Admittedly, we meant to get back to this sooner. In wrapping up the discussion for now of the lighter wines we are drinking at home, this article will focus on a few more Northern California favorites.
We first discovered the wines made by Shane Finley several years ago. Back before Facebook became so popular, Michael relied on various wine message boards for news. And that was how he first heard about Shane and his eponymous label. The buzz was actually pretty compelling so Michael took a chance. We immediately became big fans of his Syrah and later [gasp!] his Pinot Noir. For lighter wines, Shane used to make a Grenache Blanc, but the last vintage of this seems to have been 2014. We’ve enjoyed his Rose, which used to be made from Syrah grapes but now with Pinot Noir. But the real showstopper for us in the light wine department is his Sauvignon Blanc under his Constant Disruptions label, which is a sub-project of his Shane brand.
Shane’s Constant Disruptions bottle art shows a picture of his parents as a young couple. The name “Constant Disruptions” refers to a comment about Shane on one of his early report cards, the Sauvignon Blanc is called “Infraction”. The wines are typically single varietal and the pricing is really amazing for what’s in the bottle. For those of you that fear Sauv Blanc due to its high acidity, you’ll have nothing to be scared of here – just rich pure delicious fruit. The 2019 was from the Russian River Valley. It had lemon notes with a lingering medium finish and paired perfectly with our roasted cod. Unfortunately, this was our last bottle of the 2019. Fortunately, our case of 2020s just arrived!
Navarro Vineyards [www.navarrowine.com]
In our search for lighter wines, we’ve taken the opportunity to try to some wines that we’ve been receiving emails from for what seems like years but had not checked out. One of these is Navarro.
Navarro is in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley. One of the special things about Mendocino County, in addition to the abundance of tasty wines, are the not-Napa/Sonoma prices, especially Navarro’s mixed-case specials. So far, we’ve especially enjoyed the Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer, both from the 2018 vintage. The Chard was medium-bodied with vanilla and pear notes – not over the top as it too often seems to be these days. The Gewurtz showed peach and lychee on the palate, a bright melon nose and a medium-to-long finish with crisp acidity. It paired perfectly with chicken in a honey/mustard sauce.
They are definitely on our list to visit when we start traveling to Nor Cal again.
Helen Keplinger is a superstar winemaker, having gained her reputation making wine for Grace Family Vineyards and Bryant Family Vineyard, among others. She is now totally focused on making wine for the label that bears her name. When we think of the Keplinger wines, we usually think of her powerful Syrahs and Rhone blends, so the relatively delicate nature of both the 2019 Eldorado and the 2020 Rose were somewhat of a surprise to us.
Not that their delicacy implied lack of flavor or complexity. The Rose is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre from the Shake Ridge Vineyard in Amador County. It has a luscious floral nose, with peach notes and a light to medium finish. The Rose is very crisp and paired perfectly with a salmon mousse appetizer. The Eldorado is a vibrant blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc from Amador County. We noted guava tones and a long smooth finish.
Michael and Karen Perlis have been pursuing their passion for wine for more than 30 years. They have had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show them the way and after a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as they possibly could, they had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Michael and Karen do their best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers.