Champagne Taittinger Brut NV Review – Impressive Flavor Profile

We often find that non-vintage Champagne can have flavor profiles all over the place. Some are high acid with simple citrus fruit flavors. Others have strong lees components. Others still may have some indication of age because, well, we simply have no way of knowing how old that bottle was to begin with.

Champagne Taittinger's Brut NV definitely fell towards the end of being one of the more complex non-vintage Champagnes we've had to date, and now we simply want more!

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Cave Ridge Le Bon Minou NV Review – A Perfect Thirst Quencher

Before discussing Cave Ridge's Pet Nat, Le Bon Minou, we should take a step back and make a special note of the winery itself.

I was fortunate enough to visit Cave Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia on a trip and found it to be one of the most beautiful wineries in Shenandoah. The ambiance was so nice, in fact, that I stuck around for an extra glass of wine after my flight simply to soak up the view, which, as luck would have it, ended up being the Le Bon Minou Pet Nat- of which I naturally bought a bottle.

So while this winery is indeed quite remote, even by Shenandoah standards (I later sent my brother, particularly for another Pet Nat bottle, and his only reply once there was “how did you find this place?!”). Yes, it is that remote.

But those making the trek to this particular vineyard will love it for the views, but you'll want to stay for another to try the Le Bon Minou if it is not available in a flight.

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Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2019 Review – A Gem From South Africa

We're quickly learning that we love South African Chardonnay and it is for two great reasons.

First, the grape seems to grow beautifully in this country and many wine makers do not seem to go over-the-top on winemaking choices like barrel aging or malolactic fermentation (of the ones we've tried, at least). Second, you can find an incredible bottle for a fraction of the price of other, perhaps more well-known regions for this particular grape (California I'm looking at you on both accounts).

So while Hamilton Russell's Chardonnay may be a bit of a splurge by South Africa wine standards, this one holds up and is perhaps our favorite Chardonnay we've had to date.

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Shenandoah Vineyard’s Blanc 2018 Review – Off-Dry and Tropical

During my time exploring northern Virginia wineries, I found pretty quickly that I had an affinity for the white wines of the region. This was especially true at Shenandoah Vineyards where I found that I absolutely adored their base white blend for being a wonderful off-dry wine.

This white blend includes 51% of Seyval Blanc, 21% Traminette, 11% Chardonnay, 9% Vidal, and 8% Cayuga and certainly packed a punch with a nice hit of tropical flavors along with some minerality and salinity on the nose for good measure.

As it turns out, the bottle I bought at the winery lasted all of about three days before we opened it up at home.

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Standing Stone Chardonnay 2018 Review – Cool Climate Wine

While we've visited Finger Lakes wineries many times over the years, we only visited Standing Stone for the first time in 2020 on the recommendation of a friend to try out their Saperavi.

But after arriving, we found that we enjoyed just about everything the winery offered on our flight. In talking to our server about the wines, we also learned that one of our favorite wineries in the region, Hermann J Wiemer, bought Standing Stone in 2017. This was really all we needed to know about why we liked our entire flight so much- quality producers make quality wines.

Naturally, we purchased many bottles to enjoy at home and one was the Standing Stone Chardonnay 2018 that we opened up in late 2020.

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Pulenta Estate Chardonnay VIII 2018 Review – Tropical and Buttery

Pulenta Estate outside of Mendoza, Argentina, has a special place in our hearts. We visited this one as part of a wine tour we took on Angie's birthday during our year-and-a-half gap trip in 2013-2014 (featured on our travel blog).

We had fallen in love with their entry-level La Flor Malbec and treat it as our go-to entertaining wine when we have guests over and do not know their wine tastes. But since returning home, we wanted to broaden our horizons with some of the winery's other offerings and picked up a bottle of their Chardonnay to try out a varietal we had not had from them before.

It did not disappoint.

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Pares Balta Cava Blanca Cusine 2011 Review – A Stellar Cava

We've had many glasses of Cava in the past- some average, some good. But we had never had one that was absolutely stellar, that is until we had the Pares Balta Blanca Cusine 2011.

This is some stellar Cava, and for its price point (sub $40 per bottle at our local distributor) we absolutely couldn't ask for anything more. In being 78% Xarel-lo (with the rest being Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), we also were able to get a fonder appreciation for the grape in this one.

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Standing Stone Blanc de Blanc 2017 Review – An Acidic Sparkling

When you look at the bottle of Standing Stone Blanc de Blanc from the Finger Lakes, you may be a little confused. Its branding leans in heavily on Hermann J Wiemer, the parent winery of Standing Stone that is located just across Seneca Lake.

But while this one does carry the Hermann J Wiemer branding, the grapes were sourced from vines planted on Standing Stone's property in 1974 all the same. As we are big fans of both of these vineyards, we bought a bottle of the Blanc de Blanc without even sampling it and quickly popped it open after we got home from the region.

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Bloomer Creek Chardonnay & Gruner Veltliner 2016 Review

When we visited the Finger Lakes for a weekend getaway in late 2020, one winery, Bloomer Creek, was not open for tastings (only bottle sales). We placed an order at this one all the same at the request of a friend who wanted some bottles and decided to pick up a few for us to try at home thanks to their great reviews and that one of our favorite local wine shops carries them as well.

It very much was a case of “if it is good for them, it is good for us”.

The first bottle we opened was their naturally fermented, skin contact, unfiltered Chardonnay and Gruner Veltliner blend- a more unusual grape combination than we're used to but one that we have to admit, we really enjoyed.

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