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Franciscan Estate: A Napa Valley Workhorse That Keeps Improving

Franciscan Estate: A Napa Valley Workhorse That Keeps Improving


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Franciscan Estate is just a few years away from celebrating its 45th anniversary. The great news is that it hasn’t rested on its laurels. In fact at a recent dinner with winemaker Janet Myers where I tasted a swath of the winery’s current releases and some brand new, soon to be released, wines it was clear how much forward movement is still going on at Franciscan. Janet started with the winery in 2003 and became Director of Winemaking and General Manager in 2005. I’ve been drinking Franciscan wines since the early ‘90s and her imprint is obvious in every glass; already solid and tasty wines have gotten better and new offerings have been added to the fold. The care she takes in crafting each wine is obvious when you listen to the steps she takes to select fruit for each offering as just one example.

The bottom line is that at a variety of price points, starting at under $20 all the way up to wines that approach $100 there is quality and value in bottles bearing the Franciscan name. Here are thoughts on my favorites from the aforementioned tasting.

Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($17.99)

This is one of the most widely distributed of the Franciscan wines. It's composed of entirely sauvignon blanc. It was fermented entirely in stainless steel and had no contact with oak. Grapefruit and tropical fruit aromas fill the nose. The mouthfeel is soft and lovely with lots of citrus and stone fruit flavors throughout. White pepper and sour yellow fruits mark the crisp, clean, and refreshing finish. This is a textbook example of Napa Valley sauvignon blanc.

Franciscan Estate Equilibrium White Blend 2014 ($22.99)

This wine is predominately sauvignon blanc (72 percent), with dollops of chardonnay (17 percent), and muscat (11 percent) blended in. The nose here is generously layered with white and yellow fruit aromas. Lychee, apricot, and hints of papaya are all evident on the lush palate. Wisps of citrus zest, white pepper, and continued yellow fruits are all present on the solid finish. There’s an impression of sweetness from the first whiff to the last sip that makes this an intriguing and seductive wine. But in reality it’s largely dry, delicious, and a great match for a broad array of foods, particularly curries.

Franciscan Estate Cuvée Sauvage 2013 ($40)

This chardonnay was produced using fruit sourced in Carneros. This offering is fermented entirely in barrel utilizing wild, native yeasts. The nose is infused with a gentle hint of smoke as well as lots of apple and Bartlett pear aromas. The story of the palate can best be told as a remarkably pure expression of fruit. Droves of orchard fruit are in play alongside bits of lemon ice. Continued yellow delicious apple, limestone, and bits of linzer tart are all present on the persistent finish. Here’s an example of Napa chardonnay with plenty of new oak, and it’s perfectly integrated, never becoming obtrusive.

Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Reserve Merlot 2013 ($45)

The Reserve Merlot represents a brand new release in the Franciscan Portfolio. In addition to merlot (93 percent), small amounts of syrah (six percent), and cabernet sauvignon (one percent) were blended in. All of the fruit came from Oak Knoll and then select barrels were picked for this wine. Red cherry, leather, and black pepper are all evident on the nose. When you take the first sip, your senses are knocked out by all the continuing red cherry fruit tinged by bits of black cherry. Cinnamon and clove spices are in play as well. The velvety finish shows off dusty dark cocoa, pencil lead, and sweet dry cherry flavors. This is an absolutely outstanding merlot with tremendous structure. It’s wonderful now, but I’d hold it for three to four years and drink it in the five after that. Either way, this is a very serious stab at top shelf merlot at a very reasonable price. Wines such as this show how a producer as big as Franciscan can still keep pushing the envelope with relatively small quantities of super high-level wine that fill a niche.

Franciscan Estate Magnificat 2013 ($45)

Franciscan launched this Bordeaux-inspired blend with the 1985 vintage. This year it’s a blend of cabernet sauvignon (73 percent), merlot (24 percent), malbec (two percent), and cabernet franc (one percent). Hints of savory herb, spices, and red fruit are part of the alluring nose. Lots of red and black fruit flavors inform the palate with cassis, plum, and cherry of particular note. Dark chocolate, black pepper, and black raspberry flavors are all part of the long finish. This blend is woven together seamlessly; no single variety rises above the rest. Instead they all come together to form a unified, mouth-filling wine that is both elegant and intense. The 2013 Magnificat is delicious today but I’ll improve in the bottle. This beauty should drink well for 15 years at minimum.


By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Surely you remember Bartles & Jaymes. They were those wine coolers in the mid 1980s with two old geezers sitting on their porch in suspenders and yakking away at enjoying a refreshing drink on a summer day. Those coolers were all the talk for quite a few years or until excise taxes were raised on alcohol. Gallo stripped the beverage of alcohol to avoid the taxes, but then the coolers weren’t much more than lime-ade. Sales plummeted. That opened the door to a spate of malt-based concoctions, like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

In 2019 Bartles & Jaymes launched a comeback and put the wine back in the cooler with only 4 percent alcohol. But today the boys don’t own the market like they did in the 1980s. In fact, they share it with a flood of seltzers hoping to capitalize on the millennial market.

We decided to take a look at the seltzers, sangrias and other concoctions that are competing for your summer attention. Roll up the sleeves for warmer weather -- there is a lot to digest.

Most popular are the hard seltzers made famous by White Claw. Also called spiked seltzer, these canned drinks add alcohol from fermented sugar cane or malted barley to flavored sparkling water. Consumers like them because they don’t have the same high carbs as beer, although the alcohol content (calories!) is about the same. They come in a rainbow of exotic flavors to keep you interested, but we find them to be a lot of bubbles without much flavor. But we’re as old as the actors on Bartles & James, so what do we know?

Millennials are drifting away from once-popular craft beers to join the seltzer craze, so much so that beer manufacturers such as Budweiser and Corona have launched seltzer products. White Claw is still on top.

Wine producers also pivoted by getting into the seltzer market. Just recently Decoy, which is part of California’s Duckhorn portfolio, launched a wine seltzer. With 5.5 percent alcohol and only 80 calories, these seltzers are even gluten-free and have no added sugar unlike the most hard seltzers. They are sold four 8.4-ounce cans to a pack ($15).

