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Millenial taste: A new generation of wine

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Wine purchases by millennials have grown to where their market share now matches that of baby boomers. This growth will continue, especially as wineries focus more on millennials with eclectic bottle labels to catch the eye, increased diversity in grape varieties/blends to appeal to exploratory tastes and more wines in cans for casual sipping. 

Of course, wineries are also employing increasing numbers of millennials.  This led me to taste several dozen impressive bottles from wineries where millennials have key positions. Below are my favorite wines, each with a millennial important to its production.

Pedroncelli 2016 red blend “Sonoma Classico, Dry Creek Valley” ($19): This exceptional buy has forward fruit, fine balance, thick body, attractive complexity and great length. Millennial Mitch Blakeley, 27, is vintner and sustainability certification supervisor.

Imagery 2017 Sauvignon Blanc “California” ($20): Pleasing on the palate with strength, appealing fruit and honed balance accompanied by complexity, integration, refinement and lingering length. The winery’s 2017 Pinot Noir “California” ($20) is another fine buy. Jaime Benziger, 32, is winemaker.

Robert Hall 2015 Syrah “Paso Robles” ($20): My favorite among several bargains from Robert Hall is strong and complex on both nose and palate along with fine fruit, moderate tannins and an extended finish. Also enjoy the winery’s 2017 Chardonnay “Paso Robles” ($18). Amanda Gorter, 29, is assistant winemaker.  

Opolo 2018 rosé “Central Coast” ($24): This blend of Grenache, Syrah and Viognier is forward on the palate with rounded body, well-balanced fruit and engaging complexity. Also consider the outstanding 2016 red blend “Rhapsody, Reserve Collection, Paso Robles” ($50). James Schreiner, 31, is winemaker.

Sextant 2016 Zinfandel “Wheelhouse, Paso Robles” ($24): Features strong, full-bodied and robust rich fruit accompanied by excellent balance, enjoyable personality and lingering length. Alex Frost, 26, is assistant winemaker.

Bricoleur 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir “Russian River Valley” ($30): Very attractive to the eye, and its strong, highly pleasing personality expresses crispness, body, complexity, integration and refinement. Also consider the 2017 Old Vine Zinfandel “Alexander Valley” ($40). Available from Sarah Citron, 28, is cofounder and vice president. 

Enriquez 2012 Tempranillo “Mani’s Vintage, Sonoma Coast” ($44): The most appealing U.S. Tempranillo I’ve tasted features impressive strength, body, fruit, balance, length and smoother tannins than typical for the grape. Also consider the 2015 Tempranillo Rosé “Sonoma Coast” ($36). Available from Cecilia Enriquez, 31, is CEO and winemaker. 

Mollydooker 2017 Shiraz “Blue Eyed Boy, McLaren Vale, Australia” ($55): Beautiful in all dimensions: Luminescent purple hue and powerful on nose and palate with excellent fruit, strength, complexity and integration. Luke Marquis, 23, is son of the founders, namesake for this wine and in both viticulture and marketing. 

Kanzler 2017 Pinot Noir “Russian River Valley” ($60): Exceedingly attractive all around with its purplish color and forward, appealing aromas accompanied by strength, beauty, body, balance and complexity on the palate. Alex Kanzler, 32, is winemaker. 

Aperture 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon “Alexander Valley, Sonoma County” ($70): Superb! Develops wonderfully in the mouth, from gorgeous fruit to honed balance to engaging complexity, all continuously accompanied by seamless integration and refinement. Available from Jesse Katz, 35, is winemaker.

Recommended wines can be ordered from your favorite Arizona wine store, unless indicated otherwise. Write to John Vankat at 


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