Beyond cabernet sauvignons, the sunny state produces some exciting pinot noirs and cool climate whites. These three wines are a small sampler of what California has to offer.
WALTER HANSEL PINOT NOIR – SOUTH SLOPE 2018
As you travel north of San Francisco, you find yourself in the cooler wine-growing regions dotted along the Sonoma Coast. Walter Hansel is located here, on the southern tip of the Russian River Valley, a region known for pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. The winery is run by Steve Hansel, Walter’s son, who believes in minimalistic viticulture and frames his wines in Burgundy fashion. Made from 100% Dijon clones, this pinot noir is marked by cherry fruit and spices, and a lovely balance of fruit and refreshing acidity. $ 118, Pinnacle Wine and Spirits.
QUINTESSA ILLUMINATION SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018
Sauvignon blanc is the rising star of the Napa Valley, and Quintessa’s Illumination presents a delightful expression – a classic sauvignon blanc and semillion blend. The property lies in the fabled Rutherford region in Napa Valley and boasts of volcanic soils that add vibrancy to its wines. Rebekah Wineburg believes that varietal is transparent to the Napa Valley terroir and expresses its best features. Aged in French oak barrel, the wine is aromatic and textural. It shows ripe citrus, stone fruit like apricot and possesses a delightful minerality. $88, Wine Clique.
2018 CHATEAU MONTELENA, CHARDONNAY
Known for its 1976 victory at Judgement of Paris, the feted competition between French and California wines, Chateau Montelena Chardonnay retains its special touch. While the winery sits at the north end of Napa Valley, which gets quite warm, the fruit is sourced from a cooler site in Oak Knoll. Aged 10 months in French oak, the 2018 shows ripe fruits like melon, peach and apricot, and a supple body with touches of vanilla and spice in the finish. $128, Ponti Wine Cellars.