February 2014

Discovery

NV Domaine Petit Sonnailler Rouge

From Provence in southern France, where the vines grow among fields of lavender and thyme that influence the aromatic complexity of the region’s wines. This blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon offers a wealth of ripe red fruit buoyed by fresh acidity and a lingering finish of dark berries. Great with peppery, garlicky grilled pork chops.

Cleopatra’s Pearls

2011 Padrillos Torrontés

Torrontés, the most popular white grape in Argentina, achieves its finest expression in the northern region of Salta, where the climate is perfect for creating wines of lush character that retain pleasing, food-friendly acidity. The variety’s characteristic floral and stone fruit notes are present, but the palate is finer and leaner than most. Try some with citrus-glazed roast chicken.

Treasured Rubies

2012 Xplorador Cabernet Sauvignon

Lush, vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon resulting from the dry heat of Chile’s Central Valley, tempered in the night-time by cool breezes that allow the grapes to retain complexity and balance. Juicy blackberry flavors combine with hints of chocolate, dried red fruit and vanilla from a brief time in neutral oak. Try this great-value Cab the next time you sear dry-rubbed flank steak.

Patrician

2008 Casa Contini Biferno Riserva

Here’s a fun wine with lots of personality that just doesn’t get out much. Biferno is a DOC in Molise, on Italy’s Adriatic coast southwest of Abruzzo. It’s a blend of Montepulciano (85%) and Aglianico (15%), with the former’s fruity frivolity and the latter’s balancing acidity and tannin. Really unique wine, with loads to offer when poured next to big, beefy dishes like a classic pot roast.

Wondrous Whites

2012 Domaine de Sainte Rose Coquille d’Oc Blanc

Southern France’s Languedoc-Roussillon, where this unique white blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Muscat is produced, is a large region with a great diversity of styles. This is ripe, fruity, floral wine, perfect with savory, spicy Moroccan cuisine.

Regal Reds

2011 Château de Montfaucon Les Gardettes Rouge

Primarily Syrah blended with Carignan, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Grenache from Gard, in southern France. A sandalwood note weaves through cherry and red currant, with garrigue hints on the finish. A fragrant companion to lamb stewed with herbes de Provence.

Aristocrat

2011 Le Ringue Bordeaux Rouge

Traditional Right-Bank Bordeaux in its 90/10 Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend, but totally iconoclastic in terms of vinification. This Bordeaux sees no oak, only stainless steel—an oddity in a region famous for its oaky reds. Fruit and terroir are the stars here, the rich, supple Merlot and peppery, floral Cab Franc balanced with delicate limestone minerality. Roast a duck and enjoy.

American Beauties

2012 Housley’s Century Oak Winery River Ranch Chardonnay

Tired of one-note oak-bombs, but still love a lush, full-bodied California Chardonnay? Try this all-stainless Chardonnay from Lodi brimming with melon and apple aromas. The palate is full and ripe, with pear, green apple and tropical notes. Pair with broiled snapper.

European Classics

2011 San Fabiano Chianti

The red Italian wines of Chianti, in Tuscany, are predominantly Sangiovese, with small amounts of other local varieties allowed to round out the blend. They can run the gamut from light and fruity to deep, dense and complex. San Fabiano’s splits the difference, with brilliant strawberry fruit anchored by a rich, leathery oak presence. Spaghetti all’Amatriciana would pair nicely.

Ultimate

2012 Villa Medoro Passerina

Passerina is a grape variety native to Italy’s Marche region on the Adriatic coast. It’s named for the local sparrows (“passerini”) that enjoy snacking on the ripe grapes. Straw yellow in color with an elegant perfume of citrus, white flowers and hints of sage. Flavors of ripe green apple, apricot jam and candied citrus caress the palate. Try it with seafood or rich pasta alla carbonara.

The Bubbles

NV Hillinger Secco

Austria is currently producing some of the world’s best Pinot Noir, and more and more of it is coming Stateside. This sparkling rosé of Austrian Pinot is serious wine with a wink, boasting vivacious aromas of strawberries and cream. Elegant, fine bubbles dance across the full-bodied palate, which is fruity and expressive with bright acidity. Wonderful as an aperitif or throughout any meal.

Cellar Master

2009 Polkura Block g+i Syrah

Two south-facing blocks of Polkura’s vineyards in Chile’s Colchagua Valley produce noticeably finer, more delicate Syrah than those on north-facing slopes, which (in the Southern Hemisphere) receive more direct sunlight. Wonderfully rich aromas of blueberry and pepper lead to a palate flush with ripe, dark fruit and spice notes. Lovely wine for a mid-winter barbecue.

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