In this series, The Conscientious Consumer in Quarantine, I’m going to point to some of my favorite producers, wineries that are owned by individuals human beings, human beings who use their wineries to employ other people and feed their families, human beings whom I would encourage you to support with your patronage. Wineries make money primarily in two ways, namely by selling wine and by having visitors. Both of those revenue streams are being deeply slashed during the Covid 19 pandemic, as restaurants are closing and, in many if not most instances, tasting rooms have been asked to close down for the time being to help stop the spread of the disease. The following wines are wines I encourage you to purchase online to help support these small producers so that, when this is all over, they will still be there for all of us to visit.
The weather got better yesterday. By the time I realized it was seventy degrees out, the kids were already begging me to go out and play with chalk in the driveway. It was a pretty mild winter, all things considered, though the looming threat of a summer spent in relative isolation has me on edge. Titus, Zooey, and I went out to the driveway. They wrote their names and made pictures of water (lots of blue chalk) and generally enjoyed the good weather. It was nice to be outside, and it reminded me that summer is coming, and with it, more time spent on the patio and what I consider white wine weather.
“You drink a lot of red wine,” a friend told me after reading the last three installments of this post, written about Zinfandel, Cab Sauv, and Pinot Noir respectively. Fair point. But that’s not because I don’t like white wine. In this installment, I want to mention some white wines that I think are a little more creative and rare than most. I’ll have future posts on varietals like Riesling, Sauv Blanc, and Chardonnay, I promise. But today, I want to alert all of my wine-loving friends in quarantine to some really cool whites that you can purchase, and in so doing, support some wonderful small producers. Enjoy!
Amigoni “Urban Bianco”, Missouri — $18
Amigoni Urban Winery is a very cool family project in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. Housed in a gorgeous old post office, Michael Amigoni makes awesome wine in a place better known for microbreweries and distilleries — and berbecue, of course. 50% Viognier, 50% Sauv Blanc, this wine is 100% refreshing and one of my favorites. Sonja and I love to visit this place when we’re in KC, but until you’re able you can stock up at amigoni.com.
Ballentine Vineyards Malvasia Bianca Frizzante, Napa Valley — $30
Malvasia Bianca is a very cool offering because it’s a pretty uncommon varietal to find planted in the Napa Valley, or anywhere else, really. Ballentine, who you know I love, uses it to make a low alcohol (9.5% ABV) wine that is super refreshing, crisp, and light. It’s what I bought the last time I visited them, despite my love of their reds. It has a touch of sweetness to it and goes great by itself. A great patio wine, I highly recommend it. You can buy it at ballentinevineyards.com.
Calafia Verdelho, Napa Valley — $25
Randle Johnson is someone I write about fairly frequently. He’s a great guy and makes great wine. This Verdelho is really a fun one. Verdelho is the varietal, and it is most commonly used to make white port in Portugal, though Randle uses it to make a very attractive white wine in this instance. 100% varietal and limited to a mere 100 cases, he recently told me the 2019 vintage will be available very soon. You can get it at calafiacellars.com.
Cellar 426 “Uplifting”, Nebraska — $16
Cellar 426 is a cool stop along I-80 between Lincoln and Omaha, and a place Sonja and I like to visit. Nice people making good wines, I’m especially impressed with what they’ve recently begun doing with oak on both red and white wines. That said, “Uplifting” is my pick for a patio pounder, a semi-sweet wine made from the hybrid Traminette varietal. It’s delicious, and you can get it at cellar426.com.
Delille Chaleur Blanc, Columbia Valley — $27
Big name critics traditionally go crazy for this wine that is 71% Sauv Blanc, 29% Semillon, and for good reason — it’s amazing. Owner Jay Soloff has become a friend over time and has become a big supporter of VinNEBRASKA in recent years which I truly appreciate. This wine is normally $35, but is on special right now, and is on par with the best white wines I’ve ever had. Get yours at delillecellars.com.
Messina Hof Private Reserve Blanc du Bois, Texas — $19
A friend of Sonja and mine who did her Ph.D. at Texas A&M first introduced us to this producer. I’ve always been impressed that this winery in the scorching heat of Texas consistently produces such high quality wines. Crisp and refreshing, the Blanc du Bois is a winner on the patio or would surely pair well with the spicy Asian food I plan to make tonight. You can get it at messinahof.com.
Oliver Cabernet Dore’, Indiana — $22
Bill Oliver is a cool guy making really amazing wine in, of all places, Indiana. I’ve been impressed with his Cab Sauv, fortified, and other wines in the past. Cabernet Dore’ is a clone of Suav Blanc that most people haven’t started planting yet, so you can be one of the first to try this delicious, dry white by ordering it at oliverwinery.com.
Optima Dry Creek Gewurztraminer, Sonoma Valley — $28
Mike and Nicol Duffy are a couple of Sonja and my favorite folks out in wine country. A few years back, they sent us a bottle of their Gewurz, and it blew my mind. I often tell people that Smith-Madrone is unequivocally the best new world Riesling on the market, and I would say the exact same thing about Mike’s Gewurztraminer without any hesitation. This is simply one of the best white wines I’ve ever had, a phenomenal expression of the varietal, and I strongly encourage you to get your hands on some right away! You can do that at optimawinery.com.
Pride Viognier, Napa/Sonoma — $45
Pride’s crush pad and mobile crush equipment that straddle the mountaintop county line between Napa and Sonoma is an intriguing thing to see unto itself, but it pales in comparison with their amazing wines. Sally Johnson is a legend for good reason, and her 100% varietal Viognier is one of my favorite white wines. You can buy it, and a lot of other great stuff, at pridewines.com.
Sonja and I spent a wonderful evening by the chiminea the other night, enjoying the patio and the warm weather and a fire. I know we’ll all be out on our patios soon, and hopefully they are large enough to have a few folks over and still keep six feet of distance between you — remembering to have only one person pour the wine, of course. I also hope that this post gave you a few new ideas about what that wine you share on the patio might be. All of those mentioned above are good people who I hope you’ll support and try to keep in business during these especially difficult times. Stay safe, stay home, and stay in touch my friends!