End of Summer Wines

I have tasted and reviewed quite a large number of wines in the first eight months of this year. But looking over my notes recently, I realized there still were a number of wines that just hadn’t made their way into one of my columns.


I noted many of these were value priced wines that would make nice everyday-type drinking through the rest of summer and into the cooler seasons. Don’t look for depth or complexity in these wines, just an easy drinking, consumer friendly experience that delivers solid quality for a reasonable price.


First up, I was surprised to find eight recommendable Pinot Noirs. Not long ago, it was almost impossible to find sound, affordable Pinot Noir. Start with the organic Mendocino grapes of the soft, spicy 2016 Bonterra ($16) or the Willamette Valley fruit of the forward, supple 2016 Oregon Trails ($20).


The rest, as it turns out, all benefit from California Central Coast fruit. The juicy 2016 Hess Select ($20) from the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County; and the herbal, minty 2016 District 7 ($20), from Scheid Family Wines and cool-climate, certified sustainable, estate vineyards in Monterey County. Also from Scheid, the bright, savory 2016 Ranch 32 ($17) uses sustainably farmed, estate vineyards from Arroyo Seco area of Monterey.


Farther south, the bright, spicy, herbal 2015 Lucas & Lewellen ($20) also benefits from estate vineyards located in Santa Barbara County and the flavorful 2016 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve ($17) combines Monterey and Santa Barbara County fruit to fine effect.


I also found seven solid Cabernet Sauvignons. From Sonoma County, the 2016 Rodney Strong ($17), 2016 Chateau Souverain ($14), and 2015 Louis M. Martini ($20), are perennial good values with fine character, as is the substantial 2016 J. Lohr Seven Oaks ($17)from Paso Robles.


The fairly intense 2016 District 7 ($20) from Monterey County; the oaky, slightly sweet 2016 Ravage ($13) from Lodi; and the aromatic, structured 2015 Pacific Crest McNary Vineyard ($20) from the Horse Heaven Hills region in Washington all are good options.


And there were six worthy Chardonnays: the lively, lemony 2016 Rodney Strong Sonoma County ($17), focused 2016 Chehalem “Inox” Unoaked Oregon ($20), spicy, creamy 2016 La Crema Monterey ($20), buttery 2016 Edna Valley Vineyards Central Coast ($15), caramel apple 2016 Chateau Souverain North Coast ($14), and tropical 2016 EmBRAZEN ($16) – the label is a tribute to women’s empowerment and advancement, featuring heralded Latin singer Celia Cruz on the label.


I also was impressed with four blends. From Cline family vineyards in Contra Costa County and Carneros farmed according to the Green String Method, a type of sustainable farming, enjoy the pleasant red fruits and spiceof the 2016 farmhouse Red ($13)and the lively, citrus and pear of the 2017 farmhouse White ($13). Sonoma County’s Pedroncelli offers the exuberant floral, steely 2017 friends.white  ($13) and the fruitful, savory 2016 friends.red ($13).


Finally, two Rosés: the pinot gris-based 2017 Band of Roses ($13), from the highly regarded Washington State producer Charles Smith Wines and one of my all-time favorites, the lively, flavorful Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel (2017, $17).



About Rich

I first became interested in wine while I worked in numerous liquor stores during college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the years following college, I researched, tasted, traveled to vineyards in California and Europe, participated in countless tastings. I began writing about wine in 1995 with a column in Out Front Colorado. For me, wine is more than a drink. It is food. It is a connection to the earth. It is culture. There is just something amazing, even magical, about the transformation of grapes into wine. It is also remarkable how drinking wine with food enhances the taste and enjoyment of both. Appreciation of wine has become an integral part of my approach to life, which emphasizes balance, respect for nature, physical and emotional health, and an appreciation of our nature as social beings. In 2006, I was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.