Winemakers often will add oak chips, oak powder or oak staves to wine aging in stainless steel casks. As a rule, I’m not a fan of these methods — it seems like cheating.
The 2016 A to Z Oregon Chardonnay is a well-balanced unoaked, versatile white wine that’s good to drink by the fire in winter and on the porch on summer evenings.
Started in 2002, Bodegas Naia had a straightforward purpose: making high quality white wines using grapes from old, indigenous Verdejo vines. The experiment worked. The winery has succeeded in making some of the best Verdejo in the world, and its affordable Naia is no exception.
The reasonably-priced Farmhouse red first came to my attention because it was made by a family-owned California producer known for quality wines.
Sparkling wines are terrific year round, not just for special occasions. Still, there is a persistent belief that the only time to drink sparkling wines is when you’re celebrating on New Year’s Eve or some other momentous event.
Famille Perrin’s Cotes du Rhone Reserve, Rouge, produced by one of the top winemakers in France’s Southern Rhone Valley, is an excellent wine to accompany a varied holiday feast.
Single varietal wines from Rioja used to be hard to find and expensive. Recently, such wines have become more common, although they still tend to be priced well beyond the $10 range.
If I were forced to drink only one inexpensive white wine all year, I’d choose Louis Jadot Macon-Villages Chardonnay. This wine from Burgundy is so clean and crisp that it almost seems like it was produced from an entirely different grape variety than the one used to make the weighty, oaked California Chardonnays, those wines with such rich vanilla and butter flavors that they are best drunk in cold weather.
I’ve been a fan of Malbec from Argentina for many years, but after I recently tried Clos La Coutale, a dark, red version from Cahors in Southwest France, I have switched my allegiance.
When it comes to wine labels, I’m pretty conservative. I’m attracted to the clean, straightforward look, labels with clear type sporting a crest or a drawing of the chateau. I tend to avoid wines selling themselves with cute names, overweight circus animals and sadly portrayed dogs and cats, labels that, in my experience, often mask an inferior product.