubarb pie. This is a crowd-pleaser in style, and the perfect hostess gift for the holidays.
Another winemaker tasting we hosted this past year with Ryan Deovlet had the crowd in awe. His wines are a delight across the board, and I want to especially recommend the 2013 Deovlet, Pinot Noir, Zotovich Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills, CA, $48.99. I fell in love with this Pinot from one of my favorite vineyards as soon as I got it in my glass. It reminds me of a beautiful warm fall day, with the smell of sun-baked leaves being raked into a pile and warm red fruits that are ripe and ready to pick! Then there is that pretty wave of soft brown spices. This Pinot is medium bodied and almost more savory than fruity upon the final, long note that lingers on the tongue. Really elegant and pairs quite nicely with roast game birds, as well as leaner cuts of steak. This is the perfect Pinot for an elegant dinner party.
Chardonnays are stunning these days from the Edna Valley, a breezy, coastal valley just south of San Luis Obispo. I had the honor of attending the annual Chardonnay Symposium in Avila Beach this past Spring, and the standout Chardonnay among my many sommelier colleagues was the 2013 Center of Effort, Chardonnay, Edna Valley, CA, $27.99 from exceptional winemaker and all-around great guy, Nathan Carlson. This is all estate fruit meticulously crafted into a rich and full-bodied Chardonnay that stays refreshingly dry. Seamless and silky, this Chard is all golden apple simmering in butter, soft brown baking spices, and some bright meyer lemon tickling the tongue. Great concentration without being too heavy, this is simply a fabulous ‘Effort’ for the price. This is the Chardonnay to give your favorite hostess this holiday party season!
Last by certainly not least, my pick for top Syrah from anywhere in North America, hands down, is the 2013 Piedrasassi, Syrah, Sebastiano Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, CA, $52.99. This tiny production gem is from expert winemaker, Sashi Moorman, also of Stolpman, Domaine de La Cote, and quite a few other cool projects! This line of Syrahs, however, is his baby. Syrah is his favorite grape, and he has mastered the art of coaxing out all the gorgeous things Syrah has to offer: leather, cured meat, deep forest berry, cracked black pepper, crushed violets, premium cigar, cedar, garrigue, and forest. This wine is complex, concentrated, yet elegant because of the cold climate and expert hand in the cellar. This pays homage to the best from the Northern Rhone in France. The perfect gift for any Syrah fanatic!