A crowd favorite at a recent tasting was the Decoy Premium Seltzer Chardonnay with Clementine Orange. It has the most flavor for us. It also comes in a rose with black cherry, chardonnay with lemon and ginger, and a sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime.

14 Hands also has a delicious canned rose ($35/6 pack) with delicious strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Spritzers are usually wine-based and have more calories and alcohol. Fruit & Flower out of Washington state is made from grape wine and natural flavor, but the alcohol level is 13 percent. We liked the passion fruit flavor. Four-pack cans cost $11.

Not in a bottle but perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot was Flybird Baja Lime Margarita made in Mexico. Called a wine cocktail, it is made entirely of agave wine, fresh lime and natural citrus flavors. It has the unmistakable aroma of a margarita and about 15 percent in alcohol. With 11 grams of sugar and about 160 calories a serving, this is hardly a hard seltzer recipe.

Flybird also makes a strawberry margarita mix. The cost is about $10-12 for a 750-ml bottle.

The seltzers offer the best healthy recipe, but we feel the urge to add some spirit to them, which of course would defeat their purpose. Still, they fit neatly into ice coolers, which makes them appealing to the tailgate and boating crowds.

Of course, you can buy canned wines without the bubbles that usually taste a lot better if you can ignore the calories and carbs. Bonterra Organic wine is a good choice.

We also like A to Z Bubbles and Underwood spritzers.

Among the spritzers, we enjoyed Line 39 ($12/4 pack) in attractive resealable aluminum bottles. They come in a sauvignon blanc with lemon, a pinot noir with black cherry and a rose with a dash of strawberry.

These handy wines offer a nice alternative to glass bottles.

Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($50). This veteran producer often flies under the radar, but manages to produce consistently balanced and approachable wines. Blended with a little cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot and malbec, it has luscious plum and blackberry aromas, jammy raspberry and cherry flavors with soft tannins.

Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($25). This cabernet sauvignon may be broad in grape sourcing but it has Duckhorn’s stamp of quality. By blending some merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah and petit verdot, the winemaker has created a delicious and quaffable red wine with juicy black fruit flavors.

Tenuta Frescobaldi de Castiglioni IGT 2018 ($24). A super-Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese, this delicious wine has ripe blackberry and cassis notes with hints of licorice and black pepper. Frescobaldi’s chianti at $16 is another a great valuable from this respectable house.

El Tractor Reserve Malbec Mendoza 2017 ($14). Luscious plum and raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla. Great value.

Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). From the Russian River Valley – a terrific area for chardonnay – this single vineyard wine has great balance with grapefruit and citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. With just a kiss of oak, its creamy texture takes center stage.


By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Surely you remember Bartles & Jaymes. They were those wine coolers in the mid 1980s with two old geezers sitting on their porch in suspenders and yakking away at enjoying a refreshing drink on a summer day. Those coolers were all the talk for quite a few years or until excise taxes were raised on alcohol. Gallo stripped the beverage of alcohol to avoid the taxes, but then the coolers weren’t much more than lime-ade. Sales plummeted. That opened the door to a spate of malt-based concoctions, like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

In 2019 Bartles & Jaymes launched a comeback and put the wine back in the cooler with only 4 percent alcohol. But today the boys don’t own the market like they did in the 1980s. In fact, they share it with a flood of seltzers hoping to capitalize on the millennial market.

We decided to take a look at the seltzers, sangrias and other concoctions that are competing for your summer attention. Roll up the sleeves for warmer weather -- there is a lot to digest.

Most popular are the hard seltzers made famous by White Claw. Also called spiked seltzer, these canned drinks add alcohol from fermented sugar cane or malted barley to flavored sparkling water. Consumers like them because they don’t have the same high carbs as beer, although the alcohol content (calories!) is about the same. They come in a rainbow of exotic flavors to keep you interested, but we find them to be a lot of bubbles without much flavor. But we’re as old as the actors on Bartles & James, so what do we know?

Millennials are drifting away from once-popular craft beers to join the seltzer craze, so much so that beer manufacturers such as Budweiser and Corona have launched seltzer products. White Claw is still on top.

Wine producers also pivoted by getting into the seltzer market. Just recently Decoy, which is part of California’s Duckhorn portfolio, launched a wine seltzer. With 5.5 percent alcohol and only 80 calories, these seltzers are even gluten-free and have no added sugar unlike the most hard seltzers. They are sold four 8.4-ounce cans to a pack ($15).

A crowd favorite at a recent tasting was the Decoy Premium Seltzer Chardonnay with Clementine Orange. It has the most flavor for us. It also comes in a rose with black cherry, chardonnay with lemon and ginger, and a sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime.

14 Hands also has a delicious canned rose ($35/6 pack) with delicious strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Spritzers are usually wine-based and have more calories and alcohol. Fruit & Flower out of Washington state is made from grape wine and natural flavor, but the alcohol level is 13 percent. We liked the passion fruit flavor. Four-pack cans cost $11.

Not in a bottle but perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot was Flybird Baja Lime Margarita made in Mexico. Called a wine cocktail, it is made entirely of agave wine, fresh lime and natural citrus flavors. It has the unmistakable aroma of a margarita and about 15 percent in alcohol. With 11 grams of sugar and about 160 calories a serving, this is hardly a hard seltzer recipe.

Flybird also makes a strawberry margarita mix. The cost is about $10-12 for a 750-ml bottle.

The seltzers offer the best healthy recipe, but we feel the urge to add some spirit to them, which of course would defeat their purpose. Still, they fit neatly into ice coolers, which makes them appealing to the tailgate and boating crowds.

Of course, you can buy canned wines without the bubbles that usually taste a lot better if you can ignore the calories and carbs. Bonterra Organic wine is a good choice.

We also like A to Z Bubbles and Underwood spritzers.

Among the spritzers, we enjoyed Line 39 ($12/4 pack) in attractive resealable aluminum bottles. They come in a sauvignon blanc with lemon, a pinot noir with black cherry and a rose with a dash of strawberry.

