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.
Enough with those Mediterranean wines made bold and beautiful with their sunny climes, parched soils and hot, dry weather. Good as they may be, April showers bring forth May flowers. So, as the morning air still has a lingering chill, we had cooler thoughts in mind: cooler-climate wines that surprise, delight and would do our Inspired Wine Club proud.
We think we’ve succeeded, bringing two wines that will push your oenophilic experience to new heights. A domestic Riesling recalls all the classic attributes of some of the world’s finest Old World examples. A Cabernet Franc from our northern neighbor, Canada, is sure to steal your heart with this well-crafted bold red. This is a month that will make you rethink your preconceived notions about what makes a wine country great, as your taste buds and other senses take a short, but very delicious and satisfying trip north.
2013 Riesling Ovid Line North, Boundary Breaks Vineyard, Finger Lakes, N.Y.
Here’s the perfect Fruehlingzeit wine, coming from a winery that knows German Riesling, despite its upstate New York location. Bruce Murray purchased the vineyard from a family who had owned the 120-acre farm for 207 years, hoping to replicate the best German and Austrian Riesling with its Cazenova silt loam soil. This east side of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes AVA has soil with optimal pH for producing these complex, aromatic white wines. And Murray’s focus has been unwavering; it’s all about Riesling. The Ovid Line North is a combination of two Geisenheim Riesling clones, vinified and aged in steel tanks, producing a refreshing, unoaked wine. Fresh, fragrant, clean and perfectly balanced – it even has the classic old world “petrol nose!” An off-dry Kabinett-style wine, its poignant acidity keeps it from being cloyingly sweet while holding onto the gorgeous aromatics and making it deliciously drinkable. That bit of sweetness also makes it a wonderful match for a zippy curried chicken salad, deviled eggs, or a roasted, herb-stuffed chicken.
2012 Cabernet Franc, Cave Spring Cellars, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Though not the first country to come to mind when one talks about wine, Canada has become the place to find interesting, cool-climate wines. And Cave Spring Cellars is one of its most acclaimed wineries, earning its reputation in the heart of Ontario’s wine country. This CabFranc is actually a blend of 86% Cabernet Franc with 14% Merlot. From the Niagara Escarpment, overlooking Lake Ontario, comes a smoky, spicy berry-centric wine with tobacco notes that has benefitted from limestone-clay soils, just-the-right elevation and offshore breezes. Barrel-aged for 16 months in 45% French, 35% older Hungarian and 20% American oak, this Cabernet Franc bursts with ripe red berry fruit, mocha and toast that has only been enriched by the hot Niagara weather of summer 2012. This is a big red that marries well with that a grilled, well-peppered ribeye or that elegant platter of charcuterie and artisanal cheese served at your first garden party of the season.
Despite originating in France, Malbec wine may very well be the varietal that put South America on the proverbial wine map. While it is hardly the only varietal produced in Argentina, it is certainly its best known. And many winemakers have found that Malbec is often made even better with a little help from its varietal friends – whether they are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Shiraz. As much as this sort of experimentation occurs, they have also found that a little bit of Malbec can also improve upon and add depth to a solid Cabernet. The result is wonderful opportunities for winemakers to tinker with their winemaking and for us wine drinkers, new wines that highlight some of our favorite features of these varietal classics.
This month to our Inspired Wine Club members, we provide an interesting perspective on Argentina reds as we offer first a mostly Malbec wine that is complemented by other varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon. Then we do a flip-flop and provide a second wine that is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, improved of course, with the wee bit of Malbec added in. Both are fantastic, hearty reds that we are sure you will enjoy comparing and contrasting. And, by our standards, it’s one of the best tasting flip-flops around–
2010 Domaine Bousquet Grand Reserve Malbec, Tupungato Valley, Argentina
So here we go: 85% Malbec with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 5% Shiraz – while it’s technically a blend, it feels, looks and tastes like the quintessential Argentine Malbec – and an outstanding one, at that! Is it possible that adding other varietals to Malbec makes it even more like a Malbec? The purple-y, almost black, wine offers intense, rich aromas of blackberry, black currant and spicy black pepper, typical of top-quality Malbec. This sense of pedigree is confirmed at first taste, providing a very balanced, elegant wine with raspberry, blackberry, fig flavors exploding on the palate, accented by minerally notes of graphite and chocolate. It has excellent structure and lovely acidity with a supple mouth feel. Enjoy it with some Manchego cheese before dinner or save it for a main course of beef tenderloin with a portobello, Dijon mustard and red wine sauce.
2012 Domaine Bousquet Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Tupungato Valley, Argentina
So flipping the varietal distribution to the other side of the scale, this same organic winery entices you with a majestic reddish purple specimen that teases you first with its lovely aromas of black currant, tobacco and leather. Comprised of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Malbec, this quasi-blend is aged in 100% French oak barrels for 10 months, achieving a robust spicy, berry quality that is perfect for sipping or pairing with heartier meals. With fine tannins and hints of mocha, this wine’s elegance is abundantly clear, showing good intensity and a pleasant finish. Marries as well with your grandmother’s recipe for linguine alla puttanesca as it does with a gaucho-styled skirt steak and garlicky chimichurri sauce.
Photo credit: Bermi Ferrer