What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 6

A longed-for toast to the end of 2020 with an always reliable J Vineards Cuvee.
A longed-for toast to the end of 2020 with an always reliable J Vineyards Cuvee.

J Vineyards Cuvee 20

Healdsburg’s J Vineyards has long made one of my favorite go-to sparkling wines.

Its new J Vineyards Cuvee 20 Brut NV ($38), of which I received a sample, is a total pleaser with yeasty, apple, and spice notes. Medium-bodied, it has a slight creaminess yet plenty of crisp acidity.

It would make magic alongside a cold seafood platter, a goat cheese salad with bitter greens, or even an egg salad croissant sandwich.

Cheers: This bubbly will ring in the New Year in style. Given the year we’ve had, you deserve to uncork a special bottle to mark the end of a supremely challenging 2020, and to toast to a hopefully much brighter and lighter 2021.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier 2019

You don’t often see a Chenin Blanc and Viognier blend on the market. In fact, Pine Ridge Vineyards founder Gary Andrus first created this as an experiment in the 1990s.

It’s now one of the Napa winery’s most popular wines. One sip, and it’s easy to see why.

Enjoy with simply prepared seafood or takeout Chinese or Vietnamese food.
Enjoy with simply prepared seafood or takeout Chinese or Vietnamese food.

The 2019 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier, of which I received a sample, is crisp, refreshing, and redolent of peach, orange blossoms, citrus, and white flowers. So aromatic, it will make you think of summer even when you have the heater on.

This wine cries out to be served alongside Dungeness crab. But since the local crab season is delayed, takeout Chinese food would be the next best thing.

Cheers: The 2019 Chenin Blanc + Viognier proved so popular that it’s sold out at the winery. However, if you hunt around, you can still find it at retailers such as K&L Wine Merchants. At $12.95, it’s a bargain, too.

Angela Vineyards Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

I confess I can never pass up an Oregon Pinot Noir, so when I was offered a chance to try the 2017 Angela Vineyards Yahmill-Carlton, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($38), I jumped.

Its the first vintage by newly named winemaker Alban Debeaulieu, who succeeds Ken Wright. Like so many Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, this one sports plenty of lush earthiness. There’s raspberry, tart cherry, and blackberry notes, along with tobacco, cedar and chocolate on the finish. It’s an elegant wine that makes you want to savor each and every sip.

New releases from Oregon's Angela Vineyards.
New releases from Oregon’s Angela Vineyards.

Its 2018 Chardonnay ($38) is perfect for those who have shunned Chardonnay after experiencing one too many over-oaked ones. With nice acidity, this wine has a slight grassy profile mellowed with pear, lemon and honeysuckle. There’s a twinge of vanilla, but not too much to prevent this wine from maintaining a crisp profile.

Cheers: If you’re a fan of Oregon wines, these will be right up your alley. If you’re not yet acquainted with this state’s marvelously terroir-driven vintages, these two wines will prove a great introduction.

Lagunitas Brewing Company’s IPNA

Petaluma’s Lagunitas Brewing Company can already lay claim to creating the top-selling IPA in the world. Now, it’s created its first IPNA, as in non-alcoholic India Pale Ale.

An IPA without the buzz.
An IPA without the buzz.

A 12-ounce bottle has only 80 calories, nearly half that of regular beer. The IPNA also contains less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume.

I had a chance to try samples recently. Deep amber in color, the IPNA boasts a piney aroma, and a nice bitter, hoppy finish. This is definitely light beer, though, with a thinner body and not nearly the fullness of flavor associated with regular IPA.

Enjoy it with any food you normally love with beer.

Cheers: For those who don’t want the buzz, this IPNA satisfies with the hue, appearance, and characteristic hoppiness of beer. So while everyone else is toasting the new year with a cold one, this lets you join in the festivities without missing out in any way.

More: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 1

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 2

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 3

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 4

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 5

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