What are some of the personal favorites of the sommeliers who have become wine shop owners?
At Mission Wines in South Pasadena, Chris Meeske singled out these wines:
2011 Chateau L'Afrique Côtes de Provence rosé ($20.99): "My favorite rosé of the season. This is a traditional blend of predominantly Grenache, but it also has a touch of an obscure local grape called Tibouren. A beautiful dry classic Provençal rosé with nice red fruit and aromatics. Just delicious to drink on a hot day."
2011 Domaine du Salvard Cheverny ($15.99): "A white wine from the village of Cheverny in the Loire Valley, where they blend a little Chardonnay in with the traditional Sauvignon Blanc. The Chardonnay really adds a nice element to the wine. It softens up the mid-palate and rounds it out, yet you still get the great classic Loire Valley characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc."
2010 Famille Berchet Plateau des Chênes Lirac ($20.99): "Lirac is a village adjacent to Châteauneuf-du-Pape that offers tremendous value. Here you have a a very rich, Grenache-based red that drinks like Châteauneuf for half the price. Lots of dark fruit and spice and a fantastic texture. Really delicious to drink."
2008 Artadi Viñas de Gain Rioja ($24.99): "This Tempranillo-based red comes from higher altitude vineyards in Rioja. It's very dry, very elegant and beautifully balanced. Fantastic for people who really like Bordeaux or a restrained Cabernet-style red. Delicious for barbecue."
At Silverlake Wine, George Cossette likes:
2002 White Hawk Vineyard Syrah "White Hawk Vineyard" ($20): "A Syrah from one of the Central Coast's top vineyards, White Hawk. The vineyard owner's family made wine for only a few years, and these bottles evidently lay in the cellar for 10 years. Here for a limited time. Fancy stuff at an incredible price."
Holly's Garden "Pagan" Pinot Noir ($23.75): "Biodynamically farmed, this Pinot Noir comes from Australia's alpine region (who knew?) and is grown at the towering altitude of 750 feet above sea level (which means it's about as high as our house on Mt. Washington). It's light, almost as pale as rosé — a complete flip-flop of what you'd expect from an Australian Pinot Noir, with aromas and flavors of concentrated dried cherry, tobacco and what wine people call 'forest floor.'"
2011 Szöke Pinot Gris Mátra ($12.75): "To my taste, this Pinot Gris from a Hungarian producer reminds me of Alsatian Pinot Gris — except it is totally dry. It even has a nice bit of texture. You can drink it by itself, but it's a wonderful food wine as well."
2007 I Custodi Aetneus Etna Rosso $19.50: "Made by Salvo Foti, famous in Sicily for his wines made at IVigneri, some of them in the traditional palmero carved out of stone. But he also makes this Etna Rosso at I Custodi from vineyards on the north slope of the volcano. Aetneus is a blend of Nerello Cappucio, Nerello Mascalese and Alicante. It's medium bodied, elegant with complex aromatics of red berries and dried herbs. Not tannic or sharp in any way but not slutty either. I love this wine for not sacrificing character for beauty."