2024 Top Wine Picks

Raise Your Glass

Local wine experts share their best-in-class wine selections to help you pick, pair, and partake like a sommelier.

Sparkling

1. Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Cap Classique Brut

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Cap Classique Brut, South Africa’s first Champagne-method wine, offers an elegant expression of the Stellenbosch region. The effervescence leads to enticing notes of green apples and ripe citrus, with a hint of brioche. On the palate, crisp acidity meets creamy texture, a harmonious balance adding complexity. This wine, a blend of tradition and innovation, is both a historical touchstone and an engaging choice for various occasions. It stands as a sparkling testament to South African winemaking.

White

2. Vigneti Massa Derthona

Monleale, Italy

Vigneti Massa’s Derthona is a masterful tribute to the Timorasso grape, skillfully revived by Walter Massa in the Piedmont region of Italy. Once near extinction, Massa’s dedication to this varietal has reintroduced a rich and complex white wine, bearing the ancient name “Derthona,” the Roman term for Tortona, where it thrives. In the glass, it presents a deep golden hue, leading to a bouquet of ripe pear, honeyed almonds, and mineral nuances, reflecting the terroir’s unique character. The palate is textured, blending vibrant acidity with a rich mouthfeel, lingering in an evolving finish. This wine, both an historical touchstone and a testament to innovation, encapsulates the essence of Italian viticulture and stands as a sparkling example of what dedication and passion can achieve.

Red

3. St. Innocent Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir

McMinnville, Oregon

St. Innocent’s Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir hails from Oregon’s famed Willamette Valley, a terroir celebrated for its unique expression of the Pinot Noir grape. Cultivated in the biodynamic Momtazi Vineyard, this wine captures the vitality of the land, showcasing a rich tapestry of dark berries, earthy undertones, and a hint of spice. The palate is a study in balance, where the velvety texture meets bright acidity, creating a layered and nuanced experience. Winemaker Mark Vlossak’s precision in crafting this Pinot Noir is evident, reflecting a deep understanding of the grape and its relationship to the Momtazi site.

Rosé

4. Castello di Stefanago Pinot Grigio Macerato

Lombardy, Italy

Castello di Stefanago’s Macerato, from the Oltrepò Pavese region, is an engaging orange wine made from Pinot Grigio grapes. Although the wine exhibits a pinkish hue, it’s classified as an orange wine due to the skin contact during fermentation, which imparts both color and complexity. This process creates an aromatic profile filled with orchard fruits and dried herbs, complemented by gentle tannins. The palate reveals tart apple and citrus, leading to a textured finish. Castello di Stefanago’s Macerato is a thoughtful nod to ancient winemaking, successfully bridging traditional methods with contemporary appeal.

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bullard

Brian Bullard

Wine Manager

Imbibe Chattanooga

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Sparkling

1. Ferrari Brut 

Trento, Italy

Ferrari Brut is a sparkling wine made in the Trento DOC appellation located in the Trentino region of northern Italy. Ferrari Brut is an excellent example of Italian sparkling wine made with the traditional method, and it is definitely worth seeking out for its quality and value. It is tasty, robust, crisp and delivers everything you want in a refreshing sparkling wine at a fraction of the price of Champagne. It’s a favorite of F1 driver Max Verstappen.

White

2. Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, New Zealand

Named after New Zealand’s prolific bedrock, Greywacke (pronounced gray-wacky) is the label of Kevin Jedd, one of Marlborough’s pioneer winemakers. Wine Spectator recently scored this wine with 95 points, making it the highest-rated New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in Wine Spectator’s history. “Distinctive, succulent and wonderfully complex, with honeysuckle, honey-preserved ginger, creamy lemon curd, ripe mango and floral notes, plus stone fruit flavors on a rich, smooth, and mouthwateringly juicy frame,” says MaryAnn Worobiec of Wine Spectator. 

Red

3. Nicolas-Jay Willamette Pinot Noir 

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Nicolas-Jay is a collaboration with Burgundian winemaker, Jean-Nicolas Méo, and renowned music and media entrepreneur, Jay Boberg. Together they are producing wines that showcase traditional French winemaking and Oregon terroir. This is the perfect wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner.