These handy wines offer a nice alternative to glass bottles.

Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($50). This veteran producer often flies under the radar, but manages to produce consistently balanced and approachable wines. Blended with a little cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot and malbec, it has luscious plum and blackberry aromas, jammy raspberry and cherry flavors with soft tannins.

Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($25). This cabernet sauvignon may be broad in grape sourcing but it has Duckhorn’s stamp of quality. By blending some merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah and petit verdot, the winemaker has created a delicious and quaffable red wine with juicy black fruit flavors.

Tenuta Frescobaldi de Castiglioni IGT 2018 ($24). A super-Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese, this delicious wine has ripe blackberry and cassis notes with hints of licorice and black pepper. Frescobaldi’s chianti at $16 is another a great valuable from this respectable house.

El Tractor Reserve Malbec Mendoza 2017 ($14). Luscious plum and raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla. Great value.

Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). From the Russian River Valley – a terrific area for chardonnay – this single vineyard wine has great balance with grapefruit and citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. With just a kiss of oak, its creamy texture takes center stage.


By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Surely you remember Bartles & Jaymes. They were those wine coolers in the mid 1980s with two old geezers sitting on their porch in suspenders and yakking away at enjoying a refreshing drink on a summer day. Those coolers were all the talk for quite a few years or until excise taxes were raised on alcohol. Gallo stripped the beverage of alcohol to avoid the taxes, but then the coolers weren’t much more than lime-ade. Sales plummeted. That opened the door to a spate of malt-based concoctions, like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

In 2019 Bartles & Jaymes launched a comeback and put the wine back in the cooler with only 4 percent alcohol. But today the boys don’t own the market like they did in the 1980s. In fact, they share it with a flood of seltzers hoping to capitalize on the millennial market.

We decided to take a look at the seltzers, sangrias and other concoctions that are competing for your summer attention. Roll up the sleeves for warmer weather -- there is a lot to digest.

Most popular are the hard seltzers made famous by White Claw. Also called spiked seltzer, these canned drinks add alcohol from fermented sugar cane or malted barley to flavored sparkling water. Consumers like them because they don’t have the same high carbs as beer, although the alcohol content (calories!) is about the same. They come in a rainbow of exotic flavors to keep you interested, but we find them to be a lot of bubbles without much flavor. But we’re as old as the actors on Bartles & James, so what do we know?

Millennials are drifting away from once-popular craft beers to join the seltzer craze, so much so that beer manufacturers such as Budweiser and Corona have launched seltzer products. White Claw is still on top.

Wine producers also pivoted by getting into the seltzer market. Just recently Decoy, which is part of California’s Duckhorn portfolio, launched a wine seltzer. With 5.5 percent alcohol and only 80 calories, these seltzers are even gluten-free and have no added sugar unlike the most hard seltzers. They are sold four 8.4-ounce cans to a pack ($15).

A crowd favorite at a recent tasting was the Decoy Premium Seltzer Chardonnay with Clementine Orange. It has the most flavor for us. It also comes in a rose with black cherry, chardonnay with lemon and ginger, and a sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime.

14 Hands also has a delicious canned rose ($35/6 pack) with delicious strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Spritzers are usually wine-based and have more calories and alcohol. Fruit & Flower out of Washington state is made from grape wine and natural flavor, but the alcohol level is 13 percent. We liked the passion fruit flavor. Four-pack cans cost $11.

Not in a bottle but perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot was Flybird Baja Lime Margarita made in Mexico. Called a wine cocktail, it is made entirely of agave wine, fresh lime and natural citrus flavors. It has the unmistakable aroma of a margarita and about 15 percent in alcohol. With 11 grams of sugar and about 160 calories a serving, this is hardly a hard seltzer recipe.

Flybird also makes a strawberry margarita mix. The cost is about $10-12 for a 750-ml bottle.

The seltzers offer the best healthy recipe, but we feel the urge to add some spirit to them, which of course would defeat their purpose. Still, they fit neatly into ice coolers, which makes them appealing to the tailgate and boating crowds.

Of course, you can buy canned wines without the bubbles that usually taste a lot better if you can ignore the calories and carbs. Bonterra Organic wine is a good choice.

We also like A to Z Bubbles and Underwood spritzers.

Among the spritzers, we enjoyed Line 39 ($12/4 pack) in attractive resealable aluminum bottles. They come in a sauvignon blanc with lemon, a pinot noir with black cherry and a rose with a dash of strawberry.

These handy wines offer a nice alternative to glass bottles.

Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($50). This veteran producer often flies under the radar, but manages to produce consistently balanced and approachable wines. Blended with a little cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot and malbec, it has luscious plum and blackberry aromas, jammy raspberry and cherry flavors with soft tannins.

Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($25). This cabernet sauvignon may be broad in grape sourcing but it has Duckhorn’s stamp of quality. By blending some merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah and petit verdot, the winemaker has created a delicious and quaffable red wine with juicy black fruit flavors.

Tenuta Frescobaldi de Castiglioni IGT 2018 ($24). A super-Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese, this delicious wine has ripe blackberry and cassis notes with hints of licorice and black pepper. Frescobaldi’s chianti at $16 is another a great valuable from this respectable house.

El Tractor Reserve Malbec Mendoza 2017 ($14). Luscious plum and raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla. Great value.

Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). From the Russian River Valley – a terrific area for chardonnay – this single vineyard wine has great balance with grapefruit and citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. With just a kiss of oak, its creamy texture takes center stage.


By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Surely you remember Bartles & Jaymes. They were those wine coolers in the mid 1980s with two old geezers sitting on their porch in suspenders and yakking away at enjoying a refreshing drink on a summer day. Those coolers were all the talk for quite a few years or until excise taxes were raised on alcohol. Gallo stripped the beverage of alcohol to avoid the taxes, but then the coolers weren’t much more than lime-ade. Sales plummeted. That opened the door to a spate of malt-based concoctions, like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

In 2019 Bartles & Jaymes launched a comeback and put the wine back in the cooler with only 4 percent alcohol. But today the boys don’t own the market like they did in the 1980s. In fact, they share it with a flood of seltzers hoping to capitalize on the millennial market.

