20 Wines to Try Now

A few weeks ago we met up with some friends who invited us to a local jazz concert. The concert was great and it helped reinforce the idea that we should attend  more live music events. With the start of fall and the holidays rapidly approaching we find ourselves entertaining more and being invited to more engagements. When invited to someone's home we always ask what should we bring and the answer always seems to be, "bring some wine". I love that answer because I enjoy sharing new wine discoveries. As it turns out unbeknownst to me our friend that invited us to the concert is an avid wine lover. Needless to say when we met for breakfast the next morning we had an enjoyable conversation about our most recent wine finds. He asked me to put together a list of wine recommendations for him. Here's the crib sheet of the list I sent him. Really it's a list of some of my perennial  favorites, wines you can count on to deliver great experiences from vintage to vintage. The referenced retailers are all on the west coast as that's where our friends reside, but most of these wines should be widely available.

2015 Luigi Boveri "Derthona" Timorasso Colli Tortonesi:  This is a fairly rare white Piedmontese variety. It's not new, but it has good texture and intriguing flavors. Don't let the odd cork throw you off. $16 at K&L Wines

2016 Lewis Cellars Sonoma Russian River Chardonnay:  High standard are being set here by former Formula Three and Indy Car racer Randy Lewis and his family. Whole cluster pressing, barrel fermentation, sur lies ageing with battonage , all in French oak, with no filtering or fining, makes for a full throttle intensely rich wine. A special bottle to be shared with good friends. $50 K&L Wines

2015 Dehlinger unfiltered Chardonnay:  The Dehlingers have been growing grapes and making wine in Sebastopol for over 40 years. It's all old school here; old vines, Wente clones, whole cluster pressing, fermenting and aging in french oak barrels and no filtering. The epitome of Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. $42 Prima Vini

2016 Quivira Fig Tree Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc:  Hugh Chappelle makes the wines here and they are all phenomenal. The grapes are farmed using biodynamics and the wines are Demeter Certified. Let's just say they care about the earth now and they're looking past their own time here on earth as well. This Sauvignon Blanc has more body and intensity of flavors than most. Aged in Acacia barrels its rich and sublime. Try it next to your favorite new world Sauvignon Blanc or a Sancerre. $20 K&L wines

2017 Pinot Grigio Lunaria "Romoro" (orange wine):  This is an orange wine but if you're pouring it for friends just tell them it's rosè,  unless of course you want to get into a discussion of what orange wine is. 30 days skin contact. It comes from a local cooperative in Chieti, Italy in the region of Abruzzo. One of the best Rosès I've tasted this year. $16 They are still looking for a distributor so it's currently only available through Organic Wine Exchange. A Biodynamic vineyard and organic wine.

2015 Montenidoli Vernaccia Di San Gimignano: This wine hails from Tuscany and is made by Signora Fagiuoli. A delightful woman who likens winemaking to cooking, just on a larger scale. A cornucopia of intense flavors to accompany the minerality and bright acidity this wine will change your viewpoint on Italian white wines. Hard to find but worth the hunt. $18 Liner & Elsen

2017 Brooks Pinot Gris:  Do try this if you like aromatic white wines that feature no winemaking hocus pocus.  Native yeast and no additives and minimal use of sulfites make this wine a pure expression of Pinot Gris. You can order this wine directly from Brooks Wine.

2016 Pey Marin "Shell Mound" Riesling: From the hills of West Marin County Jonathan and Susan Pey have found a niche spot for growing Rielsing. Minimal intervention is the key here. No oak barrels, no malolactic, native yeast and long cool fermentations with ageing on the lees for complexity. Green apples and white peaches with good balance. This one really opens up and blossoms with time in the glass. $25 Ludwigs Fine Wines

2016 Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon: Northeast of Napa county the red hills of Lake County have for many years been supplementing the shortage of high quality grapes in Napa Valley. As grape prices have grown so has the price of a good bottle of Napa Cabernet. With Obsidian Ridge you get to enjoy high quality Cabernet grown on volcanic soils at an elevation of 2,640 feet in the Mayacamus Mountains. Aged in Hungarian oak this cab is all black fruit, earth and luxury. Family owned and a great story behind it, I discovered this gem 7 or 8 years ago and I always have some stored away in my wine stash. $27 at K&L Wines

2014 Emiliana Coyam: An organic blend from Chile's Colchagua Valley. Predominantly Syrah and Carmenere with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mouvedre, Malbec and Petit Verdot rounding out the blend. In a word elegant, the wine is full bodied with black and blue fruits, moderate tannins and acidity. No rough edges here, you can drink and now and be happy, but I'd stash a few bottles to enjoy in the coming years as well. $29 Fine Wine House

