Wine Reviews: Father’s Day Selections

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-03-2023

If you’re a wine-loving dad, you know your palate best. Or if you’re buying a gift for a wine-loving dad, you know what they enjoy. But in advance of Father’s Day, I’ve selected a wide range of wines that I think dads can nerd out about and pair with whatever you’re up to.

I’m a huge fan of Austrian Rieslings and Gruners, and I really enjoyed geeking out over a quartet of wines from Domane Wachau. They’re all iconic single-vineyard wines from 2021, made by an historic producer that purely express their grape and terroir. And, especially given the quality, they’re priced incredibly well – what dad doesn’t like saving money? Picking up a mixed six-pack of single-vineyards could give you a great tasting lineup for a party with some summer seafood or grilled chicken and veg.

Also included are some delicious reds for grill-outs and gatherings, and I highlight some serious values. From a fascinating producer in New Mexico, Vara, who blends Spanish and California grapes, to delightful values from Chile and Argentina, there should be something in here you’ll enjoy.

Lastly, I want to highlight some Sonoma Pinots (and a Chard) because, well, they’re just great. I visited Sonoma in April with my brother and his family, and we dads had a great time cooking with local ingredients and tasting local wines. And when I’m cooking (which is usually the case in my house), and I’m opening Sonoma Pinot – everyone is happy.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted, except for the Wachau white wines, which were tasted single-blind.

Wachau White Wines

2021 Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Ried Liebenberg Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
SRP: $27
Vibrant yellow color. The aromas are spritely with lemon, green apples, guava, topped with rushing notes of limestone, oyster shells, and nuances of celery seed, mint, it all gets the palate salivating. There’s a lovely creaminess to the mouthfeel on this wine, but the acidity is so crisp, with delicious crunchy fruit, limes, lemon, green apples. A razor-like focus, with rushing mineral intensity, talc, crushed stones, along with spicy herbal elements that accentuate the overall package. This is a beautiful young Gruner at a great price, and if you’re looking to get deeper into this grape or region, this is a perfect place to start. (91 points IJB)

2021 Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Ried Kellerberg Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
SRP: $50
Rich yellow color. So many stony, mineral, oyster shell vibes here (love it), with generous but zesty pineapple and lemon, and there are all these cool tones that come out with air: green onion, bread crumbs, hints of basil, yellow flowers – just a lot going on. Racy acidity frames the wine well, as a generous texture and beautiful fruit play their game (guava, papaya, drizzled in lime). I get a complex host of crushed shells, chalk dust, flinty, mineral, stony elements. And there are these white tea, mint, shaved ginger nuances as well. Beautiful stuff and a long-ager for sure, as everything is deep but balanced. (93+ points IJB)

2021 Domäne Wachau Riesling Federspiel Ried Bruck Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
SRP: $27
Medium yellow color. The nose pops with sweet guava, fresh green apples, and limes, along with crushed rocks, shells, a sweet honeyed tone but the wine still smells so fresh and inviting. The palate has bright acidity and a bed of sweet yellow apple, white peach, and kiwi fruit. Balanced and fresh with a nice mix of crushed sweet tarts, chalk dust, limestone, mountain riverbed with stones and all that good stuff. Crushable and delicious right now, but has a lot to think about and parse through as well. From a very steep site, this is a precise expression with a lot to love. (90 points IJB)

2021 Domäne Wachau Riesling Smaragd Ried Achleiten Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
SRP: $51
Medium yellow color. A bright and inviting nose that shows a bouncy mix of yellow apples, kiwi, quince, along with fresh tennis balls, mountain stream down slate rocks, crushed schist, with these honey and almond skin tones (seriously, a lot of cool stuff happening here). Pure sums it up nicely on the palate, as this just has a vibrant, clean, focused appeal, with flavors of limes, papayas, crunchy green apples. Complex elements of honey, clover, stony minerals, and flint add complexity and they tingle the tongue on the finish. This has a long life ahead of it – what a beaut! (93 points IJB)

Sonoma Pinots and Chards

2020 Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $61
Light ruby color. Beautiful aromas of fresh strawberries, red cherries, crunchy red apple peel, along with fallen leaves, tobacco, autumnal vibes, dusty and peppery vibes – love it. The palate shows vibrancy with dusty tannins and a balanced feel, with strawberries, raspberries, juicy summer plums, with pepper and cranberry relish. An elegant feel with nuances of earth, spice, clove, fresh garden soil. I’d love to see what this does in a few years or with a roast duck dish. Aged 11 months in 1/3 new French oak. (92 points IJB)

