Hmmmmm…kind of reminds us of – well – some of our favorite Italian wines. Italian winemakers do not shy away from greatness. They go all in. They take risks. And their centuries of making some of the most respected wines in the world has earned it a very secure place the world of wine. Sure, there’s Chianti and so many other familiar varietals that come from Italy, full of viticulture in nearly every corner. But, in the U.S., many other interesting wines escape our reach, remaining in small villages or limited regions.
This month, we have a special treat for our Hinsdale Inspired Wine Club members: a taste of Italy—one wine likely familiar, the other less so. This is a month for la dolce vita because as much as the heat gets under our skin at this time of year, the fall chill will be here before you know it! Saluti!
2013 Cantine Cellaro Lumá, Sambuca di Sicilia, Italy
Talk about a fresh wine that can handle the heat! With 60% Inzolia and 40% Chardonnay, this wine sings freshness. Inzolia grapes, known best for their fortified role in Marsala, add a lovely level of complexity when blended with the Chardonnay. The crisp, dry wine brings a minerality and faint spiciness, making it wonderfully quaffable in this stuffy humidity and cleanses the palate with its marvelous acidity. Pair it with a grilled red snapper or a mixed seafood risotto.
2011 Caldora Yume Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Ortona, Italy
Boasting 100% Montepulciano grapes, this wine is quintessential Tuscany. Barrique aging makes it special, offering great structure to a brilliantly fruity wine. Just one sniff of its intense nose and you inhale dry flowers, spices and licorice that beckon a taste. The ruby red coloring, too, has irresistible red highlights. But its earthy fruitiness with smooth tannins wins the day. Enjoy this wine with rich dishes – maybe alongside aged cheeses, a slow-roasted brisket from the grill, or a pepper-crusted, garlicky standing rib roast.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
With humble reverence to the parades, concerts, grill fests and fireworks that will celebrate our nation’s birth this Independence Day, we have taken the idea of all-American to include – you guessed it – all of America. Who says one has to snub a sumptuous, melt-in-your-mouth, velvety accompaniment to a Black Angus filet mignon grilled to perfection on the 4th of July, if it helps make our celebration so – well — festive? In other words, if you can forgive us for bypassing so many great U.S. viticultural offerings this month, we believe just one carefully considered sip and swish will find you just as enchanted with these wines as we were. Yes, July is a month to celebrate our nation and all the freedoms and gifts it affords us – even when they are in the form of mesmerizing Chilean wine. God bless America and in vino veritas…
First Edition 2010 Carmenere, Valle Secreto, Cachapoal Valley, Chile
For those unacquainted with Carmenere, this varietal is one that comes with a lovely story of how it was thought to be decimated in Bordeaux by a nasty epidemic of phylloxera only to be rediscovered in Chile more than a century later, offering those same complex, intense attributes usually reserved for the finest Merlots. Its complex nose with hints of blackberry and black mature fruit will titillate your senses at first sniff. On the palate, intense dark fruits prevail with clove and pepper notes that complement the finish. This is a voluptuous wine that truly is prepared to dance with your hearty celebratory fare, countering the smokiness of grilled beef with its own piquant character. Bring on the garlic. Bring out the mushrooms and enjoy the gastronomic harmony.
First Edition 2011 Syrah, Valle Secreto, Cachapoal Valley, Chile
Another full-bodied varietal to take you down a road less traveled is this lovely, inky Chilean Syrah. Also known as Shiraz, Syrah promises a tannin-rich wine with layers of complexity that make it a quaffable sipper or an inspired accompaniment to a grilled, garlicky stuffed lamb roast. Dark and luscious, this wine introduces with aromas of blackberry and violet and notions of caramel and candy. Valle Secreto has tamed the tannins, making for a creamy experience with flavors of black plum, mint, fennel and smoke. Enjoying the wine slightly chilled adds yet another dimension that is particularly agreeable in July’s newfound heat and humidity.
Don your beret and fetch a jaunty neckerchief to accompany your horizontally striped bateaux-necklined shirt. Yes, for this month’s Inspired Wine Club members, here are a couple of French beauties that should transport you to a boat ride along the Seine, or perhaps a café somewhere in Provence. C’est bon. C’est bon – this month’s theme is French wines that will put a smile on your face and an Edith Piaf song in your heart. No need to hop a flight to Paris, just grab a baguette, your favorite French cheese and set yourself up in the comfort of your own backyard to enjoy a delightful red Bordeaux blend and amusing French rosé before the beauty of summer is stolen by les moustiques (mosquitoes!).
Chateau La Grange Clinet, Bordeaux, France
Awarded 90 points by Wine Enthusiast, this Merlot-dominant Bordeaux blend mesmerizes with its compelling garnet color and bouquet of blackberries and toasted oak. With 60% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc, this is a full-bodied wine with big tannins, ripe fruits and a delightfully smooth finish. (Think juicy dark berries and black currants.) The seductive oaky, smoky character makes this a fantastic sipping wine. A perfect wine to enjoy as you wind down after a hard day with a creamy Camembert or then it is also a lovely partner for a grilled medium-rare, Angus ribeye.
Aimé Roquesante, Cotes de Provence, France
There’s really no wine better to celebrate summer than the dry rosé of Provence. It’s refreshing and elegant, and no wine lover should be without a reliable one as the weather heats up. So, here is a lovely mix of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah varietals that truly transport you to sitting on the foothills of a Provence vineyard. Chill this wine fully and enjoy its scintillating salmon color and fresh nose of cut grass and red fruits. Ahhhhh, feeling cooler already? On the palate, it is spicy, yet balanced with a gentle, sip-inducing acidity that makes that bottle disappear all too quickly. (Thank goodness you get two!) This is a light wine, so marry it with a crisp Caesar salad adorned with grilled chicken or maybe to accompany cool shrimp cocktail that has been brightened up with just a twist of lime.
Photo credit: Wikipedia