A très Français January

It’s the bitter cold of January that can set the mind to wander. For us, we picture a cozy bistro on the side streets of Paris, where a wood stove in the center not only warms the restaurant’s entirety, but seems to create a contagious glow on patrons’ faces.  Or maybe that can be attributed to the wine they are consuming as the snow outside picks up, and they linger over a rich, beefy soupe à l’oignon gratinée, the de rigueur steak frites or a luscious beef Bourguignon.

It’s a civilized way to get through winter’s harshest days, right? That’s what we were thinking as we went looking for the perfect wines for the January edition of our Inspired Wine Club: two gorgeous, full French reds that can warm you up this month as you sit by a fire, dawdle in the kitchen by a warm oven or share these wines in good company on a cold Illinois winter night.

Paul Mas Estate Malbec, Languedoc, France

Before Argentina ruled the land of Malbec, this truly was a French thing.  And this 90% Malbec with 10% Cabernet Franc is a wonderful example of how Malbec is still a great French wine find.  Deep purple in color with powerful, complex aromas of ripe plum, black currant and mocha that are tinged with delightful spicy accents – yes, this is a wine we love. A good fruit concentration supports this medium to full-bodied Malbec and its ripe tannins. Enjoy its layers of vanilla spiciness. This is a perfect accompaniment to mushroom-y Hunter’s Stew, or even alongside some Stilton cheese and crackers.

Mas de la Dame La Gourmande Rouge, Provence, France

So very, very French is this Dame, including the fact that it is aged entirely in steel tanks – no wood aging! And yes, this 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah red will most definitely win you over as it has us! From its ruby purple color to aromas of ripe red fruits and soft spices, the introduction is mesmerizing.  It is rich, full, and round with ripe red fruit flavors accented by soft nuances of spice that will have Van Gogh whispering in your ear that Illinois winters can’t possibly be as bad as the Provencal winter mistral storms.  Or that could be the wine talking. In any event, enjoy this lovely with a hearty ribeye roast or even that gooey, stinky French cheese you’ve been saving from Christmas to snack on with a crispy baguette.

Photo credit: Jean-François Gornet, Flickr


¡Tres vinos para una feliz Navidad!

December 23, 2016 by Sean  
Filed under Inspired Posts, Monthly newsletter

What’s better than two great wines for Christmas?  How about three!  Your Inspired Wine Club is just that much more inspired this holiday season, and these three wines from Spain are the perfect way to get through the holiday season. We’ve got you covered from sparkling to white to red; these Spanish wines are dressed up and ready to impress at any festive occasion.

Yes, this seemed like the perfect gift for our Inspired Wine Club members with their discerning palates and loyal patronage.  So, whether this trifecta has you humming “We three kings from orient are,” clicking your heels like a Flamenco dancer, or rummaging through recipes to find just the right tapas dishes to create a holiday sensation, we hope you know what a gift YOU are to us.

Finca Can Macià, Cava Brut Galda (NV)

Winemaking that dates back to the 13th century, and that experience shines through! Fermí Bohigas is a family-owned winery located about 45 minutes west of Barcelona. For the cava wines, Bohigas focuses on the historical and indigenous varieties of Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada grapes – all farmed organically. Oh, the simplicity of a fresh-tasting cava! Your palate will be rewarded with a fresh wine that offers hints of summer peaches and tart orchard-fresh apples that provide a balanced, bright acidity and a lovely sparkling wine. It truly is a perfect way to start a party. Enjoy with a platter of your favorite Serrano ham, Manchego cheese and an array of Spanish olives.

Bodegas La Val, Bodegas La Val Albariño (2015)

We get so caught up thinking of Spain as a land of red wines, but distinctive and elegant Albarino, like this one, will be just the reminder that Spain is oh-so-much more. La Val was established in 1985 and was one of the first wineries in Rias Baixas. Unusual for the area, La Val only uses its own estate grown grapes rather than buying them from local growers. Albariño grapes are very high in acidity so La Val ages its new wines to soften the wines’ acidities. And International Wine Cellar seems to think they’re on to something.  About the previous vintage: ‘Albarino has taken America by storm as demonstrated by this dry perfumed, yet fruity Albarino from Spain’s Galicia region made of 100% estate fruit. Aged on its lees until bottling, this delightful dry, crisp white has fresh notes of apricots, orange skins and honeyed melons. Crisp acidity, fresh, medium-bodied flavors and a zesty finish.’ This is the perfect wine for the seafood-laden Christmas Eve dinner or accompanying a tapas serving of crispy cod fritters.

Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos, Rioja Cuarteto Joven (2012)

Here is a wine that is all about craftsmanship. All estate fruit, hand harvested and vinified with native yeasts, this is a hand sewn wine with the purity, texture and elegance to prove it. And while you may have had Rioja before, this is a Cuarteto — a classic, Alavesa style “maceración carbonica” wine where whole clusters of grapes are thrown into vats and the carbon dioxide enables an intracellular fermentation. Native yeasts facilitate an unparalleled fermentation and aging that occurs in concrete vats. The result will amaze and delight: a fresh and subtly jammy nose, with hints of dried herbs, and a peppery, spicy, cherry-fruited palate, with surprising structure. Of course, it’s a fantastic partner for your Christmas favorites, whether that means a standing rib roast and horseradish potato pie or a traditional roast goose and Yorkshire pudding.

A Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! From your friends at Hinsdale Wine Cellars!


Go big or go home…for the holidays

November 21, 2016 by Sean  
Filed under Inspired Posts, Monthly newsletter

It’s that time of year that we baste the turkeys, season the squash, spice up the pumpkin pie and lean towards those medium-bodied red wines that have likewise become holiday favorites: Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, or maybe even a Carménère or Bardolino.

But what if you took it up a notch?  Brought in the big wines for your special Thanksgiving feast?

For the lovers of “big reds,” we have found two very special Cabernet Sauvignons this month for the Inspired Wine Club. But these aren’t your usual Cabernets.  They’re better.  And they might be just the right addition to your Thanksgiving buffet, or at the very least, an excellent accompaniment to a festive cheese platter or that inevitable beef-centric meal that comes as we are just tiring of turkey leftovers.

Yes, this is a month for delicious Cabernets, worthy of any cherished celebration.

2012 Penley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Phoenix, South Australia, Australia

From the heart of Australia’s premier Cabernet region, this is a very beautiful and very drinkable wine. An inviting ruby red hue, this quaffer follows up with a nose of currants and cherries. Cassis, black currants, dusty tannins and a balanced oakiness and acidity blanket the palate satisfyingly with a long finish that allows layers of more subtle flavors from the tannins to pleasantly reveal themselves. This is a festive wine that is the perfect partner for an aged gorgonzola served with slices of warm crusty baguette, or maybe just the right accompaniment to your next boeuf bourguignon.

2015 House of Independent Producers (HIP) “La Mode” Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington State

With 75% Sagemoor Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Red Mountain Syrah, this wine may challenge your taste buds’ idea of what it means to be a Cabernet. Garnet in color with a lovely nose that radiates smoke and toast and spiciness with just a hint of chocolate, this Washington State Cabernet will surprise and delight.  On the palate, it’s a lighter, more old-fashioned style Red. Not an oak bomb.  Not a jam bomb.  This is a wine that lets the grape shine through, and it really could be a worthy accompaniment to your holiday bird, complementing (rather than overpowering) and perhaps surrendering or blending well with the many other flavors vying for attention on Thanksgiving day. Smooth, with a finish of dried cherries and rustic tannins, this wine is a versatile one. However, it certainly pairs nicely with a venison stew or cherry-glazed roast duck.


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