Last week it was finally winter here in Philadelphia. Sure, it had been getting colder and the leaves had all disappeared from their perches in the trees, but it had not really dipped below the freezing mark for any extended period of time, which is my criterion to proclaim the beginning of the most miserable season (at least in my book).
Well, these past couple of weeks, that is no longer true–Winter has descended on the city of Brotherly Moderate Dislike.
I do not know the physiology of it all, but this time of year it seems natural to reach for red when opting for a bottle to crack on these cold dark nights. I would argue, however, that just because the air outside has turned frigid, that is not sufficient reason to disregard wines that are best consumed with at least a slight chill.
To that end, here are a few wines that I have sampled over the last few weeks that while chilled, certainly still belong on the dinner this time of year.
2013 Barrymore Pinot Grigio Monterey: Retail $15. I have to admit that I am a bit of a fan of Drew Barrymore, and I am not entirely sure why. As I mentioned the other day, however, I tend to be inherently a bit skeptical when it comes to “celebrity” wines. Nonetheless, over the Christmas break, I cracked this as soon as my six-year old’s hands clutching the Monopoly game as he surfaced from the recesses of the basement. It did not last long (the wine, that is–the game went on for hours). I am not a huge Pinot Grigio guy, but this was impressive: Pineapple and lemon on the nose, and plenty of intrigue on the palate. This is actually really good and that is pretty high praise coming from me. Oh yeah. and I rocked Monopoly. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2013 Bellangelo Dry Riesling: Retail $19. Great Riesling nose of tropical fruit and a hint of petrol. Fantastic acidity from the jump on the palate, but a bit thin on fruit, before a lasting finish. Most of the elements are there, though. Good to Very Good. 85-87 Points.
2012 Cornerstone Chardonnay Willamette Valley: Retail $40. Small production (only 300 cases) from three different vineyards. Barrell fermented in French oak and 100% malolactic fermentation. I was surprised to see that this wine was both barrel fermented and went through 100% malolactic since it does not come off as a big buttery chard. In fact, it is rather lithe and demure initially with a waxy lemon nose with just a whiff of oak. The palate is marked by both vibrant acidity and an rich unctuousness, which is rare. This is fabulous. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2012 Cornerstone Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc: Retail $30. There are times when you can tell “they got it right”. This is one of those times. Not many outside of France put Sauvignon Blanc in oak–usually the desire is to keep the wine fresh and vibrant (and the cost low). Well, this wine shows that you can have a fresh and vibrant Sauvignon Blanc that also has incredible depth and complexity. Sure, it might cost a tad more than your “typical” Sauvignon Blanc, but boy is it worth it. Outstanding 91-93 Points.`
2013 Hanna Estate Grown Russian River Chardonnay: Retail $29. Twist-off. On first take, some vanilla with lemon and pineapple. A bit of oak on the palate, but nice tartness and a more than respectable finish. This is certainly not over-oaked, but there is certainly wood on this one. I am one of those who like chards with a bit of oak on them, when it is done right. And this one is. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2014 Lobster Reef Sauvignon Blanc: Retail $12. Not as grassy as many of the Kiwi wines that I have had (which is a good thing in my book), but as expected, nice and crisp with lemon, peach and just enough of that grassiness on the palate. With the lasting finish, this is a solid option, particularly at the price point. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2012 Matello Chardonnay Durant Vineyard: Retail $30. Certainly some oak here, but it works. Creamy and mellow lemon curd a go-go, this is a bigger style Chard, but bigger style wines need loving, too. Still great acidity, with plenty to thin about on the finish. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2013 Paramus Verdejo Rueda, Spain: Retail $10. 85% Verdejo, 15% Viura. Lemon, lime, and green apple lead to a round mouthfeel with a tart and slightly nutty finish. Like most old world wines, this really improved with the addition of food–it went from a bit one-dimensional, to the verge of fabulous. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
All of the wines were provided as samples for review from either the winery or a distributor working on the winery’s behalf. All opinions are my own.