November 2018 Recommendations
Basics: Pinot Grigio from Friuli, NE Italy
Style: Clean and bright with a touch of texture
Notes: Dry and crisp with floral notes, stone fruit, minerality, and layers of spice
Why this wine matches you: I thought we would start your customized wine journey this month with an aperitivo!! Scarpetta’s Pinot Grigio has a lovely brightness and defined fruit notes, but there is also a textural aspect from lees aging (meaning the wine was kept in contact with dead yeast cells as it matured; this leads to added richness, flavors, and aromas) that you will appreciate. Your profile specifically noted enjoying ‘a touch of caramel’ in some Chardonnays, which tells me you have an awareness of the back palate (caramel notes are usually barrel indicators, and we feel and taste these most specifically in the mid and back palates), so I immediately thought of incorporating lees. Pinot Grigio is often overlooked since it can be regarded as bland. But this simple, well-done wine might be the first step toward re-appreciating the grape after seeing what it can do when presented carefully, with light layers and textural elements.
Pairs well with: light, flaky fish, herby lemon chicken, proscuitto, or just drink it on it’s own!
Basics: Chardonnay from Edna Valley, CA
Style: Fresh and smooth with weight in the middle and on the back
Notes: Citrus and tropical notes with a touch of vanilla
Why this wine matches you: I really wanted to make Meursault recommendation for you this month because of Meursault’s smooth, fine texture and weight. Meursault is the region in Burgundy that lies between Volnay and Puligny-Montrachet. The Chardonnay it produces is known to have lime and hazelnut undertones, butter, honey, and French-oak spice notes. It is wine that is always beautifully balanced and will truly make you pledge allegiance to France (at least that’s what I do!) However, Meursault is expensive, so I brought it down a few notches and found this cool-climate California beauty that exhibits the fresh stone fruit notes you expect in higher-end Chardonnay, along with a touch of vanilla cream. It spent time in neutral French barrels for texture and new French barrels for spice, so expect to find subtle brown sugar and cinnamon to complete the experience. It is a nice blend of New World meets Old.
Pairs well with: ricotta ravioli, chicken pot pie, and Thanksgiving dinner!
Basics: GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre) blend from the Rhone Valley, France
Style: Velvety texture complimented by smooth, silky tannins
Notes: Ripe red fruit with licorice, herbs, and spices
Why this wine matches you: This wine embodies the Old World, European style through and through; a style with which I know you personally connect. These classic leanings come through in the answers on your profile: a preference for classic rock (music that has stood the test of time and which remains a standard in its industry), impressionist art (gives an overall effect rather than an image that is static or exact — notice the label, by the way!!), and a flexibility and openness to all food. I chose this wine for you because I thought it represented an intersection of these philosophies. It’s undeniably Rhone, and it goes splendidly with food given the berry notes that gently glide into spice tones (particularly coriander and bay leaf!) and then cleanly wash everything away with elegant, long finish. Blend: 60% Grenache / 30% Syrah / 10% Mourvedre.
Pairs well with: stews and casseroles appropriate for the fall!
Basics: Syrah-based Rhone Valley blend, France
Style: Fresh, dark, and complex with herbal undertones
Notes: Dark berry fruit with an interesting blood orange note that sits on top of garrigue and cocoa
Why this wine matches you: We are still in the Rhone Valley with Le Fervent’s wine from Costieres de Nimes, but we have changed from Northern to Southern Rhone (in relation to Jean-Luc Colombo’s wine, above) and indeed to Southern France outside Provence. This blend is now Syrah heavy, at 91%, meaning that the Grenache and Mourvedre just serve as enhancers. The history of the region is what made me think this would be an interesting wine for you. Costieres de Nimes used to be part of Languedoc rather than Rhone Valley, but the border was administratively reclassified in 2004 because producers lobbied French officials to acknowledge that wine from Costiere de Nimes had more in common with wine from Rhone than with wine from Languedoc. At this time, Languedoc was experiencing a major reputation problem, because it was still regarded as a wine lake. Le Fervent is a step up from the last in terms of complexity and intensity, and shows black fruits, minerals, garrigue (general herbal aromas) and toast notes.
Pairs well with: eggplant-based dishes, truffles, heavier, charred fish, and red meat (and I think this would go well with your brisket!!)
$20.99 on sale from $22.00 at wine.com or Winelala can order it for you!
Basics: Mencia (red wine) from Bierzo, NW Spain
Style: Elegant and concentrated with a wide range of flavor characteristics
Notes: Red fruits, wildflowers, spice and interesting minerality
Why this wine matches you: I’m so excited about this one! Mencia is starting to become noticed in restaurants since it’s so easy to pair, given concentrated notes of fruit that range into darker, nonorganic flavors. For example, while we find dark berries and plums up front in this wine, we’ll notice the finish veers toward cola, chocolate, and smoke. I selected this for you since the style is similar to Burgundy, Rhone, and Northern Italy, but it's distinctive enough to remind us that nope, we’re in Spain. I like to recommend this grape as an alternative to Pinot Noir and Syrah since it is actually so similar, but it’s offbeat enough to make you appreciate it, and the former grapes, even more.
Pairs well with: tapas!! Iberico pork, duck with black cherries, and paella, to name a few ideas