Things seem to be settling down around us as we turn the corner into February, which is a good thing. Today I’m hosting a Zoom Webinar where I share with you my Best Bottles…the 10 wines I am going to enjoy in the month of February. If you missed the Zoom, don’t fret, all the wine details are here!
Vinho Verde is known for cheap and cheerful whites made from the Alvarinho grape, which is the same grape as Albariño in Rias Baixas. These wines are known for being high acid, crisp, and with a saline/sea spray feel to them. This wine is made from the Loureiro grape, which gives much more floral notes than Alvarinho. This is a crisp, clean wine with good acid and floral notes…such a floral dominant nose. This wine is quite beautiful and elegant. Delicate even.
For one, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape. Pinot Grigio just signifies the Italian style/expression of the grape. Pinot Gris originally hails from France and is well-known as one of the noble varieties of Alsace. In Oregon, Pinot Gris is neck in neck with Chardonnay as the most planted white variety. Pinot Gris is known for having a zesty citrus characteristic, with sometimes a bit of a honeyed/honeysuckle note. This wine is showing a gently perfumed/floral note of said honeysuckle. Plus some exotic/tropical fruits. Also, notably high acid. A great value at $15.99.
Acquiesce Winery, led by Sue Tipton, is a rebel in the Zin country of Lodi, CA. Sue is a white wine enthusiast. In fact, she only makes whites and rosés…no reds! Her wines are all made from Rhône varieties, and she carries that European touch into the tasting room experience with the fact that all wine tastings are served with a bit of food….small nibbles meant to enhance the wines. The Belle Blanc is a white Rhône blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Viognier. This is their homage to a white Chateauneuf du Pape. The wine has aromas of pear and apricot, plus honeysuckle and orange blossom for some floral aromatics.
And we’re still in Lodi. Stuck in Lodi….isn’t that a song? The Fiano grape is originally from Campania in southern Italy, but can also be found in Puglia and Sicily. It tends to have a waxy texture and a subtle nose. This wine gave me bracing acid plus some really vibrant fruit aromas, including stone fruit (apricot) and tropical fruit (melon). Also, a lovely saltiness/brininess that just goes so well with seafood.
District 7 is a brand under Scheid Family Wines, who are longtime growers in Monterey County. Their vineyards are 100% sustainable and all fruit for this wine is estate. Speaking of sustainability, the District 7 winery is 100% powered by renewable wine energy. I can get behind that. In the glass, you most certainly have a New World Cali Sauvignon Blanc. Lively citrus (lemon/lime), stone fruit (white peach), and heaps of tropical fruit (pineapple and melon) jump out at you. Quite a solid Sauvignon Blanc if you’re ready to move away from the sea of green with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
And here’s your southern Italian red wine entry. A blend of 70% Nero d’Avola and 30% Frappato tells you we are in Sicily. Nero tends to be the preferred red grape in this southern isle, whereas Frappato is usually a blending partner to Nero. If you like rusticity, this wine is for you. Or if you’ve been stuck drinking grocery store domestic red blends, consider trying red blends from around the world. Rusticity is a hallmark of southern Italian wines, versus the more polished elegant wines that hail from northern Italy. And don’t let that be a dig or make the wines sound subpar, because they are not. This wine has bright juicy red fruit, with a lovely earthy, savory (maybe black olive?) note to secure our spot in the rustic Olympics. Also, this wine calls for food! I’d say it’s quite versatile, but I’m thinking something with tomatoes and maybe more savory flavors such as capers, bell peppers, or even anchovies?
I want to start with this wine by painting a picture of South African wine in 2021. Domestic alcohol sales are prohibited and banned indefinitely. This is meant to be a COVID preventing measure to discourage people from gathering. Needless to say, the industry is DECIMATED. Exports are still allowed, so you can help support South Africa and their wine industry by purchasing South African wines. Kumusha in the Zimbabwean Shona language translates to “your home” or “your origin”. This winery was founded by Tinashe Nyamudoka, an award-winning sommelier. He was born and raised in Zimbabwe and worked his way up in the industry from a server, wine steward, then a sommelier. This is not your daddy’s Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is lighter and brighter than most Cabs I have tried. Red fruit character dominates, versus black fruit that you normally associate with a Cab. Dare I say that you might want to slightly chill it down? Crushable, as the kids say. If you want to support this black owned winery, and another black owned business, consider purchasing this wine from The Urban Grape, a wine shop in Boston. They ship nationwide and they have a notable and easy to access selection of “producers of color” on their website.
The tasting notes that I share are generally mine. Sometimes I pull descriptors from the winery note, but rarely do I pull the full note directly from the winery. Except here. How’s this for sounding delectable: Dark ruby in the glass, aromas of dark cherries and raspberry mingle with nuances of licorice. Soft and velvety, robust with a voluptuous and full-bodied mouthfeel, the palate unfolds with decadent layers of intense chocolate-covered dark red cherries, and a delicate hint of wild sage. A long, lingering finish instills a lasting impression of rich, concentrated flavors.
Caliza is one of my favorite wineries up in Paso, and I only discovered them last summer from a friend who recommended them. Caliza means limestone in Spanish, which is their predominant soil type. They focus on Rhône varieties, with a few other grapes mixed in, including Tempranillo. This wine is 72% Tempranillo, 16% Mourvèdre, and 12% Grenache. Carl, the owner/winemaker, calls this his Cali play on a Rioja. This is definitely a big and robust Paso red, but with a firm foot in the Old World due to the nice earthy, savory characteristics, such as smokiness and tobacco. I love enjoying this wine with an aged cheddar or an aged gouda. Those cheeses are strong enough to stand up to this wine!
Y’all know I love me a good tawny Port. This one has a garnet color. With aromas and flavors of deep, confected fruit, including major rasination. I’m not sure if that’s a word, but I’m going for it. Also, toasted nuts. The nutty, toffee aromas remind me of the smell of garrapiñadas on the streets of Buenos Aires.