2019 Abacela Albarino - It's their 25th anniversary. This is THE pioneering winery in Oregon's Umpqua Valley. Didn't know they made wine there? They sure do and it's mainly focused around Spanish grapes. Earl Jones started Abacela (which means in Spanish a marker at a road, often a grapevine) in 1995 and thrust Oregon and the Umpqua into the spotlight because he planted Albarino and Tempranillo, grapes that had never been planted in Oregon.
2018 Harper Voit Pinot Blanc Surlie - A team of three led by major wine geek Drew Voit (the other two are as well) are less focused on making wine and really obsessed with expressing the characteristics, quirks and uniqueness of a particular vineyard. These wines should transport to the hillside and make you sit amongst the vines. Pinot Gris continues to grow on me, especially as winemakers move away from the all too often replicated Acrobat or A to Z style of Pinot Gris. This is NOT one of those. Surlie means the wine has aged for an extended period of time on the lees, the dead yeast cells, which gives it a rounder and smooth texture. You'll still get those classic flavors of Pinot Gris, like green apple and lemon, but they will be more muted. In its place will come flavors of pear and wet stone all punctuated by a soothing and rich mouthfeel.
2019 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Blanc - White Beaujolais?! Yes, it is a thing. This is Chardonnay, but Chardonnay grown in the southernmost part of Burgundy in a region called Beaujolais. If you know it or had it, it's probably been red, the grape Gamay. White wines are only 1% of total wine produced here, so catching something like this is a rarity. It's rare. It is also natural. This wine is hand harvested, vinified without CO2 and with natural yeasts! This winery has also been in operation since 1512, so they know what they are doing. Drink a rare piece of history with this.
2018 Marchesi di Gresy Langhe Nebbiolo Martinenga - This is just a pretty wine. I love Nebbiolo, especially as the seasons begin to shift and especially chilled just a little in the fridge. Nebbiolo, particularly from Langhe is quite similar to Pinot Noir, so this will not be a heavy wine. It is delicate, elegant and expressive! Sourced from a single vineyard, Martinenga, by the Gresy family, who have been farming here since 1797 the wine is exceptional in nearly every vintage. This wine is exactly like how our bodies hope to feel at the end of summer, especially after a day on the river or lake: fresh, lively, balanced and pleasantly fit.
2016 Tasca Tascante "Ghiaia Nera" Etna Rosso DOC - Something about the late summer always reminds me of movies about Italy. Everything is slowly slowing down. The nights are cooler, the days, not as warm, but you're not ready for it to be autumn. Everything just has that magic feeling, especially in the twilight hours. Cue Etna Rosso, the wine for the magic hour. Made from the famous grape of Sicily, Nerello Mascalese, grown on the side of the volcano Mt. Etna.
2016 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Crianza - Probably the most well known Rioja producer in the world, especially of Rioja reds. This is 90% Tempranillo and 10% Granacha, so this is going to be a bigger style of wine, but not huge by any means. This is a crianza style wine, meaning it only spent 1 year in oak and 1 year in the bottle before it was released, this is the bare minimum in the hierarchy of Rioja wines. This is for the late evening BBQs, with burgers, ribs or other grilled meats.
2016 Inama Carmenere "Piu" Veneto Rosso - You all know me and most likely had Carmenere I have brought to a party or event. This is Carmenere, because I love it, but this comes from Italy! Over 90% of the world's Carmenere is grown in Chile, but Italy does grow a small amount in the Veneto, the northeastern region in the Dolomite Mountains. If you have never tried Carmenere, it is similar to Merlot and Malbec, but spicier and much more unique. Underlying flavors of smokiness, herbs and ripe plums and cherries are classic in Carmenere. It is not tannic or bold, it is just right. This particular wine is blended with Merlot to add some smooth soft tannins. It is also organic!
2018 Failia Willamette Pinot Noir - Let's come home to Oregon or move here from California, but don't judge, hear me out. Failia is the creation of Ehren Jordan who is no stranger to leaving California turf to explore the wine world and make extraordinary wines in the process. His first was from Australia, but in 2018 he made his way to Oregon. I have worked for the behemoth, I have seen the power of Oregon's wine culture push against the overlord that is California corporate wine. Ehren Jordan and Failia are not part of this club. He methodically sources and works hand in hand with growers to ensure he is representative of place in his wines. This is Oregon Pinot Noir at its core, sourced from four single vineyards between Eola-Amity Hills, Chehalem Mountain and Dundee Hills. He purely represents the beautiful terroir of our state without turning out a wine to build the bottom line of a P&L. This is Ehren's wine, while he is the latest migrant to Oregon from California, he won't be the last, but he deserves our glass and I highly encourage you to pour a glass of this.
2018 Cherchi Vermentino di Sardegna "Billia" - Ever had a wine from Sardinia? Bet you haven't. I barely have. Much of Sardinian wine doesn't leave the island, but what gets out is pure gold. Vermentino is a white grape, intensely aromatic (not like moscato) and medium bodied, vibrant, fresh and pleasantly fruity. Don't worry, this IS a dry wine. Cherchi has been the foundation for Sardinian Vermentino for years, they are looked to as a benchmark for quality and innovation. The founder, Giovanni Cherchi inherited 4 acres of vineyards in 1980 and then took Vermentino to a whole new level. This is him! Basically, drink this now. It's perfect for this time of year.
Conquilla Cava Brut - BUBBLES! It's 2020, we all need bubbles. This all estate grown Cava from Catalunya is alive with fine bubbles and deliciousness. Made from 50% Xarel-lo, 25% Macabeu, 25% Parellada this is the best buy in Cava you can find. The name, Conquilla, means "shell" in Catalan and is representative of the soils in which these grapes are grown; which are full of fossilized shells!
2019 Domaine de Beaurenard "Biotiful Fox" Rosé - It's ok, you can drink rose all year now! No one will judge you and if they do just pour them a glass and tell them to chill and if they still scoff, throw them out of your house. This is a biodynamic and organic wine from the Southern Rhone, it's name is a play on that fact and the foxes that make their dens in the vineyards. A blend of Grenache and Syrah, it is a bit heavier than a Pinot Noir rose, but it's late summer, you won't regret the weight on this as you sip outside as the air cools around you.
2016 Teso La Monja Romanico Toro - This is just the entry level from Bodega Teso La Monja, but what they pack into this is just spot on. Made from 100% Tinto de Toro (yes, that is a grape), which is similar to tempranillo, but with loads more history. The Romans grew this native Spanish grape and it still thrives in the Toro or Zamora region along the Portugeuse border. This is the "biggest" wine on the list, but most of the BIGNESS comes across as fruit, really intense fruit! So if you like 'em big and juicy but gentle, get this into your glass.