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Cheryl Hunt
 
February 2, 2024 | Cheryl Hunt

February Wine Club Wines

Seductive Grapes

The grapes this month make us fall in love with their names or their stories!

amo.te Vinho Verde – Minho, POR (Gold)

Vinho Verde has been exported from Portugal since at least the 17th century. Historically, bubbles occurred because producers rushed to bottle the young wine before it had finished its fermentation process, so the small amount of sugar left converted to fizz when opened. More commonly today, carbon dioxide is added to create that ‘frizzante’ style. And while this wine will be perfect for spring and summer, it’s delicious all-year round. The name, of course, means ‘I love you,’ and the brand is an homage to the winemaker’s wife who suffered from breast cancer; he wanted to create a daily reminder of his feelings for her. Crisp and fizzy, the amo.te Vinho Verde is a blend of indigenous grapes: Loureiro, Arinto, and Trajadura. Both floral and fruity on the nose, it offers up notes of orange blossom, citrus, green apple, and white peach. It would pair well with the Vegan Tacos from Seven Mile Café.

Chiara Pinot Noir – Pfalz – GER (Gold)

Germany is almost always associated with white wines, but the country is the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir. Traditionally called Spätburgunder, the grape does well in cooler climates because of its thinner skins and necessity to ripen for longer periods of time. German Pinots are usually lighter in hue and body as well as alcohol by volume. However, some viticulturalists in Germany are amping up the oak and tannic structure to be more in line with fuller-bodied versions that many people enjoy. The Chiara lies somewhere in the middle. With its illusive and unattainable lady as the brand (‘Chiara’ in Latin does mean bright and clear, a contrast to what we see on the label), you will fall in love with this different iteration of Pinot Noir. It does have traditional Pinot red fruit like cherry and raspberry along with vanilla and spice, but the Chiara attracts you with its luminescent individuality. Imbibe on a glass alongside the BBQ Chicken Pizza from Pizza Patrón.

Domaine des Gaudets Morgon – Beaujolais, FR (Platinum)

Morgon is one the largest and most prestigious of Beaujolais’ ten crus. At the heart of Morgon lies Côte du Py, a slope of old blue granite and schist, that produces age-worthy wines. In fact, the region’s soil is known (lovingly) as “rotten rock,” named for the decaying shale and igneous rock that gives Morgon wines its unique character. Because the terroir is so present when smelling and tasting Morgon wines, a new term has been added to the French winemaking vernacular: “morgon” used a verb. Wine-Searcher.com explains it the best: “Morgon wines age so distinctively and consistently that the region's name is often used as a verb to describe this: ‘il morgonne’ (‘it morgons’).” Made from 100% Gamay, the Domaine des Gaudets ‘morgons’ with aromas of cherry and stone fruit, adding plum and minerality to the finish. While lighter, nuttier cheeses would be a wonderful partner, try this alongside the Rotisserie Chicken from Cowboy Chicken.

Secret Mistress Red Blend – Central Valley, CH (Gold) 

Just like the coy, mysterious lady on the label, this wine teases you. The blend, a proprietary red, has been bourbon-barrel-aged for 3 months, so a kiss of sweet and rich spice lingers on the palate. But this wine also surprises you, with its medium-bodied nature, but given its origins in the cool-climate region of the Central Valley in Chile, it makes sense that the Secret Mistress isn’t overly extracted or juicy. Bordeaux grapes are the most widely grown varieties in the Central Valley, so while we can’t guess all the secrets behind this wine, we can surmise there might be some Cabernet and Merlot in the bottle (Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Carmenère are also grown in this region, but who knows?!). This red blend is a series of contradictions, courting you with its affectations of cherry, blackberry, anise, and caramel. Get your carbs on with the Brisket-Loaded Baked Potato from the Chubz Spudz Food Truck.

