‘Tis the season to deck the halls with green, and when it comes to wine, the green we mean is the organic kind. What used to be relegated to a dusty back corner of the wine store has ballooned into a global sensation with organic offerings spread throughout nearly every varietal. In fact, at least 1,500 wine producers globally have identified themselves as organic, and more than 885 of these organic domaines are in France alone. Theoretically, these wines should not only leave a smaller carbon footprint on our planet but also take a minimalist approach to tinkering with nature in growing the fruit and processing the wine. Not surprisingly, it’s small winemakers who excel in the organic category. In much the same way that a farmer’s market tomato’s taste seems fresher and more fully developed, small winemakers’ wines benefit from unparalleled attention. Are these small-producer organic wines better than mainstream wines? Well, not necessarily, but thanks to that hands-on care and feeding, you will find a wider range of complex aromas and flavors that are often missing in even great conventional wines.
This month, as we celebrate the season with lush evergreen trees and garlands, Hinsdale Cellars offers its Inspired Wine Club two “ever-green” wines that have lovely aromas of fruit and earthiness. Also appropriate to the season, they possess ethereal, complex character, and are great food-friendly additions to any holiday gathering.
Paolo Marcarino 2012 Zeroincondotta Barbera, Piedmont, Italy
Traditional methods mix with the latest oenological knowledge to produce an outstanding, certified Italian wine without using any chemical additives in this festive red quaffer. Grapes are hand sorted and destemmed and ultimately fermented sulfite-free. Neither clarified nor filtered, this wine leaves all its grapes’ delicate characteristics intact. A ruby red color, with bright violet undertones, how can we resist saying that it’s the perfect “green” red wine for Christmas? The nose holds blueberry and black cherry aromas, and on the palate, the taste is dark black fruit with soft, silky tannins and a rustic earthy fade. Don’t start your holiday open house without this beauty that marries well with all types of cheeses and roasted pork or poultry.
Delhommeau 2012 St. Vincent Muscadet, Loire Valley, France
Despite a similar sounding name, this wine has nothing to do whatsoever with the Muscat/Moscato grape; it is in fact a dry, elegant wine. The actual grape used to make Muscadet is Melon de Bourgogne. Michel and Nathalie Delhommeau make some of the most crystalline Muscadet you can find. The property, which is converting to organic certification, is one of the few in the region to vinify by parcel and use indigenous yeast. The resulting wine has lots of zesty fruit, with mouthwatering lime, gooseberry, granny smith apple and mineral notes throughout the long finish. Watch this wine sparkle with a dozen oysters on the half shell or a starter of figs and tangy, fresh goat cheese.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Joyous 2014! As always, thanks for your patronage throughout the year.
Just like the bears and squirrels and other mammals getting ready to hunker down for the winter, we too know that with the fall harvests come autumn feasts. It’s that beautiful time of year when it’s not only picturesque, but we are given a reason to indulge in lavish meals with a menagerie of colors, flavors and textures. From creamy gravy over brined turkeys to succulent apples and yams that contrast so perfectly with tart cranberry relish and bitter brussel sprouts, our taste buds savor the smorgasbord known as Thanksgiving. And of course, this heartier fare is hardly contained to just one day. We find ourselves suddenly craving Yankee pot roast, butternut squash soup and baked-anything!
Our kitchens beg to be warmed by our ovens, and we happily oblige. The challenge, however, remains in finding wines that can bring together the salty, the sweet, the sour and the bitter in much the same way a conductor transforms woodwinds, strings, brass and percussion into one harmonious symphony. And in this case, the “conductor,” if you will, is a pair of fruit-intensive blends. Yes, the words to remember are “fruit” and “blend.” A typical single varietal like Cabernet or Chardonnay can get lost among these distinctive food flavors. If you don’t believe us, just see how you marvel (the way we did!) at this month’s Inspired Wine Club selections.
Bigi Orvieto Amabile, Umbria, Italy
Amabile means loveable in Italian, and that is exactly what this wild blend of obscure grape varietals (Trebbiano, Grechetto, Verdello, Malvasia Bianca & Drupeggio) is! This wine has been a secret weapon at my Thanksgiving table for years (as well as many other gatherings!), thanks to its combination of melon, orchard fruit and honeyed almond notes. The finish is just off dry and sure to compliment everything from a smoked salmon appetizer to a slice of pumpkin pie.
2011 Saved Red Wine, California
A stunning red made from an incredible 9+ varieties with Zinfandel as the foundation makes for a gorgeously BIG wine. With seductive aromas of berry compote, vanilla, fennel, cocoa and root spices, this is one that will turn heads. The palate is plush and mouth filling with a bevy of fruit and spice character. A perfect quaffer to accompany cheese plates and robust appetizers, but it is equally complementary to your favorite fall roasts.
Smell that? Is it the sweetness of candy corn in a trick or treat bag? The musky smell of leaves waiting to be raked to the curb? Or maybe it’s just the harvest smells that ease us out of summery warmth into the autumn chill that translates into cozy apple crisp, a maple-y acorn squash or perhaps a garlicky simmering beef stew. Oh, how we love October. Offering the reunion with wintry favorites, it is the perfect time to savor those last bits of summer warmth while remembering the best part of cool, crisp weather. Sweaters? We’ve missed you! Hearty meals? It’s so nice to have cool weather where we can enjoy such a broad spectrum of flavor. And, best of all? We can pull out those complex wines that are perfect for this transitional season and buffer the cold as much as we remember summer’s warmth, while we remind ourselves that warm weather is really only a few months away. Hinsdale Cellars provides a security blanket of friendly, flavorful character in a gorgeous Pinot Noir and an incredible New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Goodbye summer salad. Hello heartier harvest fare. We provide “inspired” wines that are in every sense crowd pleasers that will likely have you coming back for more.
Bread & Butter Pinot Noir, California
Such a great wine as we move from lighter to heavier foods, California pinots can be incredible versatile. In this case, aromas of cherry cola, vanilla tapioca, jasmine tea, with hints of rose, anise and eucalyptus—it truly is a comforting bouquet. Here is a wine that offers balance and integration that continues on the palate: black cherry, orange peel, rhubarb, and a ﬂoral tea mingle with hints of caramel, mint, white pepper, and a background of sweet oak. This wine is bright, and elegant the way Pinot Noir should be. What’s perfect about Pinot Noir is that it is light enough to accompany a baked cod and complex enough to pair with a comforting Coq au Vin – really the ultimate autumnal wine.
Lobster Reef Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
Is there really a better Sauvignon Blanc than one from New Zealand? OK, maybe it’s just the incredibly identifiable passion fruity/grapefruity/citrus qualities of these mineralesque beauts, but they are unquestionable interesting and quaffable. And the Lobster Reef does not disappoint. A textbook Kiwi Sauvignon, its aromas of grapefruit, lime, tomatillo and orange blossom leap from the glass. On the palate a lovely creaminess carries zingy flavors of candied citrus peel, lemon, pear and fresh herbs. This wine pairs perfectly with your shellfish, and at this time of year, makes a marvelous companion to a seafood bisque or succulent bouillabaisse.