Aristotle is credited with coining the phrase that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and certainly when it comes to wine, that is the goal for producing satisfying, mouth-watering blends. It’s about bringing together varietals’ best – and even quirky – features to create synergistic masterpieces. Add a smidge of Merlot, a splash of Malbec or a modicum of Cabernet Franc, and an everyday Cabernet Sauvignon suddenly becomes more complex. Marry Syrah with Mourvédre, Petite Sirah or Grenache, and one winds up with something potentially magical, providing layers of lushness. So, how can one look askance as we start 2013 with two fabulous hearty red blends that warm the soul during these cold, dark days? Hinsdale Cellars knows its Inspired Wine Club members will take comfort in these perfect winter blends. Afterall, it is Aristotle who also said, “wine makes everyone hopeful.” A perfect sentiment for beginning the new year!
2010 Sivas-Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, California
With 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot and 2% Merlot, this gorgeous tapestry of flavors evokes blackberries and red currants and is both rich and fruit-forward in its aroma and on the palate. Tempered, smooth tannins bring out tinges of cocoa, while the wine’s French and American oak barrel aging lends hints of vanilla and cardamom. Its earthiness, soft finish and depth make it a perfect match for your roast oxtails and truffled mashed potatoes. It is equally elegant with a plate of aged cheeses and fresh figs. To enjoy it fullest, decant for at least an hour before drinking…if you can wait.
2011 S.O.A. Single Vineyard Red, Southern Monterey, California
Originally known as Wild Horse Vineyard, S.O.A. (which stands for State of the Art) enjoys a “rock star pedigree” because of its predecessor’s reputation for inventing the California Rhone blend category. With a mantra that the vintners there produce wines that will “make you smile,” this 67% Syrah and 33% Grenache indicates just how well they understand wine chemistry. Deep garnet with dark purple highlights, this blend conveys black cherry and other dark fruits with an oaky vanilla and sweet bread scent that conjures up images of freshly baked layer cake cooling on a kitchen counter. Its seductive, lush dark berry flavors hold a bit of oakiness from its barrel aging that lingers and is part of a smooth finish that balances acidity and tannins with just the merest trace of white pepper. It is a beautifully big, complex wine that is perfect for sipping, coupled with a Stilton-crusted New York strip steak or a roast venison served with chanterelle-filled ravioli.
In the 16th century as conquistadors conquered the New World, they thankfully brought with them the Vitis vinifera that started incredible and unique wine making that continues today in places like Argentina and Chile. Catholic priests planted some of the earliest vineyards near their monasteries to make sure they had communion wine for holy mass.
Coming from Spain, the New World Spaniards were accustomed to robust red wines that could match their flavorful cuisine of Serrano ham, piquant sheep cheeses and other garlicky sausages and meats. Could the New World reds possibly compare? Alas, Argentina and Chile found a way to turn their own winemaking efforts into the perfect accompaniment to a gaucho’s grilled meats on the asador.
This month, Hinsdale Cellars Inspired Wine Club brings you a taste of old and new with bold reds from Spain and Argentina, so you too have a chance to conquer both wine regions and compare and contrast these intoxicating delights that are certain to please.
2011 Cartuja Priorat, Catalonia
No typical Tempranillo in this unusual and lush wine from the Priorat region! A blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah, this inky red wine is farmed organically and then aged eight months in French oak barrels. The result is a complex wine that is fruity while also possessing strong mineral notes that convey the volcanic slate and sand where its grapes grow outside of Barcelona. Its smoky nose leads you into a wine of many layers: raspberry and cherry, autumnal spice and a unique minerality. Sure, it’s perfect with tapas, but it’s equally great with brisket or even your Thanksgiving roast turkey.
2011 Allamand Malbec, Mendoza Argentina
If you want to taste Argentina, that means Malbec. It is the life and blood grape of Argentina. And this 100% Malbec comes from 15-20 year old vines in the Uco Valley region, where some of the most refined and elegant Malbecs grow. Deep purple in color, its nose of violets matches perfectly. The poor sandy and stony soils push the grapes to produce incredible flavors of smoky blueberry and plum with a natural acidity that makes this organic wine utterly drinkable. Hints of vanilla and cappuccino add depth to this organic wine that make it as perfect a complement to your festive prime rib as it is to a plate of gooey cheeses from France.
With closed eyes, soft lips and a voice that seems to wash over a person hypnotically, Andrea Bocelli brings a sensuality – in the truest sense of the word — to his singing that could turn anyone into an ardent opera fan. His gentle, seemingly effortless voice touches all senses, capable of sending a quiver up the spine and awakening the soul. So, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that for literally hundreds of years, his family has also been awakening senses and souls with their luscious Tuscan wines. This month, Hinsdale’s Inspired Wine Club members get to experience just such delights with two Bocelli wines: a sparkling Prosecco that is light and bright enough to make any day a special occasion; and a brilliantly red Sangiovese that is Tuscany’s heart and soul.
Bocelli Prosecco – Extra Dry
Long before Andrea Bocelli was famous for music, his family was known for its wine. On their Tuscan farm, they have nurtured Prosecco grapes indigenous to their Veneto region and created a sparkling wine with delicate grace, focusing on a low yield that helps concentrate the fragrance and flavor. In fact, each plant produces but one bottle of this playful wine that possesses a fresh peachiness laced with minerality due to its classic moraine soil. The delicate, yet persistent perlage tickles the throat, providing a quaffable festive spring treat that is perfect for shrimp cocktail, oysters or even spicy Thai noodles.
Rosso Toscana Sangiovese IGT
The backbone to Tuscan wine undoubtedly lies in the Sangiovese grape, known best for the acidic fruitiness it brings to Chianti. And in this wine made from 100% Sangiovese, the Bocelli brothers have hand-harvested grapes from another unusually low-yield vineyard that produces no more than one and a half bottles of wine per plant. The terroir of river stone and hunks of quartz give the feeling that this gem of a wine is like finding a diamond in the rough. It is a lush, dark ruby wine that brings forth acidic fruitiness of berries, cherries, rhubarb and cranberry with a marvelous mineral earthiness. The earthy loam scent leads into a well-balanced, full wine meant for penne with farmer’s market Roma tomatoes, basil and Buffalo mozzarella, a charcoal-grilled steak, or a simple plate of aged Parmesan.