We decided to take a look at the seltzers, sangrias and other concoctions that are competing for your summer attention. Roll up the sleeves for warmer weather -- there is a lot to digest.

Most popular are the hard seltzers made famous by White Claw. Also called spiked seltzer, these canned drinks add alcohol from fermented sugar cane or malted barley to flavored sparkling water. Consumers like them because they don’t have the same high carbs as beer, although the alcohol content (calories!) is about the same. They come in a rainbow of exotic flavors to keep you interested, but we find them to be a lot of bubbles without much flavor. But we’re as old as the actors on Bartles & James, so what do we know?

Millennials are drifting away from once-popular craft beers to join the seltzer craze, so much so that beer manufacturers such as Budweiser and Corona have launched seltzer products. White Claw is still on top.

Wine producers also pivoted by getting into the seltzer market. Just recently Decoy, which is part of California’s Duckhorn portfolio, launched a wine seltzer. With 5.5 percent alcohol and only 80 calories, these seltzers are even gluten-free and have no added sugar unlike the most hard seltzers. They are sold four 8.4-ounce cans to a pack ($15).

A crowd favorite at a recent tasting was the Decoy Premium Seltzer Chardonnay with Clementine Orange. It has the most flavor for us. It also comes in a rose with black cherry, chardonnay with lemon and ginger, and a sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime.

14 Hands also has a delicious canned rose ($35/6 pack) with delicious strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Spritzers are usually wine-based and have more calories and alcohol. Fruit & Flower out of Washington state is made from grape wine and natural flavor, but the alcohol level is 13 percent. We liked the passion fruit flavor. Four-pack cans cost $11.

Not in a bottle but perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot was Flybird Baja Lime Margarita made in Mexico. Called a wine cocktail, it is made entirely of agave wine, fresh lime and natural citrus flavors. It has the unmistakable aroma of a margarita and about 15 percent in alcohol. With 11 grams of sugar and about 160 calories a serving, this is hardly a hard seltzer recipe.

Flybird also makes a strawberry margarita mix. The cost is about $10-12 for a 750-ml bottle.

The seltzers offer the best healthy recipe, but we feel the urge to add some spirit to them, which of course would defeat their purpose. Still, they fit neatly into ice coolers, which makes them appealing to the tailgate and boating crowds.

Of course, you can buy canned wines without the bubbles that usually taste a lot better if you can ignore the calories and carbs. Bonterra Organic wine is a good choice.

We also like A to Z Bubbles and Underwood spritzers.

Among the spritzers, we enjoyed Line 39 ($12/4 pack) in attractive resealable aluminum bottles. They come in a sauvignon blanc with lemon, a pinot noir with black cherry and a rose with a dash of strawberry.

These handy wines offer a nice alternative to glass bottles.

Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($50). This veteran producer often flies under the radar, but manages to produce consistently balanced and approachable wines. Blended with a little cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot and malbec, it has luscious plum and blackberry aromas, jammy raspberry and cherry flavors with soft tannins.

Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($25). This cabernet sauvignon may be broad in grape sourcing but it has Duckhorn’s stamp of quality. By blending some merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah and petit verdot, the winemaker has created a delicious and quaffable red wine with juicy black fruit flavors.

Tenuta Frescobaldi de Castiglioni IGT 2018 ($24). A super-Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese, this delicious wine has ripe blackberry and cassis notes with hints of licorice and black pepper. Frescobaldi’s chianti at $16 is another a great valuable from this respectable house.

El Tractor Reserve Malbec Mendoza 2017 ($14). Luscious plum and raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla. Great value.

Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). From the Russian River Valley – a terrific area for chardonnay – this single vineyard wine has great balance with grapefruit and citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. With just a kiss of oak, its creamy texture takes center stage.


By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Surely you remember Bartles & Jaymes. They were those wine coolers in the mid 1980s with two old geezers sitting on their porch in suspenders and yakking away at enjoying a refreshing drink on a summer day. Those coolers were all the talk for quite a few years or until excise taxes were raised on alcohol. Gallo stripped the beverage of alcohol to avoid the taxes, but then the coolers weren’t much more than lime-ade. Sales plummeted. That opened the door to a spate of malt-based concoctions, like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

In 2019 Bartles & Jaymes launched a comeback and put the wine back in the cooler with only 4 percent alcohol. But today the boys don’t own the market like they did in the 1980s. In fact, they share it with a flood of seltzers hoping to capitalize on the millennial market.

We decided to take a look at the seltzers, sangrias and other concoctions that are competing for your summer attention. Roll up the sleeves for warmer weather -- there is a lot to digest.

Most popular are the hard seltzers made famous by White Claw. Also called spiked seltzer, these canned drinks add alcohol from fermented sugar cane or malted barley to flavored sparkling water. Consumers like them because they don’t have the same high carbs as beer, although the alcohol content (calories!) is about the same. They come in a rainbow of exotic flavors to keep you interested, but we find them to be a lot of bubbles without much flavor. But we’re as old as the actors on Bartles & James, so what do we know?

Millennials are drifting away from once-popular craft beers to join the seltzer craze, so much so that beer manufacturers such as Budweiser and Corona have launched seltzer products. White Claw is still on top.

Wine producers also pivoted by getting into the seltzer market. Just recently Decoy, which is part of California’s Duckhorn portfolio, launched a wine seltzer. With 5.5 percent alcohol and only 80 calories, these seltzers are even gluten-free and have no added sugar unlike the most hard seltzers. They are sold four 8.4-ounce cans to a pack ($15).

A crowd favorite at a recent tasting was the Decoy Premium Seltzer Chardonnay with Clementine Orange. It has the most flavor for us. It also comes in a rose with black cherry, chardonnay with lemon and ginger, and a sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime.

14 Hands also has a delicious canned rose ($35/6 pack) with delicious strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Spritzers are usually wine-based and have more calories and alcohol. Fruit & Flower out of Washington state is made from grape wine and natural flavor, but the alcohol level is 13 percent. We liked the passion fruit flavor. Four-pack cans cost $11.

