The new year is a new opportunity to drink some great wine. Here are a few I have sampled recently that are perfect for enjoying on cool Dallas nights. A few selections were sent for editorial consideration.
I received a sample of a beautiful new wine created from a collaboration between childhood friends, Helene Seillan and Julia Jackson, daughters of Pierre Seillan and Jess Jackson, known for both their Sonoma acclaim with Verite (often earning 100 points from Parker for their robust Cabernet Sauvignon wines) as well as their Bordeaux winery, Château Lassègue, amongst other properties (Jackson also started Kendall-Jackson in Sonoma.) 2009 marks the first vintage of Cenyth for their daughters, Helene and Julia, creating a Bordeaux style blend from vineyards dotted throughout Sonoma County, namely fruit from Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley and Chalk Hill, creating a wine that represents their love of their Sonoma roots. Filled with black cherry, dark chocolate and vanilla with a slight herbal, spicy finish, the wine proves their passion for both the industry and their home. $60, on sale for $45 a bottle here.
Grgich Hills Estate is potentially best known for their lush, layered and refined Chardonnay or their rich Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, but their Estate grown Napa Valley 2010 Zinfandel from their certified organic, 34-acre vineyard in Calistoga shows how special Zinfandel from the northern most part of Napa Valley can be. Ripe berry and cherry pie notes with nicely integrated pepper and spice creating an approachable, juicy wine great with grilled meat, pasta or stews. $35, available at Total Wine and More.
Any time I can sip a wine from Far Niente and Nickel and Nickel I am happy, and I was lucky to have several over the holidays while entertaining with friends. Single vineyard Nickel and Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon, the sister winery to Far Niente, shows how diverse Napa Valley is with each wine defining a specific place in the valley superbly. I love Rutherford AVA Cabs, as there is an earthy, dusty note to many of the wines from the region. 2010 Quarry Vineyard Nickel and Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon ($100) melds this earthiness with dried cherry, black tea and leather notes for a supple wine with a rich profile, softening with some time in a decanter. Far Niente 2010 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon ($122 a bottle,) their flagship red wine, layers notes of dried cherry, ripe blackberry, tobacco and dark chocolate for a robust, well rounded and always delicious wine. Available through the winery website, or various vineyards and vintages available locally at Spec’s and Total Wine & More.
Blends define Napa Valley, both blending of vineyards from throughout the Valley, each so different and unique, as well as varieties in the highly acclaimed Cabernet based Bordeaux blends. Trinchero Meritage does both, blending grapes grown throughout Napa Valley, both valley floor and mountain fruit from St. Helena, Mount Veeder and the southern most part of Napa, as well as blending Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc, creating a smooth, balanced and approachable wine highlighting the distinct character of Napa. $50, available via their website; $53 available locally at Spec’s.
Wines from Washington State continue to impress, particularly those from Walla Walla and Columbia Valley, excelling in a wide selection of varieties from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Rhone varieties, Bordeaux style whites, even a small amount of earthy Italian Sangiovese and Spanish Tempranillo. Mackey Vineyards Concordia is a small production, Rhone style blend of predominantly Syrah with Grenache and Mourvedre grown in mineral rich Columbia Valley soils. Spice, toasted vanilla, juicy cherry and smoky, meaty aromas fill the wine, with earthy, wet stone notes. $38, available via their website.
L’Ecole No 41Perigee represents the Walla Walla AVA, Washington terroir with mineral, forest floor and stone notes. Made from hand harvested grapes grown in some of the oldest blocks of the Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla the Bordeaux blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc, 10% Malbec and a touch of Petit Verdot defines the style of L’Ecole – elegant, balanced and distinct, creating lush and refined wines with character. Ripe black fruit notes mingle with fresh herbs, stone, licorice and leather with balanced tannin and acidity, making this a wine that can be enjoyed now or age nicely. $49, available via their website.
I am a huge fan of Spanish wines. From robust Tempranillo grown in just about every region throughout the country, to fruit filled and earthy Garnacha, Carinena and Monastrell thriving in the Priorat and Alicante regions, the terroir of Spain transforms grapes into great, approachable wines, many also at a surprising value for their quality. Enrique Mendoza Santa Rosa is a 100% Monastrell from the Alicante region in Southeast Spain. Spanish Monastrell is similar to a French Mourvedre, but the variety is believed to have originated in Spain, filled with red and black fruit flavors, floral notes and slightly gamey, smoked meat flavors with earthiness found in many Spanish wines. Rich and robust, a great food wine. About $38, the wine was recently picked up for distribution in Dallas and will be available shortly.