Best Wines in 2021

Area Experts’ Top Wine Picks for 2021

A few of the Chattanooga area’s experts share their top choices for wine in 2021 – plus, tips on how to pair, pour, and savor flavor like a sommelier.

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Lauren LaMacchia headshot

Lauren Lamacchia
Fine Wine Manager
Athens Distributing Company

1. Rosé

Famille Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2018

Côtes du Rhône, France

Famille Perrin’s values have given them a worldwide reputation for excellence. Nature and tradition are key to their approach to making beautiful wines. Affordable, juicy, clean, and easy-drinking is how I would describe this wine. It is a great choice for light hors d’oeuvres.


2. Sparkling

Vendrell Olivella Cava Brut Nature 2013

Penedès, Spain

This small family-owned winery dates back to the 16th century, and their philosophy is to produce cavas that are aged for long periods of time using traditional varietals that reflect the terroir they come from. This sparkling wine is produced using 60-year-old xarello vines planted on the calcareous soils of Spain, in addition to macabeo and parellada grapes. It has a very clean nose with aromas of apple, pear, lemon, and hazelnut that lead into a complex and refined palate beautifully balanced with white fruit, lemon zest, and a hint of bitters that do not overpower the fruit. Cava is very versatile and pairs with an array of foods ranging from salads to fried chicken.


3. Red

Ridge Three Valleys 2018

Sonoma County, California

Three Valleys is the proprietary name for the only ridge wine blended from multiple vineyard sites. It’s a blend of 70% zinfandel, 14% petite sirah, 12% carignan, and 4% mataro (perhaps better known as mourvèdre). This wine is medium-bodied with notes and flavors of fresh raspberry, bright cherry, and barrel spice. It’s the perfect match when you want to get down and dirty with some barbecue.


4. White

Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Walker Bay, South Africa

This wine is named after the rare southern right whale that frequents the cool South Atlantic Walker Bay, just two miles from the vineyards. With each bottle sold, Southern Right makes a contribution to their conservation. This wine opens with hints of grapefruit and lime. The palate shows refreshing flavors of green, citrus, and tropical fruit. Enjoy this wine on its own or with anything from the sea.

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Alison Matera headshot

Alison Matera, dipWSET
General Manager
Riverside Wine & Spirits

1. Rosé

Choblet Le Chant Baron Grolleau Gris Vin de Pays 2019

Val de Loire, France

One of Choblet’s specialties is a little-known grape called grolleau gris, which was one of the original grapes cultivated in the Loire Valley. The vines surround the Lac de Grand-Lieu, which is the largest lake on the plains in Europe. This micro-climate tends to give ripe, round, and fruity wines. Each parcel is vinified separately, showing the expression and diversity of each precise terroir. The Choblet family has followed sustainable agriculture practices since 1980, and now the winery is certified by Terra Vitis. Technically, this wine is a white, but it has the palest pink color. It undergoes a five-hour maceration and is then fermented and aged in stainless steel. On the palate, it has a spicy and citrusy character, always with notes of pink grapefruit and white pepper.


2. Sparkling

Ettore Germano Rosanna Rosé Extra Brut NV

Serralunga d’Alba, Italy

Since 1856, the Germano family has seen four generations of devotion to both their viticulture and excellent wine production. 100% Nebbiolo, the grapes are picked by hand, brought to the cellar in small boxes, and pressed slowly and delicately to obtain a pale pink color. 80% of the juice is fermented in stainless steel and the other 20% in 3- and 4-year-old wooden barrels. The aromas are reminiscent of red fruits and yeast, together with floral notes of roses. In the mouth, the entry is full and fresh, and the fine bubbles give the wine a creamy texture and a long refreshing finish.


3. Red

Château Belle Assise Coureau Grand Cru 2015

Saint-Émilion, France

Grand Cru Saint-Émilion is from the stunning 2015 vintage. I can’t get enough Bordeaux. This is a relatively new producer, and his wines are lovely. This Merlot-dominated Château Belle Assise Coureau is a smoking value. It offers a classic bouquet of red currants, red plums, dried flowers, cedar wood, and earth in a medium-bodied, seamless, seductive style that’s just impossible to resist. It’s not the densest or most age-worthy Saint-Émilion out there, but it has class, and it will put a smile on your face over the coming years.


