2016 Cenatiempo Ischia Biancolella, Ischia, Italy
Situated off the coast of Campania, Ischia is a beautiful island often visited as a vacation getaway for Italians, but they have a wonderful history of winemaking. Rarely seen varieties such as this Biancolella are prominent here, and they greatly express the place from where they’re made. Sea swept aromas of lime and melon mingle with true mineral flavors on the palate, a combination of volcanic soil and bright sunshine that spread across this paradise. Try serving this wine with sashimi or linguini with an herbed butter sauce.
2016 Bodega Noemia de Patagonia Malbec "A Lisa", Patagonia, Argentina
The rustic landscape of Patagonia doesn’t appear to be ideal for wine growing, but in the right hands this Malbec harkens to its French origins: deep plum and cherry notes are brushed with more earthy aromas, and the full mouth finish screams for hearty foods A well-cultivated cheese board would also sing with this red.
2015 Jean François Mérieau Vouvray Fleuve Blanc, Touraine, France
"Fleuve Blanc" (meaning "white river") is an apt name for Jean François Mérieau's Vouvray - on multiple levels. Dating back to as early as 1886, the Mérieau family has produced a variety of wines along the left-bank of the river Cher. The flinty clay and limestone soils surrounding the riverbank, upon which the Mérieau estate's vineyards lie, lend a strong minerality to the Chenin Blanc that is grown there. On the nose of this Vouvray, aromas of pear skins and chalk are accompanied by hints of vegetal and floral notes. While tart and crisp on the first sip, the Fleuve Blanc soon gives way to a sense of roundness on the mouth. Tasting of green apples and lemons, with notes of green tea on the finish, this mouthwatering wine would pair perfectly with oysters or crab.
2010 Primitivo Quiles "Raspay" Tinto Reserva, Alicante, Spain
When it comes to the wineries of Alicante, there are few whose history within the region can compare to that of Primitivo Quiles. Established in Monovar during the 1920s, the Quiles family’s bodega is one of the oldest in all of Alicante (although the family’s ties to winemaking date back as far as 1780). Primitivo Quiles’ “Raspay” Tinto Reserva has its own impressive backstory as well. In 1976, an earlier vintage of this blend was poured for H. M. King Juan Carlos I of Spain, at a dinner held in honor of his first visit to Alicante. The winery’s continued use of the Raspay’s regal label and bottle presentation are a nod to this historic event. The 2010 Raspay Reserva (100% Monastrell) has aromatics similar to that of a fine port; with notes of dark jammed fruits, raisins, cedar, and spices. Soft and round, this wine has a rich flavor of cherries, caramel, and spices. We recommend enjoying it with a hearty stew or lamb dish.
2016 Domaine de la Fanette Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France
When it comes to holiday food pairing, red wines with flavors of dark fruits and spices are at the top of our wish list. Domaine de la Fanette’s 2016 Rhone blend (60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Carignan) is the perfect example of a winter red that we can’t wait to cozy up with this season. Aromas of strawberries and cherries, stemming from the Grenache, are complemented by the savory and spicy notes coming from the Syrah and Carignan.
Meyer-Fonné Crémant d'Alsace Brut Extra, Alsace, France
Nothing starts a celebration off quite like a nice bottle of bubbly. Meyer-Fonné’s Crémant d'Alsace Brut Extra is crisp and refreshing; the perfect aperitif for any dinner or party this holiday season. This blend of Pinot Auxerrois, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Noir, is dry and delicate, with notes of ripe green apples and lime on the palate. Meyer-Fonné has become well known for producing wines that possess a strong mineral backbone, and this sparkling is no exception. Made from grapes grown in the village of Katzenthal, this Crémant d'Alsace comes from vineyards that lie upon Granitic Colluvium and Alluvium soils. The striking minerality is balanced by the wine’s mouth-watering acidity, resulting in a fresh and lovely Crémant for these crisp winter nights.
2015 Weingüt Clemens Busch Vom Roten Schiefer Trocken Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Producing wines that combine both elements of tradition and innovation is a reputation that Clemens Busch has acquired over his years as head of his family’s estate. The Busch family has presided over vineyards in the middle of the Mosel for generations, and soon after taking command, Clemens abandoned the use of herbicides in favor of adopting a biodynamic approach to winemaking. Their steep hillside vineyards contain parcels that lie upon grey, blue, or the rare red slate, (The term “vom roten Schiefer” translates to “from red slate”). The soil imparts aromas of wet stone and chalk into the wine, creating a lovely balance with other floral and white peach notes. Once on the palate, this “Trocken,” or dry, Riesling is light and refreshing, tasting of grapefruit, melon, and soft herbs. Riesling is a favorite of ours for so many dishes, but taste this with a veggie crudite and herbed cheese, or better: sushi!
