The beauty of Father’s Day, outside of honoring dad, is that it falls in the middle of June, right around the official first day of summer, the season when outdoor barbecues and impromptu get-togethers pop up on any given night. To toast, raise a glass with one of these exceptional wines perfect for barbecue pairing and beachside sipping.
Luscious Pinot Noir makes my father’s heart melt, and as a daddy’s girl, I am quick to find the most exceptional to share with him. The wines of California and Oregon are sure to please, each telling their unique story of the land, with a signature sense of place. On the Napa side of Carneros, Cuvaison Winery is currently toasting their 50th anniversary of producing exceptional Pinot Noir wines, like their supple, sensual Swan Pinot Noir ($65) from the rolling hills of their estate. Also toasting their 50th anniversary, ZD Wines shine in celebration of their Napa history, presenting a savory, balsamic and blackberry filled Pinot Noir in their ZD Founders Reserve Pinot Noir from Carneros.
With long sunshine-filled days and cool evenings, California’s Santa Lucia Highlands creates vibrant Pinot Noir fruit, as revealed in the Hahn SLH Pinot Noir ($30) with notes of wildflowers, earthy mushroom, and raspberry. Strawberry, cranberry, and forest-floor filled La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($30) has been a favorite of my dad’s since they joined the region a few years ago, highlighting the distinct structure of Willamette Valley fruit.
MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard
MacRostie Winery’s Russian River estate vineyard, Thale’s Vineyard, produces Pinot Noir ($58) as lovely as it’s namesake, owner/winemaker Steve MacRostie’s wife, Thale. Rich and textured, the wine has distinct spice melding with blackberry. Amici’s Russian River Reserve Pinot Noir ($65) is slightly more fruit-forward, highlighting ripe raspberry and crushed pomegranate with gorgeous freshness and acidity. With an almost meaty, bramble fruit and five-spice note, Merry Edwards Coopersmith Vineyard Pinot Noir ($66) marries acidity with tannin, for a balanced, beautifully structured, sustainably-farmed wine.
Photo courtesy of the winery
Cooling Pacific winds blowing across rugged, unruly Anderson Valley vineyards makes the region one of the most untamed in Northern California growing wines with character. With vineyards covering the region, Goldeneye shines with nuanced, refined selections to those that are more rustic. Ten Degrees Pinot Noir ($125) brings three of these vineyards together for an exceptional example of age-worthy wine with sophisticated style. The Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($58), blending fruit from all corners of the 15-mile-long region shines with soft herbal notes melding with fresh red fruits.
With distinct herbaceous spiciness and cool-climate freshness, FEL Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($38) layers clove, nutmeg, and anise with woody sage and thyme for a food-friendly, earthy selection.
Twenty years ago Siduri Winery celebrated Anderson Valley in some of their earliest Pinot Noir wines, harmoniously taming rugged fruit, crafting delicate wines. Today, Siduri Anderson Valley Pinot Noir continues to shine as a prime example of wines of the region.
My sweet husband, the father to our dog, Yoda, swoons for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, particularly Napa Valley selections. Over the years of learning his palate, I know he prefers fruit-forward, bold yet balanced wines from Napa’s valley floor regions like Oakville, Stags Leap District, Coombsville and Rutherford, with Shafer’s One Point Five and Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stags Leap District and a Calistoga grown Chateau Montelena always leading the pack amongst his favorites. From winemaker Rolando Herrera, who has devoted his entire Herrera line of wines to his children, comes his Mi Sueno Cabernet Sauvignon ($75) from valley floor fruit in Coombsville and Oak Knoll revealing fresh violets and black licorice, melding with ripe fig and dark chocolate.
From Oakville, Groth Cabernet Sauvignon ($65) brings a crushed stone and graphite note to their black and red cherry filled Cab, highlighting the distinct alluvial soils of the Oakville Bench.
