Your 2017 Wine Resolutions

year 2017 wine resolutions with champagne bottle popped

With 2017’s arrival, I got to thinking about how I always write down some new things to try for the year, sort of a bucket list of ‘firsts.’ Wine has always had a place on my list, whether it is a new varietal, a new wine growing region, new winery to try or a new book about wine. I find that I am always pleasantly surprised by my adventures in the wine world every year. If nothing else, it has broadened my wine horizons over the last 20 years, and have found so many new varietals I thoroughly enjoy and wouldn’t have discovered had I not branched out from my ‘staples’

I challenge you to do the same this year! Get out of the ‘wine rut’ we all seem to fall in. 

I was just reading an article from Matt Kramer (Wine Spectator) and he thinks we should make a point to try a new wine every other week. Thats 25 new wines a year…

Life is too short not to do this!  

Here is a list of exciting wines you should think about trying this year, I dare you! (Some are my new favorites) Interested? Let me know and you can start to check off your wine bucket list! 

1. Cabernet Franc: “The Cinderella grape just waiting to be asked to the ball. All sorts of possibilities—from the Loire, Napa Valley, Bordeaux and elsewhere. Always seems to need food, unlike some stand-alone Cabernet Sauvignons.” (Try Jonata, Tor, Kenefick Ranch, Titus, El Emenigo, Oakville East)

2. Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon: Gets overlooked by many due to its Southern Neighbor’s stronghold, but trust me..Some of the most elegant Cabernets with an insane amount of finesse. Not power, but finesse..in other words..no Bulls in the China shop here. (Try Gramercy, De Lille, Quilceda Creek, Leonetti)

3. Chablis: Im not talking about the ol’ Jug with the+ tiny handle. Try a Premier Cru or venture out and try a Grand Cru. They are priced moderate compared to other vineyards in Burgundy. This is for the ’salt of the earth’ wine lovers..Briny, perfect fruit and acidity, like a fresh oyster just pulled out of the beautiful sea. No buttered movie popcorn served in an oak bowl here~! (Try Patrick Piuze, Courtault, William Fevre, Val de Mar, Billaud Simon, Louis Michel) 

4. Charbono: One of my favorite discoveries. A.K.A Bonarda (Argentina). Brought to Napa by Italian settlers under the guise of Barbera. 1940’s it was discovered it was actually Charbono. Very little planted in the US. Notable for its high acidity, but can be accompanied by rich fruit complexity, structured tannins and some sweet notes of spice.  Perfect with Wild game and my favorite..Italian comfort food. (Try Shypoke or Summers) 

5. Aglianico: Southern Italy’s powerhouse. If you are a fan of big, bold reds, this is for you! Good aging potential, Volcanic soil lover, Deep Garnet color, notable weight and tannins. Jammy Black fruit… Worth a try..after all it is the worlds oldest cultivated grape..Perfect with grilled meats. (Try Feudi di San Gregorio and Cantine del Notalo)

6: German Riesling: Trust me, these are not like their Western cousins (sweet sticky syrupy stuff you’re more likely to put on Pancakes). These babies are the very definition of liquid gold. Talk about touching all the senses. Gorgeous color, The bouquet makes it really tough for you to get your nose out of that glass, The texture is like Fred & Ginger tap dancing all over your tongue, and then the finish..perfect acidity, clean, dry, slowly disappearing leaving no trace..which just makes you want another taste. Enjoy it with your favorite spicy dish! (Try Studert-Prum, Markus Molitor or Burklin Wolf)

7. Growers Champagne: You do not have to spend a fortune to get great Champagne. These are crafted by grape growers and their families. It embodies those who grow grapes in their own vineyards and produce cuvées (aka sparkling wine blends) that reflect their distinct vineyards and style. No big Houses here. There is nothing better than bubbles on a random Tuesday.. Just because. It always lifts your spirits..and yes you can drink it with Chicken Wings… and even a PB & J! (Try Michel TurgyJean Vesselle, Egly Ouriet or Lancelot-Royer) 

8. Portuguese Red: As of late, these wines are all the rage. They are producing extremely tasty wines that have shockingly low prices. Time for you to get in on the secret. Try the 2011 vintage (Portugal’s vintage of the century) Look for a blend with Touriga Nacional in it. It tends to be lush and opulent. Intensely bold fruit flavors with high tannins.  (Try Valle Pradhinos, Vinha do Fojo, Cedro do Noval)

9. Beaujolais Cru (Gamay):  Beaujolais is the “ smallest house in the most expensive neighborhood” Located at the Southern End of Burgundy with 10 Cru’s in Beaujolais. Try a Fleurie (more feminine)  or Julienas (more masculine) . The old barnyard, the leather strap, the beautiful fruit and acidity blended in a perfect marriage. (Try Jules Desjourneys, Chateau de Pierreux, Domaine Lassagne, Jean Calot)

