Sometimes, you want a simple bottle of wine. Maybe it’s a basic Chianti for a quick pasta dinner; perhaps it’s a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to knock down the heat on a hot summer day.
Other times, you really want to try something different. Maybe this bottle steps outside your usual budget or represents a varietal that you’ve never experienced.
That’s what I’m offering to you this week, a list of 10 wines that you should have tried in 2009 — but will still be around in 2010.
Four Vines 2006 Loco Tempranillo: Wine maker Billy Grant gives us a bolder than average Tempranillo tempered with Grenache and Syrah grapes. This medium bodied wine is luscious with edgy blackberry and spice. It’s eye–popping tannins linger, then politely fade, inviting another sip.
Vina Robles 2006 Red4: This blend from Paso Robles draws its structure from Petite Sirah and shows spice and cherry qualities of Syrah. Traces of Touriga and Tannat grapes add scents of violet. This young wine is fresh and fruity with blackberry and ripe cherry. Thirteen months in mostly French Oak adds roundness.
Concannon Cabernet: This richly–pedigreed California wine maker strikes a precise balance of fruit and spice, oak and floral tones with this budget–priced Cabernet. This roughly $10 wine drinks like a $30 Cab. It is nicely complex with a seductive, lingering finish.
Adelsheim Caitlin’s Reserve Chardonnay: From a pioneering Oregon winery known for its sexy Pinot Noir comes this Chardonnay that shows layers of figs, pears, apricots, apples, nutmeats and minerals. The French oak in which it ages is subtle — the wine’s lushness is tempered by bright acidity.
Gruet Demi–Sec: Methode Champenoise comes to the American West in a sparkling wine that’s perfect for ringing in the New Year. Fruity aromas and fresh effervescence power this light–bodied, semi–dry sparkling wine. The palate possesses a creamy sensation and flavors of green apples, ripe pears, pineapple and a hint of mineral. It is light and elegant with good acidity and exotic fruit flavors.
Villa San Juliette Merlot: From Adam La Zarre, the wine maker behind labels like Cycles Gladiator and Rex Goliath, comes this Merlot that smacks of black cherry cola and food friendliness. Powerful and complex, it’s a stunning, garnet–colored companion for savory meat dishes.
2006 Paraduxx Red Blend: This label from Duckhorn Vineyards is a pleasing blend of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. The ratio varies from vintage to vintage, but the results always yield a complex wine that is juicy ripe and a zesty drinking companion. Hints of spicy pepper and tobacco punctuate this elegant wine.
Blackstock 2004 Reserve Merlot: This lone entry from North Georgia’s Dahlonega plateau is big and bold — a Merlot that I will put up against like–priced competitors from California. It’s just one of a small handful of true varietals being made by Blackstock. Hard to find, sure, but it does have statewide distribution. The classic Bordeaux–style wine has sharpness that should round off with age. This is THE steak wine from Blackstock.
Kung Fu Girl Riesling: Food and Wine magazine named Charles Smith Winemaker of the Year, and his Kung Fu Girl is one reason. The grapes used in Kung Fu Girl are harvested from a single rocky vineyard, resulting in a wine with lush aromatics and tons of flavor. On the nose, it explodes with Asian pear, white peach and spring flowers. Apricot, pear, lime, and a pleasant minerality keep this off–dry wine at the perfect level of subtle sweetness.
L’Arco Pario:Young Italian wine maker Luca Fedrigo blends two traditional wines in equal parts – elegant raisin–dried Amarone and his own Valpolicella Classico Superiore. Three years in oak rounds the flavors into silky and luxurious notes that marry the best of velvety Amarone and juicy fruit of Valpolicella. It is an intense wine that deserves up to three hours of breathing before drinking
Correction from a recent column: New Belgium Brewing Co. is in Fort Collins, Colo.