2011 Clos Du Val Chardonnay, Carneros, Napa Valley, California ($25)
Clos Du Val is a classic Napa winery with a rich 40-year history. Winemaker Kristy Melton, at the vinous helm since 2012, is known for her deft touch. This Chardonnay expresses the elegance of its Carneros roots and is balanced with integrated oak, succulent fruit notes, and luscious yet vibrant texture.
2009 àMaurice “Night Owl” red, Walla Walla Valley, Washington ($47)
Many wine drinkers have never heard of this boutique producer tucked away in eastern Washington, but consider it a true treasure. Winemaker Anna Shafer is one of the hottest craftswomen in wine right now and her wines – from Viognier to Malbec and more– are simply delicious. This Bordeaux-style red blend combines Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It’s so smooth, it’s like drinking velvet.
2012 Reata Chardonnay, Carneros, California ($25)
I’m a huge of Chardonnay. Balanced, mouthwatering yet rich styles are what I crave and that is exactly what Reata makes. Grapes hail from the cool Carneros region straddling Napa and Sonoma allowing them to get ripe, full flavors, but maintain their acidity and brightness from cool nights. This wine is aged in half stainless steel and other half in oak barrels creating the perfect balance of crisp fruit notes and a creamy texture. It’s a wine at home with salmon dishes as well as pork chops bathed in mustard sauce.
2011 Jamieson Ranch “Double Lariat” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California ($55)
You might expect to pay twice the price for a cellar-worthy, classy Napa Cabernet such as this one. The Double Lariat is powerful and structured but already drinking as smooth as silk. Both fermented and aged in barrel to allow for more complexity, aromas of cocoa and brown spices pair with rich, dark berry fruit notes and supple tannins, which give layers of lushness to the wine. Drink with simple grilled steak for a perfect pairing (just make sure to decant several hours ahead of time).