Casual wine drinkers, aficionados, and beginners alike: Each month we expose you to new things, educating and diversifying your palate with a lineup of our monthly wine picks. We're sharing some of the best we've tried in the last month so that you can seek them out and bring them to dinner this month. We're embracing the new season this month with two whites, two rosés, and but one red. This lineup is also geographically diverse, with contestants from France, New York, New Zealand, California, and Spain. All are delicious. Enjoy!
Domaine des Baumard Crémant de Loire Brut Extra (Loire Valley, France)
Why we chose it: The Baumard Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé is a great sparkler for a celebration thanks to its eye appeal: nice peach color in an attractive frosted bottle. Pop the cork to find light creamy strawberry and creamsicle in the nose, followed by a little raspberry, mandarin orange, and sweet citrus on the palate. It's refreshing, but not overly complex, finishing off with a sense of dessert, simple cream with a little orange zest for good measure.
What to look for: We have recommend sparkling rosé before, and we'll recommend it again. The French do this quite excellently, but others are following suit. You'll not have difficulty finding something that's both fun and delicious.
2013 Boundary Breaks Vineyard Riesling Ovid Line North (Finger Lakes, New York, USA)
Why we chose it: Boundary Breaks Ovid Line North is a lovely Riesling, pale gold and straw colored, from New York's Finger Lakes. Sophisticated slaty minerality and limestone are made more playful by some gummy bear notes in the nose. Don't be fooled by the good citrus that hits you on the palate, though, because this thing is quite substantial. Juicy green apple comes out in the finish, and the touch of sweetness made this a perfect pairing for spicy Thai food.
What to look for: New York's finger lakes region is known for its nice Rieslings. Production is large enough, and out of state exports robust enough that many American wine shops of reasonable quality will stock at least a few different bottles. Go see.
2011 Craggy Range Chardonnay Single Vineyard Kidnappers Vineyard (Hawke's Bay, New Zealand)
Why we chose it: This lovely New Zealand Chardonnay has had a really good life, still fresh and sprightly after several years. The nose surprised us as being nothing like a typical Chardonnay from other parts of the world. Green apple dominates the entire experience. There's a nice little zing here, but where a Sauvignon Blanc would have lots of grass in the finish, this Chardonnay rounded off with subtle sweet cream. Overall, this bottle is exactly what we'd expect of white varietals from New Zealand, and was really enjoyable.
What to look for: New Zealand produces a very distinct style of white wine, every varietal distinguishable from the same varietals made elsewhere in the world. Look for a New Zealand Chardonnay in the $20 - $30 price range and open yourself up to something different.
2015 Red Car Rosé (Sonoma Coast, California, USA)
Why we chose it: This full and creamy Pinot Noir rosé was the winner from last Thursday's #LaVieEnRosé tasting at Slate Wine Bar - one of our favorite spots in DC. With a delicate nose of pink grapefruit and cherry, grapefruit continues to dominate the palette. This rosé manages to be both creamy and full, but with a refreshing essence, similar to a grapefruit La Croix sparkling water.
What to look for: California's Sonoma Coast produces delicious Pinot Noir. While Red Car comes in between $20-$25 retail, a good California rosé of Pinot Noir can be found at almost any price point.
2014 Bodegas Arrayán La Suerte de Arrayán (Méntrida, Spain)
Why we chose it: We brought this bottle back from the Bodegas Arrayán winery in Méntrida, Spain, near the city of Toledo. Made from the small region's signature grape, this wine is lighter in color and not nearly as deep purple than what one might expect from a Garnacha. The nose leaps out of the glass with a unique herbaciousness -- oregano, to be specific -- creamy strawberry, and a bit of cocoa powder. It's delightfully smooth in the mouth, with lovely strawberry and raspberry notes, a creamy texture, and nice spiciness. There are some definite Pinot Noir qualities at play here that really distinguish this from Garnachas grown elsewhere in Spain. This was a really lovely bottle that we'll certainly seek out again.
What to look for: We've featured wine from Méntrida in our monthly wine lineups before, and have a review of Bodegas Arrayán coming soon, but we've been seeing more and more of this particular winery's bottles on shelves and wine lists in our hometown Arlington, VA - Washington, DC area that we wanted to highlight them again as a unique yet very nice wine from a small region in Spain that is imminently getable in the United States.
Background reading: Our first take on Spain's excellent, compelling Méntrida wine region