2012 Château Haut-Sarthes "Terrement" Rouge, Montravel, France
Located just east of Saint Emilion in the Montravel region of France is Daniel Hecquet’s Château Haut-Sarthes. Montravel’s beauty is well known as having inspired the works of famous French writer Montaigne, and resting atop the highest summit the hillside vineyards of Château Haut-Sarthes are pure poetry. Hecquet has a deep respect for the terroir by utilizing organic and sustainable practices both in the vineyards and in the winery. The focus that he places on creating natural and pure wines can be seen in the elegance and complexity of his 2012 “Terrement” Rouge. On the nose, aromas of blackberries and currents rush out of the glass, while notes of allspice and leather glide their way into its bouquet. This is a perfect blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Cabernet Franc, and it definitely should be paired with an aged ribeye steak, or perhaps just paired with another glass for your partner in front of the fireplace.
2015 Domaine Les Aphillanthes "Clementia blanc" Côtes du Rhône
Located northwest of Gigondas, Domaine Les Aphillanthes is a winery truly focused on making terroir-driven wines. Daniel Boulle is the 4th generation heir to this estate, and since 2003 he’s followed exact biodynamic principles in his vineyards, becoming fully certified in 2007. With minimal intervention in the winery coupled with reducing the overall yields from the vines, his wines express concentration and balance unlike many other Rhône producers. This blend of 45% Viognier, 45% Roussanne, and 10% Clairette has some unique Jasmine floral tones, with plenty of Meyer lemon and green apple aromas. The palate gives way to more citrus fruits with touches of almond and white pepper. White Rhône wines are very versatile with food, and this one would do well with any cream sauce pasta dish or a fresh spinach salad with citrus vinaigrette.
2011 Château D'Arlay Côtes du Jura
Château d’Arlay is here! For many years these wines from the Jura region were only exported to the east coast, having a cult-like following in some of the best New York restaurants and wine bars. Its lengthy history boasts many accolades including being selected as the ‘First Royal Vineyard of France’ in the year 630. Still family-owned and biodynamically farmed, this 2011 offering is one of the only Jura wineries producing a ‘Corail’ style wine from 3 red grapes and 2 whites: Pinot Noir, Poulsard, Trouseau, Savagnin, and Chardonnay. Its dusty, pepper-spiced nose slowly opens to cranberry and watermelon scents, with a medium-bodied texture that broadens its savory spiced flavors. Sip this in the early evening while watching the leaves change colors, or serve it with your oven-roasted turkey (isn’t Thanksgiving here yet?).
2016 Bodegas y Vinedos Inteus Aviadores del Terruno Blanco
Being the first certified organic vineyard in all of Rioja – back in 1980 – Bodegas Inteus were way ahead of their time. Luis Palacio’s vineyards are picture-perfect with some vines dating over 150 years old. His reds are exceptional, but this white made from 90% Tempranillo Blanco and 10% a mix of Viura, Malvasia, and Garnacha Blanca is a stunner! Aromas of stone fruits and melon on the nose segue into marzipan and vanilla notes, and the texture blends bright tones with a rich mid-palate that would go perfectly with mixed greens salad with chèvre or a fresh seafood platter.
2014 Château Côtes de Bonde Montagne Saint-Emilion
Bordeaux is back, and the wine world is taking note of first-class wines from some of the lesser known regions and producers. The father and son team of Philipe and Stéphane Dignac have been quietly gaining respect with their wines from Pomerol and Montagne Saint-Emilion. The Château Côtes de Bonde is a seamless blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, and this wine showcases classic aromas of cherry and chocolate with integrated tannin structure that will develop over the next 6 years. This is a red to open with a meal paired to highlight its well-crafted qualities: 'Tomates à la Provençale' or rack of lamb would do quite nicely.
2015 Domaine Costal Chablis “Les Truffiéres”, Burgundy, France
Hailstorms in Burgundy last year brought fear the vintage would be non-existent, raising the importance of the 2015 offerings. Thankfully much of the vineyards were spared, albeit some almost halved in production, so current releases are indeed more precious. The Collet’s have been a wine family since the late 1700’s, being Chablis-specific since 1952 when they created their Domaine. A wonderful partnership with the Collet’s and Berkeley-based Kermit Lynch has been producing a small amount exquisite Chablis under “Domaine Costal”, and their single vineyard “Les Truffieres” – land of the truffles – exemplifies the purity and terroir for that Chablis is renowned. Fresh white flowers and citrus zest wrap around the stony, mineral-rich palate that is a signature of Chardonnay from this part of the world. A French bean salad with mustard vinaigrette would pair nicely with this, as would a perfectly poached sea bass.
2014 Manincor Réserve del Conte, Alto Adige, Italy
This estate has had Tyrolean noble ties since the 1600’s, and the current owner, Count Michael Goëss-Enzenberg, is a direct descendant of the ancestors that were endowed the land by the Emperor. The Counts approach to his estate is more sustainable stewardship, practicing biodynamics in their vineyard as well as the outlaying orchards and woodlands. Proof is in the wine, and their reserve blend of Lagrein, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon captures dark berry fruit qualities with licorice and black pepper notes. The rich, velvety texture lingers in your mouth for some time, perfect for enjoying with Ratatouille or grilled lamb kabobs.