Try this Rosé sparkler as a gentle rebound from the fireworks

July 8, 2023

Let’s start with a sparkler: J Vineyards Brut Rosé NV, with 59% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier, has an orange zest, cherry, strawberry and mineral nose. Longtimers are aware I think the color of sparkling rosé adds a festive tone that its pale sisters do not engender. The nose follows the palate with prolific, tiny bead to keep it light, and the bright acidity supports all, providing a clean palate after enjoying most appetizers.

Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc Paso Robles 2022 is a new release and continues its reputation as a fairly priced wine for sipping or to enhance our Delmarvelous crab cakes, steamers or grilled chicken, 89 McD under $16. Tropical fruit and grapefruit aromas ride a sprightly acidity with grapefruit and lemon flavors through the long, clean finish. Their 2019 Cab shows black currant, blueberry and pie spice aromas with dark fruit and herb flavors plus a licorice hint. Well-balanced wine, great with grilled beef and can be found under $20. Geyser Peak Winery SB 2021 came in with one of its best-rated vintages in a while, and it is all over New Jersey and New York under $10. So far, I have seen none on local shelves. This 100% SB is straw-colored and opens to citrus blossom, pineapple and grapefruit aromas. Tropical fruit palate with herbal notes and a hint of coconut in its finish. Try with coconut-crusted shrimp or fish in your air fryer, 90 McD plus 2 price points. I’m betting after you buy one bottle, you may spring for a case. Geyser Peak, founded in 1880, is on the way out. Penfolds bought half in 1989, then Accolade in 2012 and a year later Francis Ford Coppola. Too many ownership changes, its lineup in flux and folks abandoning the “cheap” wine category may have placed downward pressure also. The last I read, D.C.-based Carlisle Group bought it for around $700 million. The coup de grace was the Kincade fire in 2022. Those who have visited the Mayacamas will remember the ravines and steep terrain. Too bad, because it had a long, lovely tradition of inexpensive, well-made wine, including a fine Merlot and Malbec. They were clients of the ill-fated SVB wine division.

Raymond Vineyard Napa Reserve Selection Cab 2019 can be found at $22 for halves, under $40 for 750s and $80 for magnums, 92 McD. Very dark purple with cassis, dried herbs, sandalwood and barrel spice aromas, and more cassis plus chocolate, cherry and barrel notes on the rich, full-bodied palate. I was surprised how mellow and balanced it is; the color had me expecting a high tannic grip, lots of pucker. Long finish with more cassis flavors. Drinking well now but enough support that it should keep several more years. Kudos to winemaker Stephanie Putnam for this excellent-value Cab and the wide selection of bottlings. The 2018 is also an excellent choice for a comparable price.

Louis M. Martini is a California bellwether. It produces a wide range of varietal wine in Alexander Valley, Sonoma and Napa, with prices ranging from $19 on up to $250 for the 95-point LMM Lot No. 1 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Do not panic! Today’s recommendation, LMM Napa Valley Cab 2019, can be purchased for under $40 in states that love their voters. Here are three reviews, slightly edited for hyperbole only. Winemaker says: “black cherry, plum and black raspberry on the nose. Layers of black cherry, plum and cola on the palate. Beautifully balanced acidic structure supports the abundant fruit.” Suckling’s JS says 93 points, “A delicious, savory cabernet with aromas and flavors of dried flowers and cherries. Medium body with round, creamy tannins.” No attribution: “Napa Valley Cab presents a blend of cassis, vanilla and smoky cedar aromas, layered with notes of black licorice and spice.” My score, 92. Currant, blueberry and cherry fruit with barrel toast and vanillin nuance. Fruit flavors repeat on juicy, medium-bodied palate, supported by smooth tannin and appropriate acidity. Ready this year but has at least 10 years cellar time. I did not detect cola. Try this and send me your evals at; I enjoy reading them.

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