As the fresh crisp days and longer cooler nights of fall descend upon us, and winemakers work feverishly to realize this year’s harvest, it's an ideal time to pause and contemplate some wines to drink now and through the holidays. Often, in wine and in life, the road less traveled in an exciting and rewarding one, so let's take an oenological adventure and discover some new, tasty treats.
Taplin Cellars 2019 “Melinda’s Rosé”
The Taplin family has been living in the Napa Valley—with prime vineyard land located just south of St. Helena —since the early 1870s, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the family established Taplin Cellars. When Stephen and Bill Taplin lost their beloved sister Melinda to breast cancer, the brothers decided to make “Melinda’s Rosé” to celebrate her life—100% of proceeds from the sale of this wine are donated to cancer research. Taplin’s French-born winemaker Julian Fayard creates a crisp, dry Provençal style Rosé blend of Cabernet Franc and Syrah. This lovely wine has a delicate pale peach color and aromas of honey, citrus, and flowers, the palate has bright red cherry and tangerine notes and fresh acidity. It’s a fantastic sipping wine or pair it with light salads, goat and sheep cheese, grilled seafood, and chicken.
Leo Steen Wines, 2018 Chenin Blanc, Jurassic Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley
Leo Hansen—originally from Denmark and the son of a Danish chef/hotelier —has “arrived” in California with a highly trained European palate and is now making stunning Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. He produces the restrained, elegant, lower alcohol, food-friendly Leo Steen Wines using natural yeast fermentation and a light touch of oak barrel aging. I enjoy the Jurassic Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, 2018 Chenin Blanc, which spent 18 months in a concrete egg before being transferred to neutral oak for aging before bottling. The wine exhibits mineral notes and hints of beeswax, quince, and pear on the nose, and on the palate, the bright acidity backs up hints of almond, herbs, and peach on the complex creamy finish. I love this wine with seafood risotto, oysters, or Greek chicken and lemon potatoes.
The Donum Estate 2018 Carneros Pinot Noir West Slope
Photo: Donum Estate
The Donum Estate is a feast for the eyes and the palate! The estate is not only renowned for its fabulous wines but also for its mind-blowing collection of art. Sculptures by Keith Haring, Ai Weiwei, Robert Indiana, Louise Bourgeois, amongst many others, punctuate the property and thrill the guest. Donum, which means “voice of the land,” is first and foremost highly focused on winemaking, not just curating great art. This Carneros-based winery, at the south end of Napa and Sonoma counties where the land kisses the San Francisco Bay, produces fabulous Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I’m enjoying the single block 2018 Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir West Slope. It is rich, complex, and very elegant, showing aromas of black cherry and violet, with a mix of tar and red berry flavors on the palate. The finish is deep and rich in both fruity yet savory elements. I can’t wait to drink this along with duck confit, lentils, and roasted potatoes!
The lovely white, rosé, and red wines described here, or any wine purchased anywhere, will only taste better served in the “One for All” Gabriel-Glas! The StandArt glass is the go-to for any wine, including champagne, and the DrinkArt is fabulous for casual “Monday night” experiences!