It’s February, and if your significant other hasn’t already reminded you, this is the month of love, per our favorite saint: St. Valentine. And, of course, we know the language of love is often à la Français, so we’ve got you covered. Your inspired wine club has found wines not only irresistible, but also French! Yes, these are delectable treats that will help set the tone with your sweetie on Valentine’s Day or any other day you seek some romance. Whether you lean toward whites or reds, this month features two amorous wines ready to bring a little passion to the day. In the immortal words of Earth Kitt, c’est si bon!
Schröder & Schÿler 2015 Chartron la Fleur, Bordeaux, France
With 86 points from Wine Enthusiast, you’re bound to enjoy this light and bright Sauvignon Blanc sourced from the Entre-deux-Mers region of Bordeaux. This wine is light, crisp and fruity, simultaneously citrus and floral. Its lime and grapefruit notes provide a vibrancy. A tang of lemon zest give the wine an even fresher character. Celebrating your Valentine’s Day with a lobster Newburg? An elegant seafood soufflé? Maybe oysters on the half shell? This is the wine to round out that meal. It complements any fish or seafood.
Arnoux & Fils Vacqueyras, Rhone, France
Another award-winner, this wine has been described by the Wine Advocate as “a more modern-styled, less –typique- as the French would say, well-made, dense wine with more pain grille/toast notes intermixed with espresso roast, kirsch, black currants and licorice.” We would probably just say that it’s a gorgeous blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre. Its origin from old vines and 12 months of aging in oak barrels provides an impeccable richness. It is a bold, full-bodied wine, ready to marry up with a creamy steak au poivre, a succulent prime rib or even a garlicky pork roast. The only thing missing is Cupid.
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
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!