Not in a bottle but perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot was Flybird Baja Lime Margarita made in Mexico. Called a wine cocktail, it is made entirely of agave wine, fresh lime and natural citrus flavors. It has the unmistakable aroma of a margarita and about 15 percent in alcohol. With 11 grams of sugar and about 160 calories a serving, this is hardly a hard seltzer recipe.

Flybird also makes a strawberry margarita mix. The cost is about $10-12 for a 750-ml bottle.

The seltzers offer the best healthy recipe, but we feel the urge to add some spirit to them, which of course would defeat their purpose. Still, they fit neatly into ice coolers, which makes them appealing to the tailgate and boating crowds.

Of course, you can buy canned wines without the bubbles that usually taste a lot better if you can ignore the calories and carbs. Bonterra Organic wine is a good choice.

We also like A to Z Bubbles and Underwood spritzers.

Among the spritzers, we enjoyed Line 39 ($12/4 pack) in attractive resealable aluminum bottles. They come in a sauvignon blanc with lemon, a pinot noir with black cherry and a rose with a dash of strawberry.

These handy wines offer a nice alternative to glass bottles.

Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($50). This veteran producer often flies under the radar, but manages to produce consistently balanced and approachable wines. Blended with a little cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot and malbec, it has luscious plum and blackberry aromas, jammy raspberry and cherry flavors with soft tannins.

Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($25). This cabernet sauvignon may be broad in grape sourcing but it has Duckhorn’s stamp of quality. By blending some merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah and petit verdot, the winemaker has created a delicious and quaffable red wine with juicy black fruit flavors.

Tenuta Frescobaldi de Castiglioni IGT 2018 ($24). A super-Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese, this delicious wine has ripe blackberry and cassis notes with hints of licorice and black pepper. Frescobaldi’s chianti at $16 is another a great valuable from this respectable house.

El Tractor Reserve Malbec Mendoza 2017 ($14). Luscious plum and raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla. Great value.

Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). From the Russian River Valley – a terrific area for chardonnay – this single vineyard wine has great balance with grapefruit and citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. With just a kiss of oak, its creamy texture takes center stage.


By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Surely you remember Bartles & Jaymes. They were those wine coolers in the mid 1980s with two old geezers sitting on their porch in suspenders and yakking away at enjoying a refreshing drink on a summer day. Those coolers were all the talk for quite a few years or until excise taxes were raised on alcohol. Gallo stripped the beverage of alcohol to avoid the taxes, but then the coolers weren’t much more than lime-ade. Sales plummeted. That opened the door to a spate of malt-based concoctions, like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

In 2019 Bartles & Jaymes launched a comeback and put the wine back in the cooler with only 4 percent alcohol. But today the boys don’t own the market like they did in the 1980s. In fact, they share it with a flood of seltzers hoping to capitalize on the millennial market.

We decided to take a look at the seltzers, sangrias and other concoctions that are competing for your summer attention. Roll up the sleeves for warmer weather -- there is a lot to digest.

Most popular are the hard seltzers made famous by White Claw. Also called spiked seltzer, these canned drinks add alcohol from fermented sugar cane or malted barley to flavored sparkling water. Consumers like them because they don’t have the same high carbs as beer, although the alcohol content (calories!) is about the same. They come in a rainbow of exotic flavors to keep you interested, but we find them to be a lot of bubbles without much flavor. But we’re as old as the actors on Bartles & James, so what do we know?

Millennials are drifting away from once-popular craft beers to join the seltzer craze, so much so that beer manufacturers such as Budweiser and Corona have launched seltzer products. White Claw is still on top.

Wine producers also pivoted by getting into the seltzer market. Just recently Decoy, which is part of California’s Duckhorn portfolio, launched a wine seltzer. With 5.5 percent alcohol and only 80 calories, these seltzers are even gluten-free and have no added sugar unlike the most hard seltzers. They are sold four 8.4-ounce cans to a pack ($15).

A crowd favorite at a recent tasting was the Decoy Premium Seltzer Chardonnay with Clementine Orange. It has the most flavor for us. It also comes in a rose with black cherry, chardonnay with lemon and ginger, and a sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime.

14 Hands also has a delicious canned rose ($35/6 pack) with delicious strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Spritzers are usually wine-based and have more calories and alcohol. Fruit & Flower out of Washington state is made from grape wine and natural flavor, but the alcohol level is 13 percent. We liked the passion fruit flavor. Four-pack cans cost $11.

Not in a bottle but perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot was Flybird Baja Lime Margarita made in Mexico. Called a wine cocktail, it is made entirely of agave wine, fresh lime and natural citrus flavors. It has the unmistakable aroma of a margarita and about 15 percent in alcohol. With 11 grams of sugar and about 160 calories a serving, this is hardly a hard seltzer recipe.

Flybird also makes a strawberry margarita mix. The cost is about $10-12 for a 750-ml bottle.

The seltzers offer the best healthy recipe, but we feel the urge to add some spirit to them, which of course would defeat their purpose. Still, they fit neatly into ice coolers, which makes them appealing to the tailgate and boating crowds.

Of course, you can buy canned wines without the bubbles that usually taste a lot better if you can ignore the calories and carbs. Bonterra Organic wine is a good choice.

We also like A to Z Bubbles and Underwood spritzers.

Among the spritzers, we enjoyed Line 39 ($12/4 pack) in attractive resealable aluminum bottles. They come in a sauvignon blanc with lemon, a pinot noir with black cherry and a rose with a dash of strawberry.

These handy wines offer a nice alternative to glass bottles.

Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($50). This veteran producer often flies under the radar, but manages to produce consistently balanced and approachable wines. Blended with a little cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot and malbec, it has luscious plum and blackberry aromas, jammy raspberry and cherry flavors with soft tannins.

Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($25). This cabernet sauvignon may be broad in grape sourcing but it has Duckhorn’s stamp of quality. By blending some merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah and petit verdot, the winemaker has created a delicious and quaffable red wine with juicy black fruit flavors.

