february pick 24

It’s February, it’s cold outside and we’re feeling the lure of a cozy evening spent fireside with a distinct wine to warm the soul.  What are we turning to? What else but full, rich Cabernets, Old World wines and even some decedent after dinner wines.

This month’s Pick 24 includes three different California Cabs, an Italian Cabernet and one from Washington State. Other than the fact that these wines are perfect for our mood, we’ve selected these to highlight the similarities and differences of the varietal to the geographical areas. You might be surprised to learn that the Washington Cabernet, Gordon Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, is very similar in character to the Italian Cabernet, If You See Kay Red Blend 2010. These two Cabernets have more blackberry notes than your California counterparts and will be juicier, almost like “biting into the plum”. The three California Cabernets, Angeline 2010, Newton Red Label 2009 and Forefront 2010 are a cleaner style wine with more noticeable tannins and a less jammy nature. In general, California Cabs tend a have higher alcohol content and more cherry texture and flavor as opposed to the plum notes. Additionally, these California Cabs will have just a touch of Cedar. All three are drinking deliciously right now and an ideal accompaniment to anything Old Man Winter serves up.

We’ve chosen several Old World Wines in this month’s selection including several Spanish Red blends. We like the earthy, but not showy Spanish point of view with their clever blend of local grape varieties so evident in zestosthe consistently excellent Descendientes Pétalos 2010. Additionally, the Zestos Garnacha Old Vine 2011 is labeled by Robert Parker as a “staggering value”. We agree; and love the kirsch, strawberry and licorice aromas of this surprisingly intense red wine. The Spanish approach is further evidenced in a wine that we are really in awe over, the Nabucco 2010. Made of equal parts Monastrell (Mourvedre) and Syrah aged three months in French oak, it exhibits a dense ruby-purple color along with crisp, fresh blue and black fruits intertwined with notions of chalk dust and flowers. Fantástico!

In our Old World expedition we did not forget France and this exciting new red from Burgundy. Maison Louis Latour Pinot Noir 2010 is a simply beautiful wine! Made in the classic Burgundian style it has strength and a lot of finesse. Here is great example of “not all reds have to be heavy”. Light and smooth yet plenty of structure, this red wine has a steady place amongst our February fare.

Now the perfect ending to a February evening… offering a wave of warmth to the belly are two after-dinner wines. These wines tend to be a little higher in alcohol and sweeter than dinner wines. The first is Blandy’s Rainwater Madeira. Says our wine buyer, Bethann Kendall: “The first Master Sommelier I ever met said to me ‘Madeira, Madeira, Madiera, if you try any wine in this world you must try Madiera.’ As a wine lover we all have a type of wine that we are passionate about but I have always had a high regard to Madieras after that.” This Madiera is made from rainwater and medium-dry pale, which combines soft fruit and a dry nutty quality and is Vin_Santowonderful served as an aperitif or the perfect accompaniment to custards and rich cheeses. The second is Montellori Vin Santo Bianco 2005, one of the oldest styles of wines made in Italy. The name refers to it as the “Wine of Saints” and comes in many varieties. This is 100% Trebbiano Toscana and is made using the traditional Tuscan method of drying the grapes, then a five month fermentation in Caratelli (small barriques), then reserved 4 years in new French oak before bottling. The wine has a wonderful aroma of roasted nuts dates figs and dried fruit with lots of wood spice and excellent freshness through the finish. Looking for a best value for a unique wine, this is it. Looking for a sensational dessert or Valentine gift, pair this with biscotti cookies and you’ve got an ideal match.

Now that you’ve learned of this month’s Pick 24 selection, February might just climb out of the doldrums of months and become one of your favorites since you’ve so many wines to choose from that will keep you warm and content during the longer evenings.

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 Vine & Table #301