A Note From The Editor: We used to think that developing an impressive knowledge and deep appreciation of wine required a lot of time and money. But then we discovered Club W, a subscription service that acts as a personal sommelier sending you a collection of unique, straight-from-the-wine-maker bottles each month thanks to WINC, their revolutionary direct-distribution wine company. After building your own personal palate profile, Club W takes the guess work out of what to buy and why. They include the best (for you!) wine and recipe pairings so that your next dinner party is only a mailbox away. We asked Brian Smith, Chief Wine Officer of WINC, to walk us through a few of his favorite wines to get you started.
WINC’s wine program has grown immensely since our first harvest in 2013, and as Chief Wine Officer, I’ve gotten to be there every step of the way. We’re really proud of how far we’ve come. To celebrate the end of our 2015 harvest, I’ve picked a few of my favorite wines to show you just how cool and diverse our portfolio’s become.
And they’re all currently available on the Club W site!
2014 The Bluffer Valdiguié; Paso Robles, California
I love this little wine. It’s a forgotten grape, and we get to work with one of the oldest plots of Valdiguié in California. This grape is often used to top off Pinot barrels because of the similar color and flavor profile, but we went the other way by blending in a tiny amount of some of our most expensive Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. Not a great financial decision, but the wine was too good with that added kick of high-end Pinot.
2014 charity: water x Club W Red Blend; Santa Barbara County, California
We like to give back, but we only want to do projects where we can really have an impact. Through our partnership with charity: water, we were able to generate close to $30,000 that will go directly to building three wells in three different communities in Africa. Not only does it feel good, but it tastes great, too. Great Bordeaux-style blend from Santa Barbara.
2014 Passarola Vinho Branco; Lisboa, Portugal
This is a really light, aromatic wine that I just love. We’ve been hot on Portugal for a minute now, but there still isn’t a whole lot of awareness around these wines. This is a fun wine to turn people onto, and we’re super excited about what’s to come from this region. We will be a huge champion of these wines, so look for this trend to emerge.
2014 Pas Ordinaire Saint-Chinian Blend; Saint-Chinian, France
We love to partner with creative people, from artists to chefs to winemakers, and Bertie Eden is one of our favorite partners. He’s incredibly well-versed in Burgundy and the South of France — a fiercely passionate proponent of natural farming techniques and a great guy to share a few glasses of wine with. Dynamic wine from a dynamic individual.
2014 Cocomero Rosato; Tuscany, Italy
We partnered with our friend Annie Free because we love her whimsical, Malibu-inspired drawings. When you combine a fun, amazing artist with a quality wine in a hot category like rosé, you get one of our bestsellers. People just love this; it’s happy, easy drinking and as enjoyable as a slice of cocomero (watermelon) on a hot summer day.
2014 Funk Zone White Blend; Santa Barbara County, California
This wine is so fun because there are literally no rules when it comes to how we make it, outside of the fact that the grapes have to come from Santa Barbara. Thankfully, this area is incredibly diverse. Each vintage of this wine is unique, and there are no restrictions when it comes to blending. It’s all about style. In the words of George Clinton: “Funk is fun, but it’s also a state of mind.”
2014 Prismus Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa Valley, California
Just because we like to make wine really approachable doesn’t mean we don’t play with the big boys — and in wine, that means Napa. This is an incredible blend of Howell Mountain fruit that was pressed and aged in multiple ways including stainless steel, neutral oak, and new French oak barrique. It’s a beautiful expression of why Napa Cabernet is king.
2014 Chommie Cabernet Sauvignon; Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa doesn’t have the most awareness in the States, but there are some gems there. I like the fact that it shows some of the earthiness and pepper that you often find in much more expensive Bordeaux. We partnered with a local artist in South Africa on this label to express the sense of place that is so important in any wine.
Are you a budding sommelier? How do you like to learn about vino?
Images via Milena Mallory