While Napa Valley commands attention for its often extravagantly priced icon wines, value-conscious cabernet lovers know by now that Washington State offers a better value proposition—if you know where to look. Sure, a few Washington State reds from Bordeaux varieties have become semi-cult items, but you can count those items on the fingers of one hand. And a few other producers, most of whom have established reputations for superlative wines in the local Northwest market, have gotten a bit ambitious with their pricing. But most of Washington’s reds from Bordeaux varieties are still very reasonably priced. READ MORE »
Aperitifs and digestifs (amaros, vermouths, mistelles, etc.) seem to be making a strong comeback, and creative sommeliers are leading the charge. Please name a couple of your classic favorites, or new discoveries, and tell us how you like to use them at your restaurant(s).
Arthur Hon, Beverage Director, Sepia (Chicago). Niepoort Dry White Port. I like to use this in places where amontillado sherry is called for. I find it much more approachable for guests who are not so familiar with sherry or oxidized wines. I also like to use it when uni is an important element in a dish. I find that the roundness and umami factor of this dry white port work wonders with the intense yet very delicate flavors of uni.
Barolo Chinato. I like to pair this with dark chocolate desserts that have been infused with savory flavors. The tannin and slight residual sugar exhibit very similar characteristics as Banyuls Rouge, Maury, or any other red grape-based vin doux naturel. But the botanical/herbal infusion of Barolo Chinato can handle much more. I currently pair up Canas Feast Vino Digestivo Chinato d’Erbetti with our black pepper chocolate mousse. READ MORE »
Rosso di Montalcino is a 100% sangiovese wine that’s often viewed as Brunello’s little brother, made from younger vines and aged for a much shorter time in oak (between six months and a year in most cases). Some producers choose to make bigger Rossos, and give the wines extra oak or bottle age and release them a year or more later. At times, these wines are nothing more (or less) than declassified Brunellos, wines that the producer doesn’t think will hold up to the prolonged oak aging that Italian law requires for Brunello. Clearly, Rossos are never as complex or as deep as the best Brunellos, but when they’re well made, they are juicy, medium-bodied wines that are a joy to drink, food-friendly and affordable, with virtually all of them retailing in the $15 to $20 range. Well-made Rossos offer refreshing sangiovese aromas and flavors of redcurrant, sour red cherry, licorice and violet. READ MORE »
Why should you care? For a wine category that was basically non-existent in the American market less than a decade ago, Txakoli has become a massive success here, with the number of examples imported growing exponentially. These racy, mineral-driven, citrussy white wines from Spain’s northeast Basque country are low in alcohol, high in acidity, and perfect foils for the fresh seafood for which that region is renowned. There’s usually a bit of CO2 spritz to the wines, which amplifies their refreshment factor. Ameztoi was among the first producers to gain a foothold in the U.S. market and they consistently produce one of the finest examples of Txakoli. READ MORE »