Tenuta Frescobaldi de Castiglioni IGT 2018 ($24). A super-Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese, this delicious wine has ripe blackberry and cassis notes with hints of licorice and black pepper. Frescobaldi’s chianti at $16 is another a great valuable from this respectable house.

El Tractor Reserve Malbec Mendoza 2017 ($14). Luscious plum and raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla. Great value.

Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). From the Russian River Valley – a terrific area for chardonnay – this single vineyard wine has great balance with grapefruit and citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. With just a kiss of oak, its creamy texture takes center stage.


By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Surely you remember Bartles & Jaymes. They were those wine coolers in the mid 1980s with two old geezers sitting on their porch in suspenders and yakking away at enjoying a refreshing drink on a summer day. Those coolers were all the talk for quite a few years or until excise taxes were raised on alcohol. Gallo stripped the beverage of alcohol to avoid the taxes, but then the coolers weren’t much more than lime-ade. Sales plummeted. That opened the door to a spate of malt-based concoctions, like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

In 2019 Bartles & Jaymes launched a comeback and put the wine back in the cooler with only 4 percent alcohol. But today the boys don’t own the market like they did in the 1980s. In fact, they share it with a flood of seltzers hoping to capitalize on the millennial market.

We decided to take a look at the seltzers, sangrias and other concoctions that are competing for your summer attention. Roll up the sleeves for warmer weather -- there is a lot to digest.

Most popular are the hard seltzers made famous by White Claw. Also called spiked seltzer, these canned drinks add alcohol from fermented sugar cane or malted barley to flavored sparkling water. Consumers like them because they don’t have the same high carbs as beer, although the alcohol content (calories!) is about the same. They come in a rainbow of exotic flavors to keep you interested, but we find them to be a lot of bubbles without much flavor. But we’re as old as the actors on Bartles & James, so what do we know?

Millennials are drifting away from once-popular craft beers to join the seltzer craze, so much so that beer manufacturers such as Budweiser and Corona have launched seltzer products. White Claw is still on top.

Wine producers also pivoted by getting into the seltzer market. Just recently Decoy, which is part of California’s Duckhorn portfolio, launched a wine seltzer. With 5.5 percent alcohol and only 80 calories, these seltzers are even gluten-free and have no added sugar unlike the most hard seltzers. They are sold four 8.4-ounce cans to a pack ($15).

A crowd favorite at a recent tasting was the Decoy Premium Seltzer Chardonnay with Clementine Orange. It has the most flavor for us. It also comes in a rose with black cherry, chardonnay with lemon and ginger, and a sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime.

14 Hands also has a delicious canned rose ($35/6 pack) with delicious strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Spritzers are usually wine-based and have more calories and alcohol. Fruit & Flower out of Washington state is made from grape wine and natural flavor, but the alcohol level is 13 percent. We liked the passion fruit flavor. Four-pack cans cost $11.

Not in a bottle but perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot was Flybird Baja Lime Margarita made in Mexico. Called a wine cocktail, it is made entirely of agave wine, fresh lime and natural citrus flavors. It has the unmistakable aroma of a margarita and about 15 percent in alcohol. With 11 grams of sugar and about 160 calories a serving, this is hardly a hard seltzer recipe.

Flybird also makes a strawberry margarita mix. The cost is about $10-12 for a 750-ml bottle.

The seltzers offer the best healthy recipe, but we feel the urge to add some spirit to them, which of course would defeat their purpose. Still, they fit neatly into ice coolers, which makes them appealing to the tailgate and boating crowds.

Of course, you can buy canned wines without the bubbles that usually taste a lot better if you can ignore the calories and carbs. Bonterra Organic wine is a good choice.

We also like A to Z Bubbles and Underwood spritzers.

Among the spritzers, we enjoyed Line 39 ($12/4 pack) in attractive resealable aluminum bottles. They come in a sauvignon blanc with lemon, a pinot noir with black cherry and a rose with a dash of strawberry.

These handy wines offer a nice alternative to glass bottles.

Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($50). This veteran producer often flies under the radar, but manages to produce consistently balanced and approachable wines. Blended with a little cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot and malbec, it has luscious plum and blackberry aromas, jammy raspberry and cherry flavors with soft tannins.

Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($25). This cabernet sauvignon may be broad in grape sourcing but it has Duckhorn’s stamp of quality. By blending some merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah and petit verdot, the winemaker has created a delicious and quaffable red wine with juicy black fruit flavors.

Tenuta Frescobaldi de Castiglioni IGT 2018 ($24). A super-Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese, this delicious wine has ripe blackberry and cassis notes with hints of licorice and black pepper. Frescobaldi’s chianti at $16 is another a great valuable from this respectable house.

El Tractor Reserve Malbec Mendoza 2017 ($14). Luscious plum and raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla. Great value.

Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). From the Russian River Valley – a terrific area for chardonnay – this single vineyard wine has great balance with grapefruit and citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. With just a kiss of oak, its creamy texture takes center stage.


By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Surely you remember Bartles & Jaymes. They were those wine coolers in the mid 1980s with two old geezers sitting on their porch in suspenders and yakking away at enjoying a refreshing drink on a summer day. Those coolers were all the talk for quite a few years or until excise taxes were raised on alcohol. Gallo stripped the beverage of alcohol to avoid the taxes, but then the coolers weren’t much more than lime-ade. Sales plummeted. That opened the door to a spate of malt-based concoctions, like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

In 2019 Bartles & Jaymes launched a comeback and put the wine back in the cooler with only 4 percent alcohol. But today the boys don’t own the market like they did in the 1980s. In fact, they share it with a flood of seltzers hoping to capitalize on the millennial market.

We decided to take a look at the seltzers, sangrias and other concoctions that are competing for your summer attention. Roll up the sleeves for warmer weather -- there is a lot to digest.

Most popular are the hard seltzers made famous by White Claw. Also called spiked seltzer, these canned drinks add alcohol from fermented sugar cane or malted barley to flavored sparkling water. Consumers like them because they don’t have the same high carbs as beer, although the alcohol content (calories!) is about the same. They come in a rainbow of exotic flavors to keep you interested, but we find them to be a lot of bubbles without much flavor. But we’re as old as the actors on Bartles & James, so what do we know?

