By: Joel ~
WoW February Highlights
Vinous Valentines & Chocolate!
The Greeks did not have a god[dess] of chocolate--just Dionysus, the god of wine and theater. Too bad! I think he and Ixcacao, the Mayan Goddess of Cacao/Chocolate, would have enjoyed each other, and much to celebrate together. Both beverages are made from fermented fruit that give people cause to celebrate and be closer to others. This should not be lost on us mortals, especially in February celebrating Valentine’s day.
Which brings us to the question: Does wine, especially red, REALLY taste good with chocolate? The Answer: Yeah…sort of. Depending on how dark the chocolate is and how sweet/strong the wine, palatal pleasure is possible. If you are in the neighborhood on Wednesday the 13th, we will taste a range of wines fit for the gods [and good chocolate!] Our ‘research’ suggests that the best wines with dark bitter[sweet] chocolate are rich red wines with medium high alcohol and some residual sugar. Big cabernets, not so much, but full-flavored softer reds like Malbec, Zinfandel and red blends can be tasty. Even sparkling red wines! Our favorites are sweet red wines like recioto di Valpolicella, late harvest Zinfandel, honied, fortified muscats and of course, Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry. We like Port as well, especially late Bottled Vintage styles which are mature enough to have lost much of their ‘spirity-ness’.
Need Your Chocolate and Wine Fix? Try a couple of these:
2015 Monte Zovo Recioto di Valpolicella 500ml $36.75 Perhaps our PERFECT complement to dark chocolate. Monte Zovo makes quite forward, delicious and balanced Valpolicella wines from grapes dried four months. Their Recioto shows rich chocolate/raspberry dried cherry flavors, moderate sweetness and takes quite well to a moderate chill!
BODEGAS SAUCI S NARANJA HUELVA 500ML $24.85 One of our favorite and decadently delicious wines discovered in the last year. A blend of rich dark sweet PX and pale palomino grapes harvested late and fermented/macerated with bitter orange peels. The resulting rich and sweet (but not too sweet, given refreshing acidity) is then aged like sherry for 10 years in barrel, which yields a lusciously fresh, distinctive wine. As one of our customers said it, “kicks ass with chocolate-covered strawberries”. Wonderful served chilled, too!
2016 Sparkman Wilderness Red Rhone Blend $21.75
Chris Sparkman’s latest (and very affordable) Rhone blend, composed of 61% Syrah, 19% Petite Sirah, 15% Grenache and 5% Sangiovese may be one of the best dry reds featured here to complement chocolate, or a fine cut of roasted meat or game! Indeed, given that it was aged in toasty, cocoa-accented French oak barrels (27% new), as well as the Petite Sirah lends a dark chocolate coated coffee bean flavor, we can imagine this full-flavored wine becoming a regular feature on your dinner table.
2017 Fiorini Lambrusco Grasparossa Becco Rosso $15.50 Lambrusco, the real thing from near Bologna, slightly frothy with red fruit flavors, freshness and bitter-sweet flavors is slowly gaining appreciation again. The Fiorini family’s Becco Rosso is an absolute delight: Medium deep ruby, floral, rose, violet/cherry nose. Dry but not austere with lovely freshness, vibrant berry flavors and with the kind of acidity and fruit intensity that cuts through all sorts of rich dishes with aplomb. I can see this with Korean-style cocoa-barbecued short ribs.
2011 Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port $30.75 Graham’s is one of Port’s greatest producers, owned by the renown Symington family whose family interests in the area date back to 1670. They acquired Graham’s in 1970. Late-Bottled Vintage Port, especially from a great vintage like 201, is not much less concentrated than Vintage Port; the difference is its softer texture due to being aged 4-6 years in cask before bottling, instead of just two years. Rich, ripe boysenberry and yes, even chocolate-coated cherry flavors abound here, framed by is the perfect wine for those decadent dark chocolate truffles (and other trifles!), or if you prefer in front of a fire with good blue cheese and nuts.
