Today might be your last chance to buy wine for your planned July 4th festivities. Here are a few bottles to look out for:
Breakfast Wine: Onward Malvasia Bianca ‘Pet-Nat’ 2013 ~ Suisun Valley, Callifornia
Petillant Naturel — or ‘Pet-Nat’ — is an unusual style of wine that it sort of accidental, a little dangerous (due to the possibility of exploding bottles) and very much in vogue among the young Californian eonorati. Popular in out of the way French appellations, it is a sparkling wine made without the use of added sugar or yeast, and often found bottled under crown cap. Winemaker and proprietor Faith Armstrong-Foster makes her floral and pretty version from Malvasia planted in Solano County, just east of Napa. It’s the perfect fizzy accompaniment to flapjacks and sliced watermelon, and an excellent way to toast our founding fathers.
Back-Porch Crusher: Lieu Dit Melon de Bourgogne 2013 ~ Santa Barbara, California
My only problem with this wine is that partners Eric Railsbeck and Justin Willett didn’t make nearly enough. Taking the principal variety of the Pays de Nantais, the home of Muscadet in the Loire Valley, but planted in Santa Maria Valley, they nailed the form. Crisp, but with just enough texture in the mid-palate to avoid seeming too nervy, this Melon is just as good with oysters, pictured suggestively on the front label, as it is with fried chicken.
Fireworks: Argyle Blanc de Blancs 2009 ~ Willamette Valley, Oregon (1.5L)
Nothing says party-time like a magnum of sparkling wine, and even real Champagne snobs will be impressed by the quality of the fizz being turned out at this Oregon estate. Although availability is different state-to-state, all the cuvées, from the regular Brut through the single vineyard expressions like the Knudsen, are delicious, regardless of the size of the bottle. Argyle doesn’t use leftover, under-ripe grapes in the sparkling wines, which some get away with since all you have to do is add sugar, they have specific parcels dedicated to these wines.
Chillable Red: Sheldrake Point Gamay 2011 ~ Cayuga Lake, New York
I’ve written before about the rising quality of Upstate New York reds, but in some ways, this Gamay from the solid, and solidly situated, Sheldrake Point is more like the reds of old — so pale as to be just a half-step above rosé. That’s perfect, though, to throw in the cooler next to the cans of beer, and it’s great with burgers off the grill.
Something Serious: Sixteen 600 Zinfandel 2010 ~ Sonoma Valley, California
The home wine of one half of the famed Coturri brothers Phil, his brother Tony runs the eponymous estate they started with their father, who is perhaps best known for his experience with organic viticulture, this is a heady expression of a grape that is very American, Zinfandel. Although its prog-rock meets Secessionist packaging may suggest otherwise, it’s not over the top, neither too sugary nor too boozy. Open in the afternoon and don’t consume until after the fireworks.
Contributor Chad Walsh writes about wine and other beverages. He is also beverage manager for The Dutch in NYC.