We’ve gotten so used to dividing up wines between “new world” and “old world” that what does one call an “old world” region’s wines that have become “new”…again? In this case, we most likely just inhale the nose deeply and cherish the new “old world” (aka burgeoning Portuguese wines), as we gratefully sip its evolution. This month, the Inspired Wine Club brings a taste of what’s new in the “Old World” alongside one of our favorites from the “New World.” The only conclusion you can draw is that we are lucky to live in a seemingly global vineyard filled with the opportunity for interesting, tasty wines.
2011 Ataide Semedo Tinto, Bairrada DOC
“Welcome back to Portugal,” this wine screams to those who gave up on Portuguese wines after Lancer and Mateus wines that were so trendy in the ‘70s. Here is a red wine created from half Baga and half Touriga Nacional grapes. Yes, Portugal has some unique varietals for us to experience and treasure! Baga grapes are thin-skinned, late ripening with high acid and tannin, comparable to Nebbiolo and sometimes even confused for Barbarescos. The addition of the Touriga Nacional grapes brings you a nicely bouqueted, intensely fruity wine. Without barrel aging, this wine is a lighter, even slightly sparkling style wine with balanced acidity, yet interesting tannins that create a lovely, elegant wine with a long finish. See how wonderfully those tannins help the wine match perfectly with rustic, hearty foods like your favorite rosemary-infused, garlicky Provencal stew.
2013 Maui Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
A pale straw green-colored Sauvignon Blanc, this wine excels in providing the unique ripe tropical and passion fruity flavors we have come to love in New Zealand versions of this varietal. From its slightly herbaceous nose of citrusy gooseberry love, the Maui Sauvignon Blanc offers a wine with perfect balance. A subtle herbal background that provides a degree of depth to the passion fruit and gooseberry characteristics enhances the 2013 vintage. Here is a wine that marries well with citrusy seafood dishes such as a Greek-style cod or Bahamian conch fritters and a squeeze of lemon.
So many delicious red wines from around the world, but sometimes there’s no place like home. And for those of us living in the United States, that often means California reds. This month, as our kids go back to school, we are forced to realize those hot, humid days are nearing their end. It’s a bittersweet time when comfort wines are just what we need to say “goodbye” to long days filled with golf round robins, happy hours on the terrace and beach vacations with family and friends. Seems like the perfect time to relish in the riches of homegrown reds. This month we offer Inspired Wine Club members two gorgeous examples from California with the only common denominator being their underlying berry-berry tones.
Pali 2012 “Huntington” Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
With a Wine Spectator rating of 90 points, this is a jammy bit of wonder. From its dark purple hue, to its succulent nose and following through with a palate of wild berries, white pepper, violets and just the slightest bit of oak, this is a lovely Cali Pali Pinot Noir. Like so many Pinot Noirs, this is a complex wine, yet approachable. It’s layered with fruitiness and spicy deliciousness that make a quaffable accompaniment to sagey roast pork chops or a grilled rosemary-rubbed chicken.
Hybrid Petit Sirah 2011, Lodi
Here is a wonderfully versatile wine. In fact, not only is this Petit Sirah (a combination of 80% Petite Sirah, 15% Syrah and 5% Viognier) delicious at room termperature, its fruit-forward nature makes it a wonderful chilled wine as well, which can be just the right thing on summer’s final steamy days. This is an earthy wine with a silky finish. Viognier tames the boldness that could be so overwhelming from the Petite Sirah and Syrah. A more robust wine than the Pinot, this beauty still brings forth berry, plum and cherry flavors with notable balance. Pure magic, this blend pairs perfectly with filet mignon topped with Roquefort, but is equally satisfying with a slice of ‘za topped with crushed red peppers.
Photo credit: Cameron Photo
You know the feeling. It’s the swoosh of heat that almost makes you gasp. Standing too close to the barbecue grill when it feels too hot to make any sort of dinner in the kitchen. That first step outside as you depart air-conditioned comfort. Heck, starting a game of tennis where the asphalt almost seems to radiate August swelter. Yes, August can be big and brash, shoving summer’s most abrasive heat at you with such intensity that you forget how you yearned for summer’s lazy days only a few months ago.
It’s with that spirit in mind, we figured we needed to go head to head with this month’s brashness and provide Inspired Wine Club members with two excitingly big, bold reds to fight fire with fire.
2012 Bodegas Castano Solanera, Spain
The Wine Advocate, which awards this wine and vintage 94 points, notes, “this full-bodied, intense 2012 tastes like it should cost three to five times as much. Full-bodied, stunningly pure and textured, it should last for 4-5 years, possibly longer.” Yes, it’s a Spanish dream with its gorgeous blend of 70% Mourvedre, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Grenache, aged 10 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels. Greeted with a dark cherry-red color, one soon discovers ripe fruit scents with pleasant wooden notes that are both spicy and lavish. This is a balanced wine with lovely, rounded tannins. You might not be ready for hearty beef stews, which marry perfectly with this wine, but it will go equally well with a smoky Black Angus Porterhouse hot off the grill or even a cheese plate whetting the appetite of guests at your garden party.
2011 Eagle Glen Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, California
Bringing us back to the United States is this classic Napa Valley Cabernet. Ninety percent Cabernet that is rounded out with 10% Merlot, this wine’s beguiling garnet color is the perfect enticement to lean in and get a nose full of deep, dark, earthy fruitiness. With layers of berry and plum fruitiness, this wine holds that spicy, smoky flavor we love in our reds so meticulously aged for 12 months in French oak. And reminiscent of your grandaddy’s cigar boxes, wine lovers will note a vanilla and oaky backdrop and unique minerality that set this wine apart. A long, complex finish completes the experience. Again, this hearty red pairs well with the rich, fatty meat of a roast suckling pig or paired with an assertive Stilton cheese atop crusty baguette slices.
Photo credit: WmJR