A variety of wine choices to start your new year

December 31, 2022

Happy New Year! Wishing all of you the best in 2023: good health, success in your endeavors, happiness for your families, swift and favorable remediation for anything that is amiss, and all the fullness for your lives good outcomes will provide. Since you will be reading this on the cusp of New Year’s Eve, you may have some late add-ins to your guest list. I did some local shopping to learn what was available for last-minute wine buys. 

I found two Prosecci labeled Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG. Regulars may remember this is a top labeling from the best-regarded Prosecco region in Italy. Santa Margherita Brut Superiore is rarely on local shelves. Some of its secondary labels can easily be found, 91 McD under $23. Prolific, tiny, persistent, greyish-silver mousse. Jasmine, crisp apple, bitter almond aromas. The bitter almond continues on the tangy palate with hints of pear and orange. LaMarca Luminore Conegliano Valdobbiadene shows pale straw color with wildflower, honey and peach aromas. Peaches and citrus follow through to the bright palate. It finishes with a slight fruit-driven sweet effect, 89 McD under $18. This wine has a mild bitter-almond finish that I find very appealing. Caveat Emptor! Louis Roederer Collection 242 is being flacked as a baby Cristal. The marketing boys are in front of their skis comparing it to Krug’s Grand Cuvee. Nevertheless, it was decent for a 90-point, clean-out-the-inventory blend at $50; the following recommendations may be better.  

James Suckling rated Domaine Bousquet Rosé Brut 90 points under $13. He is a fair reporter; I have not sampled any yet. I did sample two of their reserve organics, 2021 new release under $18. The Cab 2021 I rated 88 McD, the Malbec 91 points. This is a lovely Malbec priced fairly. I would let it breathe for an hour in its glass or cellar a year. It was excellent with venison that fed on our local corn crop all summer. Those who wish to go upscale with Malbec, look for those labeled Catena Zapata. They have seven of Wine-searcher’s 10 most wanted Malbecs. The peeps have spoken!

California sparklers have led the pack in sales growth lately, even Prosecco. I saw some Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut NV magnums (1.5 ml), on sale under $50, 90 McD. A magnum will provide about 12 servings at 4 oz. each. Those with unsteady hands should use two 750 ml bottles. You may also find this is cheaper. Beautiful fine bead, medium body, apple, butter, ginger, hazelnut and vanilla aromas supported by vibrant acidity.

Most readers know the name Iron Horse Vineyards Wedding Cuvee, and rightfully so. Few are aware their Classic Vintage Brut is a possibility. Those who wish to search a bit can find the 2017, 94 McD, for $35. If you work in or visit D.C., DCWineGuy will deliver it free. This is a great buy around $50, so I doubt it will last. With 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, it shows stone fruit, hazelnut liqueur and marzipan; mineral-driven, bright acidity. On the palate, citrus and oyster shell flavors. As you may have guessed, great accompaniment for oysters.

The 2018, 90 McD and 2016, 92 McD Soter Vineyards Mineral Springs Blanc de Blanc Brut from Yamhill-Carlton, Ore., may be the best of Oregon bubblies. Plus, they hit the sustainable-biodynamic-organic certification guidelines. The recent release 2015 spent six years en tirage, was disgorged in 2019 and hit the shelves in May 2022. Under $120, McD 92. It brings apples, Asian pear and lemon oil aromas. Hints of yeasty croissant, chalky minerality and broad body reflect the effort to supply wine close to well-made Champagne at half the price. Keep your eyes peeled for Soter Vineyards. I have sampled across their production, and except for Planet Oregon Chard, they all rated above 89 points except 88-point entry-level sparklers under $25, named Bubbles and Beacon Hill Brut Rosé. Their Estate Pinot Noir 2016-19, $57, 93 McD, are top-flight, with excellent quality-price ratio.

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