She’s guided us before, and never astray. We’re so excited to have yet another wine guide installment from our dear friend, wine connoisseur and very recent birthday-girl, Catherine from Grapes of Cath. [Previous editions include a Guide to Bubbles and Rosés] In this edition, Catherine’s provided a marvelous selection of 12 Wines to Keep You Cozy This Winter, so get real comfy and enjoy!
Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and
they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.
There is something so beautiful about the quiet of winter. Nature acts all on its own, with no
direction from any one of us. In the northeast it grows cold and dark a little too early in the day.
Our natural environment sends a message to follow suit – slow down, quiet your soul, nourish
yourself, take care.
There are lots and lots (and lots) of red wines on the U.S. market. Hopefully you’ve found
yourself a good shop with savvy clerks. If not, ask your local store to bring in some of your true
blue favorites or untried curiosities. We can change our overall selection with a little effort.
Here are 12 suggestions that will help keep your palate and soul nice and toasty this season.
Some are lesser known, others certainly not. All are responsibly produced. Approach them
equally and see what sings to you.
1) Cahors 2010 Clos La Coutale
Cahors is one of the first wines that comes to mind when I think of wintertime. Almost every
bottle of Cahors I have tasted possesses a depth that fills the chilly crevices of the day. It is a black
wine, deep and inky in color and tannin. 100% mesmerizing Malbec. The Stevie Nicks of
2) Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2010 Tommasi
Typical styles of wine from this specific area in northern Italy’s region of Veneto are practically made for meditative winter evenings. Tommasi is a 4th generation family producer that makes traditional regional wines using Valpolicella varieties like Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Corvinone. The long-used ripasso process calls for made wine to be passed over the warmed skins of Amarone. Tradition reigns! Textbook yumminess – silk and cocoa and other luscious romantic sorts of things.
3) Crianza Vina Cubillo 2005 R. Lopez de Heredia
Really real Rioja. Featuring Tempranillo and blended with a bit of Garnacha and other local
varieties, it is pure and deep and lovely in a red cherry, clean earth sort of way. Produced
sustainably and bottled unfiltered. The stuff that Rumi wrote of.
4) Mayacamas Range Zinfandel 2009 Storybook Mountain
I could recommend the wines of Storybook Mountain over and over again. In my opinion,
their Zinfandel sets the bar. Zinfandel grapes are grown at an eastern aspect in Napa Valley’s
Mayacama Mountains. Excitedly stocked with all of the hedonistic Zinfandel attributes that Zin
lovers fiend, yet not sluggishly full-bodied. Compact yet agile. Certified Organic.
$36 direct from winery
5) Dolcetto d’Alba DOC Campot 2010 Castello di Verduno
Castello di Verduno, the castle at the top of the highest hill in the village of Verduno, Piedmont,
produces many beautiful wines. Of all their admirable and mention-worthy and wines, I am
going to point out their Dolcetto because, despite the grandness of their Barolo, it is the coziest.
Harvested from the campot, or highest vineyard on an eastward facing hill in the commune of
Barbaresco, this affable grape makes a wine full of heartbreakingly ripe purple fruit, balanced by
a grounding minerality. All in all, the wine comes together in a want-to-drink-it-every-day sort
6) Petite Sirah 2010 Proulx
Harvested from old vines in the western part of Paso Robles, Proulx is made by Kevin Riley at his
family wine cellar. Voluptuous yet supple, concentrated like sun-soaked French plums.
7) Chinon Vieilles Vignes 2010 Domaine de Colombier
This selection is 100% Cabernet Franc grown in the Loire Valley’s limestones soil. Its sophisticatedly subtle blackberry, rosemary and thyme flavors are a perfect pairing for a hot cup of chile (and a football
game?!). Earthy and chalky and somehow always just right.
8) Dao 2011 Quinta Cabriz
There are amazing values to be found in Portugese wines. Lots of lush and savory blackberry
in this old world quaffer made on an old property in the heart of Dao using local varieties like
Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro.
9) Langhe Rosso DOC 2010 Produttori del Barbaresco
Produttori del Barbaresco is an inspiring example of what happens when people come together (in this case land owners and winemakers) to make something great. Produttori is a cooperative that was started in 1958 and produced its first 3 vintages in a church basement. The joint effort has consistently turned out quality wines that pay all of the respect that is due to their terroir. Produttori’s wines are made from 100% Nebbiolo in all of its brilliant strawberry layered glory. Price-wise, the value of their Langhe Rosso, Barbaresco, and cru vineyard wines is unmatchable. Worth trying many, many times (and vintages) over. Their Langhe Rosso is a fitting introduction.
10) Pinotage 2010 Graham Beck
The marriage (or, technically, crossing) between Cinsault and Pinot Noir back in the mid 1920s
resulted in this idiosyncratic grape that wine drinkers usually love or hate. Personally, I love
it. Ripe, round red dirt and fresh tar are lured into a proper wine with a skilled winemaking and
little bit of oak aging.
11) Zweigelt Novemberlese 2011 Weingut Steininger
Zweigelt, another crossing (between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent), is oh-so-Austrian. Austere
with a crisply white and sunny winter day appeal. This wine, from the Kamptal region, is
the perfect thing when you seek something a little bit lighter in body, when you want some
cranberry and smoke, when you don’t want to think too hard. When you feel like that, you drink
something like this.
12) Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2008 Antonelli San Marco
Sagrantino is one of the most tannic grapes in the world. The wine it yields is big and wild and
hairy. In a nice way. Antonelli tames the feral beast into elegant (and age-worthy) wines to
open up and drink over the course of say, a long chilly work week. Perfect with chewy gamey
*Vintages noted are the most current.