Millennials are drifting away from once-popular craft beers to join the seltzer craze, so much so that beer manufacturers such as Budweiser and Corona have launched seltzer products. White Claw is still on top.

Wine producers also pivoted by getting into the seltzer market. Just recently Decoy, which is part of California’s Duckhorn portfolio, launched a wine seltzer. With 5.5 percent alcohol and only 80 calories, these seltzers are even gluten-free and have no added sugar unlike the most hard seltzers. They are sold four 8.4-ounce cans to a pack ($15).

A crowd favorite at a recent tasting was the Decoy Premium Seltzer Chardonnay with Clementine Orange. It has the most flavor for us. It also comes in a rose with black cherry, chardonnay with lemon and ginger, and a sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime.

14 Hands also has a delicious canned rose ($35/6 pack) with delicious strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Spritzers are usually wine-based and have more calories and alcohol. Fruit & Flower out of Washington state is made from grape wine and natural flavor, but the alcohol level is 13 percent. We liked the passion fruit flavor. Four-pack cans cost $11.

Not in a bottle but perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot was Flybird Baja Lime Margarita made in Mexico. Called a wine cocktail, it is made entirely of agave wine, fresh lime and natural citrus flavors. It has the unmistakable aroma of a margarita and about 15 percent in alcohol. With 11 grams of sugar and about 160 calories a serving, this is hardly a hard seltzer recipe.

Flybird also makes a strawberry margarita mix. The cost is about $10-12 for a 750-ml bottle.

The seltzers offer the best healthy recipe, but we feel the urge to add some spirit to them, which of course would defeat their purpose. Still, they fit neatly into ice coolers, which makes them appealing to the tailgate and boating crowds.

Of course, you can buy canned wines without the bubbles that usually taste a lot better if you can ignore the calories and carbs. Bonterra Organic wine is a good choice.

We also like A to Z Bubbles and Underwood spritzers.

Among the spritzers, we enjoyed Line 39 ($12/4 pack) in attractive resealable aluminum bottles. They come in a sauvignon blanc with lemon, a pinot noir with black cherry and a rose with a dash of strawberry.

These handy wines offer a nice alternative to glass bottles.

Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($50). This veteran producer often flies under the radar, but manages to produce consistently balanced and approachable wines. Blended with a little cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot and malbec, it has luscious plum and blackberry aromas, jammy raspberry and cherry flavors with soft tannins.

Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($25). This cabernet sauvignon may be broad in grape sourcing but it has Duckhorn’s stamp of quality. By blending some merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah and petit verdot, the winemaker has created a delicious and quaffable red wine with juicy black fruit flavors.

Tenuta Frescobaldi de Castiglioni IGT 2018 ($24). A super-Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese, this delicious wine has ripe blackberry and cassis notes with hints of licorice and black pepper. Frescobaldi’s chianti at $16 is another a great valuable from this respectable house.

El Tractor Reserve Malbec Mendoza 2017 ($14). Luscious plum and raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla. Great value.

Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). From the Russian River Valley – a terrific area for chardonnay – this single vineyard wine has great balance with grapefruit and citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. With just a kiss of oak, its creamy texture takes center stage.


By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Surely you remember Bartles & Jaymes. They were those wine coolers in the mid 1980s with two old geezers sitting on their porch in suspenders and yakking away at enjoying a refreshing drink on a summer day. Those coolers were all the talk for quite a few years or until excise taxes were raised on alcohol. Gallo stripped the beverage of alcohol to avoid the taxes, but then the coolers weren’t much more than lime-ade. Sales plummeted. That opened the door to a spate of malt-based concoctions, like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

In 2019 Bartles & Jaymes launched a comeback and put the wine back in the cooler with only 4 percent alcohol. But today the boys don’t own the market like they did in the 1980s. In fact, they share it with a flood of seltzers hoping to capitalize on the millennial market.

We decided to take a look at the seltzers, sangrias and other concoctions that are competing for your summer attention. Roll up the sleeves for warmer weather -- there is a lot to digest.

Most popular are the hard seltzers made famous by White Claw. Also called spiked seltzer, these canned drinks add alcohol from fermented sugar cane or malted barley to flavored sparkling water. Consumers like them because they don’t have the same high carbs as beer, although the alcohol content (calories!) is about the same. They come in a rainbow of exotic flavors to keep you interested, but we find them to be a lot of bubbles without much flavor. But we’re as old as the actors on Bartles & James, so what do we know?

Millennials are drifting away from once-popular craft beers to join the seltzer craze, so much so that beer manufacturers such as Budweiser and Corona have launched seltzer products. White Claw is still on top.

Wine producers also pivoted by getting into the seltzer market. Just recently Decoy, which is part of California’s Duckhorn portfolio, launched a wine seltzer. With 5.5 percent alcohol and only 80 calories, these seltzers are even gluten-free and have no added sugar unlike the most hard seltzers. They are sold four 8.4-ounce cans to a pack ($15).

A crowd favorite at a recent tasting was the Decoy Premium Seltzer Chardonnay with Clementine Orange. It has the most flavor for us. It also comes in a rose with black cherry, chardonnay with lemon and ginger, and a sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime.

14 Hands also has a delicious canned rose ($35/6 pack) with delicious strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Spritzers are usually wine-based and have more calories and alcohol. Fruit & Flower out of Washington state is made from grape wine and natural flavor, but the alcohol level is 13 percent. We liked the passion fruit flavor. Four-pack cans cost $11.

Not in a bottle but perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot was Flybird Baja Lime Margarita made in Mexico. Called a wine cocktail, it is made entirely of agave wine, fresh lime and natural citrus flavors. It has the unmistakable aroma of a margarita and about 15 percent in alcohol. With 11 grams of sugar and about 160 calories a serving, this is hardly a hard seltzer recipe.

Flybird also makes a strawberry margarita mix. The cost is about $10-12 for a 750-ml bottle.

The seltzers offer the best healthy recipe, but we feel the urge to add some spirit to them, which of course would defeat their purpose. Still, they fit neatly into ice coolers, which makes them appealing to the tailgate and boating crowds.

