The working man’s white Burgundy. What a pleasure, and a refreshing view of the world’s finest terroir through the lens of the OTHER Burgundy varietal (and close Chardonnay cousin) Aligoté. Top example from one of the great domaines in Puligny. Bosc pear, green apple, wet stone and clean linen come through on the nose. The wine asserts itself on the palate with a tight mineral core, very lean on the fruit. This medium-full wine is dry and quite drying with a salty finish, just dying for food. Seafood tapas, Thai fried chicken wings and New England clam chowder come to mind immediately for pairings. W.M.
Single vineyard Riesling Smaragd (in Wachau “Smaragd” fruit is picked last, yielding age-worthy, structured wines) from one of Austria’s iconic domaines. Beautiful, bright concentrated lemon color in the glass. The nose is exuberant, offering a potpourri of ripe, prediminantly golden fruit across the spectrum: meyer lemon, bartlett pear, cantaloupe, dried peach, mango and cherry compote are all present in the bouquet. Subtle aromas of dried yellow flowers, river stones, basil and petrol add complexity. The wine is dry, but not without a few grams of residual sugar to add some charm. Full bodied, but beyond the ripe attack the fruit is leaner than the nose would lead one to believe; rather taut and mineral-driven with fresh acidity for a wine bottled thirteen years ago. The finish is long and refleshingly salty. High-energy stuff. Not inexpensive but made for the dinner table and worth
every penny! W.M.
Deep golden color, slow-forming legs. On the nose bruised and baked orchard fruit mingles with butterscotch, toasted almond, honey and ginger. Quite botrytis-forward in appearance and aromatics. The wine is full-bodied and just melts on the palate; creamy, borderline decadent but balanced by a long, slightly bitter finish. Incredible texture, this wine should be enjoyed with rich, earthy dishes. It can even hold its own with gamey meats and stews. Definitely comes with a price tag, but a real beauty in its prime. Will hold up nicely for another 8-10 years but it’s hard to imagine this wine ever drinking better than it does right now. W.M.
Bordeaux “second wines” are great for inspired sipping at an “everyday” price point. Beautifully ripe cassis fruit mingles with dusty mineral earth and anise on the nose. Intensely aromatic. Bold and structured; core of black fruit and bitter herbs; long, drying finish. In its early prime, will be delicious with grilled meats for years to come. W.M.
Stumbling upon any of the late Barbaresco genius Signor Giacosa’s bottlings for under 30 at a wine shop should get a whole bunch of neurons firing in the brain of any wine lover. This beauty of a Dolcetto lives up to all the hype that comes with the name on the label. Deep ruby color with bright reflections. Blue and black frutti del bosco meet woodsy aromas of underbrush, mulch and drying violets. Medium-bodied, very dry but lush with fresh berry fruit, velvety tannins and a mouthwatering acidity. The finish is long and slightly bitter, making this an ideal food wine. Pair with churrasco-style hangar steak, sausage and peppers, firm cheeses and cassoulet. W.M.
Vintage 2014, four-generation winemaking family in Chablis. This is as classic as it gets; high-toned and racy with bracing acidity and long, lip-smacking mineral finish. Developing a medium-lemon color in its adolescence. You can definitely feel the cool ’14 vintage’s effects with lean fruit and green apple freshness, but there is plenty of weight and leesy texture to provide some tension on the palate. The nose offers orchard fruit, flint and shells, with the subtlest hint of baked bread. This one will age well for at least 7-8 years. A real winner for $21 at the shop. Enjoy with almost any food: raw bar items, broiled lobster, bouillabaisse, braised pork shoulder with apples, as well as anything rich, fried or cheesy. W.M.
Nice, balanced offering of South Africa’s patented Pinot Noir x Cinsault crossing from a fairly new domaine near Paardeberg Mountain (fun fact: at the turn of the last century, South African farmers had nicknamed Cinsault “Hermitage,” so “Pinotage” naturally followed). Pale ruby with bright reflections and pink-ish rim. The nose at once shows ripe and dried red fruits, but still has a real brooding character, offering intense notes of smoke, crushed stone, leather, wilting violet, bitter herbs and petrol. Musky. Medium-full; fairly concentrated and plump on the attack, velvety tannic feel on midpalate, with lots of sage/herbal notes on the back end and a mouth-drying finish. Enjoy this one with duck breast with stonefruit compote, wild salmon with cream sauce or pasta/risotto with mushrooms and butter. W.M
This is some of the best New Zealand has to offer for serious, food-friendly Chardonnay at an “everyday drinking” price point. The flinty, Chablis-esque nose entices with subtle aromas of crisp green apple and wet stones; as well as not-so-subtle aromas of aged sheepsmilk cheese. Concentrated but mineral-driven and bone-dry. Slightly spritzy feel on attack indicating lees contact and unoaked ageing environment, but balanced otherwise. Drink right away with oysters and cream sauces. W.M.
Decant this one for an hour or two before drinking; at this point in its development it needs time. Complex bouquet of blueberry/blackberry jam, cured meat, violets and dark chocolate. New oak is evident. Medium-full-bodied, velvety and spice-laden. Dark, brooding and tightly knit on the palate. Drinks great in its youth but will cellar very nicely. W.M.
Bright, pale cherry red in the glass. Pretty yet intense aromatics of brambly red berry fruit, mushroom, rose and underbrush. Full bodied and structured with classic Nebbiolo acidity and length. Perfect use of oak; softens the texture and frames the fruit nicely without masking its purity with vanilla and clove aromas. Long finish. Gorgeous. Pair with white truffle pasta. 🙂 W.M