Rosé

4. Lofos Siatista Xinomavro Rosé

Siatista, Greece

Wanting to try a new and unique grape you don’t see very often? Xinomavro (Ksee-NO-mah-vro) is the grape for you. Xinomavro is a grape that thrives in the mountain peaks and hills of Northern Greece. Lofos (meaning hills) depicts the elevated terrain around the town of Siatista where this Xinomavro is grown. Lofos’ cool climate is ideal to showcase this Xinomavro in rare rosé form. This rosé is crisp and dry but shows intense and well-balanced raspberry and strawberry flavors.

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Lauren Lamacchia

Fine Wine Manager

Athens Distributing

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Sparkling

1. Champagne Chavost Blanc d’Assemblage Brut Nature (NV)

Champagne, France

Chavot-Courcourt is located in the Côteaux Sud d’Epernay, which lies at the confluence of the northern tip of the Côte de Blancs and the eastern extreme of the Vallée de la Marne. Blanc d’Assemblage is a blend of sustainably sourced Chardonnay and Meunier, with a splash of Pinot Noir, that is fermented with spontaneous, airborne yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation is also carried out naturally. The resulting wine is transferred into bottles and aged for at least 20 months before disgorgement without a gram of sugar (Brut Nature) or a single dose of sulfur. Again, eschewing the latter is an extremely rare practice in Champagne! This specific lot was fitted with a natural cork in 2021. It’s zippy, bright, and fresh with aromas of freshly cut green apple, white peach, Anjou pear, Rainier cherry, crushed chalk, and wet rock. It’s a traditional, elegant Champagne brimming with bright ripe fruit flavors and a mineral finish and is completely devoid of any unwanted “natty” flavors.

White

2. Famille Domaine Cordier Bourgogne
Blanc Jean de La Vigne (2020)

Burgundy, France

Bourgogne is a legendary wine region setting the benchmark for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay worldwide, and Burgundy is a perennial favorite of many wine lovers. While the concept of ‘terroir’ reigns supreme here — soil type, elevation, and angle of each slope — this is a region firmly rooted in tradition. This small parcel is just south of Fuissé in the village of Leynes. A Bourgogne wine that punches well above its weight and price point, it is a high quality Chardonnay at an exceptional value. With fruity flavors of peach, cherry plum, orange zest, and Mediterranean herbs, the palate is medium bodied and finely structured, with a dusty minerality and a youthful, lengthy finish.

Red

3. Le Petit Ducru de Ducru-Beaucaillou (2019)

Bordeaux, France

This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot. Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou is named after the beautiful, large stones found in its unique wine-growing terroir. This exceptional ecosystem produces fine, elegant, tasty wines with a long finish – in short, archetypical Saint-Julien wines. The wine is an intense, crimson red velvet color. The aromas are a complex, beautiful expression of the freshness of the Cabernets, stewed red fruit with well-controlled toasty notes. It’s delicious with superb breadth. This wine is elegant and balanced with a beautiful finish and great length.

Rosé

4. Domaine Gassier Brise de Grenache Rosé (2022)

Rhone, France

This wine is a beautiful blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 5% Mourvèdre. I absolutely love the Mourvèdre varietal when it’s included in Rhône wines! Domaine Gassier is the result of a shared passion between Tina and Michel Gassier. Located at the tail-end of the Rhône Valley, their vineyards face the marshes of Camargue and the Mediterranean Sea. They have a Rhône terroir under maritime influence and are situated in the southernmost Rhône appellation: Costières de Nîmes. Gassier vineyards have been organic certified since 2008 and are now transitioning towards regenerative farming. They believe in minimal intervention to enhance freshness, balance, and minerality. Pale rose petal with beautiful blue highlights. This wine has a concert of fresh red fruits (strawberry, cassis, and red currant), and is crisp and juicy with a lively, lingering finish.

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Alison Matera, WSETdip

General Manager

Riverside Wine & Spirits

Warehouse Row

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