Heading into the holidays with winter wines
Suddenly November is half over and winter wines are transitioning to dominate dinner tables and wine bars. Winter wines, those medium to full-bodied, rich reds (and whites, if you find the right ones) that stand up to the hearty stews and meat-centric dishes of the dark season.
Here is a mixed list of a few of my latest, all of which would find balance on any Thanksgiving table:
Plum Creek Cellars Palisade Red – a well-done blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and sangiovese. As are all Plum Creek wines, this is 100 percent Colorado grown fruit.A medium-bodied red wine, soft tannins and lots of fruit. A friend and I enjoyed it at Inari’s Bistro (970.464.4911) in Palisade along with items off the new fall menu: a lamb burger and a Colorado Red Bird chicken breast with Palisade pears in gorgonzola sauce. It paired very well with the medium-rare lamb. $24 off the wine list.
Hermosa Vineyards late Harvest Rkatsiteli – Hermosa Vineyards owner Ken Dunn enjoys aging some of his white wines in oak (“I love what a little tannin does to white wine,” he affirmed) but missed the opportunity and happily so with this 2006 Rkatsiteli, a cold-hardy white grape from Georgia (think Soviet Union, not Atlanta). This wine is fermented to off-dry (he says sweet) with enough acidity to balance the high residual sugar. $15 at the winery.
Bennett Lane 2006 Maximus Napa Valley – This latest version of winemaker Grant Hermann’s full-throated red (it’s subtitled “Red Feasting Wine”) initially was dense, closed and awfully tight, refusing to show its flavors and depth, when first opened. I kept it open on the counter overnight and the next evening it began to open; by the third day it finally was approachable and I wish I had decanted the whole thing earlier. Full of deep dark fruits, a hint of chocolate and coffee encased in soft tannins. Knock out your holiday guests with this blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Syrah, and 5% Malbec. A bargain at $35.
Montinore Estate 2009 Willamete Valley Pinot Noir – Affordable pinot noirs generally have been a real disappointment recently but this delicious medium-bodied selection from Montinore Estate is rich with ripe cherries, red raspberries and plums with a hint of spice and mocha. $20.
Montinore Estate 2009 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir – Oregon’s Willamette Valley steadily produces outstanding pinot noirs and this offering from Montinore Estate is an outstanding example. Flavors of bright red and black raspberries, Bing cherries, red plums and spicy-mocha comfortably supported by smooth round tannins. $28.
El Coto Rioja – This DOC crianza (two years aging, at least six months in oak) is reminiscent of the fine and very affordable reds I sampled on a whirlwind tour of Rioja this summer. Aged in American oak for added spice, the wine’s chewy tannins and red fruit flavors paired well with a pot of chicken-tortilla soup. $14.