I often get into a routine of only drinking the excellent wines we make right here in the U.S….it is hard to beat a great Oregon Pinot Noir or excellent California Cab. I then step back and realize we have a whole world of incredible wine ready to be enjoyed, filled often with great bang for your buck wines. Here are a few suggestions from the global wine front. A few selections were sent for editorial consideration.
I enjoyed a bottle of 2004 Valdubon Crianza over a hearty dinner of risotto with wine roasted wild mushrooms the other evening. 100% Tinto del País, also known as Tempranillo in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain, this inky redish black wine was filled with layers of ripe cherry, plum and licorice with subtle hints of vanilla, balsamic and leather. I had opened and decanted the bottle a few hours before drinking, and it was a bottle with some age on it already, but the tannins were still relavant without overwhelming. Lush and lovely, and delicious with the meaty, wine enriched mushrooms.
The wines of Portugal continue to be a hot trend amongst wine lovers as the grapes traditionally used to make their infamous ports are making their way into bottles as delicious, dry red wines made from vines which are usually several decades old. One in particular, Domini, comes from Douro Valley vineyards planted with Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. A part of the Jose Maria da Fonseca family of wines, this hearty red is filled with flavors of violet, lavendar and cherry with layers of sweet spice and a touch of smoke. A delicious wine paired with hearty stews and cured meat.
Most people think of Georges Duboeuf for their whimsical Beaujolais Nouveau bottles that arrive on store shelves the mid part of November each year, and though a large part of the company brand rests on those fun bottles filled with wine perfect for a Thanksgiving dinner, they also make a full line of wines from throughout the Beaujolais region. I had a chance to try the Georges Duboeuf Chiroubles 2011 and the Morgon Jean-Ernest Descombes 2011 recently and was pleasantly surprised by both. Both made from the Gamay varietal, the predominant red for the area, the Chiroubles was filled with lush cherry, violet and vanilla flavors with a silky texture and smooth finish, making this inexpensive wine seem much grander. The Morgon, made predominantly from vines which are over 50 years old and planted at high elevations which are all hand harvested. This wine reflects the area with balance, personality and character. Elegant and smooth, filled with layers of black cherry, black plum and ripe berries with a touch of sweet rose on the finish. Both beautiful and approachable wines to be enjoyed all year, not just during the holiday season, as we often think of for Beaujolais.
The wines Greece continue to surprise my palate as I try different variations on some of their classic, indigenous varieties. I became a fan of Xinomavro when I traveled with New Wines of Greece earlier this year, a hearty, tannin rich red from the northern part of the country. Paranga from Kir-Yianni Winery is an incredible wine I tried a few weeks ago, blending the bold Xinomavro with Syrah and Merlot, softening the palate slightly and adding an extra layer of texture to the wine. Delicious, especially when decanted a few hours prior to serving.
Argentina continues to reign as the producers of incredible Malbec, and the small production Profundo from Walter Bressia is one of the best for the money. Earthy and rich with layers of dark cherry and plum, smoke and spice with touches of leather and licorice on the finish. A big wine that is best enjoyed with a hearty steak, barbecue or rich stews.
Though we often only think of Sauvignon Blanc coming from New Zealand, the country is making strong headway with other varieties like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. I tried a few selections recently from Villa Maria, celebrating their 50th year of making wine in New Zealand. Their 2010 Private Bin Pinot Noir is an excellent example of varietally correct Pinot Noir from the country. Fruit forward and filled with bright cherry, and ripe raspberry with hints of baking spice, and balanced tannins for an approachable, easy drinking style. Their 2011 Cellar Selection Dry Riesling melds mineral and slight petrol notes with citrus that is often so dominant throughout the country, like grapefruit, lemon and tangerine. Though the fruit is intense on the palate, the acitidy is too, balancing the wine and keeping it fresh and fragrant.
Chilean Pinot Noir is also getting more interesting. I tried one from Novas Emiliana, a winery growing organic grapes with winemaker Alvaro Espinoza (well known for his dedication to organic and boidynamic growing methods) at the helm, this bright and lush Pinot Noir created from the 777 Pinot Noir clone brings in an interesting level of smoke and earthiness to the Burgundy clone, along with bright berry, spice and a touch of mocha on the finish.
In a world where you can find incredible sparkling wine/Cava/Proseco for a great value the true Champagne we drink should be well worth the dollars spent on a bottle, and the recently released Charles Heidsieck Rose Reserve NV is truly that. Blending 1/3 Pinot Noir, 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Meunier and aged 36+ months this bubbly captures all that is delicious, elegant and sublime about Champagne. Created in celebration Charles Heidseick bringing his bubbly to America from France, introducing the country to the refined flavors of his Champagne. Vinified from carefully selected crus and placed in bottles that reflect that of a magnum, the best vessel for aging classic Champagne, this is a Champagne to enjoy blissfully, as each sip will make it a special occasion.
Port is often an ideal way to end the meal, especially if a cheese course containing rich and creamy blue cheese is included. Graham’s is one of the most well known and respected Port producers in Portugal, creating quality fortified wines from traditional grapes for almost 200 years. Graham’s 6 Grapes is considered the everyday Port for the person who enjoys a hearty Vintage Port. Fruit forward, rich and expressive, filled with ripe plum, cherry and cassis with sweet spice and floral aromas. My favorite of the Graham’s line is their 20 year Tawny. I like aTawny for the caramel and nutty flavors barrel aging brings to the palate, further enhanced by the fruit flavors of the traditional Port grapes, Tawny is the ideal finish to an evening, perhaps made better only by the addition of an imported cigar.