When a moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore. When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore (lyrics most notably sung by Dean Martin)
Yes, amore. That is what the Hinsdale Inspired Wine Club had in store as it selected its treats for you this wonderfully chilly February. Afterall, what better way to stir up the romance this Valentine’s Day than with two Tuscan reds that epitomize some of the region’s most elegant winemaking traditions, flavors and, of course, fiery passion. The first wine pays homage to a grape that you have probably tasted in many a chianti without knowing that its governo preparation was likely what made the chianti so special. Now, we showcase this grape all on its own to demonstrate just how breathtaking it can be. But, follow up that with another that represents the irresistible boldness of a Super Tuscan, and you have quite a dreamy choice of wines to share with your beloved. Yes, this is definitely amore, and it tastes so fine.
Montenidoli 2013 Colorino, Toscana IGT
With 100% Colorino grapes, you will be initially dazzled by this wine’s deep, dark color
that many red blends have incorporated specifically because of their remarkable pigment. But thinking of this grape as merely a coloring agent is selling it short, as you will see. Soft and gentle on the palate, this delightful young wine is an immediate, eminently approachable quaff. Not fussy in the least and utterly enjoyable, it pairs well with antipasti of salamis, Parma ham, Leccino olives and aged Pecorino Toscano sheep cheese. Also a romantic addition to a light lunch.
Moris Farms 2013 ‘Mandriolo’ Rosso, Maremma Toscana DOC
With a mix of 80% Sangiovese and the other 20% some combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah, the 2013 Moris Farms Mandriolo is its debut release in the United States, and Wine Spectator took notice, rating it 88 points recently. It is a versatile, light, fun wine that pairs perfectly with Italian fare. Berries, herbs and crushed flowers add lovely nuance to this delicious everyday red. And while Moris doesn’t sound particularly Italian (the family originally hails from Spain), they relocated to Tuscany more than 200 years ago, starting a rich tradition of viticulture and other agriculture. Enjoy this lovely Tuscan mix of juicy, ripe cherry, black currant with spicy notes alongside your pizza Margherita and lasagna or accompanying a rich veal and cannellini bean stew.
Most of us return to our daily grind in January, trudging along slushy, icy sidewalks, racing to catch a train into Chicago or fighting to shovel our sidewalks as fast as the snow might fall. It can be a challenging time of year. Days are short. We see friends less often. And we yearn for a prettier, warmer time of year even on winter’s most picturesque days.
If only a dreary January day were more like this: strapping on a pair of ice skates to dash around the rink below Paris’ grand Hôtel de Ville. Or sauntering through a nighttime scene of the Champs-Elysées still festively lit up and punctuated with cries of “Chaud les marrons!” from vendors selling chestnuts roasting on hot coals. Or even better, taking in the smoky, cozy aromas of cassoulet, that classic white bean stew enhanced with sausages, pork and duck confit, as a waiter pours you the most amazing house wine you’ve ever had, in a café so petit that a wood stove makes the experience divine. Yes, we talk so much about Paris in the springtime, but winters there are just as magical. And it is exactly this kind of magic, and that “perfect” wine, we hope to provide you with this month. We can’t promise to erase a dreary, cold, damp day, but we hope these wines can provide for idyllic moments of your own in 2016.
2012 Château de Retout, Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux
With 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot, this lovely red wine will not disappoint. Both Wine Spectator and the Wine Enthusiast awarded it 88 points! Aged in French oak barrels for a year, the result is an earthy wine with fig, blackberry and black currant flourishes. Note a finish of graphite minerally-ness. This wine will mellow as it ages, with recommended enjoyment now through 2019. A lovely sipper in its own right, this wine also marries well with hearty fare, like a garlicky beef roast served on a bed of slow-roasted root vegetables.
2014 Viognier “Cuvée Stéphane Bouix,” Domaine Haut de Mourier, Languedoc
From the rocky limestone between Avignon and Nimes comes this elegant specimen of Viognier at its best. Known for its powerful aromas of peaches, apricots, and violets, Viognier is one of the world’s most recognizable grape varieties. And this embodies exactly that profile. The gorgeous golden color also entices. In the mouth, the fresh, well-balanced wine shows great richness, flavors of peaches, apples, pears, lavender and honey – and with a mesmerizing long finish. It is typically best-drunk young although it will be at its best through 2018. Viognier wine pairs well with creamy dishes and can handle spice, too. You might find it’s the perfect wine to accompany a luscious, coconut-y chicken Korma or a Moroccan tagine dotted with olives and dried apricots.
There’s an obvious excitement to trailblazing. In the truest sense of the word, we live in a country built by pioneers who yearned to discover more of what this land had to offer. In covered wagons and on horseback, those folks literally paved their way across the country with the singular goal of finding something better. Today, that’s the same spirit we see in the researcher who looks for a cure for cancer, the engineer wanting to build a house that withstands hurricanes, or the oceanographer who explores the ocean’s depths. In fact, the same can be said for a winemaker, who — albeit on a far different scale — yearns to find new, even better ways to make noteworthy and memorable wines. They too have a frontier they want to explore and tame.
This month, we feature gorgeous red wines perfectly appropriate for the Yule season from two wonderful viticulture trailblazers – one from Australia, the other from California. And yes, these are the wines you will be happy to have at your own “home on the range” as we finish off 2015 and look forward to our own journeys in the coming year.
From Hinsdale Cellars and the Downer’s Grove Cellar Door, we wish you a very merry Christmas and the happiest of new years!
2013 Flegenheimer Out of the Park Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia
Bringing together the rich reds of the season, this garnet-purple wine titillates with a plummy, berry nose accented by spicy cinnamon, clove, licorice and the zing of black pepper. This is a wine that shouts out “festive” with its velvety tannins wrapped so elegantly around the full-bodied, fruit forward wine. A bold wine, it marries well with so many equally hearty foods, such as a harvest beef chuck stew or chili that you might enjoy prior to an evening of tree trimming.
Fess Parker Lot 92 Frontier Red, Central Coast, California
The beautiful, holiday red tint of this blend makes for an irresistible invitation. With 36% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 13% Merlot, 11% Sangiovese, 10% Tempranillo, 6% Petite Sirah, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cinsault and 2% Mourvedre, it has been honed to showcase only the best features of these varietals. The nose offers up aromas of black cherry, blackberry, black raspberry and pepper. On the palate, layers of cranberry, black cherry, red currant, smoke and dark chocolate follow. This wine has depth, yet it’s unpretentious. Because of its large proportion of Syrah grapes, it goes as well with backyard barbecue as it does with a garlic-infused, standing rib roast served on Christmas day.
Photo credit: Baker County Tourism