New, hot wine brands


Rusty Folena and Bobby Gullett of Vino Noceto. ·

Each year, a leading wine industry magazine, Wine Business Monthly, recognizes 10 wine brands from across the nation for “doing something special, innovative, curious, adventurous and, of course, delicious.” It’s worth searching for a bottle of these wines. I tasted them at the recent Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento and they are truly delicious. Here’s information on five, with more information on the other five in the next column.

Vino Noceto, located in the Sierra Foothills region of Amador County, has had a pioneering role in establishing the noble Tuscan varietal, Sangiovese, in California. For 27 years, the owners of Noceto have worked this notoriously finicky varietal and produced consistently delicious results. Try the Noceto Sangiovese. It is medium bodied, fruit packed, easy drinking and well balanced, and a highly versatile wine with food. One of my favorites. 14.2 percent alcohol. $18 for the bottle. Visit

Rotie Cellars, Walla Walla, Wash., prides itself in making Old World wines from New World vines. The 2011 Southern Blend features 65 percent Grenache, 23 percent Mourvedre, 6 percent Syrah and 6 percent Cinsault. Winemaker Sean Boyd says of this blend: “notes of white pepper, black currant and raspberry on the nose. Being Grenache dominant, bright red fruits with rhubarb and cranberry prevail on the mid-palate, following through to anise and pepper in a long, smooth finish.” 14 percent alcohol. $40 for the bottle. Visit

The sparkling Blanc de Noirs from Rack & Riddle, Sonoma County, is a tribute to winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster. This scrumptious North Coast bubbly is produced from 100 percent Pinot Noir, and features flavors of Brioche and a hint of berry, with bright citrus in the aromas. Fine bubbles enhance these flavors in the mouth, and there is a lingering finish of citrus. 12.5 percent alcohol. $22 for the bottle. Visit

Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Ga., was lauded for its 2009 Petit Verdot, but sadly, no more seems to be available. Based on the terroir, if you want to try a wine from this winery, I’d suggest the Frogtown Applause. This is primarily a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and Touriga Nacional. “Dark fruit aromas and tastes of blackberry and cassis are bound together with a hint of vanilla and tobacco. This is a very supple wine. It is delicate and complex and easy to drink,” says the winemaker. $21.99 for the bottle. Visit

Lake Sonoma Winery featured its 2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. The classic ripe and jammy aromas have nice, toasted oak notes, and rich black fruit flavors. It’s a tannic wine, but has nicely balanced acidity. 15.3 percent alcohol. $35 by the bottle. Visit

Search past columns at, or contact Barbara at


Barbara Keck
Barbara started writing for newspapers when she was 14 and continues to write, most recently the “Wineries of the Sierra Foothills” book published by Range of Light Media, parent company of The Tahoe Weekly. Barbara wrote the wine column for the Weekly for many years, and contributes occasional tidbits on tourism and entertainment topics. A long marketing consulting career that included extensive international travel led her to conclude that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Almost 20 years of enjoying the seasons on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe has confirmed her belief.