2020 Nortico, Alvarinho — We usually associate Albariño with the fresh, seafood-friendly wines from northeast Spain’s Rías Baixas region.
But delicious versions can also be had a bit further south, in Portugal’s northern Minho region, where the grape is known as Alvarinho. The fruit for this wine is sustainably grown on granite and schist soil along the southern banks of the Minho River. It is an excellent expression of the grape’s classic characteristics: fresh and light, with notes of citrus and stone fruit, and hints of minerality and salinity thanks to its maritime influence. The juicy flavors and bright acidity are balanced by a soft, underlying richness and texture that make it a lovely wine on its own or, of course, with seafood. A recent on-site taste test found it a perfect pairing with fresh Hawaiian Poke! $15
2018 Paitin, “Serra” Barbera d’Alba — Paitin is a family owned estate in the commune of Neive, in the heart of Piedmont’s Barbaresco zone. Established in 1796, they are one of the oldest wineries in the region and are best known for their Barbarescos, sourced from their prized Serraboella vineyard, which produces wines with great power and depth. All of their vineyards in Piedmont are certified organic and farmed using biodynamic practices. This 100% Barbera is sourced mostly from the fresher, more delicate slopes of the Serraboella vineyard, which produces a rich, full Barbera with balancing freshness. Fermented in stainless steel and aged 12 months in neutral Slavonian oak, it is bright and fruity with notes of red fruit and spice and nice complexity. Enjoy it anytime over the next few years with game, duck, or mushroom risotto. $19.75
2014 Wildberry Estate, “Two Passions” Cabernet Sauvignon — This wine hails from the cooler climate Margaret River region of Western Australia. Wildberry Vineyard was planted in 1997 a few kilometers inland from the Indian Ocean in the northern Wilyabrup sub-region of Margaret River. This 25-hectare vineyard, with mostly ancient gravely loam soil over limestone and granite, is the main source of fruit used by Flying Fish Cove, the winemaking facility where this wine is produced. The winemaker is Damon Eastaugh, who also happens to be a legendary big wave surfer. He sourced fruit for this Cab from specially selected parcels of the vineyard and aged the wine 15 months in 20% new French oak. It is a dark, juicy wine with concentrated aromas and flavors of black currant and cherry, with notes of spice, olives, and cracked pepper. Now with some nice mellowing age on it, it’s ready to enjoy anytime with barbeque or grilled burgers. $19.75
2018 Rhonéa, Vaison-la-Romaine, Côtes du Rhône Villages Les Contreforts — This cooperative in France’s southern Rhône Valley began in the 1920s with a handful of winemaking families. The project passed down through generations and today includes over 380 artisan families in several Rhône villages. This wine comes from Vaison-la-Romaine, in the Vaucluse. Winemaking history here dates back to Roman times, but it wasn’t until 2016 that it received its own sub-appellation status. This blend of 50% Grenache, 45% Syrah, and 5% Carignan is grown in the local clay-limestone and sandy soils and vinified in concrete and stainless steel vats. It is smooth and full-bodied, yet fresh, with notes of Provençal herbs, wild red fruit, and olives. They suggest pairing it with veal “paupiettes” with mushrooms, and roasted cauliflower. $19
2019 Carlos Bassos, “Dos Fincas” Malbec — The Basso family, originally from Genoa, Italy, has been making wine in Argentina since 1922. In 1935 they purchased an existing winery and eventually turned it into one of the country’s largest premium brands. But, wanting to simplify and focus on small-production winemaking, they sold it in 1996 and bought a small winery in the Uco Valley where they continue to produce 100% estate wines. Their Dos Fincas, or “two farms” wines are sourced from two distinct vineyard sites, which not only creates more interesting wines, but also helps safeguard against the threat of hail. Fruit from their vineyard in San Carlos is darker and more powerful, while fruit from Tunuyan is soft and more nuanced. Combined they produce a rich, savory, concentrated Malbec with notes of dark plums, cocoa, and spice. Delicious on its own or with braised meats or vegetables. $14
2020 Lucien Lardy, Beaujolais-Villages Blanc — Beaujolais lies in the southernmost reaches of Burgundy, and is usually associated with fresh, light red wines made from the Gamay grape. But it also produces white wines which, like the rest of Burgundy, are typically 100% Chardonnay. Lucien Lardy is a third-generation winemaker based in the village of Fleurie. His vineyard holdings are split between Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Morgon and Beaujolais-Villages, from which this wine is sourced. It is aged six months on its lees in stainless steel, and undergoes malolactic fermentation, resulting in a fresh, yet rich and aromatic wine with a touch of balancing citrus, good minerality, and a lengthy finish. The winery suggests enjoying it with poultry (perhaps chicken skewers), grilled fish or octopus, or trout cooked with almond and cream. $16