Of course, you can buy canned wines without the bubbles that usually taste a lot better if you can ignore the calories and carbs. Bonterra Organic wine is a good choice.

We also like A to Z Bubbles and Underwood spritzers.

Among the spritzers, we enjoyed Line 39 ($12/4 pack) in attractive resealable aluminum bottles. They come in a sauvignon blanc with lemon, a pinot noir with black cherry and a rose with a dash of strawberry.

These handy wines offer a nice alternative to glass bottles.

Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($50). This veteran producer often flies under the radar, but manages to produce consistently balanced and approachable wines. Blended with a little cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot and malbec, it has luscious plum and blackberry aromas, jammy raspberry and cherry flavors with soft tannins.

Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($25). This cabernet sauvignon may be broad in grape sourcing but it has Duckhorn’s stamp of quality. By blending some merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah and petit verdot, the winemaker has created a delicious and quaffable red wine with juicy black fruit flavors.

Tenuta Frescobaldi de Castiglioni IGT 2018 ($24). A super-Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese, this delicious wine has ripe blackberry and cassis notes with hints of licorice and black pepper. Frescobaldi’s chianti at $16 is another a great valuable from this respectable house.

El Tractor Reserve Malbec Mendoza 2017 ($14). Luscious plum and raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla. Great value.

Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). From the Russian River Valley – a terrific area for chardonnay – this single vineyard wine has great balance with grapefruit and citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. With just a kiss of oak, its creamy texture takes center stage.


By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

Surely you remember Bartles & Jaymes. They were those wine coolers in the mid 1980s with two old geezers sitting on their porch in suspenders and yakking away at enjoying a refreshing drink on a summer day. Those coolers were all the talk for quite a few years or until excise taxes were raised on alcohol. Gallo stripped the beverage of alcohol to avoid the taxes, but then the coolers weren’t much more than lime-ade. Sales plummeted. That opened the door to a spate of malt-based concoctions, like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

In 2019 Bartles & Jaymes launched a comeback and put the wine back in the cooler with only 4 percent alcohol. But today the boys don’t own the market like they did in the 1980s. In fact, they share it with a flood of seltzers hoping to capitalize on the millennial market.

We decided to take a look at the seltzers, sangrias and other concoctions that are competing for your summer attention. Roll up the sleeves for warmer weather -- there is a lot to digest.

Most popular are the hard seltzers made famous by White Claw. Also called spiked seltzer, these canned drinks add alcohol from fermented sugar cane or malted barley to flavored sparkling water. Consumers like them because they don’t have the same high carbs as beer, although the alcohol content (calories!) is about the same. They come in a rainbow of exotic flavors to keep you interested, but we find them to be a lot of bubbles without much flavor. But we’re as old as the actors on Bartles & James, so what do we know?

Millennials are drifting away from once-popular craft beers to join the seltzer craze, so much so that beer manufacturers such as Budweiser and Corona have launched seltzer products. White Claw is still on top.

Wine producers also pivoted by getting into the seltzer market. Just recently Decoy, which is part of California’s Duckhorn portfolio, launched a wine seltzer. With 5.5 percent alcohol and only 80 calories, these seltzers are even gluten-free and have no added sugar unlike the most hard seltzers. They are sold four 8.4-ounce cans to a pack ($15).

A crowd favorite at a recent tasting was the Decoy Premium Seltzer Chardonnay with Clementine Orange. It has the most flavor for us. It also comes in a rose with black cherry, chardonnay with lemon and ginger, and a sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime.

14 Hands also has a delicious canned rose ($35/6 pack) with delicious strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Spritzers are usually wine-based and have more calories and alcohol. Fruit & Flower out of Washington state is made from grape wine and natural flavor, but the alcohol level is 13 percent. We liked the passion fruit flavor. Four-pack cans cost $11.

Not in a bottle but perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot was Flybird Baja Lime Margarita made in Mexico. Called a wine cocktail, it is made entirely of agave wine, fresh lime and natural citrus flavors. It has the unmistakable aroma of a margarita and about 15 percent in alcohol. With 11 grams of sugar and about 160 calories a serving, this is hardly a hard seltzer recipe.

Flybird also makes a strawberry margarita mix. The cost is about $10-12 for a 750-ml bottle.

The seltzers offer the best healthy recipe, but we feel the urge to add some spirit to them, which of course would defeat their purpose. Still, they fit neatly into ice coolers, which makes them appealing to the tailgate and boating crowds.

Of course, you can buy canned wines without the bubbles that usually taste a lot better if you can ignore the calories and carbs. Bonterra Organic wine is a good choice.

We also like A to Z Bubbles and Underwood spritzers.

Among the spritzers, we enjoyed Line 39 ($12/4 pack) in attractive resealable aluminum bottles. They come in a sauvignon blanc with lemon, a pinot noir with black cherry and a rose with a dash of strawberry.

These handy wines offer a nice alternative to glass bottles.

Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($50). This veteran producer often flies under the radar, but manages to produce consistently balanced and approachable wines. Blended with a little cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot and malbec, it has luscious plum and blackberry aromas, jammy raspberry and cherry flavors with soft tannins.

Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($25). This cabernet sauvignon may be broad in grape sourcing but it has Duckhorn’s stamp of quality. By blending some merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah and petit verdot, the winemaker has created a delicious and quaffable red wine with juicy black fruit flavors.

Tenuta Frescobaldi de Castiglioni IGT 2018 ($24). A super-Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese, this delicious wine has ripe blackberry and cassis notes with hints of licorice and black pepper. Frescobaldi’s chianti at $16 is another a great valuable from this respectable house.

El Tractor Reserve Malbec Mendoza 2017 ($14). Luscious plum and raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla. Great value.

Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). From the Russian River Valley – a terrific area for chardonnay – this single vineyard wine has great balance with grapefruit and citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. With just a kiss of oak, its creamy texture takes center stage.


Watch the video: Franciscan Estate Winery Napa Valley, United States - The Best Wineries of the World (June 2022).


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