Bob's Pick: Melillo Marsala, Fine, D.O.C., $9.99

This fortified wine has been a long time coming into our shop. At 17% ABV it was always 1% above what we could legally sell. Years ago however, under the prompting of a few of the state's larger wine wholesalers, the Legislature here in Idaho decided to lift that limit to include Ports, Sherries, and Madieras. Poor Marsala, from the red headed stepchild island of Sicily in Italy, it was the red headed stepchild fortified wine that wasn't even considered by the Legislature. Recently though, this Cinderella wine came out from her corner and was recognized by the bottomless wisdom of our representatives. Now we have it.

But Marsala traditionally was the favored quaf of only baking chickens: Chicken Marsala. No one here thought to just sip it as it has been done in Italy for hundreds of years, neat, or perhaps with a slight chill. Finally I did. You should too! Room temperature, neat in a snifter or just any old glass with a hole in the top, I found this Dry Marsala to be rich and viscous with a raft of flavors that include almonds, dates, dried Christmas oranges, caramel and vanilla. A port, or better yet, a sherry without any of the cloying sweetness. In the interest of due diligence, I tried it with ice and then neat, with a squeeze of orange. The ice made it too cold and diluted its flavors. The orange, as is citrus' wont, smoothed out the alcohol which sadly took away part of its richness. Dry Marsala is a wonderful aperitif (Italian tradition puts it between the second and third course), a pillow softening nightcap (again without port's sugars), or paired with a cigar and a porch chair. Really, you gotta try this, it isn't your Aunt Betty's back of the cupboard sweet sipping secret.

Kent’s Pick: Sawtooth Winery Sparkling Brut $11.99

June is Idaho Wine Month, and I’ve picked the Sawtooth’s Sparkling Brut for drinking on the patio, sipping by the pool, or pretty much any time you want some tasty bubbly that doesn’t come with a big price tag. This is well made, solid effort from Sawtooth winemaker Meredith Smith. The nose shows a touch of citrus and yeasty brioche. On the palate, the wine is crisp showing it’s bright acidity. The citrus and brioche notes carry over to the palate, but are also complemented by crisp green apple also. Sparkling wines are a great pairing for almost any food, but try this one with Thai food or with a cheese and fruit plate, or if you don’t have any food, just gulp it down!!

Reggie’s Pick: Koenig Snake River Valley Viognier $17.99

Viognier, THE grape of Condrieu in the Northern Rhone Valley, is often characterized by the delicate aromatics of peaches and white flowers. The wine is full bodied, oily in texture, with peach and melon flavors dominating the palate.

This example from Koenig is very true to type for Viognier. In addition to the pretty floral bouquet, flavors of pear and baked apple mingle with a generous portion of minerality.

This wine is a no brainer for seafood (scallops) but is also big enough to hold up to pork and chicken dishes.

Stephen’s Pick: 2015 Hat Ranch Winery Tempranillo $29

Have you ever been around someone smoking some good, high-quality cherry-tobacco out of a grandpa-style pipe? Well add a little leather and liquefy it and voila, you will have the essence of Hat Ranch 2015 Tempranillo! I was fortunate enough to visit Hat Ranch winery last summer with a dear girlfriend who is a lot of fun and knows a lot about Idaho wine. We had been on an Idaho Wine Tour the entire day and since Hat Ranch was our last stop, we were a little tired and definitely a bit happy! The folks at Hat Ranch were so unbelievably friendly, they made us feel right at home! We started by trying their award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, a truly unique Idaho wine that is superb in its own right. The Hat Ranch team then allowed us to try their Tempranillo and I will never forget the sensory experience! It was dry, smoky, and there was a leather quality to the tannins in the finish.

My friend (whose name I will not mention in an effort to protect her privacy) exclaimed – “Oh my goodness! I feel like I just kissed someone who smokes a cherry tobacco pipe! Everyone started laughing and to this day, that’s what I remember when I see or drink Hat Ranch Tempranillo; cherry, smoke, and a little bit of leather. It has a little bit more body than typical Spanish Tempranillo or Rioja wines, but it is just as dry and the cherry context shines through the intriguing leather and smoke. Hat Ranch Tempranillo is (in my humble opinion) by far, the most complex of all the Idaho Tempranillos I have tried. It pairs beautifully with anything barbecued, nearly all Mexican and Spanish food, lasagna, and any dish that has corn as its major ingredient like grits and polenta. Definitely drink rosés and whites in the summer, but Hat Ranch Tempranillo will be welcomed at any outdoor barbecue and more than adequately please your red wine preferring guests. A truly exceptional Idaho red!

