March is upon us and summer is right around the corne. With the recent weather in the greater Chicago-area, it may be a sooner arrival than expected! With the transition of seasons from cold to warm, your inspired wine club includes two lighter bodied red wines from the emerging wine regions of Oregon! Cabernets and Merlots are for winter fun hanging out at the fireplace; Pinot Noirs are for warm spring nights on the porch and star gazing in the back yard. We are happy to present you with two fantastic Oregon Pinots for the month of March.
Union Wine Company Underwood Pinot Noir, Oregon
Our first of two fantastic Pinot’s comes from the Union Wine Company. The 2015 Underwood Pinot Noir is a blend of fruit from both the Willamette Valley as well as Umpqua Valley of Southern Oregon. This wine is a fresh expression of the Oregon style of a lighter body, with bright fruit flavors of fresh raspberries a plum with an earthy finish. Underwood is a great expression of an Oregon Pinot that won’t break the bank! They have also been an innovative winery and make all of their bottled selections in cans to go!
2015 Averaen (Banshee) Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Oregon
Our second selection is the 2015 Averaen Pinot Noir, and this is a new project from a well-known California Winery. The success of the Banshee wines of Sonoma County and Napa Valley has driven them north to Oregon! This vintage of Averean was awarded 91 points by Antonio Galloni and is a beauty of a project by winemaker Adam Smith. Their affordable price points do not undermine the quality of their wines, and Averaen is the perfect example of that. You will get floral and spicy notes on the nose that transfer to the pallet and have you yearning for another glass. This is a true expression of Oregon wine that will broaden your horizons.
And in case you are wondering about food pairings, these lighter, brighter reds match as wonderfully with a a casual dinner of Monte Cristo sandwiches as they do with an Easter ham or lamb roast– one of the most versatile varietals and perfect for your upcoming celebrations as well.
Photo credit: Zach Dischner Photography, Wikimedia Commons
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