Herb's Half Case Wine Club
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Hopefully we'll get the flowers this month as compensation for the rain we've been enduring. I've included some refreshing whites as a tonic for the warmer weather and a solid lineup of reds that will pair nicely with whatever you decide to throw on the grill. Enjoy!
P.S. - Don't forget Mother's Day on the 12th. Flowers die, perfume gets hidden in a drawer, but Herb's Wine Club provides six perfect opportunities for you and Mom to reminisce and reconnect. Or for her to decompress after you've picked up the grandchildren!
My non-Wine Club selection for the month is my annual recommendation for the perfect summer cocktail, Cocchi Americano or Dolin Blanc (now conveniently available in a 375ml size!) and Club Soda or Seltzer Water in a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio garnished with a slice of lemon. Whether you're sitting in a sidewalk cafe in a foreign city or on your back deck, the restorative effects of an aperitif are universal. The aperitif forces one to sit, relax, and possibly converse. And these are qualities we want more of in our lives, not less.
2012 Casa Bella Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca Valley, Chile)
: This Chilean Sauvignon Blanc shows the influence of its New Zealand winemaker. Aromas of passion fruit, wet stone, and minerals lead to pleasantly bright flavors on the palate. I found lime, passion fruit, and tropical fruit flavors, which are typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc descriptors. I was pleasantly surprised to find some mineral in there as well. The mid-palate has a bit of roundness, which nicely softens the acidity and bright fruit. The finish is lively and juicy with citrus fruits and good length.
This white can be enjoyed by itself due to the abundance of fruit and flavor. Otherwise, I would pair with light appetizers or fish dishes.
2011 Casa de Vilacetinho Loureiro (Portugal)
This is something you don’t find every day, a single varietal wine from the Vinho Verde appellation in Portugal. Typically, most whites from this region are blends, usually a combination of Arinto, Avesso, and Loureiro. Single varietals are the exception, not the rule. This example has a lovely aroma of ripe apples. It has a hint of spritz on the palate and a bit more weight than normal blended Vinho Verdes. The Loureiro also showed ripe stone fruits as well. The finish has nice length and crisp citrus flavors. This is a good example of how spending a few more dollars on a bottle can yield a significantly better and more complex wine.
This Loureiro is the perfect cure for a hot day. It has lots of flavor, good acidity, and lower alcohol (11.5%). The acidity also helps it pair with a variety of foods. Try this white with spicy Asian foods, lighter pork and poultry cuts from the grill, and seafood/shellfish.
2010 Domaine de la Motte Chardonnay Pays D’Oc (France)
This French Chardonnay is a Jekyll and Hyde wine, but in a good way. It has all the hedonistic, Hyde-like, components of a California wine - creamy texture, tropical fruits, and a hint of banana – and all the restrained, Jekyll-like, French traits - balancing acidity and crisp, fruit. To me, that's the best of both worlds with ripe, but not overripe, fruit and just enough acidity for structure and balance. Add a creamy, tropical fruit finish and you have the perfect Chardonnay.
I like unoaked Chardonnay for its ability to pair with foods of varying weights. It has enough flavor and body to stand up to pork and light beef dishes, yet won’t overwhelm a chicken dish. There’s a lot of leeway with this white
2012 Yellow+Blue Organic Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina)
This is a double-karma cleansing wine – it’s organic and it's packaged in a lighter, “use less gas to transport”, tetra pack. Feel-good, karma boost aside, it’s ultimately about being a great wine, which it is. It shows aromas of “blue” fruits, such as blueberry and black raspberry. This is an interesting wine on the palate because it's thick and rich up-front, and then dry on the back end. It’s filled with gobs of fresh boysenberry fruit and has a nice mouthfeel, too. The finish has more boysenberries with the pleasant addition of violet and well-integrated tannins.
Typically Malbec is paired with beef (and lots of it, as the Argentines would say), but this example is made in a fresher, softer style. I would choose somewhat lighter cuts of meat, such as pork or burgers. I think it could even pair with chicken in a pinch.
2011 Torremoron Tempranillo (Ribera del Duero, Spain)
I was overjoyed to find a Ribera del Duero that was priced right for the Wine Club. This example is 100% unoaked Tempranillo and is surprisingly fairly full-bodied. It starts with aromas of dark berry, cherry, and a hint of cocoa and spice. This Tempranillo is lush up-front with black raspberry and blueberry fruit, with a note of coffee. The finish shows BIG tannins, dark cherry fruit and good length. This one definitely needs 30-45 minutes of aeration to settle the tannins for pleasurable consumption.
Pair this with any heavier weekday meal, such as burgers, pizza, pork chops, etc. It's medium to full-bodied, so it won't be overwhelmed by fuller-flavored foods.
2010 Yali Cabernet Carmenere (Colchagua Valley, Chile)
Yali is the entry level wine from Ventisquero, a solid producer in Chile. I really like that this is a blend because it’s a tangible example of synergy. The whole is better than its individual parts and you taste the best characteristics of each varietal. This is especially true with the Carmenere component because it’s a binary varietal, which you either love or hate. This example is a 60/40 Cabernet/Carmenere blend with aromas of dark berry fruit and light earth/tar notes. It has a rich mouthfeel with pleasantly ripe berry/cherry fruit, vanilla, and a hint of earth. The finish has soft tannins, nice length, and solid berry fruit.
This is more of an Old World, rustic wine, so I would pair with grilled meats and especially anything with an herbed rub.