4. White

Abbazia di Novacella Stiftskellerei Neustift Kerner 2018

Alto Adige, Valle Isarco, Italy

This estate has long been known for producing world-class white wines with a tremendous quality-to-price ratio. One could argue that Abbazia di Novacella is among the prettiest wineries on Earth. Kerner is a cross between Riesling and schiava and was developed in 1929. This semi-aromatic white wine is a fresh and bright expression of South Tyrol. Pleasant floral and mineral notes with hints of yellow fruit involve the senses and introduce a dynamic sip with savory aromas on the finish.

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Brian Leutwiler
Managing Partner
Imbibe: Wine, Spirits & Beer

1. White

Domaine Marcel Deiss Berckem 2016

Alsace, Northeastern France

When wine writers are asked to list the top wineries in Alsace, Domaine Marcel Deiss is the dominant favorite. Located in Bergheim in the heart of the Grand Cru area, the estate was founded in 1947. Currently managed by Mathieu Deiss with the help of his father Jean-Michel, this estate is at the forefront of redefining the pursuit of excellence in the tending to their vines (100% organic, biodynamic) and to the way they blend their wines. This Berckem offering is a dazzling combination of 13 Alsacian grape varieties that are co-planted (white, pink, and red grapes all growing together in the same historic vineyards), which are then picked and fermented in the same vats. At pressing, the skins are removed when making a white wine. The 2016 Berckem is just slightly off-dry and is one of the most succulent white wines I have ever tasted. It will be my first choice for Thanksgiving and Christmas! These highly allocated wines are just now available in the Chattanooga area.


2. Sparkling

Charles Orban Blanc de Noirs Champagne

Valley of the Marne, Champagne, Northern France

When it comes to Champagne, the Valley of the Marne has important historical significance. That’s because it is where the Orban family has been making wine since 1770. If one heads due east and crosses the Marne River to the north shore, they would enter the village of Hautvillers where a master winemaker by the name of Dom Pérignon (1638-1715) was perfecting the craft of making Champagne just 55 years before the Orbans. This mouthwatering Orban offering is made from equal parts pinot noir and pinot meunier with hints of plum, blackberry, candied lemon zest, and toasted almond skin. Serve with sushi, shellfish, steelhead trout, roast chicken, or turkey.


3. Rosé

Picaro del Aguila Clarete 2017

Ribera del Duero, Northern Spain

Allow me to start with the artwork. It’s the most beautifully whimsical label to ever grace a bottle of rosé that I can remember in my 35 years of selling wine. I’ve received plenty of euphoric replies from experienced wine lovers whom I have had the sheer pleasure of sharing this gem with, and they typically end with the ordering of an entire case. So, what is so special about this clarete? It comes from a high elevation with a unique climate and a long history of winemaking. Its blend of four indigenous Spanish grapes, including tempranillo and grenache, averages 60+-year-old vines that are not very common in the rosé world. This wine is organically farmed and, surprisingly enough, aged 16 months in neutral oak barrels. With beautiful aromatics and lovely yet dry fruit, it is best enjoyed slightly chilled – but not overly so. What should you serve it with? The air you breathe. Or anything else.


4. Red

La Mision Chacai Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Maipo Valley, Chile

The brainchild of the late French winemaker William Fèvre (who attained superstar status in the Burgundy region with his astonishing Grand Cru Chablis offerings), this cabernet hails from the highest vineyards in the world … at an altitude of 3,000 feet clinging to the steep sides of the Andes. Wine grapes grown at higher altitudes have smaller berries, which gives them a higher skin-to-pulp ratio and much darker juice that also contains higher amounts of tannins and more acidity. The fruit is dark and brooding with a blueberry and cherry mix and a long silky finish with some intriguing floral notes. It weighs in at a hefty 15.2% alcohol but comes across beautifully balanced and quite sane. Pair with lamb, steak, roast, or stew.

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