Editor's note: This is part 1 of a two-part story.
Sonoma County vintner Tom Simoneau has chosen his best white wines of 2019. Next week, he’ll review the best reds of 2019.
Sparkling Wine: J Vineyard & Winery Cuvee 20, Nonvintage, Russian River Valley, $38. Initially introduced to commemorate their 20th anniversary. Cuvee 20 today represents the workhorse of the J Sparkling wine portfolio. jwine.com
Chardonnay: Sonoma Cutrer Vineyards 2017 Sonoma Coast Le Pierres, Estate Grown, $42. Long known for producing some of Sonoma County’s finest Chardonnay. Winemaker Mick Schroeter continues that tradition. sonomacutrer.com
Sauvignon Blanc: Dry Creek Vineyard’s 2018 Dry Creek Valley, $20. With classic Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc flavors this 100% Sauvignon Blanc was fermented in 84% stainless steel with 16% barrel fermented in neutral Acacia, French, and Chestnut barrels. Congrats to winemaker Tim Bell. drycreekvineyard.com
Off Dry White: Mill Creek Vineyard & Winery 2018 Gewurztraminer, Dry Creek Valley, Estate, $27. To say Mill Creek is a family affair is an understatement. Bill and Yvonne Kreck are the hands on owners and grapegrowers while son Jeremy handles the wine making. millcreekwinery.com
Alternative White: Gordian Knot Winery 2018 Albarino, Russian River Valley, Elieo Vineyard, $28. Unfortunately this will be the last vintage from Gordian Knot due to the death of co-owner and winemaker Tim Meinken. If you’ve never tried Albarino, think of it this way … if a Sauvignon Blanc wanted to be a Riesling, it would be an Albarino. gordianknotwinery.com
Best Value White: Kim Crawford 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, $18. Often discounted, this is a can’t-miss dry white that falls right in the middle of grapefruit, grass, and gooseberry. Crisp, clean, and I’ve seen this wine as low as $10. kimcrawfordwines.com
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Most Fun Wine: Sterling Vineyards has released a trio of wines in recyclable aluminum bottles. The 375-milliliter Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Rosé are real wines full of varietal character. They are perfect when glass bottles, cork pullers, and glasses are not appropriate. $7.99 for 375 ml. sterlingvineyards.com
Sweet Wine: Simi Winery 2018 Late Harvest Riesling, Alexander Valley, 375 ml, $35. When you talk to winemakers, this is probably the most difficult and expensive wine to make. This Simi is the best I’ve had in years. Dessert in a glass. simiwinery.com
Luxury Wine: Maritana 2017 Chardonnay, Dutton Hanson Hill, Russian River Valley, $90. This is the new project from Donald Patz of Patz and Hall fame. This 1.8-acre parcel farmed by the Dutton family is vinified using only 27% new French oak to focus on the fruit and minerality of the site. This is what Donald Patz has been doing since he sold his winery. donaldpatzwinegroup.com
Rosé: Alexander Valley Vineyards 2018 Dry Rosé of Sangiovese, Alexander Valley, $16. This wine was born to be a Rosé. Picked at a lower sugar to finish dry at 13% alcohol. Fruit-forward and as versatile for a food pairing as there is. avvwine.com
Book of the Year “Wine and War, The French, the Nazis and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure” by Don and Petie Kladstrup. If you are into wine and a bit of a history buff, this book is for you. It’s not about the battles; it’s about the wineries and vineyards and what went on in France during the war years. It’s an eye-opener.