Category: White Wines

Louis Bouillot Blanc de Blancs NV

Quiz for the day: When is sparkling wine from France not considered Champagne? I’m sure that many of you sleuths know the answer to today’s pop quiz, which of course is when the sparkling wine in question is sourced from a region other than Champagne! A great example of the non-Champagne sparkler is the Louis Bouillot Blanc de Blancs NV, a Cremant from the region of Burgundy, France. As its name implies, the Louis Bouillot Blanc de Blancs NV is made entirely of Chardonnay grapes from the world-famous Burgundy region. After all, you have to get Chardonnay grapes from somewhere, so it might as well be northern Burgundy near the region of Chablis!

Kistler McCrea Vineyard Chardonnay 2013

Although I recently had the privilege to sample four Chards, including one cuvee and 3 single vineyard Chardonnays, without question the one that rang all the bells of my senses was the world-class Kistler McCrea Vineyard Chardonnay 2013. The 2013 Kistler McCrea beauty, blended from a Sonoma Mountain source, was truly reminiscent of a Burgundy Grand Cru, managing to be elegant, balanced, complex and absolutely thrilling all in one sip. With tones of muted lemon, fresh apples and a hint of creaminess, as well as the minerality that gives this Kistler beauty the complexity and a thrilling, lengthy finish,this Chard would pair impressively with boiled crab, roasted turkey or a zesty green salad.

Botteca Vinaia Pinot Grigio 2014

So last month I managed to carve out a few hours for a decadent Italian lunch at Il Mulino, one of New York City’s finest Italian restaurants. As luck would have it, I dined during NYC’s Restaurant Week, no less! What glass of wine would pair beautifully with the scrumptious cheeses, freshly-baked bread, oysters, bruchetta, Caesar salad and incredible veal parmigiana without overwhelming the multitude of subtle yet amazing tastes of the feast? Well, wine sleuths, I have your answer: Botteca Vinaia Trentino Pinot Grigio 2014 from Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. Unlike many Pinot Grigio’s I have sampled over the last couple of years, the Botteca Vinaia Pinot Grigio 2014 had a lovely palate of honeysuckle, apricots and light minerality yet retained the refreshing acidity that one expects out of a fine Pinot Grigio.

Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2013

If you enjoy Chardonnay from Napa or Sonoma, then you know how challenging it can be to find a complex yet affordable one. Perhaps this month’s Value Wine No. 2, the Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2013, might be your solution. Neither overly oaked nor too creamy, the Chalk Hill 2013 manages a rare balance for a Chard in its price range.

Peju 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

With fruit grown on the valley floor in Napa Valley, the Peju 2013 Sav Blanc stands in lush contrast to more austere examples of the Sauvignon Blanc wines from New Zealand. The Peju white is one of the more complex domestic Sauvignon Blancs I have sampled, managing in one sip to hint at the lovely grapefruit, pineapple and honeysuckle overtones on the front palate, while the mid-palate experiences a lush passion fruit and creamy lemon quality, with a refreshing, clean finish that is delicious by itself or with a salad or light cheese. That is a lot of complexity for a modestly price wine from Napa Valley.

Piper Sonoma Brut Sonoma County Select Cuvee–Your New Year’s Eve Bubbly

With New Year’s Eve (a/k/a Amateur Night) just around the corner, a wine sleuth may be on the lookout for a reasonably priced, high quality domestic sparkling wine. Here’s a thought for your consideration–shag a couple of bottles of the delicious Piper Sonoma Brut Sonoma County Select Cuvee NV. Reasonably priced at an $18 suggested retail, the Piper Sonoma Brut NV is comfortably priced at $10 or so below fair-to-middling Champagne.

Terrific Unoaked Chardonnay from California

The 2012 Smoking Loon Steelbird is a crisp, delicious Chard, with green apple and citrus overtone and without the over-oaked, buttery offerings of many California Chardonnays. The Smoking Loon Chard was recently selected by the Wine Spectator editors as their Best Buy of the Week, with James Laube singing the praises of the domestic white: “It sings and dances from start to finish,” while awarding the wine an impressive 89 rating.

Classic Sauvignon Blanc from Napa

I had the pleasure of tasting the crisp, refreshing 2012 Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc as an aperitif before the spectacular 2014 Taste of Howell Mountain festival recently in Napa Valley. Not only did this stellar Charles Krug Sav Blanc serve as a delicious way to prepare my palate for the world-class Howell Mountain Cabs that were featured at the festival, but it had the complexity and smooth finish to bring me back for just one more glass on the way out!

A Smoking Value in Chardonnay

White wine fans are currently celebrating the ebb of summer with their favorite chilled whites. The pool season often brings our thirsty friends to our homes in search of copious quantities of refreshing, crisp whites. Since the key word here is “copious”, it makes good sense to find and acquire a great value white wine for your guests. Your friendly Wine Bargain Sleuth has a recommendation that every wallet will embrace this month: the 2012 Smoking Loon Chardonnay California Steelbird Unoaked.

