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.
We may just be reaching for our warmer wraps, ostensibly raking an infinite number of leaves, and pondering where to procure this year’s supply of firewood. But, far, far south – yes, not just south of the border, but south of the equator in a completely different hemisphere, we have winemakers who are celebrating the beginning of a season. There, spring has blossomed just as remarkably as autumn here has deepened the hues of our local landscape.
Of course, the good news is that those South American winemakers in Chile and Argentina are providing some gorgeous wines to help us fortify ourselves against the cold and celebrate the wonderful moments that come with this time of year. Whether you are carving a jack-o-lantern with the children, hosting a harvest-season party or just settling in to a good novel, we think this month’s Inspired Wine Club wines might be wonderful quaffs to have nearby.
2014 Garcia & Schwaderer Bravado, Itata Valley, Chile
Produced in what is considered the “Chilean Tuscany,” approximately 250 miles south of Santiago, this red blend pulls all the best features from its individual varietal components to produce a lush, quaffable wine that is just right for the season. Made from 39% Carignan, 21% Petit Verdot, 15% Syrah, 13% Carmenere, 6% Grenache and 6% Mourvèdre, Bravado is exactly that – bold and beautiful. In fact Wine Spectator this year awarded it 89 points, describing how it, “offers aromas of fresh-crushed red fruits and flavors of raspberry, red plum and boysenberry [and] presents vibrant acidity, with a finish that offers hints of licorice and cinnamon.” We too appreciate Bravado’s balance and long-lasting finish. Of note is how the Carignan’s acidity is able to weave through the fruitiness and provide a tasty complexity. It’s a grand wine to pair with those heartier meals we are all preparing with the cooler weather. Whether it’s simply grilled portabellas or a braised Italian-style pot roast accented with fresh thyme, rosemary and juniper berries, Bravado will rise to the occasion.
2015 RJ Vinedos MDZ Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
Bucking the trend of blending Malbec with other reds, RJ Vinedos produces a 100% Malbec, believing quite simply that good grapes produce good wines, and allowing that to occur naturally – no chemicals and in a sustainable vineyard – produces outstanding wine, as in this case. They have succeeded at showcasing Mendoza’s best and classic qualities. From first sniff, the nose is teased with hints of mocha, blueberry, cherries and rose petals. And that is followed up by a rich mouth feel resulting from good structure and smooth tannins. This fruit-driven wine showcases boysenberry, blackberry, cocoa and cola nut flavors on the palate. Enjoy the long, smooth finish with hints of dried herbs and cedar that permeate the bright, vibrant wine. An ideal companion for a steak au poivre, a cheese platter of hard cheeses or a garlicky lamb roast.
It’s times like these when we think about relaxing in the sun and spending time outside with friends and family. The wines we are featuring in the Inspired Wine Club this month will fit both occasions. Nothing says “fun in the sun” like a delicious wine shared with friends poolside, beachside or even just alongside the patio barbecue.
And we have found the perfect pair to ring you into summer. This month we present to you a couple of our favorite, most refreshing, summer-enthusiastic Rosé wines. Maybe you like yours young, fresh and fruity from France, produced for centuries with a mix of Syrah and Grenache, Or maybe you prefer Spain’s approach to this classic summer quaff with 100% Tempranillo from the historic Rioja region. In either case, these are the perfect pair to say, “bienvenue” or “bienvenido.” Yes, we’ve missed you, beautiful Summer.
2015 Domaine La Croix Belle Rosé Le Champ des Grillons, France
Although this will likely not be your first French Rosé, it will certainly be a memorable one. The 2015 Rosé Le Champ des Grillons (crickets’ field), a blend of 40% Grenache Noir, 30% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, is hand-harvested from a 20-year-old estate vineyard. After a long maceration (about three weeks), each grape variety is fermented separately and then aged together in stainless steel tanks for nine months. The wine results in a ruby red color with purple reflections. With a complex nose of black fruit, blackcurrant, cocoa and spice, it is rich and full in the mouth with notes of bay leaf and black olive. Enjoy its perfect balance and fresh, long fruity finish with your light fresh foods of summer: a delicate poached salmon mousse, a rosemary bedazzled, grilled chicken or even as a sipper with a plate of crusty bruschetta.
2011 Vivanco Crianza, Rioja, Spain
Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco is a well-known name in the wine trade in Rioja, as Pedro Vivanco grew the family firm in the 1970s. Vivanco Rioja Crianza is bursting with red berries. Mild hints of smoke, toasted vanilla, and spice balance the fruit. A well-structured, meaty wine with mature tannins, this is elegant through the long finish. Vinified in French oak vats and aged for 16 months in previously used French and American oak barrels, this wine will continue to evolve over the next several years. The label depicts Joan Miro’s Le Troubadour painting, on display at the Vivanco Museum that features a corkscrew. This 100% Tempranillo wine is aged for 16 months in French and American oak barrels. Again, this is a light, bright wine perfect as a refreshing summer sipper (mixed with club soda for extra refreshment as a spritzer when out in the sunshine) or as an elegant accompaniment to a grilled shrimp diablo or crabcake-topped Caesar salad.