Sometimes you just have to throw a blanket down in the middle of winter and have an indoor picnic. Or blast the AC in the scorching heat of August just so you can imbibe in a juicy, full-bodied red. Who am I to judge? Roo garnered some seasonal wine recommendations from one of my favorite sommeliers and drinking partners, Kristen Siebecker of Wine with Kristen.
Kristen’s laid back style showcases the drinkability, affordability and occasional luxury of the diverse wine market. Here are her latest tips to get you through the coming year, no matter the season:
Winter — 2001 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial, Spain $28-30
Want something warm and toasty to snuggle up with on a cold night? With its spicy, intense red fruit and tobacco notes this 2001 vintage is the first Reserva Especial of the century (the region’s highest accolade for a Rioja vintage) and only the third time this designation has been received. Aged in American Oak, a blend of mostly Tempranillo with a bit of Grenache gives this wine a vanilla, toasty quality that goes terrific with paella with chorizo and other hearty winter foods.
Valentine’s Day — NV Taylor Fladgate 1st Estate Reserve, Portugal $18-22
This Non-Vintage Port is from one of the oldest family owned houses and features luxurious texture, layered with plum and black fruits. On this lover’s holiday, you can’t go wrong with Port (P.S.: it’s a fortified wine…meaning it is blended with a neutral spirit, giving it LOT higher alcohol content). So just pour a glass and serve it with some dark chocolate and you and your Sweetie will be enjoying one of the best pairings in the universe.
Spring — 2012 Houchart Rosé, France $13-15
We all love Springtime in Paris, but some of the season’s best wine can be found south of Paris in Provence. If the only rosé you know is White Zinfandel or Red Moscato, this rosé is dry, dry, dry. It’s made as a blend with all red wine grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah) and vinified using the saignee method in which the juice is left in contact with the grape skins for a short few hours then bled off, giving it a light salmon color. Light and easy with hints of strawberry, this goes great with a salad, perfect with Salade Niçoise. HINT: With a few exceptions, always get the most current vintage of rosé, they are meant to be drunk young and fresh, so look out for 2012 vintage beginning in late March.
Summer — 2011/12 Grooner, Austria $12-14
One of my favorite varietals, Grüner Veltliner is a white wine that is perfect for your summer picnic. Similar in style to Sauvignon Blanc, refreshing with crisp acidity and a bit of a white pepper quality. This Groovy GV is a spectacular value and is made by collaboration with importer Monika Caha and one of Austria’s finest winemakers, Meinhard Forstreiter. This mouthwatering sipper is aged in steel, so it’s all about the acidity with green apple and citrus notes… goes great with veggies and sitting on the porch.
Fourth of July — 2011/12 Dr. Franks Dry Riesling, New York $15-17
One of the other best white wines for hot weather is Riesling, but when some people think of Riesling some just think “Sweet.” Not so! There is a wide range of Riesling flavor profiles and the IRF (International Riesling Foundation) has a scale that they put right on the label to help guide you. While celebrating the birth of America, how about an American wine that’s served at The White House? This one is: Dr. Konstantin Frank, a German immigrant and the winery that bears his name is one of the most touted in the Finger Lakes of New York. My pick is their dry Riesling (they also have a semi-dry and late harvest), with its minerality, low residual sugar and great acidity, it’s your perfect pair with hot dogs and apple pie!
Fall — 2010/11 Salento Le Scaire Primitivo,
Primitivo is the Italian variation of the red Zinfandel grape (not to be confused with White Zinfandel…just don’t, trust me), which apparently landed in southern Italy on its way to California. This one is from the Puglia region (in the heel of the boot), an old world wine done in a new world style with a smoky, spicy and black cherry nose and palate. It’s a terrific value in the $10 and under range, great for every day drinking. Pair it with lamb, roasted pork or stew. Perfect fare for the fall foliage.
Thanksgiving — 2009/10 Montinore Pinot Noir, Oregon $17-19
For Thanksgiving, you want a crowd pleaser that goes with the classic fare of the holiday and I think it’s important to honor this with American wines. This certified Biodynamic Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon will fit that bill. Its bursting with raspberry and red cherry with a bit of Burgundian mushroom and clove that will take you from beet salad to sweet potatoes to turkey. A great value at under $20, this wine will make you want to give thanks.
New Year’s Eve – NV Joël Falmet Champagne Brut Tradition $36-38
Falmet is one of the great Grower Champagne values out there (“Grower” means the person who grows the grapes also makes the wine). This true Champagne has a rich texture and is full-bodied with a classic bready, yeasty notes that a good Champers shows off. This selection has a small production and the main varietal is Pinot Noir, with 20% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay. A delicious Champagne to serve with anything salty (even potato chips) and for your New Year’s toast!