The origins of the Italian Spritz date back to the late 1800s when German soldiers found the local Italian wines too strong. The soldiers added a “spritz” of water to the wine to create a lighter beverage. Using 100% Glera grapes then infused with botanicals, bitter herbs, and flowers, the addition of pink grapefruit and a little carbonation creates a delightful sparkling beverage low in alcohol just in time for the summer months. Slightly sweet with light grapefruit, there is just a hint of bitterness on the finish.
This second vintage of Lucy’s Pico Blanco from Monterey County continues its impressive winemaking style. Comprised of 85% Pinot Gris and 15% Pinot Blanc, this is both elegant and exciting; an enticing white wine for people who don’t like white wines. It offers crisp acidity, fresh flavors of lemon zest, lime kefir, quince, white peach and Asian pear, lithe honeysuckle, fresh baked bread, light resin and a stony minerality. The Lucy label is from the Pisoni brothers and the Pisoni family has been producing wine from Monterey since the early 1970s.
For over 50 years Chalk Hill Winery has been at the forefront of Sonoma wines. Their Windy Ridge Sauvignon Blanc is a testament to the Chalk Hill AVA. Harvested from a single block and using clone 378, this offers soft passion fruit, lemon-lime citrus, light resin, honeydew melon, apricot and quince. It also offers a solid minerality throughout the wine. Shying away from the more grassy iterations, this feels like an “adult” Sauvignon Blanc, more restrained and complementary to a diversity of foods.
Harvested from five different vineyard sources, winemaker Bibiana Gonzalez Rave says her goal is to define “the specificity of a dry, beautifully intense wine, yet with volume and texture.” And this she does quite well. Her 2022 Sauvignon Blanc is a little softer than past vintages but nonetheless offers bright, expressive fruit – lemongrass, lime zest, guava, apricot Asian pair, and Green Apple. The acidity is fairly mild, and this proves to be a very drinkable wine with enough to use it for different types of food. 3,400 cases. ORIGIN: Sonoma County. ALCOHOL: 13.7%.
This 2014 Blanc de Blanc is a sparkling wine with a brisk acidity and a hint of chalky minerality. Hand harvested and whole cluster pressed, there’s a lovely creaminess to this wine with very mild carbonation, allowing more of the fruit to come through. It offers lemon-lime notes, guava, red delicious apple and grannie smith green apple, light unsweetened honeysuckle, Asian pear, a hint of baked brioche. The balance of the flavors makes this easy to pair with a diversity of foods. 178 cases. ORIGIN: Alexander Valley, Sonoma. ALCOHOL: 12.5%
One of the beautiful things about Pinot Noir is its delicate nature. Sure, some Pinot has bold, even aggressive fruit. But Calera’s 2019 offering is as delicate, feminine and subtle as you can probably get. An overwhelming earthy quality is in this wine along with quiet black cherry, blackberry, light huckleberry, light pomegranate and Bing cherry. There are back notes suggesting jasmine and ginger, a delightful acidity and an elegance to this wine which suggests a deft touch in the winemaking process.
I’ve long held the belief that it’s pretty hard to mess up Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain fruit. The vines there are simply exceptional. So in the very capable hands of Duckhorn, the fruit in this 2018 shines. It’s all Cabernet with 8% Merlot added. There’s a lovely elegance to this wine, a steadiness that combines all the elements, oak, fruit, wood and tannin together. Not one element outperforms the other. The soft fruit includes noticeable black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, mocha, huckleberry and the ever-present but limited vanilla and caramel.
For 40 years Calera has been producing terrific wines in a rather unlikely place, in the Gavilan Mountains at the dividing line for San Benito and Monterey counties. This 2021 offers black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, huckleberry, pomegranate, with back notes of strawberry and Bing cherry. There is a rustic quality to this Pinot, hints of sage and earthiness. Aged just 10 months in French oak, a scant 10% of those barrels were new, therefore the fruit expresses itself quite clearly. It has solid acidity and tannic structure, making it an incredible value for the price.
You may not know it, but La Crema has been producing wine for over 40 years. This 2022 Sauvignon Blanc is part of that proud heritage. This offers light lemon-lime, quince, honeysuckle, resin, apricot and guava notes. It’s a lighter style wine that makes it inherently better with a diversity of food. The acidity is in check due mainly to the use, predominately, of stainless steel, and just 27% went into neutral oak allowing for a flinty, tactile expression. ORIGIN: Sonoma County. ALCHOL: 13.5%