Winning Wines

Wineries you can purchase from on their name alone

There are some winemakers whose wines I buy every year. Not only do they produce many excellent wines, but even at lower price points and in mediocre vintages the wines are compelling and delicious. What makes them so successful? This sort of consistency emerges from a dedicated commitment to quality fruit in the vineyard and a desire to gently shape wines from that fruit rather than manipulate it into a preconceived idea of what the wine should be. These are wineries that I believe you can purchase on name alone.

Piedmont, Italy
In a nutshell: Dynamic property balancing traditional and modern winemaking techniques. Access and ownership of some of Piedmont’s best vineyards assures inherent quality.
How they taste: Finely textured with great clarity of flavors. Elegant wines with a combination of earth and fruit flavors.
Check out: Arneis (white), their basic Barbera, and for special occasions, any of their single-vineyard Barbarescos.

Robert Sinskey Vineyards
Los Carneros, California
In a nutshell: Organic winery that makes wine to enhance the relationship among people, the land they inhabit and food.
How they taste: Silky, seductive wines that always taste like they were made from something with roots deep in the earth. Great complexity, but also just flat-out delicious wines.
Check out: Any Pinot Noir and their Pinot Blanc, one of the best New World expressions of this underrated varietal.

Owen Roe Winery
Washington and Oregon
In a nutshell: Medievalist applies Thomistic worldview to wine.
How they taste: There’s an underlying warmth to winemaker David O’Reilly’s wines. They always taste of fruit but are fundamentally vinous— that is, they taste like wine!
Wines to seek out: O’Reilly’s Pinot Gris, Ex Umbris Syrah and for special occasions, any of the wines from the great DuBrul vineyard.

Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested. Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

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