What Would Mom Like?

By Robert Whitley

April 30, 2019 6 min read

If you're one of those inclined to give that special woman in your life something other than an all-you-can-eat buffet for Mother's Day, listen up.

A beautiful wine could be your salvation. Ah, but which one? There's the rub. Mother's Day is but one day a year, yet there are so many wines to choose from.

My simple advice to you is this: Err on the side of grand and gorgeous. For some, that could mean but one thing: bubbly — delicious, sophisticated, refined bubbly. Mom will thank you.

Here are three can't-miss Champagnes that hold the promise of a memorable Mother's Day. The Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru ($70) is the epitome of elegance. The Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Brut ($84) is a shining star from one of the oldest and most respected Champagne houses. The Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut Rose ($50) is creamy and irresistible.

Closer to home, the sparkling wines of California have never been better.

The Domaine Carneros by Taittinger 2012 Le Reve Blanc de Blancs from Carneros ($115) consistently rivals any bubbly made in the continental United States. It's a bit pricey, but it's for mom! One sip and you will forget the price. Promise.

Gloria Ferrer's Blanc de Noirs from Carneros ($22) is another charmer and could well be the finest value in sparkling wine in the world, not that you would cut corners on mom's big day. This wine holds its own against much more expensive competition.

J Vineyards Brut Rose from the Russian River Valley ($45) is consistently among my top two or three picks as best sparkling rose made in America. Winemaker Nicole Hitchcock has a deft hand with this wine.

This Mother's Day, don't leave mom with the buffet blues. Buy some bubbly. You can thank me later.

Best Value

Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.

Frei Brothers 2016 Merlot, Sonoma Reserve, Dry Creek Valley ($20) — Merlot grown in Dry Creek Valley gets its ripeness from the warm days and its structure from the cool nights, which are courtesy of the nearby Pacific Ocean. The 2016 Frei has a bit of both of those qualities, showing ripe aromas of cherry and plum and elegant structure that makes it inviting to drink now. Rating: 94.

Leyenda 2017 Carmenere, Chile ($15) — Carmenere may be the forgotten grape of Bordeaux, but it's alive and kicking in Chile, where the sunny, warm growing season produces a lush, vibrant red that exhibits plenty of heft, layered complexity and inviting red-fruit aromas. Rating: 94.

Menage a Trois 2017 'Luscious' Pinot Noir, California ($14) — The Trinchero family owns vast vineyard acreage in some of California's best wine regions, so it's no surprise it can produce pinot noir of exceptional quality at a price everyone can afford. The Luscious pinot from the 2017 vintage is fruit-forward and friendly with an inviting note of earthiness that adds complexity, a note of spice and smooth tannins for easy drinking near-term. Rating: 92.

Umani Ronchi 2017 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 'Podere,' Italy ($13) — Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is one of the great wonders of the wine world. It's always delicious and always inexpensive, and Umani Ronchi is one of the top producers in this area east of Rome in southern Italy. The 2017 Podere is richly layered with sweet dark fruits, supple tannins and impressive length on the finish. You could hardly go wrong at this price. Rating: 94.

Tasting Notes

Benziger 2016 Pinot Noir de Coelo 'Quintus,' Sonoma Coast ($75) — Benziger's high-end pinot noir, Quintus, is probably the finest red I've ever tasted from this first-rate Sonoma County producer. Exhibiting pristine fruit purity, impressive palate weight and exquisite balance, it is a triumph worthy of a grand cru Burgundy. Showing aromas of cherry and raspberry and a gentle note of wood spice, this is a California pinot noir that lives up to its lofty price. Rating: 95.

Reustle Prayer Rock 2017 Syrah, Umpqua Valley, Oregon ($32) — This vintage of syrah from the Reustle Prayer Rock estate shows a brilliant note of blueberry fruit with a touch of minerality around the edges. With beautifully integrated tannins and a slight hint of game on the finish, this is an exceptional food wine that will pair well with roasted chicken and duck or grilled meats. Rating: 94.

Trecini 2015 Barbera d'Asti Superiore DOCG, Italy ($28) — This lovely Barbera d'Asti has just enough age to have softened the acidity and rounded any rough edges. Lush and rich with exquisite balance, it shows aromas of black cherry and spice with impressive palate weight and a long, lingering finish. Rating: 94.

Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. Email Robert at [email protected]

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