Labor Day beckons, which means back-to-school, no white pants (not!), and the end of summer weather. (Not in Texas!) It feels just like August, so why not pull out all the stops and uncork something cool for that last fling with summer?
Think racy riesling, lush albarino, sexy sancerre, and of course, the most mouthwatering chardonnays and berry-bursting pinot noirs.
KYLA (pronounced “shoola”) means “chill” in the native tongue of Pedernales Cellars’ Swedish relatives, which perfectly describes its 2020 Petillant Naturel. “Pet Nat,” is an ancient way of making sparkling wine which allows primary fermentation in the bottle to create carbonation. Pet Nat is un-aged, largely un-fined, and generally has larger bubbles than Method Champenoise. (That’s Champagne, ya’ll!) About $35.
If actress Cameron Diaz could be a wine, it would be Avaline. Founded by Cameron Diaz and Katherine Power, Avaline wines are made with organic grapes and no additives. Avaline Rosé is a pretty blend of grenache, syrah and other grapes from Provence, while 2020 Avaline Sparkling is vibrantly refreshing (sold in precious half bottles, $25). A crisp white from Spain and a delicious French grenache blend ($24) round out the portfolio.
Olema Wines, based in Calistoga, proves great wine doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Its 2019 Sonoma County chardonnay drips peaches, apricots, and crisp apple with a shortbread-driven finish. Pinot noir flaunts fruity exuberance, and the 2020 Cotes de Provence rosé hints of dried herbs, roses and perky red berry notes. Celebrate California Wine Month and check out all 9 varietals, including the sparkling Cremant de Loire. ($15-$25)
New Marine Layer Wines pays homage to the cold blanket of fog that pours in from the Sonoma coast marine layer. Small production chardonnay and pinot noir are the focus with a stellar lineup from sought-after vineyard sites. The wines are vibrant, structured and finessed. ($30-$65)
A rising star in Paso Robles, DAOU Family Estates launched their first rosé last year and became the number one domestic, premium rosé in the U.S. The 2020 Provençal-style rosé by winemaker Daniel Daou is vinified at low temperatures to preserve fresh fruit and floral aromas—think peach, Bartlett pear and nectarine balanced with hyacinth. The bottle is also of French design. ($24)
Montinore Estate in the Willamette Valley is one of the nation’s largest producers of certified estate wines made from biodynamic grapes. Cool-climate juicy whites, beautiful pinot noir and fascinating Italian red varietals make up the vast collection ($25-$55). Riesling reserve, Roulette pinot gris and Nebbiolo are a few standouts.
EUROPEAN DAY DREAMING
Saget La Perrière, France, epitomizes the hallmark of accessibility and charm, with a collection of wines throughout 30 Loire Valley appellations. Two prime regional varieties, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, are showcased in each selection, from the stunning La Perriere sancerre (about $43) to a bracing blanc Pouilly de fume ($34) and La Petite pinot noir ($14). Prepare to be impressed.
Kissed by ocean breezes, Rías Baixas shares more than 1,000 miles of coastline with the Atlantic Ocean, so the wines from this region have a mineral-driven character balanced with acidity and stone fruit and citrus zest notes. Elegant Santiago Ruiz O Rosal opens with a jasmine fragrance followed by pear, apple and spice on the palate. ($20)
(Note: the latter will order wines if they don’t carry it and can locate it.)
Cover photo courtesy Sonoma Country Tourism
Robin Barr Sussman (firstname.lastname@example.org), a freelance culinary and travel writer, studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, Calif. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman is a columnist for Houston Modern Luxury Magazine, Get Lost Houston, Prime Living and Houston House & Home. Her work also appears in Texas Monthly, Fodor’s and Private Clubs Magazine.