Similarly, the dusty Rutherford Bench delivers earthy truffle, woody sage and thyme notes in the Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon ($35) providing an incredible wine for the price. Raymond Vineyard Rutherford Estate Collection Cabernet Sauvignon ($55) harmoniously melds red plum and currant with pencil lead, spiced vanilla, and black tea.
If your dad is a mountain-fruit fan, preferring earthy, leather, red fruit-filled Cabernet from volcanic soils consider Napa and Sonoma’s mountain regions, like Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder, and Howell Mountain.
One hundred percent mountain grown fruit off of Pritchard Hill delivers an almost ethereal expression of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, melding concentrated tannin with a softness that is often only achieved when mixing other varieties into the blend in Chappellet’s Hideaway Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. ($125) The flagship Chappellet Signature Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($75), reveals the complexity, structure, and texture of premium mountain grown fruit.
From Mount Veeder, Mount Brave Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) and La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) from Howell Mountain both deliver blue and black fruit, woody herb, truffle, and warm spice. Though each wine is gorgeous, Winemaker Chris Carpenter brings fruit from these expressive vineyards, along with Cabernet from Diamond Mountain, Spring Mountain, and a touch of Stags Leap and St. Helena for one of Napa’s beloved wines, Cardinale ($250) revealing gorgeous floral notes of wild rose, red cherry, blackberry and espresso.
Newton Winery Garden
Newton Vineyards has called Spring Mountain home since 1977, delivering earthy, terroir driven wines from the start. The winery was somewhat of a pioneer, proudly noting their premium Cabernet Sauvignon ($59) and Chardonnay ($55) were bottled unfined and unflitered, allowing the essence of the vineyard to speak through each glass, telling the story of the land. Atlas Peak’s complex Acumen Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon ($70) marries toasted spice with fresh violets, red plum, and espresso creating memories from the first sip to the last.
Monte Rosso Vineyard
High atop the southern slope of Sonoma’s Mayacamus Mountains sits the historic Monte Rosso Vineyard. Initially planted in 1887, iron-rich, volcanic soils fill the vineyard producing concentrated, textured and highly structured wines that will age for decades. Mount Peak Sentinel Cabernet Sauvignon ($40) from this majestic place reveals the essence of this story-filled place in every glass.
Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Estate
Sonoma’s Alexander Valley delivers both valley floor and mountain fruit, giving winemakers the opportunity to utilize various elevations to craft a harmonious wine. Jess Jackson realized this years ago when he created his Legacy Wines, meant to showcase age-worthy wines from the region with the highly structured, powerful, and focused Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon ($100) layering anise, wild sage, black cherry, pencil lead, and blackberry. On the slightly softer side, and with the 2015 vintage, aged 100% in French Oak, Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($57) melds rich cassis and blueberry with pomegranate and cherry liqueur. Since 1971 Rodney Strong has been producing terroir driven wines from Sonoma, particularly their estate Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($35) melding blackberry, blueberry and black plum.
For dad’s who love a blend, Napa’s Paraduxx has made an art of the blending traditional and non-traditional varieties together, crafting exceptional wines like their Napa Valley Proprietary Red Blend ($50) of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with significant amounts of Zinfandel and Petit Sirah. Leading with Zinfandel, followed by Cabernet, Petit Sirah, Syrah and Charbono, The Prisoner ($70) layers milk chocolate, black cherry, and vanilla, making this barbecue-friendly wine a consistent summer favorite. Adding 20% Syrah to Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Creek Valley gives Dutcher Crossing’s Taylor Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($50) a meaty, spicy, peppery note of smoked bacon and sandalwood with ripe cherry and berry.
In the Roussillon region of southern France, Domaine de Bila-Haut crafts their Syrah-dominant blend, L’Esquerda ($28) melding wildflower, soft herb, and pepper notes with smoked spice and ripe cherry. The Super Tuscan blend from Aia Vecchia, Sor Ugo ($36) reveals the subtle restraint of Old World winemaking, revealing black licorice, graphite, fresh mint, and rosemary.