GEORGE BALLING: Some of our new favorites

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New releases from wineries typically come two times a year, in the spring and again in the fall. Having received a slew of new releases from wineries combined with some shipments from distributors in Southern and Southeastern Idaho, it seems like a good time to update our readers on some of our new favorites. The wines are skewed a bit more to lighter bodied wines that will be perfect for your summer entertaining.

Just this past week we tried the 2017 Kerloo Cellars Grenache Blanc ($25, Club Price $22.50). Wow, what fun that was! Just as an illustration of how much we thought of the wine, we tried it on Thursday and Friday. The wine is just flat-out delicious, but we must admit part of our desire to get the wine in the shop is the unusual part of finding a domestic, varietally bottled Grenache Blanc. They are rare. The wine has wonderful texture and palate weight with a great flavor profile of ripe Bartlett pear. The wine is fermented and aged in a combination of neutral oak barrels and concrete vat, allowing all of that great fruit to come through. It is one of the coolest wines I have tried in some time.

Sancerre has long been one of our summer favorites. The crisp, clean palate and zippy acidity make it light and refreshing, perfect on a warm summer afternoon. The 2016 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre ($30, Club Price $27) has all of that and then some. The white wine from Sancerre is all Sauvignon Blanc, but they take on a bit of a different combination of aromas and flavors than those from other regions. The Jolivet shows wet stone minerality, citrus and a light green note on the nose, leading to a palate loaded with broiled citrus flavors. Find a shady spot on a hot summer day and you will think you are in the South of France.

One final white, the 2015 Failla Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($40, Club Price $36) should not be missed. It is all we love about California Chardonnay with balance, restraint and elegance. Simply lovely wine! Pear and apple palate flavors meld with a chalky mineral-driven nose, noted with ripe, golden apples and just the right dose of butter and oak.

After our recent wine dinner with Pozzan Winery from Napa, we added to the shelf their 2016 Annabella Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($22, Club Price $19.80). Those of you who are regular readers know my fondness for Russian River Pinot. I worked there for a Pinot dominant winery when we lived in California and it remains my favorite appellation for Pinot Noir. The Annabella shows mild mushroom-like earthiness on the nose, along with ripe summer cherry. The palate is silky and lush, loaded with more cherry flavors and a soft finish with well-integrated tannin. It is all that Pinot Noir should be.

From one of our distributors in Ketchum, Idaho we just received our latest shipment of 2015 Day Zinfandel ($40, Club Price $36). Owner and winemaker Ehren Jordan, who also produces the Failla wines, has crafted another masterpiece. The “Zin” grapes for this wine come from Sonoma County, so cool climate Zinfandel that still sports a healthy 15 percent alcohol, but in no way is overdone. Lovely aromas of raspberry jam lead to a palate with dense, concentrated berry fruit flavors with perfect tannin balance.

On the same “truck” we received our allocation of 2015 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet ($85, Club Price $76.50). Pride is one of our favorite producers. Their mountain-top vineyards are located high in the Mayacamas Mountains on the line between Napa and Sonoma counties, and they grow and produce some of the best wine in all of California. The ’15 “Cab” is no exception; rich and extracted, focused on blue fruit, both in the aromatics and palate flavors, combined with light spice notes on the nose. It is just lovely wine. All is balanced by firm tannins around the concentrated fruit driven palate.

We recently added the 2014 William Hill Merlot ($19, Club Price $17.10) to the collection. When one of our other Merlots went out of stock we were fortunate to taste the “Bill Hill” and found it to be a really well made and delicious Merlot at this price. Classic Merlot aromatics of chocolate covered cherries and dense, rich cherry fruit on the palate will make this a perfect choice with a grilled steak.

We are always on the hunt for new wines to add to the collection and will no doubt find more tasty bottles to add over the coming weeks. Stop by the shop anytime to see what is new!

If there is a topic you would like to read about or questions on wine you can email or make suggestions by contacting the Healthy Community section at the Coeur d’Alene Press.

• • •

George Balling is co-owner with his wife, Mary Lancaster, of the dinner party — a wine and gift shop in Coeur d’Alene by Costco. The dinner party has won the award for best wine shop in North Idaho twice, including for 2018. George is also published in several other publications around the country. After working in wineries in California and judging many wine competitions, he moved to Coeur d’Alene with Mary more than 10 years ago to open the shop. You can also follow us on Facebook at!/dinnerpartyshop.

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