10. Grenache: It may surprise you that Grenache is responsible for some of the most delicious and expensive wine in the world. Regions like Chateauneuf du Pape to cult California wine.. Candied fruit roll-up and cinnamon flavor is what gives Grenache away to expert blind tasters. It has a medium to full weight in taste, but has a deceptively lighter color and is semi-transulcent. Great with roasted Vegetables. (Try Leo Steen, Tor, K Vintners, Shypoke and Torres)

11. Tinto de Toro: A.K.A Tempranillo (It is called Tinto de Toro in the Toro region of Spain) A dark, tough-skinned variety. Sometimes called the “blackest of black grapes”, the Tinta de Toro is only found in this part of Spain. Its small berries are rich in tannin and have exceptionally concentrated fruit flavors. Full-bodied intensity and complexity. (Try Telmo Rodriguez, Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos)

12. Sicilian Wine: What an under estimated Wine region. There are so many great wines coming out of Sicily, Nero d’Avola being one of the favorites. Nero d’Avola is often compared to Syrah because it likes similar growing conditions and exhibits many similar characteristics. Also check out sparkling wine from Mt. Etna..palate refreshing! (Try Cusamano Nero d’Avola and Murgo Brut and Brut Rose!)

13. GarganegaA.K.A Soave Most people under 40 have no idea what Soave is, and when I talk to my parents about it, they cringe with those haunting memories of what my Dad says was “rot-gut” Bolla from the 70’s and 80’s.Wine lovers need to realize that there is a new day in Soave…Focus on the small amount of tiny producers in the Soave ‘Classico’ zone (the jug companies do not operate there) They wines may share the Soave appellation, but they do not share the same quality or philosophy. These “New” Soaves are vibrant, but complex, bursting with flavor and such a better choice these days than the characterless, over-priced Pinot Grigios. ( Try Fattori) 

14. Sancerre: A.K.A. Sauvignon Blanc:  Just say “Sancerre” quietly and you’ll get an initial sense of the built-in appeal of this white wine from the Loire Valley. They are characteristically restrained rather than exuberant, perfumed with citrus and chalk rather than bold fruit. The aromas and flavors are of lime, grapefruit and lemon, of flowers and sometimes of herbs, and of minerality. They also have a texture and depth to them that disputes the widespread notion that Sauvignon Blanc can produce only simple wines. (Try Francois Cotat or Pastou)

15. Cahors:  South West France about 100 miles east of Bordeaux. Red blends made up of almost all Malbec. Dark colored, spice, dark cherry, cedar notes. You’ll need to get out your wine wipes for your teeth! Cahors is inherently tighter and much leaner than the opulent style of Malbec in the Americas. (Try Cosse et Malsonneuve) 

16. Petite Sirah: It’s loved for its extraordinary deep color and full-bodied flavors of blueberry, chocolate, plums and black pepper. Despite its popularity, Petite Sirah is an exceptionally rare grape with less than 10,000 planted acres worldwide. And no it’s not a smaller version of Syrah. Has high tannins and likes to be drunk young. It may be the healthiest..as it has one of the highest levels of anthocyanin (antioxidant). (Try Stanton, C. Beck, or an Orin Swift blend!)

17. Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir: The flavors and complexity of Sta. Rita Hills wines come from a combination of east-west coastal valleys, cool weather, fog, wind and soils that limit vine vigor and crop yield intensifying the flavors of our wines. Natural acidity balanced with firm structure is a common thread in the wines throughout the region making them easy to pair with a variety of foods. (Try Peake Ranch, Rudy, Tantara and Ojai)

18. South African Chardonnay:  South African Chardonnays typically produce aromas and flavors rich in tropical fruit and exotic spices. Winemakers here like to experiment and it is even popular in Stellenbosch to blend Chardonnay with Sauvignon Blanc. Generally, the wines are simpler than French Chardonnays, and are lighter and more tropical than Californian Chardonnays. (Try Capensis)

19. Oregon Pinot Noir: You could say that Oregon is a Pinot Noir bridge. The state’s most celebrated and successful wine style could generally be classified as somewhere between the heady, earthy Pinot Noirs of Burgundy — the grape’s ancestral home in France — and the fruity, jammy pinots of California. (Try Beaux Freres, Arterberry Maresh, Ken Wright)

20. Barbaresco: Barbaresco is one of Italy’s top wines. Yet, for many years, it’s also been one of its most under appreciated gems. Many wine drinkers passed on it in favor of Barolo, its larger, more renowned neighbor. But now Barbaresco is stepping up its game as the region’s unique microclimate encourages freshness and balance in its Nebbiolo grapes, even in the hottest vintages. (Try La Ca’Nova)

Don’t forget your checklist! 2017 Wine Bucket List 

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