Some Winter Wine suggestions.
By Lou Marmon
Gazette Newspapers February 4, 2015
With winter’s grip still upon us, it is comforting to know that there are wines ideal for chilly weather. Fuller in body with more complexity and structure, winter wines are better to serve with the cold-weather meals.
Among the recent releases of reds suitable for these icer times is the award-winning Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz + Viognier 2013, an intriguingly spicy and citrusy blend from Australia modeled after the wines of France’s Northern Rhone region. It shows blueberry, dark cherry and red berry flavors within a silky smooth, floral scented frame with a persistently bright finish.
South America remains a source of reasonably priced, high quality reds including the Carmen Carmenere Gran Reserva 2011 from Chile. It is savory and expressive with red fruit aromas and flavors accented with blackberries, tobacco, mild spice and pepper leading into a very pleasing finish.
The Achaval-Ferrer Malbec 2013 is one of the better examples of the now very popular varietal. It is remarkably balanced with good acidity that matches well with the rich dark plum, black cherry and blueberry flavors that mingle nicely with oak and hints of chocolate. Their Achaval-Ferrer Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 is also enjoyable and shows a bit of mint and herbal qualities among the raspberry, plum and blackberry flavors.
Consider as well the entry-level Quinta do Vallado Tinto 2011 created with both young and old vine grapes from one of Portugal’s finest estates. Beginning with expansive red berry and floral scents, it proceeds with raspberry, plums and mocha along with notable minerality and balanced finish.
From one of the largest estates in Rioja is the Bilbainas Zaco Rioja 2012, a pleasurable Tempranillo that starts with anise and cherry which merge into dark berry and raspberry flavors showing some mint and earthiness at the end. Their Bilbainas Vina Pomal Reserva Rioja 2010 is more full-bodied and intense with deep red cherry, berry and plum along with leather, coffee and vanilla notes. Or try the plum and floral scented Cune Rioja Reserva 2009 with dark cherry, vanilla and raspberry flavors along with some smoke and spice.
The Sangiovese based wines from Montepulciano have long been a winter favorite, especially when served along some tagliatelle topped with ragu. The Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2010 opens with floral and herbal accented berry aromas that deftly expand in the glass and join with strawberry, black cherry and currant flavors. Also present are notes of chocolate, grilled game and spice that linger during the lengthy, perfectly balanced finish.
The Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo Brunello 2009 is another terrific Italian wine showing deep red cherry and dark currant aromas and flavors in a lovely, supple and lush frame with medium tannins and bits of licorice and vanilla at the end.
A perpetually favorite producer from California is Grgich Hills Estate which has released its black cherry and earthy scented Grgich Zinfandel 2011, a medium bodied version with zippy dark fruit, including currants, black cherries and plum along with chocolate, black licorice, sour cherry and pepper. The Grgich Merlot 2011 expresses aromas of blueberry and strawberries which flow smoothly into red plum, black fruit, cedar, cinnamon and a slight smokiness during the longish finish. Also recommended is the organically-grown Bonterra Zinfandel 2012 with juicy black plum, vanilla, pepper and oak.
There is a surprisingly interesting citrus undercurrent to the Markham Vineyards Cellar 1879 Red Blend 2012 that works well with the complex black cherry, red berry, blueberry and mocha notes. Another cold-weather delight is the Frisson Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 which has charming baking spice accents to its big dark fruit, red cherry licorice and cocoa flavors.