2020 Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Russian River Valley USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $61
Medium ruby color. Aromas of jammy raspberries and strawberries, with an inviting floral, earthy, herbal tones (dried roses, tilled soil, rosemary, fresh basil), a deep but bright aromatic display. The palate expresses such freshness and vibrancy, with dusty/moderate tannins and bright acidity, along with tart red and black cherries, with raspberries and pomegranate. Notes of floral perfume, clove, tobacco, rhubarb and white pepper add complexity, and I get these lovely earth and leather tones, too. Deep but focused and lively, expressive now but will show wonders in a few years. So much good RRV Pinot for the price. Aged 11 months in 1/3 new French oak. (92 points IJB)

2021 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Russian River Selection USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $45
Deep ruby color. Such a warm, enticing aromatic display of bright raspberries and deep, mulled black cherries, along with nuances of rhubarb and cola, hints of roses, violets, white pepper, warm clay. The palate has this crisp, crushable feel, but supple tannins and the deep fruit and complexity offer a lot to parse through and enjoy. Lively acidity plays off of nuances of earth, dried rose petals, paprika and pepper, warm clay. Classic Sonoma Pinot goodness, this is smooth and deep and hits the spot, per usual from Gary Farrell. Will age nicely and show a lot more in a few years. Aged 13 months in 40% new French oak. (92 points IJB)

2021 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Russian River Selection USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $35
Bright but deep yellow color. The nose bursts with orange peel and fresh lemons, yellow pears, mixed with honeycomb, almond skin, and notes of talc and crushed shells. The palate sports a beautiful creaminess – contrast that with racy, chalky acidity and a salty, pure, focused appeal. The fruit is generous, with chunks of pineapple and yellow apples, but it stays lively and lip-smacking. Notes of sea spray, honey, chalk dust, almond, they play so well together. Gary Farrell really knows how to translate the richness and clarity of Russian River Chardonnay in a way that speaks memorably. Aged 10 months in 30% new French oak. (92 points IJB)

Grill-Friendly Reds

2020 Graffigna Malbec Glorious Selection Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco
SRP: $19
Vibrant purple color. The nose is plummy and saucy with a complex mix of dusty earth, smoky, eucalyptus tones, with nuanced toasted oak and vanilla. The palate shows smooth tannins, balanced by fresh acid, with flavors of tart black currant and juicy black cherries. Dark but lively with interwoven tones of graphite, cedar, gravelly loam, dried violets, black pepper. Smooth and well-balanced but complex and involved – this would be a great by-the-glass wine at a steakhouse, I’d sure order it. Excellent value to stock up as well. All Malbec aged in French oak, concrete, and steel. (90 points IJB)

2018 Bodegas Valdemar Rioja Conde de Valdemar Crianza Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
SRP: $20
Light purple color. The nose shows an earthy, savory, spicy mix of charcoal, paprika, tar, over top of plum sauce and black cherries, with notes of graphite and mocha. The palate shows refreshing acidity with smooth but structured tannins and flavors of roasted digs and ripe black cherries. Focused, smooth, but shows nice and nuance for the price, with elements of earth, tobacco, cedar, and spiced black tea. Super fun and nice value. Tempranillo, Mazuelo, and Graciano from vineyards in Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Alta. (88 points IJB)

2019 Viña San Pedro Carménère 1865 Selected Vineyards ­Chile, Maule Valley
SRP: $18
Vibrant purple color. Classic aromas of black cherries and currant sauce, with violets and earth, savory tones of black pepper, roasted red pepper, pickling spices. The palate is balanced and sports smooth tannins and moderate acidity, with effusive black currant, blueberry, and black cherry fruit. The nuances of earth, charcoal, savory spice, anise, grilled steak and bell peppers, with nuances of vanilla and oak woven in well. All Carménère from the Maule Valley. Lots of personality and value packed into this wine! (90 points IJB)

2020 Vara Tinto Especial – Spain
SRP: $45
Deep ruby color. The nose shows a vibrant yet jammy mix of raspberries and deep black cherries, laced with a cool mix of graphite, campfire, dried rose petals, red licorice, anise, with black pepper tones. The palate is ripe and juicy with raspberries and black cherry fruit, smooth tannins, medium acidity, on a medium-bodied frame, and things are wrapped together nicely. Smoky, minty, tobacco-laden tones, blending well with savory broth and spicy floral potpourri tones. This is spicy and fun, grill-friendly goodness. An interesting blend of 29% Cariñena and 28% Mencia from Spain, with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Tempranillo from Central California, and 8% Garnacha, 5% Syrah, and 5% Merlot from Montsant. (90 points IJB)

Comments are closed.