ADVERTISING: Advertorial — GEORGE BALLING: Samples, tastings and deals

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Just in the past week, we received a “care package” of current release samples from our friends at Jordan Winery in Sonoma. We held our much-anticipated tasting with John Lancaster and his great lineup of wines from Skylark Wine Company and discovered some great deals in tasting with our distributors. With all this fun new and delicious wine, we figured it was time for a recommendation and review column.

Jordan Winery only makes two wines that we get here in North Idaho: their Chardonnay and Cabernet. Both wines are examples of exquisite balance and elegance and should not be missed. The 2017 Jordan Chardonnay ($40, wine club $36) is one of our favorites from California, year in and year out. Aromas and palate flavors of broiled citrus and crisp, green apple, along with just the right amount of buttery richness, make for a lovely Chardonnay.

The 2016 Jordan Cabernet ($70, wine club $63) is a stunning example of Alexander Valley Cab. Aromas of spice box, light pipe tobacco and crushed Italian plums are layered and lovely. The palate delivers more flavors of dark stone fruits along with mild oak influence and perfectly balanced sleek tannins. The restraint showed by the winemaking team at Jordan is truly special, resulting in both wines demonstrating understated prestige in every sip.

John Lancaster, co-owner and co-winemaker at Skylark, has done it again with his current batch of wines. His 2018 Pink Belly Dry Rose of Grenache ($24, wine club $21.60) is delicious again. Our allocation this year is down a bit to 50 cases, with just about 10 cases left. The wine shows wet stone minerality and spring strawberry and raspberry on the nose. The palate is crisp, clean and bone dry, with layering of berry notes throughout and a dry refreshing finish. Don’t miss this one — it will be gone in a flash.

The 2017 Skylark Pinot Blanc ($27, wine club $24.30) remains, as I describe it, the most elegant white wine in the shop. Pinot Blanc is typically (and in our opinion should always) be unoaked. The Skylark is all done in stainless steel. The aromatics show crisp citrus notes, light minerality and light floral notes. The palate is all citrus driven, with lovely palate weight and texture that lends richness without diminishing, in any way, the refreshing quality of the wine.

Skylark’s 2014 Las Aves ($40, wine club $36) is their ode to Priorat, a small region in Spain that we agree is one of our favorites. At 275 cases, the Las Aves is one of the winery’s smaller production. Wines from Priorat and the Las Aves are typically Carignane and Cabernet-based, with other grapes blended (in this case Syrah and Grenache). The wine is very dark in the glass and dark cherry and blackberry focused on the palate, with ample but not overbearing tannins. The aromas show savory notes of dried herbs and a subtle meatiness. It is delicious wine again this year.

One library selection we featured in the Skylark tasting was the 2009 Rodger’s Creek Vineyard Syrah ($45, wine club $40.50) — and what a show stopper this is! The delicious but rustic edge the wine showed in its youth has mellowed into a rich, layered and lush wine, featuring savory aromas and dark fruit flavors on the palate. The tannins are soft and round now, and the wine is beautiful in texture and smoothness. There is a very limited amount of this wine still available, so it will be gone quickly.

One more wine we recently added to the shelf and think the world of is the 2016 Galerie Sauvignon Blanc ($18, wine club $16.20) from Napa. These days my palate is more aligned with California Sauvignon Blanc than the ones from New Zealand. I find the “Kiwi” produced Sauvignon Blanc to be just a bit too acidic for me. The Galerie shows all the lovely pink grapefruit aromas and flavors I love in Sauvignon Blanc with softer, milder acid for a delicious glass of wine.

Stop by the shop for more great new wine choices that we add regularly. Or if you would like us to order some of your personal favorites, we are glad to help and we have no minimum orders.

Move update for the dinner party…

The painting and flooring are taking a bit longer than expected, so we have changed our move in and open date to May 8 (originally it was planned for the 1st ). Our new shop is at 3510 N. Government Way. It’s in the same building we are in now, but the to westernmost end unit. Come see us in the new shop after May 8!

• • •

George Balling is co-owner with his wife, Mary Lancaster, of the dinner party, a wine and gift shop in Coeur d’Alene by Costco. The dinner party has won the award for best wine shop in North Idaho twice, including for 2018. George is also published in several other publications around the country. After working in wineries in California and judging many wine competitions, he moved to Coeur d’Alene with Mary more than 10 years ago to open the shop. You can also follow us on Facebook at!/dinnerpartyshop.

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