It's anybody's guess as to what 2022 will hold for the wine industry. Much will depend on what the impact of the COVID-19 Omicron variant will be. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. A surge in new COVID cases will be certain to have an effect, maybe even a shutdown like that which occurred in 2020. Many wineries have already shut down for the winter and will reopen in spring.
In the meantime, wineries are taking care of the 2021 vintage which looks promising. And there will be plenty of new wines to be released in 2022. Also, we will continue to review more winter releases, including Golden Ridge Cellars and explore wineries we haven't reviewed before, including Category 5 in Woodinville and Van Arnam Vineyards in Zillah whose wines we recently discovered.
New Wines Tasted Recently
N.V. Graham Beck Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine, West Cape ($19.99 - wine.com) - This South Africa bubbly is composed of 59% Pinot Noir and 41% Chardonnay and made by "Method Cap Classique." It shows a copper tinged pink color, streaming bubbles and enticing aromas of strawberry, pink cherry, orange, pink roses and pink incense. The flavors are fresh and vibrant (disgorged April 2021) with red fruits that are accented by grape skins and cherry stones. On the beck, the wine enlivens with fraise and cherry liqueurs and CO2 in the Brut finish. 18.5/20 points.
N.V. MAN Family Wines Brut Sparkling Wine, Cap Classique Brut ($20.99 - wine.com) - Brilliant lemon-gold colored, this presents streaming bubbles and rich aromas of pear, peach, orange peel, custard and orange incense. The flavors are fresh, bright and well textured (12 months on lees) with notes of grape and pear skins and peach stones. The wine enlivens on the back with pear and peach liqueurs, CO2 and recurring orange peel, followed by a biscuit, creamy yet brisk finish. 18.5/20 points.
N.V. Frederic Magnien Crémant de Bourgogne, Blanc de Noir Extra Brut ($26.99 - wine.com) - This displays a light lemon-gold color, streaming bubbles and enticing aromas of strawberry, pear-apple, pink cherry, apple blossoms, sweet pea flowers and white incense. The flavors are fresh and resonant, with pink and white fruits that are accented by grape and pear skins, cherry stones and granitic minerals. The back is enlivened by the CO2 and brisk fruit acids on the Extra Brut finish. 18.5/20 points.
N.V. Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut Reserve Exclusive ($47) - This Champagne displays a brilliant lemon-gold color, frothy bubbles and fragrant aromas of pear-apple, peach, grapefruit, apple blossoms, wisteria, brioche and white incense. The flavors are bright and mouth encompassing, with yellow fruits that are accented by grape and pear skins and saline minerals. On the back, the wine amplifies, w`ith pressed fruits, lees, recurring brioche and then turns brisk, with bright fruit acids and CO2, followed by a true Brut finish. Purchased at Safeway for $33.83. 19/20 points.
N.V. Roederer Estate Brut Sparkling Wine, Anderson Valley ($35) - This California combination of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay offers a brilliant lemon-gold color, streaming bubbles and aromas of pear-apple, white peach, Key lime, apple blossoms, lemon verbena and whiffs of vanillin and white incense. The flavors are fresh and vibrant with notes of grape and pear skins, peach stones and North Coast minerals. The resonance continues on the back with pear and peach liqueurs, lime zest and touches of brioche and toasty oak on the brisk finish. Purchased for $23.99 at Albertson's. 18.5/20 points.
N.V. Scharffrenberger Brut Excellence Rosé Sparkling Wine, Mendocino County ($25.99 - wine.com) - Brilliant copper-pink colored, this offers pinpoint bubbles and lovely aromas of wild strawberry, pink cherry, blood orange, cherry and orange blossoms and pink incense. The flavors are bright and fresh, with notes of grape skins, cherry stones and North Coast minerals. The wine enlivens on the back with fraise and cerise liqueurs, recurring orange peel and CO2 on the way to a nicely fruited Brut finish. "Delicious!" says Lynn. 18.5+/20 points.
2020 Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre ($39 - Foodscape, Walla Walla) - Previous vintages have been our go-to Sancerre. This vintage shows a light lemon-gold color and enticing aromas of green apple, white peach, lime, apple blossoms, meadow flowers and whiff of spiced white incense. The flavors are soft and rich, yet bracing and dynamic, with notes of grape skins, peach stones and calcareous minerals. The resonance continues on the back with poire and pêche liqueurs and lime zest, followed by a lingering ultra precise finish. 19/20 points.