Domaine de l'Ecu ‘Love and Grapes’ Nobis Syrah – Rhone Valley, FR (Platinum)

Domaine de l’Ecu achieved an organic certification in 1972, long before it was cool, and has championed biodynamic farming, becoming Demeter certified, in 1998. This is the primary reason for the ‘Love and Grapes’ label. The brand is meticulous about respecting the natural world and letting the fruit shine without a lot of winemaking modifications. Although Domaine de l’Ecu is based in the Loire Valley, viticulturist Fred Niger works on negociant side-projects where he buys grapes from other regions, creating fun wines like this Nobis Syrah (fun fact: ‘nobis’ in Latin means ‘us,’ so that name probably has something to do with interconnectedness – or the two lovers kissing on the label!). Perfect with a slight chill, the Nobis is both floral and rustic, culminating in black cherry, raspberry, black pepper, and those subtle meaty notes that Syrah can convey. This wine will be complemented with a Gyro from Feta’s Lone Star Greek food truck, parked outside Oak Street Drafthouse.

GOLD BIG DOG: Masciarelli Montepulciano (Magnum) – Abruzzo, IT (Gold) 

We offer you a magnum, for your pleasure (pun intended—the theme is, after all, about seduction). The Masciarelli uses 100% estate-grown Montepulciano fruit. Led by mother-daughter team Marina Cvetić and Miriam Lee Masciarelli, the winery is the only one in Abruzzo to own land in all four provinces, making the Masciarelli name a standard-bearer for the region. Montepulciano is a delightful, accessible everyday drinker with its medium body, alcohol level, and tannins—with, of course, higher acidity—this is an Italian red, after all! It will please you with its bright cherry and red plum flavors met with spice and smoke. And you get twice the amount in this super-sized bottle! Grab the spaghetti and meatballs from local Italian market Di Abruzzo, light some candles at your table, and enjoy this crowd-pleasing wine.

McPherson ‘Les Copains’ Red Blend – Texas High Plains (Platinum)

Clinton ‘Doc’ McPherson is a founding father of the Texas wine industry. “What started out as experimental vine planting in the 1960s­—at a time when there were virtually none in the entire state—evolved into an extraordinary framework that has since shaped the Texas High Plains landscape today” (from www.mcphersoncellars.com/our-story/). Son and current winemaker Kim McPherson went to UC Davis to study enology and viticulture in the 1970s, first working in Napa; later he returned to Texas to work at Llano Estacado with his father, and then he pioneered his own label in 2000. The ’Les Copains’ exudes what Texas wine royalty can lovingly craft—you will ‘befriend’ this juicy red, resplendent of Rhone varietals. Consisting of 37% Carignan, 30% Mourvèdre, 22% Syrah 6% Cinsault, and 5% Counoise, it offers up notes of black tea, wild strawberries, plum, and cracked black pepper. Consume the ‘Les Copains’ with Chestnut Tree’s pork loin Saltimbocca.

Bodegas Vatan ‘Tritón’ Tinto de Toro – Castilla y León – SP (Platinum)

Averaging 80-year-old ungrafted vines in the region, Bodegas Vatan has sourced concentrated berries from the most prestigious vineyards in Toro for the ‘Tritón.’ A grape with seemingly endless nicknames, ‘Tinto de Toro’ is the local name for Tempranillo, Spain’s most popular grape. The old vines in Toro have adapted to extreme drought conditions and even staved off the phylloxera outbreak in the 19th century. However, because Toro is not as glamorous of a region as the more well-known Rioja, Priorat, or Ribera del Duero, it is often overlooked by wine authorities for its contributions. To assist, luxury brand LVMH bought some of the Toro parcels to ensure the region gets the attention it deserves. And we should shower it with the love it deserves. The ‘Tritón’ is elegant and fulfilling. Aromas of blueberry jam coax you to take a sip, resulting in layers of plum, blackberry, cassis, anise, and cigar box. The oak is not overly present on the ‘Tritón,’ and the tannins are velvety. Enjoy it with something spicy, like Chile Rellenos from El Matador.

Time Posted: Feb 2, 2024 at 8:07 AM Permalink to February Wine Club Wines Permalink