/ story and photography by Pete Martin
Visit most wine stores and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the wines from a seemingly endless number of wineries. But in reality, the number of producers is far greater than what’s on the shelf. Many smaller wineries only sell wines direct, and many larger producers don’t offer all their wines to retail. Most wineries, however, will ship. Whether you order a bottle for a special occasion or join a wine club, mail-ordering wines is a great way to explore special, unique bottlings. Don’t know where to start? Here are picks from six of my favorite wineries.
Bookwalter 1st Edition, $50
ORDER IT to experience Washington state’s take on an old-world classic
DRINK IT with fish, poultry, cream sauces and soft cheese
As the story goes, owner John Bookwalter was inspired to make 1st Edition during a visit to Bordeaux, France, in 2010. First released last year, this wine is a blend of the three traditional white grapes of Bordeaux: sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle. Aromas of fig, orange and kiwi are followed by richly layered flavors of tropical fruits and a toastiness suggests exposure to new oak.
Harvest Moon Pitts Home Ranch Estate Zinfandel, $50
ORDER IT to experience zin’s depth and dimension
DRINK IT with grilled foods, beef or lamb
A friend of mine told me she doesn’t like zinfandel because it’s sweet and one-dimensional. She needs to try this Harvest Moon. Winemaker Randy Pitts knows how to make zin; I’ve been a fan ever since we met in his winery 15 years ago. Pitts Home Ranch isn’t California zin as you likely know it; this is a complex wine with many facets. Here, spicy red fruits, cherry compote and black pepper mingle with the right touch of acidity.
Hyland Estates Coury Old Vine Pinot Noir, $70
ORDER IT to experience an Oregon pinot noir with a long finish
DRINK IT alongside grilled pork or salmon
Many Oregon pinot noirs are wonderful, typically reflecting a more traditional, restrained French style. This Hyland is no exception, though it offers a bit more body than many others. The Coury, which Hyland has biodynamically grown since the early 1970s, offers depth, complexity and balance. The wine blooms on the palate with flavors of plums, cherries, earth, tea and pepper. There’s a wonderfully long finish, too.
King Estate Blanc De Noirs Méthode Champenoise, $90
ORDER IT because bubbles are special and this is worth its price tag
DRINK IT with soft, creamy cheeses and fresh fruit
You shouldn’t be surprised that this Oregon sparkler is made with pinot noir grapes. But these grapes are grown intentionally for sparkling wine. Oregon, it turns out, has an almost ideal climate and these grapes are picked early to ensure a bright, crisp taste. Aromas and flavors of lemon, herbs and green apples leave a delightful, lingering finish. This is a rich, complex wine perfect for any celebration.
Lynmar La Sereinité Chardonnay, $70
ORDER IT to experience chardonnay in its purest form
DRINK IT with oysters, crab cakes, grilled lobster or cheesy pasta
When I visited the Lynmar Estate in Sonoma, I was immediately blown away by the wines. La Sereinité is no exception. It is made from a blend of the best estate chardonnay. To focus on the grape, the juice is fermented in neutral oak barrels and small concrete tanks. If you’re tired of over-oaked chardonnays, look no further. Rich flavors of stone fruits, melon and citrus are balanced with beautiful minerality and acidity.
Stonestreet Bear Point Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, $65
ORDER IT to experience wine’s ability to complement food
DRINK IT with steak
Steak is on the menu of many a celebratory dinner, and for many, it demands a cabernet sauvignon. Bear Point is the least expensive cab (by more than half) in Stonestreet’s single-vineyard collection, but it embodies everything I love about this Sonoma County winery. Flavors of plum, raspberry, tobacco and chocolate are deeply textured, yet impeccably balanced with just the right amount of acidity and tannins. Rather than overshadow food, Bear Point complements it (especially if that food is steak).