Ever since our first day of kindergarten, September has meant one thing: back to school. Our time on the playground may have come to end, but our education continues with wine. This month Team Bottlenotes is broadening its research beyond the textbook classics, and geeking out over quirky wines from around the globe.
SCHOLIUM PROJECT “Riquewihr Lost Slough Vineyard” Gewurztraminer 2010 (Napa Valley, CA) $44
The name "scholium" was chosen by Abe Schoener from the Greek scholion, which shares the same root as "school, scholarship." So by definition, Professor Abe’s wines are geeky- as he himself is philosophically minded. This Scholium white, like most, is complex, weighty, memorable and distinctive. Find it here.
COMSTOCK WINES “Rockpile” Zinfandel 2012 (Rockpile & Dry Creek Valley, CA) $42
This is just the epitome of why I love zinfandel. Dry Creek is where I go when I want a delicious Zin and this amazing vintage from the small boutique AVA of Rockpile has a huge following. It’s delicious with smoky meats and hearty Italian cuisine. Pure heaven with only 135 cases produced from this wonderful new winery whose tasting room in being built as we speak! Find it here.
CUSUMANO “Benuara” 2012 (Sicily, IT) $17
The first time I encountered a glass stopper in a bottle of wine, I was intrigued. It seemed so romantic, with a sort of Alice-in-Wonderland, vintage apothecary feel, truly offering up the “Drink Me” proposition. This elegant cork alternative, introduced in Europe in the early ‘00s, uses an inert o-ring, creating a hermetic seal that prevents oxidation and “cork taint.” However, given the relative high cost of this type of enclosure, they are pretty tough to come by. Enter: Benuara, a Southern Italian blend of syrah and nero d’avola, AKA my second encounter. Brambly and brooding, with a long, complex finish, this wine is the perfect start to an evening with close friends…or perhaps as a homemade love potion. Find it here.
KRUPP BROTHERS "The Doctor" 2011 (Napa Valley, California) $90
Stagecoach Vineyard is one of the most magical places I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. Owned by Krupp Brothers, this wine country paradise traverses Atlas Peak AVA and the Pritchard Hill region. It offers breathtaking views of the Napa Bench below, the Mayacamas Mountains due west and, on a clear day, the San Francisco skyline some fifty miles away. The most distinguished wine I tried during my trip was "The Doctor" 2011. A peculiar blend of mainly cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo, syrah and petit verdot, the majority of its fruit comes from Stagecoach and the rest from the neighboring Krupp Brothers Vineyard. Bursting with luscious notes of violet, black cherry and burnt caramel, this wine captures the majestic beauty of its home. Find it here.
IMAGERY ESTATE WINERY Albariño 2013 (Sonoma County, CA) $29
I don't usually sip albariño in the middle of September, but this wine is the perfect way to get one last taste of summer. Dry, crisp and refreshing, this wine from Imagery has a lush palate full of vivid fruit. Tropical aromas of honeydew and cantaloupe dominate the nose and a hint of lemon zest adds a mouthwatering finish. Find it here.
STADLMANN “Anninger” Rotgipfler 2012 (Thermenregion, Niederösterreich, Austria) $15
If you ever have white wines from Austria, you are in for a delectable treat! However, for the first time, I experienced the indigenous varietal, rotgipfler. Talk about a complex wine at such a great value. To me, the best comparison would be to a chenin blanc. The wine provides lush pear, apple and bits of orange with a well-integrated acidity. There is a bit of minerality that adds to that complexity. I tasted it without food, but this wine would also pair beautifully with a light seafood dish. A refreshing way to kick off an evening, I encourage you checking out this special Austrian varietal. Find it here.
DONNAFUGATA “Lighea” Zibibbo 2013 (Sicily, Italy) $18
For my geeky wine, I chose a varietal that I had never tasted, let alone heard of, before. Zibibbo is an aromatic grape brought over by ancient Arab settlers to the Sicilian island of Pantelleria. The “Lighea” has a straw color and an aroma of fresh blossoms and peaches that was enjoyable. I would absolutely try it again with the recommended pairings of fish and fresh vegetables. Find it here.
BELDEN BARNS Estate Grüner Veltliner 2012 (Sonoma Mountain, CA) $26
I had never had an unfiltered wine before until I tried Belden Barns Estate Grüner Veltliner. Its cloudiness may catch you by surprise but it is a delicious, herbaceous wine that has a little kick to it when sipping. Not only is it unfiltered and produced naturally, but it is also Belden Barns’ first ever vintage that they created from grüner veltliner grapes in Sonoma, CA , which are rarely grown outside of Austria. Its beautifully designed label is also a plus for this design gal. Find it here.