You read that correctly: Michael Jordan! But not the hall-of-fame NBA legend who was arguably one of the best to ever pick up a ball. This Michael Jordan is a legend in wine and arguably one the best sommeliers to ever pick up a glass. Jordan is a certified wine educator with the Society of Wine Educators and a Master Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers -- one of only 15 people in the world to hold both diplomas! Thus, when he recommends wines, we take notes!
Michael, if you were to advise young wine drinkers - who are open to trying new wines - what 3 would you recommend?
For those newer to wine that are eager to try and discover new things I am going to stay with soft, easy drinking AND DELICIOUS, rather than super complex, tannic or dry. Let's stay on the affordable side of things too. The following wines are all just good wines that will make lunch and dinner taste better, or be enjoyed on their own without any food.
Barrymore Rosé of Pinot Noir - made at Carmel Road in Monterey County. Strawberries and cherries – it’s like liquid love. Definitely foreplay! This is not just her name slapped on “shiners” (meaning, it's not just 'whitelabeled') but Drew actually is making the wine with winemaker Kris Kato, choosing the vineyard blocks, blending and deciding the final wines. Remarkably pretty…soft and delicate. Available for $15.
Domaine des Carteresses, Tavel is step up in intensity, color (and a trip to South of France) for an excellent Dry Rosé from the Tavel AOC in the Southern Rhône – an AOC that produces only Rosé wines!
For those that have already discovered how well the “fresh lemon zest” in a light Italian Pinot Grigio refreshes you and goes with antipasto and crispy fried calamari, the new world version is a great discovery.
Pieropan, Soave, Veneto, Italy Soft and bright apples and citrus made from Garganega grapes from close to the romantic town of Verona…‘nuff said. Available for $35, BUY
Paco & Lola, Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain Albariño grapes create a white wine with stone fruit flavors of nectarine, peach and sometimes apricot along with apple and tangerine. Great for anything from the sea with fins or shells. Available for $19. BUY
Tangent, Albariño, Edna Valley, California is a California version with those same peach and apple flavors. Delicious! Available for $14, BUY
WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon is a fun and delicious wine with plusher texture than the Italians and has not only crisp flavors of citrus and apples, but a layer of Rainier cherry – and I don’t know anybody that doesn’t like that flavor! Available for $20, BUY
I am a true devotee of the seductive Pinot Noir grape; it's truly the most sexy grape ever fermented. Grenache/Garnacha and Tempranillo are also delicious grapes when made into plush and fruity wines.
WillaKenzie Estate, Gisèle Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon is one of the most pretty and light-styled Pinot Noirs from the west coast. The “Gisèle” is a soft and light bouquet of roses and fresh raspberries – a delight! They also make three or four more Pinot Noirs with varying degrees of intensity and tannin. Available for $28, BUY
Beronia, Rioja Gran Reserva, Spain Tempranillo is the primary grape in the blend of the Rioja region, aged and softened in barrel until the vanilla-laden cherry and plum flavors dance together! These wines are quite good values also when you consider the amount of aging required by Spanish law. (A "Gran Reserva" means that the wine was aged at least five years, with a minimum of two years in oak. Gran Reserva wines are typically only made in outstanding vintages/years.) Available for $30, a steal! BUY
Radio Boca, Tempranillo, Valencia, Spain is a super affordable and soft version of this grape's plush appeal from the South Eastern region of Spain . They also make a Garnacha that’s more intense but just as smooth, and the winery’s website is quite creative and fun.
Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blends from Côtes-du-Rhône in the Southern Rhône Valley are very approachable and plush with rich texture and rich red and black fruit while being ultimately soft and smooth. These are great for everyday dishes like pizza and burgers or more extravagant pairings like rack of lamb and pork chops. Also great with vegetarian stews and roasted mushrooms and veggies!
Perrin, Réserve, Côtes-du-Rhône, France All the bells and whistles, everything you expect from a classic GSM blend with the addition of Carignan grapes. BUY
Well, this list should keep you busy for the at least a few weeks! We thank Michael for his time and for sharing his wisdom with us. Michael is serial restaurateur, beverage consultant, and Director of Global Accounts for Jackson Family Wines.