Marcy’s Pick: 2018 Clearwater Canyon Albariño $23

We are celebrating Idaho wines all month and there are great wines being made up in Northern Idaho in the Lewiston area. Coco and Karl Umiker, winemakers and owners of Clearwater Canyon Winery, do a great job making quality wines that are balanced and tasty. They recently started making an Albariño, a Spanish grape varietal I’ve always enjoyed. The grape grows well in certain areas in Washington which is where they source their grapes from. This wine is very aromatic with floral and citrus on the nose and flavors of lemon meringue, melon and lychee followed by mouthwatering acidity and a touch of minerality making this a citrusy and refreshing warm weather wine. It would pair nicely with seafood, halibut or a summer salad or it would pair nicely with a porch and sunshine. Enjoy!

Barry’s Pick: 2018 Split Rail Winery Daft Pink Remix Pétillant Naturel $22

If you’ve never had a Pét-Nat before, now is the time. Our good friend, Jed Glavin, at Split Rail Winery has ventured into the unknown and returned with a delicious, lightly sparkling dry rosé that is super refreshing and loads of fun. Pétillant Naturel has recently become popular, though its roots go back to the 16th century in Limoux, in the South of France, where it was made by monks. The delicate bubbles that are the signature characteristic of Pét-Nats are created by bottling a wine prior to it completing its first fermentation, allowing carbon dioxide to be produced by natural sugars found in the grapes. The result of this ancient style of wine making is a sparkling wine with much less aggressive bubbles than its Méthod Champenoise counterpart. I am supremely grateful to Jed for taking a chance on this wine. It certainly paid off, and now we can enjoy the fruits of his labor. Cheers!

Bob’s Pick: 2014 Sawtooth Winery Snake River Valley Merlot $16.99

Yeah for June, IT’S IDAHO WINE MONTH! As such, all Idaho wines are 15% off all month long- it’s a great time to enjoy Idaho’s wines. Here’s one to try in case you haven’t. This wine is part of Sawtooth’s limited release, Classic Fly Series (trout fly that is). A fully expressive new world Merlot with notes of ripe dark cherries and minty bramble. Soft and easy tannins with hints of oak aging i.e. baking spices and a rich milk chocolate finish.

Sawtooth Winery was one of the original ‘success story’ wineries in Idaho. By that I mean that they were bought up by a national beverage concern (Precept Brands). With that backing they became part of the largest vineyard holders in the state and brought on a really talented winemaker (Meredith Smith). Growing their own fruit not only gives them complete control of quality, it also helps them keep their prices very reasonable. Enjoy this wine with big meats and BBQs. Great red wine to have by your Weber of Traeger.

Bruce’s Pick: 2018 AIX Rosé $16.99

I know.....Everybody’s doing it! Rosé wines are now coming from every corner of the wine making world, and seemingly from every red grape varietal imaginable. For some it is to feed a fad or just take advantage of a quick buck with a cash crop. Some of them may eventually get it right.

But for me, the go-to for my seasonal rosé drinking will always be Provence, the bulls-eye or epicenter for delicious rosé. No fad here--they have been perfecting the art of making delectable rosé for generations, for as long as impressionist painters have been drinking in that famous Mediterranean sun.

This AIX wine comes from one of the largest and oldest (130 years) estates in the Appellation. Set on a high plateau of 420 meters, the location is ideal for warm days and cool nights, with mistral winds to dry the vines on dewy mornings. Composed of grenache, syrah and cinsault, the light lustrous pink color presages the delicate floral, spicy flavors to come. It is dry and delicate, but persistent on the palate. It is a rosé that emphatically speaks of tradition and culture....of a culture that knows what they are doing. For these reasons Provence rosés will always be my quintessential rosé.