Once considered one of the ‘in’ wines for wine professionals, Austrian Gruner has become more universally known, but still remains a relatively rare sight in wine establishments. This is largely due to Austria still being a comparatively small exporter, but current data trends show this slowly but surely changing for the better. The result is more crowd-friendly wines that eschew the esoteric branding historically embraced by Austria and Germany. BioKult is one such example, focusing on Austria’s primary red and white varieties (Zweigelt and Gruner Veltliner respectively) sourced from a variety of terroirs. A winemaking cooperative, BioKult utilizes the contributions of multiple growers and estates for one winemaking team. With regards to their Gruner, the result is a classic style. The nose offers aromas of quince, tart citrus, quince, and white pepper. The palate is somewhat ripe for Gruner, but offers the classic greenness and high acidity that personifies the grape. Though this wine might seem like a shoe-in for seafood, try it instead with some lightly-fried meats ala schnitzel, maybe like the fried chicken sandwich that sometimes graces the menu of Insurgent.
Keeping with the cooperative operation theme, we have Alliance Loire; an organization of seven vineyards from around the Loire Valley united to export the wines of small growers. The Les Lys is a quintessential expression of dry Vouvray (Chenin Blanc), with aromas of wool, wax, stone fruits, and a hint of sweet citrus. The palate displays the quintessentially high acidity possible with Chenin Blanc with stone fruit and mineral notes reminiscent of Riesling. In case you did not know, we have a new Indian restaurant in town, Namaste Denton! Vouvray and Butter Chicken is one of life’s great pleasures, and I suggest you go try it for yourself!
Greek red wines, particularly dry renditions, are difficult finds in the US. Beyond Greece not exporting as much as their old world counterparts, there is a reliance on indigenous varieties, whose acreage is dwarfed by international varieties. As such, it is not uncommon now to see indigenous varieties blended with international varieties in order to both ease and encourage exporting to new world markets. Ktimas Brintziki takes immense pride in both the propagation of Greek wine to larger markets and the fact that they are leading the charge in green wine production in Greece (a relatively new conversation). The ‘Melios’ is an interesting blend of Merlot and Mavrodaphne, a variety historically used in sweet wine. The nose offers red and black fruits, dried meat, earth, and dried herbs. The palate is friendly, with juicy red fruits, soft tannins, and quaffable acidity. This is a versatile red that would easily pair with a Jackie Mays burger.
A straight-forward wine with a LOT of pedigree behind it. Zolo utilizes multiple sites throughout Mendoza for mostly traditional Argentinean bottlings. Founded in 2003, it is run by Patricia Ortiz, generally regarded as one of the most important women in Argentina when it comes to wine. As if that was not enough, the winemaking team is lead by Fabian Valenzuela, a former winemaker at Catena, and Jean Claude Berrouet, former head winemaker at Chateau Petrus for 44 vintages. Their ‘Signature’ Red is a blend of Merlot, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. The nose offers aromas baked red fruits, licorice, and dark chocolate. The palate offers very fine-grained tannins with a medley of red and black fruits. The approachability of this wine screams for a lazy Sunday with a board of Manchego and sharp cheddar from Ten:One.
From the makers of ‘La Cuadrilla’ (you know, the wine y’all have been devouring for the past 3 months), we have another quirky, delicious wine from Ruben Solorzano and company from their ‘So Fresh’ series. This series is centered around quaffable wines meant to be drank in large quantities among many friends. The cepage for the rose is 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and is aged in stainless steel. Aromas of fresh strawberry and stone fruit lead to a palate of tart red berries, quince, high acid with some creaminess to balance it all out. I generally recommend fried veggies with rose, but lets make a new resolution; in 2023, rose goes with fried cheese curds (baby steps) from Cheese & Salsa.
If this month’s list has seemed too friendly, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered; enter Domaine Colin. Located in Touraine in the central Loire, the Coteaux du Vendomois AOC is the last bastion of one of Loire’s historical indigenous varieties; Pineau d’Aunis. Long eschewed for Cabernet Franc, Pineau d’Aunis is similar to Cab Franc in the sense that it makes red fruit and green-driven wines that display impressive complexity and food versatility. Domaine Colin has long been a vanguard of Pineau d’Aunis, being involved in its production since the beginning of the 20th century, also engaging in organic viticulture, manual harvesting, and general minimal intervention. The nose offers aromas of high-toned red berries, pleasant black pepper and dried herbs, and hints of earthiness. The palate is very fresh, with tart strawberry accented with subtle oak and black peppercorn. They are currently undergoing renovations, but our friends at Chestnut Tree are masters at Provencal-inspired cuisine that would go beautifully with this wine.
Some of the best values in wine result from producers going outside of their native terroir to experiment with other winegrowing regions. Some of the most famous examples of this include Opus One, Domaine Drouhin, Clos Apalta, and many more. This month, we feature Marlborough Pinot Noir made by the Henri Bourgeois family, which has been making a plethora of wines across the Loire Valley for 10 generations. Their New Zealand winery, Clos Henri, specializes in the country’s primary red and white variety, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc respectively, from various regions and terroir. The ‘Petit Clos’ offers Burgundian aromas of aromatic red fruits encompassed by spicy underbrush. The palate is more traditional for NZ, with soft tannins and mouthwatering acidity accenting dark red berries, earth, and black tea. The slight weight and noted acid makes this a candidate for rich renditions of sushi or sashimi such as the Komodo Tower or Snap Dragons from Komodo Loco.
Beckmen, first & foremost, is known for their renditions of the major Rhone varieties like Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre; particularly from their cooler Los Olivos vineyards. However, the warmer vineyards in Santa Ynez Valley are equally suited for the production of Bordeaux varieties; namely Cab’! While the Beckmen family was first royalty in the world of music (founders of Roland), they have since achieved similar fame in the Santa Barbara wine scene and beyond. Their Cabernet Sauvignon, much like their previously featured ‘Cuvee le Bec’, showcases the typical richness of warm climate new world Cabernet Sauvignon, with aromas of cassis, blackberry, and hints of oak. Beckmen’s deftness for balanced wines comes through the palate with similar fruit notes accented with pleasant espresso and tobacco. Try this with a steak with currant or berry reduction.