Cheers! Today is not only National Wine Day, it is also my anniversary to my favorite love in the world, Gary Cogill. Every year we celebrate I raise a glass to this special holiday (yes, both the anniversary and wine day) toasting the joy Gary has brought to my life, and my little man Yoda’s life, the years we have been together. And, the fact that we did, indeed, get married on National Wine Day makes it that much better. In honor of both, cheers to a few favorites worthy of toasting today, and every day with the one you love. I love you more today than I did yesterday my sweet husband and can’t wait for our next adventure.
Bubbles are always ideal for toasting a holiday, but they don’t have to cost you a fortune. France’s Alsace region has been producing fresh, elegant and delicious Cremant d’Alsace, made in the traditional method, for generations. Producing wine since 1691, Domaine Velentin Zusslin Cremant Brut Zero ($30) is produced organically and biodynamically, with zero dosage, highlighting a fresh, crisp palate, ideal for serving as an aperitif to start the night. The Ruhlmann family has been making wine since 1688, crafting a juicy, strawberry, tangerine and violet filled Cremant d’Alsace Rose ($23) perfect for summertime enjoyment.
Gary loves a good glass of Chardonnay, it is his favorite go-to white wine (like many Americans as it continues to be the favorite white wine across the country for consumers.) We do have our favorites, in the vast number of selections. We will drink anything from Chablis, as we are lovers of the steely, crisp, and clean statement of the variety the wineries of the region celebrate. But we also love a well-made California Chardonnay, like the consistent favorite from Russian River, Jordan Winery Chardonnay ($34) layering stone-fruit and citrus with a hint of creamy vanilla custard and toasted spice. Napa options are endless, with favorites like Frank Family ($35), Miner ($35) and Cakebread ($45) always delivering classic, elegant expressions of the beloved variety. Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay ($50) from Carneros melds classic Burgundian style with California, capturing freshness while showcasing a well-rounded palate filled with citrus, melon and tropical notes.
Gary has expanded his interests recently, thanks in part to some of our travels and my personal love affair with the wines from Rias Baixas that he now excitedly seeks out great Albarino from the Spanish region. The variety has some similarities to Chardonnay, with texture and structure, highlighting citrus and floral notes with an incredible note of earthy minerality, thanks to the granite filled soils of Galicia, and a briny saltiness, thanks to the influence of the Atlantic. We just tried a selection from historic winery, Ramon Bilbao ($15) that delivers these qualities for the incredible price of only about $15 a bottle.
When it comes to red wine for Gary, Cab is king, and he loves a fabulous Napa Valley Cabernet….but it has to be fabulous. We spent many evenings over the years toasting with selections from Napa’s valley floor and mountain regions, each of us finding our favorites with the styles and characteristics that we prefer. Gary likes the valley floor, and often the more rustic, restrained options with robust flavors and style, like the wines from Stags Leap, Rutherford and Coombsville. Sipping a glass of Cliff Lede Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon ($75) or Shafer Hillside Select ($350) from Stags Leap, or one of the special wines produced from friend Mary Rocca and Eric Grigsby of Rocca Wines, will make that sweet man’s heart sing. And, as my goal is always to make his heart sing, I look for every opportunity to do so. We recently enjoyed a stellar Rutherford AVA Cabernet from Sullivan Rutherford Estate Winery, their 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($110) melding black cherry and raspberry with dark chocolate, mocha and dusty earthiness.
I am more of a mountain fruit fan, adoring the wines of Atlas Peak and Howell Mountain, as well as hopping over the Mayacamus Mountain into Sonoma Valley to sip the wines produced off the Moon Mountain AVA. High atop Howell Mountain the historic La Jota Vineyard was first planted in 1898, and has been producing earthy, elegant wines with a distinct earthiness since. The La Jota Cabernet Sauvingon ($125) is well-structured and refined, bringing freshness thanks to the high elevation of the vineyard, to the rich, robust wine. The result, something you can wait to toast with, on any special occasion or any simple day.
Viader Vineyards on Howell Mountain
Nearby, dynamo Delia Viader has been making her Bordeaux style wines, with a nod to her favorite Cabernet Franc, for the past 30+ years. Her Viader Dare Cabernet Franc ($85) highlights her affection for the sometimes difficult variety, as the delicate fruit can often deliver green, vegetal notes if not handled correctly. Thankfully, Viader delivers delicious wine every-time, with purple flowers, black cherry, crushed leaves and stone. From Atlas Peak, Acumen “Peak” Attelas Vineyard ($150) Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Malbec layers Morello cherry, blackberry and black licorice with toasted spice and a hint of dark chocolate.