With several wines in each region earning recent acclaims, there are plenty of critics’ picks to try during your upcoming visit to wine country. But we also know every estate has its sleeper picks. You know what we’re talking about -- those lesser-known varietals and limited release blends that make you wonder “How have I not tried this before?” or “Where have you been hiding this?”
So, in this installment of What to Taste This Weekend, here are our top choices for the best critics’ picks and sleeper wines to try at various FFWS tasting rooms this weekend.
Critics' Pick: 2013 Chalone Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir (92pts, Wine Enthusiast)
There's only one place to get this wine: the Chalone tasting room. And it's available in magnum bottles!
"Smashed black plums, mulberry and apline strawberry show through the crushed rocks on the nose of this bottling that is lifed by a tarragon spice. Tangy blackberry and elderberry show on the palate, where wild thyme, oregano and peppercorns contribute to an intriguing sense of depth." - Wine Enthusiast
Sleeper Pick: 2013 Chalone Vineyard Estate Chardonnay
Our sleeper picks are usually those that you're not familiar with, but that's not the case with this choice. The '13 Estate Chardonnay is well-loved and has also scored well with critics, including a score of 92 points from Wine Enthusiast. The reason it's our sleeper? Because it's currently on sale in the tasting room... and selling fast. Run, don't walk!
Learn More & Shop Chalone Vineyard Wines
KULETO ESTATE | 2460 Sage Canyon Road, Saint Helena, CA
Critics' Pick: 2015 Kuleto Estate Syrah
A visit to the Kuleto tasting room wouldn't be complete without sampling (and probably buying) the Estate Syrah. The 2014 was given 90 points from Robert Parker, who notes: "A delicious fruit-forward and rather elegant, supple style of Syrah...soft tannins, juicy red and black fruits, a touch of meat and spice and a long, lush, heady finish."
Sleeper Pick: 2014 Kuleto Zinfandel, Napa Valley
With just over 200 cases produced and the perfect amount of time in the bottle, the Zinfandel is one that you won't want to miss -- and you'll want to drink it now. In 2014, our Zinfandel takes on a deep roasted walnut or roasted sweet corn character along with more typical chocolate covered cherry and black spice aromas. Whether it’s from the vintage or from never having been racked (moved with air) during aging, we don’t know. Nor do we care, because it’s delicious! It’s soft. It’s thick though it’s not heavy. It tastes sweet though it isn’t. And the flavor and texture taper off slowly hand in hand into the sunset.
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LINCOURT VINEYARDS | 1711 Alamo Pintado Road, Solvang, CA
Critics' Pick: 2014 Lindsay's Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills (92pts, Wine Spectator)
"Restrained mulberry aromas interweave with scents of turned soil, white pepper and clove on the earthy nose of this bottling. The sip starts with a pleasing softness but quickly grows deeper and more weighty with luxurious tannins, showing hearty red cherry and dried fruit flavors." - Wine Spectator
Sleeper Pick: 2016 Grüner Veltliner, Sta. Rita Hills
The Grüner Veltliner is composed of 100% Grüner Veltliner grapes, a popular varietal grown in Austria. Retailing at $22 a bottle, this medium-bodied wine is affordable and has honey dew melon, wet stone, and almond notes that fill the mid palate leading to a crisp finish. Only 318 cases were produced, so you'll want to snatch up one of these quickly for your collection.
Learn More & Shop Lincourt Vineyard Wines
Want to read about more of our critic and sleeper picks? Read another edition of What to Taste This Weekend featuring wines from Foley Sonoma, Firestone Vineyards, and Lancaster Estate.