Easter dinner wine selections still offer many options

April 8, 2023

Happy Easter! Here are some Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon recommendations for last-minute shoppers. Chalk Hill Estate SB, consistently $21 and 90-91 McD points since 2015, continues its skein of value SB. The 2020, likely on local shelves, won several gold and silver medals and best of class at LA International; it is a go-to in this price range. Babich SB NZ 2022 is a juicy, clean, acid-bright SB with a mixed bouquet of green apple, lime and tropical fruit. On the palate, slightly herbal with pineapple, mango and lime flavors; clean, fresh finish repeats the lime acidity. It’s an exceptionally good buy at 89 points, $13. The 2021, 90 McD, has a similar profile. Also try Grgich Hills Estate Grown Dry SB Fumé Blanc; it shows grapefruit, lemon flower and lime aromas, then transitions to a citrus, bell pepper, snap pea palate with a touch of flint and saline minerality. Fairly versatile, supporting butter-sautéed flounder, fresh, not cured or salty Virginia ham, roast pork loin, and goat milk cheeses; 90 McD around $30. Grgich Hills also produces halves, 375 ml, around $17. Justin SB 2021 shows pale straw with silver rim. If served around 60 degrees, it is redolent of lemon, tropical fruit and pear with acacia and herbal nuance. Its dry palate shows citrus and green apple on attack, then adds white and green pepper, herbal and floral notes. The finish is long and clean with the panoply of aromas and flavors persisting. The winemaker recommended it with a salad of mixed greens, walnuts and goat cheese. I added just a splash of jalapeno-infused XVOO and a dash of sea salt. Yippee! I’m repeating my advice on Bogle SB 2020, 90 McD plus 1 price point, and the 2021, 88 points, both findable around $10; and Joel Gott 2020, 91 McD under $15. Avoid the 2021 Gott. Nothing wrong, but at 86 points, we can do better. 

I chose Cabs this week because so many enjoy lamb during holiday week. Those who visited Bordeaux or Napa/Sonoma back in the day would have seen sheep and goats everywhere. The cheese and wine industries are still there today, and as one would expect, the farmers made wine with an affinity for the area's food production. It started with Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary who planted what became known as Mission grapes in 1769 and remained the primary grape until the 1880s, when the Gold Rush brought a wave of immigrants to Northern California. They decided farming to provide victuals and wine for the miners and San Fran was more suited to their skills. Many gold rush-era settlers were Italian, and they grew the fruit, grains, animals and wine of their forebears. Oops, getting into the weeds here. Those interested can go to the UC Davis site for a great rundown; search: A short history on wine making in California – UC Davis Library.

This next may shock regulars. Check out Beringer California Collection Cabernet Sauvignon. There are several labels – Founders Estate, $8; Beringer Bros. Bourbon Barrel Aged, $14; Maine and Vine, $10.50; and Knights Valley CS. I was gifted the Bourbon Bros. and it was an enjoyable, black-cherry, cranberry butter vanilla toasted oak, full-bodied wine. Tannins and acuity in balance. I’m not much for tricked-up wine, but this was a decent effort, 87 McD. Beringer, a well-established label selling Cabs from $7 all the way up to its 95-point, $175 Private Reserve 2019 and the $150, 93 McD Beringers Vineyard Single Vineyard St. Helena Home CS. Across their spectrum, the QPR is always fair to particularly good. The further up the line you go, the better the values. Those who are unfamiliar can get a fine read with 2019 Knights Valley Reserve CS Sonoma 2019, $45. If this juice came from about 15 miles east in Napa, you might be looking at $150. It is far superior to Beringer Distinction CS Napa 2019 at $47. I’ve visited the entire region and am hard pressed to say “terroir.” Buy both and compare to observe the Napa bias of so many reviewers. Have a blessed weekend.



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