The New Hot Wine Brands - Picked by Wine Business Monthly Magazine


Each year, a leading wine industry magazine, Wine Business Monthly, recognizes ten wine brands from across the nation for “doing something special, innovative, curious, adventurous and, of course, delicious.”  It’s worth searching for a bottle of these wines.  I tasted them at the recent Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento and they are truly delicious.    

Rusty Folena, winemaker, (l),
 and Bobby Gullett of Vino Noceto
Vino Noceto, located in the Sierra Foothills region of Amador County, has had a pioneering role in establishing the noble Tuscan varietal, Sangiovese, in California. For 27 years, the owners of Noceto have worked this notoriously finicky varietal and produced consistently delicious results. Try the Noceto Sangiovese. It is medium-bodied, fruit-packed, easy-drinking and well-balanced and a highly versatile wine with food.  One of my favorites. 14.2 percent alcohol. $18 the bottle.

Rotie Cellars,  Walla Walla, WA, prides itself in making old world wines from new world vines.  Their 2011 Southern Blend features 65 percent Grenache, 23 percent Mourvedre, 6 percent Syrah and 6 percent Cinsault.  Winemaker Sean Boyd says of this blend:  notes of white pepper, black currant, and raspberry on the nose. Being Grenache dominant, bright red fruits with rhubarb and cranberry prevail on the mid-palate, following through to anise and pepper in a long, smooth finish.” 14 percent alcohol.  $40 the bottle.

Penny Gadd-Coster,
winemaker, Rack & Riddle
The sparkling Blanc de Noirs from Rack & Riddle, Sonoma County, is a tribute to winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster.  This scrumptious North Coast bubbly is produced from 100 percent Pinot Noir, and features flavors of Brioche and a hint of berry, with bright citrus in the aromas.  Fine bubbles enhance these flavors in the mouth, and there is a lingering finish of citrus.  12.5 percent alcohol.  $22 the bottle.

Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, GA, was lauded for its 2009 Petit Verdot, but sadly, no more seems to be available!  Based on the terroir, if you want to try a wine from this winery, I’d suggest the Frogtown Applause.  This is primarily a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, and Touriga Nacional. “Dark fruit aromas and tastes of blackberry and cassis are bound together with a hint of vanilla and tobacco. This is a very supple wine. It is delicate and complex and easy to drink,” says the winemaker. $21.99 the bottle.

Lake Sonoma Winery featured its 2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.       The classic ripe and jammy aromas have nice toasted oak notes, and rich black fruit flavors. It’s a tannic wine, but has nicely balanced acidity.  15.3 percent alcohol.  $35 the bottle.
Molly Drew of
Drew Family Cellars
Drew Family Cellars produced its 2011 Syrah from grapes grown in the Valenti Vineyard on top of Greenwood Ridge, in the Mendocino Ridge AVA which is a challenging place to grow winegrapes. Daily maritime winds and cooler temperatures give notable results, as this wine also was declared a Top 100 Wine of the Year 2013 by Wines & Spirits Magazine. There are flavors of boysenberry, blackberry, white pepper and dark chocolate in this wine, with a pleasant minerality. Firm and velvety tannins lead the way to a long finish. Yummy. 12.8 percent alcohol. $40 the bottle.

Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden, Applegate Valley, Oregon, produces the 2012 Spiral 36, a blend of 50% Viognier, 305 Marsanne and 20% Roussanne.  The tropical and citrus fruit flavors persist on the palate and this wine is great for sipping alone or with full-flavored dishes and strong cheeses. 13.5 percent alcohol.  $28 the bottle.
Steve Matthiasson, Winemaker,
Matthiasson’s 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay, Linda Vista Vineyard, is a small-production wine crafted lovingly by Steve Matthiasson.  Only 1200 cases were produced.   It is juicy with notes of Bartlett pear, green apple, white peach and Crenshaw melon, with a touch of lemon.  Nice and bright with minerality and acidity that are beautifully balanced.   13.5 percent alcohol.  $25 the bottle.
Lange Twins Family Winery and Vineyards showcased its 2012 Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s hard not to love Lodi wines, particularly the jammy Zinfandel grown there, and this Lodi Sauvignon Blanc is absolutely delicious and very affordable.   I liked the bright aroma of lemon that makes it refreshing, and the melon hints add to that impression.  Crisp and clean citrus notes and a tropical touch too make this mouth-watering and with a nice acid bite.  13.2 percent alcohol.  $15 the bottle.
Riverbench Vineyard and Winery, Santa Maria, CA, produced a 2011 Estate Pinot Noir that is a great representative of Santa Barbara County’s Pinot Noir.  2011 presented cool temperatures throughout the fall in Santa Barbara County, and the low yields meant complex grape flavors.  This is a full=bodied Pinot Noir that’s deep purple, with juicy flavors of strawberry, raspberry and a touch of smoke and clove.  13.7 percent alcohol.  $28 the bottle.
These notes appeared in the February 13 and February 27 issues of my column "Wine Time", written for The Tahoe Weekly.   For on-line versions, go to  and 

1 comment:

  1. Bobby from Vino Noceto! Love the "Face of Noceto"!!!