Chardonnay is often put on a dichotomy between New World and Old World with little room in between. New World renditions are generally associated with increased usage of new oak and malolactic fermentation resulting in ripe wines, while Old World versions are generally associated with high acid, less fruit, and less oak and ‘malo’. However, it’s important to remember that many of these aspects are influenced more by the winemaker than where the wine is from; take the Vignobles Vella for example. This wine hailing from Languedoc (Southern France) pours a medium yellow with gold hues, offering aromas of banana peel, butter, tea, and some sweet baking spice. The palate is medium bodied with flavors of pineapple and eucalyptus candy, making for an excellent pairing with richer seafood or chicken kiev.
When you think of Greek wine, what comes to mind? For many, its exclusively sweet wines, or maybe the eternally odd, but loveable, Retsina. However, there are a collection of delicious indigenous varieties that are starting to make a more consistent appearance in the US market. The ‘Zoe’ line from Domaine Skouras is designed with accessibility in mind, with wines that are made in an unadulterated style that emphasizes regional and varietal character. The ‘Zoe’ white blend is 60% Roditis and 40% Moscofilero. It does not see any oak, VERY little skin contact, and slight lees aging. This wine pours a very pale straw (almost water-like) and offers delicate aromas of flowers, musk, honey, and restrained orchard fruit. The palate offers zippy acidity, sweet citrus fruits, and fresh herbs. This wine screams for a salad with soft cheeses and fruit.
As we discussed in November, Carignan is an impressively difficult grape to cultivate and vinify into acceptable varietal wine. It has a history as turbulent as any other variety and is still recovering in the eyes of the consumers. Thankfully, there are producers dedicated to exploring the potential of this variety. This wine is sourced from 50-year-old vines and sees no oak. The nose offers a complex blend of dried herbs and tart blue/black fruit. The palate enters sweet, but quickly reveals the quintessential tannins of Carignan mixed in with macerated black fruits. Though not quite weighty enough for rich red meats, this wine would go beautifully with pork tenderloin served with caramelized brussels sprouts.
There is no such thing as too much Cotes du Rhone in a wine bar. As such, we are bringing in yet another delicious rendition from the region that keeps on giving. This 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah is as traditional as traditional gets for CDR; with no oak and grapes harvested at their ripest for a wine that showcases purity of fruit. The nose offers aromas of garrigue, chocolate, and red fruits. This continues through the palate while offering well-integrated tannins and a characteristic richness. Pair this with your next lamb-based meal or a heart Bolognese.
You have likely heard the staff throw around the term “porch-pounder” with reckless abandon. While it’s true that this title is completely subjective (if you can pound Amarone, more power to you) few wines embrace the notion of “porch-pounder” than Txakolina. Generally made from Hondarrabi Zuri, Txakolina (or Txakoli) is an appellation in the Basque County famous for wines made in a fresh style that emphasizes high acidity, a slight effervescence, and tart citrus and orchard fruit flavors. Ganeta’s rendition embraces all these characteristics and more, making it an ideal standalone white or a pairing for fish tacos.
If you all remember, we featured a delectable red from this producer a couple months ago. While Etna Rosso is arguably the most well known of the broad appellations produced on the eponymous volcano, there are also delicious white wines abound. The Etna Bianco from Terre Nere, much like the Etna Rosso, personifies the regions to a ‘T’. This blend of Carricante, Cataratto, Grecanico, and Minnella is sourced from vines ranging from 5 to 80 years and is made in a way to emphasize the impressive freshness of the style. The nose offers fresh primary aromas of citrus and tart tropical fruits with hints of salinity and minerality. The palate has zippy acidity with juicy Meyer lemon and quince accented again with salinity. The freshness of this wine demands crudo or that it be respected as an aperitif.
There a reason the biggest names in California Zinfandel call the Dry Creek Valley their home; it’s a land renowned for over 100 years of the best Zin’ in the state. This AVA tucked in North Central Sonoma County combines the quintessential heat of Sonoma with coastal influence from Lake Sonoma to create rich Zin’s with profiles balanced between opulent and savory. Jigar’s 2017 release sees 10 months in 25% new French Oak, which adds an additional degree of richness to what already a monster of a wine. The nose offers red and black fruit with additional aromas of humidor and sweet baking spice. The mouthfeel is luscious, with well-integrated oak tannins enveloping flavors of blueberry and sweet raspberry. The richness of this wine and its tightrope between ripe and smoky makes it an ideal candidate for BBQ.
What could possibly outclass a Zinfandel in terms of weight and richness? Well, it takes the combination of Syrah, Petite Sirah, and a rich viticultural pedigree. Though relatively young, Bootleg Wine Works has featured the talents of multiple winemakers with history at major CA producers such as Hall, Clos du Val, and many others. The Prequel sources fruit from all over Sonoma County and is made in a quintessentially California style. This impenetrably purple wine offers aromas of black pepper, tar, blueberry, and crème de cassis. The palate offers rich oak-driven tannins with full-length flavors of blue and black fruits cut with rich vanilla, sweet tobacco, and baking spice. There is no hunk of red meat too rich for this wine.