2016 Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone: I was first introduced to the wines of Saint Cosme by a wine they called Little James' Basket Press, a non vintage Cotes du Rhone, that several years back was about $7 a bottle. The Saint Cosme CDR is a more serious wine, offering more complexity. Syrah leads the blend with Grenache not far behind. Hands down one of the best values out of the Rhone Valley. Black and blue fruit with hints of licorice and lavender. Jump on this one quick because it always sells out fast. $14 at KL Wines

2015 Domaine Lafage "Bastide Miraflors" Cotes du Roussillon: 70% Syrah 30% Grenache.  The Grenache is  fermented and aged in concrete tanks so nothing gets in the way of the delicious red fruit and the Syrah is aged in 600 liter French oak demi-muids. A fantastic value from the Roussillon region in south-western France. We bought a case of this recently. We have two bottles left and I'm re-upping. Enough said. $13 K&L Wines

2016 Trentadue Old Patch Red:  The Trentadues used to farm apricots and cherries in what is now Silicon Valley. They saw the writing on the wall and escaped the urban sprawl and settled in Healdsburg nearly sixty years ago. 68% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 4% Carignane, 3% Syrah. Don't let the simple label and screw-top closure fool you. The deep purple color, bold black cherry, vanilla and oak flavors will win you over. I'm still not sure how they do it year in year out but it's consistently good and a no brainer at about $11.

2015 Klinker Brick Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel:  50+ year old vines, black berry jam, sappy black cherry, cocoa, toasty oak and  vanilla. Mild tannins but packed with flavor. There's nothing subtle here, this wine is a hammer. Put it up against your boldest barbecue fair and it will win you over. If you decide to have it without food decant it for a few hours beforehand. $15 K&L Wines

2015 Chateau Lanessan Haut-Médoc:  Those who enjoy good Bordeaux and good value know about this Chateau. And this wine from the praiseworthy 2015 vintage shows particularly well. Lanessans always seem to age well, but I suspect most of these will be consumed earlier than later. Dark red color, black currant, red fruit nose. Well balanced ,the fruit leads and the oak is well integrated. A sleeper from a great vintage. Classic Bordeaux without the sticker shock! $20 K&L Wines

2015 Chateau Fonplégade Saint-Emilion: Vineyard placement can be just like real estate. Fonplégade's next door neighbors are Chateau Canon and Canon La Gaffelière. Add world famous consulting enologists Michel Rolland and Stéphane Derenoncourt and you've got a recipe for exceptional wines. Their 2015 fits the bill. 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, deep purple in the glass it's powerful, showing cushy black fruit, with subtle hints of espresso and tobacco. Made with organic grapes. $38 - $50

2015 Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva: The father and son duo, Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari respectively, own six estates in the Tuscan region. This wine hails from Greve. I've been drinking  Nozzole Chianti Classico for decades and the improvements over the years have taken the wine in a decidedly modern direction. It's 100% Sangiovese,  and sports an updated new label. Medium garnet in the glass the nose shows red cherries, toasty oak, earth and hints of tobacco. Full rich red fruit flavors on the palate with well integrated acids and moderate tannins. The finish has a touch of spice and is long and savory. Very approachable right now. Pop the cork and it's ready to go. $20 K&L Wines

Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco Brut: Take this one and some fresh flowers to your next house party and you'll always be invited back. You can buy 6$ Prosecco at the supermarket or you can splurge and get the real thing here. Primo Franco only makes Prosecco and this is his base bottling. Ditch the champagne flutes and serve it in a white wine glass to fully enjoy the golden color and crisp green apple and pear notes on the nose. The bright acidity and creamy texture make it a great aperitif. Everyone will be asking you, where did you get this wine? $15

2016 Medici Ermete Concerto Reggiano Lambrusco: The Medici Ermete brand is headed by Alberto Medici. His family has been farming in Emilia-Romagna for over 120 years. They make a variety of Lambrusco wines most of them blends, but Concerto is 100% Salamino Lambrusco. Its blackish ruby red color and the bright magenta froth is immediately recognizable when poured in the glass. Aromas and mouth filling flavors of ripe black and red fruits, a vibrant palate and lingering finish with lip smacking acidity. This is serious, vintage dated, benchmark Lambrusco; a perennial Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri winner. $22

Happy holidays and happy shopping. Cheers!