Great Chardonnay from Washington State

This is a very balanced and nuanced white wine, showing hints of both lime and pear on the nose while showing spice on the finish, and generally giving one the impression of a much more expensive Chard. It pairs beautifully with a light shrimp or crawfish dish, as well as baked chicken.

A True Value from Edna Valley

The Edna Valley has consistently produced remarkable Pinot Noirs, but in this case the True Myth Chardonnay 2012 truly shines. The grapes of this True Myth beauty are sourced from the Paragon Vineyard, considered one of the top vineyards in Edna Valley. The flavor profile on the True Myth Chard hints of pears, pineapples and citrus, with a finish of vanilla and light oak.

Great Value from Germany

German wines have the reputation of being overly sweet, but that is a gross oversimplification of some of the finest whites in the world. The reality is that there are many categories of German Riesling, some dry as a bone, others intentionally sweet and designed to be dessert wines. Retailing at only an astounding $12, the Loosen Bros Riesling was picked by Wine Spectator as a Best Value and awarded a solid 91 rating.

Sonoma Coast Chard Beauty

If your budget doesn’t allow a classic White Burgundy but you want to step up your game a bit for friends and family, then look no further that the 2011 Failla Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. This domestic Chard from the next valley west of Napa makes an excellent pairing with your Thanksgiving or holiday meal. Its flavor profile is one of crisp apples and pears, with just a hint of citrus.

The Original Fume Blanc

Do you and your guests prefer a crisper yet still nuanced white wine? Try a California original: the 2011 Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc (Oakville). Years ago Mondavi opted to call its Sauvignon Blanc wines “Fume Blanc”, and this 2011 Oakville offering is their best of the year sourced from classic Napa Valley vines, and in the view of Wine Enthusiast, “one of their best ever.”

Classic Bubbly from Reims!

The Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV features a satisfying toasty finish with the telltale tiny bubbles that give its drinker a smooth, balanced mouthful. Never harsh, yet retaining a touch of crisp acidity, the Piper-Heidsieck has been a house favorite for several years.

Value Wine: A Classic White from South Africa

This lovely South African Sav Blanc displays the typical varietal citrus flavors, although it leans more toward lime that a more frequently detected grapefruit, with a touch of sea salt and even a touch of white asparagus to tickle those taste buds. The 2012 Graham Beck would be a terrific pairing for ceviche, scallops or even a baked white fish.

Value Wine: Unique White from Oregon

This month’s Value Wine No. 2 is yet another delicious wine from Oregon, this time a lovely Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley: the 2012 Apolloni L Cuvee…

Worth a Splurge Wine: A French Kiss from Loire

While the perception is that outstanding French wines are becoming more and more dear and unobtainable, you clever wine bargain sleuths know that with a little extra work…

Value Wine: No Brainer Cali Sav Blanc

Do I have a bargain for you, boys and girls.  Want a high-quality summer wine but only have a 10 spot in your wallet?   Look no further than…

Value Wine: Classic California Chardonnay

Our Value Wine No. 3 is the 2010 Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay from the Central Coast of California. The 2010 K-J Grand Reserve is widely available and should…

Value Wine: A Superior Italian White

From the cool climates of the Friuli region of Northeastern Italy comes the delicious 2011 Scarbolo Pinot Grigio, this month’s Value Wine No. 1.  The Scarbolo is a…

Value Wine: The Mind-Changing Sauvignon Blanc!

Sometimes you come across a great wine by pure serendipity rather than research.  That is clearly the case with this month’s Value Wine No. 2:   The 2011 Fume…

Value Wine: Holiday Blues Sparkler

My suggestion for the holiday sparkler this month is a high-quality Cava from Spain’s Segura Viudas: the NV (non-vintage) Brut Reserva, an estate bottled wine. The Segura Viudas…

Value Wine: The All-American Cali Chardonnay

If your crew is made up of white wine fans, then it’s hard to go wrong with the 2010 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Careful shopping can land…

Worth a Splurge Wine: Golden Dessert Nectar

If that last piece of dessert is simply a non-starter yet still have just a touch of a sweet tooth, does the Wine Bargain Sleuth have a tip…

Value Wine: The Aussie Bargain Chard

Value Wine No. 1 for June is an outstanding value Chardonnay from Down Under, the 2010 Jacob’s Creek Adelaide Hills Reserve, a refined and satisfied white that can be had for $13 per bottle at retail.

Worth a Splurge Wine: The Cabernet Drinker’s Chardonnay

This month’s Worth a Splurge Wine is Far Niente’s 2009 Chardonnay. This is a California Chardonnay which is made in the French style that has a lengthy finish…

Value Wine: The Other French White.

For Value Wine No. 2, I present the 2010 Chateau Jacquet Bordeaux Blanc.   Blended from Bordeaux vineyards that date back to 1789, the largely unknown white Bordeaux from…

Value Wine: A Consistent Winner from New Zealand

My second Value Wine for April is the refreshing Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (2010). This beauty is a good choice to pair with seafood and vegetable dishes, but…

Worth a Splurge Wine: The Winemaker Who Beat the French.

This month’s Worth A Splurge Wine is the 2008 Grgich Hills Chardonnay. Grgich Hills was the dream of Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, a native of Croatia who emigrated to…

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