Quarantine wine picks: the bottles we've been turning to

Updated: May 8, 2020

In these uncertain times, it is perhaps more important than ever to appreciate life's simple pleasures and of course, one of the world's oldest remedies: wine. With everyone spending more time at home these days and brushing up on their cooking skills, we thought it would be fun to share which bottles our team has been enjoying lately.

Thomas Bennett-Stroud, Sacramento & Surrounding Areas: The governor issued a warning that over 50% of my wine cellar could be gone by next week, so I’m starting with the good stuff: Keeler Estate 2017 “Heart Series” Pinot Noir from the Eola-Amity Hills of my native Willamette Valley, Oregon. Very textural on account of the Keelers’ use of concrete eggs and amphorae, with notes of bright cherry, green peppercorn, and forest floor littered with Douglas fir needles. I gulped paired this wine with homemade Lebanese-style flatbread, smothered with hummus, topped with lamb shoulder prepared like carnitas, Labneh, cilantro, quick pickled red onions…You get the picture. The acid in the Pinot cuts through all that richness, and calibrates seamlessly with the complex flavors and textures. Time for another slurp sip.

Amanda Simpson, Inside Sales: My wine of choice is Eco Terreno Cabernet Sauvignon. A familiar, cozy standby in which, in times of uncertainty and fear, I cherish the simplicity and predictability of a classic Alexander Valley Cab. Pair with the evening news while simultaneously scrolling covid19 headlines on your iPad. 

Phillip Anderson, VP of Sales: This weekend since I can’t go any further than the backyard, I will grill a steak & pair it with Ampelos Sigma Syrache. This is one of our newest wines & one of the best for a grilled steak. The earthy notes from the Syrah pair nicely with the smokey notes of the meat & the peppery ripe cherry notes of the Grenache stand up to the rich flavors. If you like a nice Châteauneuf du Pape, you have to try this wine.

Mia Cruciani, North Bay Area: That is also going to be my go-to wine! The Ampelos Sigma Syrache is one of my favorite new wines in our portfolio. The spicy, smoky character of this wine went well with a recent dinner we made at home: a homemade pizza with buffalo ricotta, fresh basil, smoked sun-dried tomatoes and Italian sausage, topped with arugula.

Jim Fanning, San Francisco: I recently chose to break out the new Spring Seed Shiraz with great anticipation. I was greeted with a nice ripe fresh aroma of berries and on the pallet those fruit flavors came through with nice acidity. It paired well with a blended tomato-pesto-parmesan sauce over sweet-Italian sausage tortellini. We’ll see what today brings!

Michelle L'Don, San Francisco: As my family and I hunker down at home, we’ve been having some fun dinners with creative themes. My 10-year-old daughter Sophia came up with the idea to make us themed meals. It started off with a picnic at the beach, a blanket in our living room, ocean waves sounds on the stereo, and a happy girl with homemade sandwiches, chips, ants on a log and juice boxes…  this was the first meal she ever made for us! Then she came up with ongoing idea of themed dinners. That evening we had a fancy Italian dinner with spaghetti and homemade meatballs (she made with daddy), salad and garlic bread. We all got dressed up, she set out a table cloth with a candle and Italian music. For the wine, we opened up a bottle of the Lunaria 'Coste di Moro' Montepulciano d’Abruzzo as she sipped cranberry juice (in a wine glass) and we started the evening with a toast to good health and started our candle lit dinner.  It was a perfect paring for the evening's dinner! The following night, we had had Mexican tacos with the works and we paired it with the Granza Tinta de Toro from Spain. What a lovely pairing with the spicy taco meat, it was a great marriage of food and wine. We did not have sombreros but we had mariachi music, a table filled with colored trinkets, and our centerpiece was a maraca with Mexican colors on it. Enjoy your time with your family, as hard as this may be to shelter in place, this time is precious time with your family!

Daniel Teta, San Diego: So it might be a little old-school but I've been hanging onto this jewel for a minute and decided to bust it out for my three month anniversary of magical matrimony. The Casina di Cornia Chianti Classico is certainly a nice Chianti! And no it’s not liver and fava beans, but homemade penne elk ragu al forno will have to do ;) 

Annie Rabin-Arnold, Coachella Valley & Palm Springs: We have been sipping on two Spanish red blends: Albet i Noya Lignum Negre and Mas Igneus Renéixer Negre.  We have been enjoying them with an assortment of Cajun cuisine from my daughter's new cookbook received during her virtual birthday party. A fan favorite is Jambalaya (which is essentially a Cajun version of Spanish Paella)!

George Van Duzer, West Los Angeles & Beach Cities: I recently tried the Spring Seed Shiraz, and I have to say that I’m genuinely impressed. The wine is really well balanced with true northern Rhone aromas, bacon fat (avocado for the veggies), black fruit, black pepper, spice and earthy minerals. Qualities not often found in wines at this price point. It reminded me of the Alain Graillot, Crozes Hermitage- one of my favorites from way back in the stone age. Drink up!

Carl Sanchez, Orange & Riverside Counties: The Lunaria 'Civitas' Pecorino is one of my favorites to have on my patio while enjoying the nice weather. It is nice and fresh, with citrus, peach, and floral notes, and goes well with a wide variety of lighter dishes. 

Aaron Kelly, Los Angeles: My wife and I have been on a lot of virtual brunches and Happy Hours with friends and family during all this craziness. We recently discovered the new Tarantas Cava Rosé, it’s really hard to beat for the price!

David DuVarney, Santa Barbara to Santa Monica:  I recently enjoyed this fine 2017 Keeler Estate "Heart" Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir. Light garnet color in the glass. Decanted ½ hr. On the nose, under ripe cherry, cumin and some oak as well. In the mouth a bit of red fruit and oak. I believe some time in the bottle will soften the oak and tannins. Paired with salmon skin salad and crab mac and cheese.

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