The Dozen This Month Vol. 27 No. 03

The Dozen – Mountain Blancs

Today, a blend of bargain buys and uber-premium wines served with a Bourbon chaser.


While it is not exactly rare to have premium white wines being made on Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain district, the rough east valley terrain is better known for its quality big reds, especially Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Krausz family, who have been on the mountain for some time and who released their first wines only in 2008, certainly make big Cabs – and Syrahs – but they also pay a lot of attention to Sauvignon Blanc made in the Bordeaux style with considerable complexity and heft. We have a couple of them, one a reserve with lots of barrel and bottle age, that might be of interest.

And speaking of barrel aging, at the end of this column, we’ve slipped in a cask-strength straight Bourbon that is lovely sipped straight, with maybe a dash of water after you’ve finished drinking wine for the evening.

2020 Quinta de Chocapalha Lisboa Arinto ($12). Arinto is a somewhat fruity grape, and it shows here, along with lime notes, a tin minerally undertaste, and some bread flavors in the finish.

2020  Fritz Allendorf “Save Water Drink Riesling” Rheingau Riesling ($15). Pleasant drinking, tart, and certainly not sweet, with the familiar fruity “oil” of Riesling and green floral flavors. (Don’t grab the no-alcohol version by mistake unless you have an abstinence hangover from dry January.)

2020 Eifel-Pfeifer ‘Heinz Eifel’ Mosel Riesling Spatlese ($16). Slightly pétillant, with lightly sweet and tart classic Riesling flavors and a hint of brioche in the finish.

NV Fitz-Ritter Pfalz Sekt Extra Trocken ($22). A sparkling that is more frothy than big bubbly (tickling your nose), light-bodied, almost-minty fruitiness, and with a good finish.

2021 Three Sticks “Origin Durrell Vineyard” Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($70). Tart apples mixed with floral notes, a long, lean presentation, and a touch of minty cream in the finish.

2019 Root: 1 Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($11). Enjoyable, tangy, red-berry flavors with a few wood notes and mild tannins – a lean but not spare wine.

2021 Thierry & Guy “Le Fat Bastard” Pays d’Oc Pinot Noir ($12). Warm and generous with not a lot of classic Pinot flavors except some mild rootiness – enjoyable nonetheless.

2020 Arkenstone Estate Howell Mountain Blanc ($125). Only 6% Semillon and the rest Sauvignon with a variety of green fruit flavors, great structure, and some fresh oak notes.

2017 Arkenstone Estate Howell Mountain Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ($200). Great depth of flavors with the extra age and wood, though still quite fresh. Lots of mellow green fruits and nice textures lend themselves to being excellent food wine, especially poultry dishes.                                                                                                                                  

2021 Tilia Mendoza Malbec ($11). Pleasant and straightforward with mostly red fruit, a little tarter than most Malbecs, medium-bodied with a hint of cocoa in the finish.

2021 Three Sticks “Monarch” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($75). About as lean and tangy a Pinot as you will find, but with lots of bright and dark fruits – mainly raspberry – with meaty accents and a lightly buttery barrel finish. Very interesting wine.

Barrell Batch 034 6YO Cask Strength Straight Bourbon ($89). A drink for the Bourbon purist (57.3% ABV), very smooth but very rich with flavors of cracked, toasted grain and supple barrel notes – neither too sweet nor too edgy, but just right.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from As more wineries are shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.

Photo credit: Matt Morris

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Roger Morris writes about wine, food and travel for The World of Fine Wine, Drinks Business, Meininger's Wine Business International, Wine Enthusiast and other publications in the U.S. and Europe.

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