The Wines we Love Right Now
By: George Balling
After all of the joy of the holidays and toning things down a bit for January we are entering the remainder of winter. There are more gray days than we would prefer and we are getting a bit tired of the cold so here are the wines we are enjoying on these chilling nights.
We are going to start of these recommendations with a pair of Muscadets. Muscadet is probably one of the least understood grape varietals. Because of the name the perception is that the wines are sweet, but when this varietal is made in France it is always fermented dry and is naturally one of the best pairings with shellfish you will ever find.
The 2019 Domaine de la Grenaudiere ($18, wine club price $16.20) is a lovely example of what Muscadet is. Fermented and aged briefly in a combination of concrete and stainless-steel tanks the wine shows sea salt minerality on the nose. The palate delivers a punch of citrus noted acid, has generous texture with a clean finish and the slightest touch of melon and pear flavors across the palate. As we said great with shellfish especially fried oysters.
The 2020 La Berriere Muscadet ($21, wine club price $18.90) like the Grenaudiere is unoaked but does employ some lees stirring that enhances texture and mouth feel. The La Berriere shows a similar aromatic profile featuring sea salt notes. The palate is super silky with near perfect weight and an extraordinary balance between citrus noted fruit and clean acid that keeps the wine presenting bone dry. The generous texture makes the wine perfect with seared sea scallops.
We recently brought back in the 2019 version of the Domaine de Maubet Blanc ($15, wine club price $13.50). One of our favorite white varietals is Columbard and this wine is 60% along with Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc. The Maubet shows lovely stone fruit flavors on the palate and clean citrus notes at the finish. It leads into this lush palate with notes of wet stone minerality and broiled citrus.
On the higher end I have recently fallen in love with the 2018 Hyde de Villaine Chardonnay ($95, wine club price $85.50) that comes from the Napa side of the Carneros region. It is made by the Hydes working with the Villaine family from France that owns Domaine de la Romanee Conti or DRC. DRC is the most expensive and sought-after wine from Burgundy and this lineage shows through beautifully in this classic California Chardonnay. Butter, oak and rich apple noted fruit are all there as we would expect but held in perfect balance by just the right amount of acid. Spendy yes, but this wine should not be missed.
We just got back in stock the 2019 vintage of the Pessimist from Daou ($25, wine club price $22.50). Daou is one of the most noteworthy producers from Pas Robles and this blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah is a big rich red wine in the style “Paso” is known for. Juicy and ripe with flavors of blackberry and raspberry the wine has ample structure, with a hint of peppery tannin on the finish and aromas of mild earthiness and dark berries.
This past week we took home a bottle of the Merlot based Left Bank Red from Bruce Neyers ($40, wine club price $36). We have long been fans of Bruce’s wines and the wine did not disappoint. It is heavy with cherry and mocha aromas leading to a sleek and silky palate that is fruit laden throughout and a soft round finish that makes it eminently drinkable and a great pairing with steak.
We have not had any of the red wine from Domaine Tempier in several years, we did just receive the 2019 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge ($80, wine club price $72) and are thrilled to have it back. Crafted from all Mourvèdre and imported by the legendary Kermit Lynch the wine is simply put, a show stopper. Ample ripe berry noted fruit with a surrounding flavor of ripe plum the wine is sturdy with significant but well-placed tannins. It is a big wine and will hold up to most any hearty main course.
Not many of us know about Malbec from France as much of that world seems to be dominated by Argentina, however the Cahors region in Southwestern France produces some of the best Malbec we have had. The 2019 Clos la Coutale Malbec ($23, wine club price $20.70) is just such a wine. Blue fruit focused with mild earthiness and supple appropriate tannins is just a lovely, drinkable wine. Pair it with some of your favorite sausage and it will transport you to the South of France quickly.
Stop by the shop to check these out and all the other gems that arrive regularly.