2020 Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau Macon Villages, "Clos Saint Pancras" ($26.99 - wine.com) - From a grower in Pierreclos, this is a cut above the usual Maconnais. It shows a brilliant lemon-gold color and attractive aromas of pear-apple, white peach, grapefruit, apple blossoms, acacia flowers and white incense. The flavors are bright and lively, true Chardonnay, with notes of grape and pear skins, peach stones and limestone minerals. The resonance continues on the back with poire and pêche liqueurs and grapefruit peel, followed by a crisp, finely fruited, well defined finish. 18.5/20 points.
2019 Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages, Vieilles Vignes ($13.99 - wine.com) - This an amiable yet serious Beaujolais. It shows a ruby color and rich aromas of raspberry and red currant, with scents of rosebuds, tobacco, mulberry and hillside brush. The flavors are ample yet deep (from 60 year-old vines) with notes of licorice, cocoa, herbal tea and minerals. On the back, the wine turns chewy textured with macerated berries, roasted nuts, framboise and creme de cassis, followed by a satisfying moderate tannin finish. A bargain at $13.99. 18+/20 points.
2019 Maison L'Envoyé, "Terre de Thé" ($18.99 - wine.com) - This an attractive Cru Beaujolais. It displays a brick red color and ripe aromas of strawberries, cherries, currants, crushed roses, tobacco leaf and whiffs of spiced incense. The flavors are generous yet muscular, with notes of red licorice, cocoa, black tea and granitic minerals. The back picks up fraise and cassis liqueurs and soft charcoal, followed by a rich, juicy moderate tannin finish. "It's lovely - fresh and pleasant," says Lynn. 18.5/20 points.
2020 Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay, Monterey County, Santa Lucia Highlands ($30) - This is a Wagner Family (Caymus) product. It displays a brilliant lemon-gold color and floral aromas of Asian pear-apple, white peach, Key lime, apple blossoms, honeysuckle and green incense. The flavors are bright and lively, with notes of grape and pear skins and Santa Lucia Highlands minerals. The resonance continues on the back with poire and pêche liqueurs and touches of crème fraiche, toasty oak and nougat, followed by a lengthy balanced finish. "Wow," says Lynn. When purchased for $19.99, this overdelivers. 19/20 points.
2019 Sea-Sun Vineyard Pinot Noir, California ($30) - Made by Charlie Wagner, this also overdelivers. Composed of 94% Monterey County and 3% each of Solano and San Luis obispo counties, this offers a deep brick red color and an intense nose of black cherries, black currants, black plums, black roses, sweet pea flowers and sweet incense. The wine brims with dark fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa and wind-blown earth. The back picks up pressed fruits, kirsch and creme de cassis on the way to a supple yet vigorous moderate tannin finish. Purchased for $19.99 at Safeway. !8.5/20 points.
2019 Chalone Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir, Chalone AVA ($29.99 - wine.com) - This is a tasty Pinot Noir. Brick red colored, it emits intoxicating aromas of wild fruits - fraises de bois, cranberry, black currants - with scents of crushed roses, bayberry, sweet tobacco and sweet incense. The flavors are deliciously generous and mouth filling yet focused, with lavish red fruits that are infused with licorice, cocoa, black tea and Gavilan Mountain limestone minerals. The back reveals macerated berries, roasted hazelnuts, fraise and cerise liqueurs and soft charcoaL, followed by a suave yet precise moderate tannin finish. 19/20 points.
2019 Joseph Phelps Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Freestone Vineyards ($49.99 - wine.com) - Deep brick red colored, this possesses a rich nose of wild strawberries, old tree cherries, red currants, crushed roses, swwwt tobacco, sandalwood and sweet incense. The flavors are simultaneously vigorous, mouth filling and and velvety, with red fruits that are interwoven with red licorice, cocoa powder, Earl Grey tea and dusty earth and stones. The sensuousness continues on the back with pressed fruits, fraise and cassis liqueurs and lanolin ("legs"). The finish is warm (14.19% alcohol) but balanced by fruit acids on the lengthy ripe sweetish tannin finish. 19+/20 points.