Quick Sips — 04 January 2014
New year, new wines that will not disappoint

By Bob Hosmon

Ever have a wine from Washington State? One winery in the Walla Walla Valley that enjoys acclaim well beyond its borders is L’Ecole No. 11. Indeed, the L’Ecole No. 11 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Syrah ($20) is a great example of just how good those wines are. This red is brimming over with expressive and concentrated fruit. Delicious!

For something really different, consider the 2011 Sea Smoke Sea Spray Sparkling Wine ($90). Justifiably well known for their superb pinot noirs and chardonnays, this is only the second sparkling wine Sea Smoke has produced (the first was in 2008). And it’s a hands-down winner! Produced from grapes grown in the Sta. Rita Hills of California’s Santa Barbara County, this bubbly beauty shows freshness with just a hint of citrus. I’ve never had better.

Shifting gears to Europe, how about a red wine from Portugal (and I don’t mean port). In general, Portugal has lagged behind its neighbor Spain in world-wide wine sales; so it definitely has some catching up to do. The 2012 Monte Velho White and 2012 Monte Velho Red ($10 each) should help to spread the word.  Both wines are blends of native grapes that you’ve probably never heard of and both show rich fruit in every sip. Try them. You’ll like them.

For centuries Germany has been known for its white wines. But in recent years, especially in the Baden wine region, German wineries have been perfecting their red wine production, especially with pinot noir. Consider the 2012 Franz Keller Pinot Noir ($25) or the 2011 Franz Anton Pinot Noir ($42). Both are from Schmitt Söhne, a large German wine company, and both prove that better-than-good red wine can be produced in Germany. And I never thought I’d ever be able to say that.

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