Remoissenet’s affordable, delicious Burgundies
The other day an old friend, Pierre Rovani (ex-Wine Advocate Burgundy Reviewer) and for many years now Estate Manager at Remoissenet, dropped by the store to taste afew of his new and excellent 2015 wines. Remoissenet has been around since 1877. New management and a return to organic practices, estate run vineyards (they buy no juice, just grapes) combined with the talents of Claude Jobard and Bernard Repolt in the cellar, along with Rovani’s expert palate, means a renaissance of quality here. Finding expressive red burgundy at a fair price these days resembles a treasure hunt; one must explore a lot of terrain before finding jewels. Rovani’s visit offered up that treasure trove!
2015 Remoissenet Bourgogne Rouge $28.50 Sourced primarily from vineyards in Pommard and Volnay, aged in 350L barrels for almost a year, this is pitch-perfect Burgundy Pinot Noir. Beautifully textured, medium rich and with lovely wild berry aromas, it is a lovely intro version to Pinot Noir from the ‘Home Country”.
2015 Givry le Preferé du Roi Henri IV $33.50 A richer step up, Givry is one of the Chalonnaise region’s finest villages for Pinot Noir, producing wines such as this with more wild fruit aromas, fuller body, more minerality and great quality for the price. In the 16th century, the wines of Givry were noted as some of the French King Henri IV’s favorite wines. Aged for 14 months in French oak barrels, about 22% new, it shows solid, deeper, darker cherry and autumnal aromas. There is lovely fruit, solid density and weight with fine texture and velvety tannins for enjoyment now or in 5 years.
2015 Beaune Marconnets 1er Cru $69.50 Marconnets is the northernmost of the fine Beaune 1er Crus that Remoissenet has vines in, thus producing among the most powerful wines of the appellation. It is farmed biodynamically and from older vines, which accounts for the luxurious fruit framed by strong yet velvety tannins. This really sets a great standard for what Beaune wines are all about. Worth every penny!
2015 Savigny Les Beaune Blanc $39 From the Vermote vineyard at the top of the hill overlooking Savigny, this is classic white burgundy, with the extra sheen derived from a warm year. Rich, fleshy, yet fine acidity. Old vines too, Top of hill freshness. quite rich and more nutty complexity than most wines of the village, aged all in oak 350 liter. Well balanced with a fine honey-hazelnut and light peach finish. A lovely, expressive wine at a moderate price.
West Coast Wines
NV Marietta Old Vine Red #68 CA $15.85
Textbook delicious Zinfandel blend from the late Chris Bilbro and family, first made in 1982. Bilbro started making old vine Sonoma blends and zinfandel over 40 years ago, when we first met him. He saw all of these old vineyards languishing, and decided to do something about it! His Old Vines blend is a steal for everyday drinking. Bold, ripe yet very fresh, with a long peppery finish and the sweet Zin-ny raspberry, black cherry fruit of classic Zinfandel. Great everyday wine, especially with tomato-ey dishes!
2016 Saviah Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla $31.50
Rick Funk makes delicious wines, period. His cabernet captures the voluptuous dark cherry-cocoa/wheaty richness of Walla Walla-grown wines from four distinct vineyards. Blended with a little Merlot for extra definition and aged in 30% new French oak barrels, there is no denying this wine’s ripe yet fresh intensity. Good to drink now, we are sure it will be even better in 5-6 years. But why resist its pleasure now?
2016 JK Carriere Pinot Noir ‘Provocateur’, Willamette Valley $28.75 Jim Prosser’s 20 years experience working with Pinot Noir in Oregon truly shows in this well-priced medium full-bodied Pinot that combines old vine fruit from the great Temperance Hill vineyard and younger vine fruit from two other vineyards Jim farms. Very pretty floral raspberry-kirsch & cedary bouquet. Solid ripeness, good length, lovely fruit ripeness with florality, soft tannins and subtle toast adding nuance. A best buy in ‘serious’ Pinot Noir from Oregon!