I hope you are all in splendid form. 'Dry January' is drawing to a close and so I’ve picked four special wines to help you celebrate your commendable feats of willpower. Two are easy and delicious wines for everyday drinking, and two are truly magical ones to save in the cellar for a special occasion.
One thing that connects all these wines is the craftsmanship of the winemakers, who have a deep relationship with the earth. They all make wines in such small amounts, we are incredibly lucky to get any at all.
First, the two stellar table wines:
Jo Landron Muscadet Amphibolite 2020 ($21) Once again, French winemaker Jo Landron ‘hits it for a six’ with his new release of what continues to be one of our most popular whites. Reflecting a single patch of metamorphic rock in the Loire Valley on which the vines grow, this wine is full of crisp, vibrating minerals and bright guava. This is a quintessential wine for seafood in all forms, including our favorite – fresh oysters!
Josep Vendrell Montsant Miloca Cariñena 2020 ($15) Dropping down into Spain we go once again to the winemaking region of Montsant in the northeast. Winemaker Josep Vendrell produces just two barrels of this wonderfully fruity wine with bags of hibiscus, cherries and dried cocoa. When I tasted it, I had a smile as big as the Cheshire Cat. This excellent value wine is just begging to be enjoyed with a juicy BBQ burger.
Behind the scenes of preparing this week's newsletter. We taste through cases and cases of samples to find Wine Friends-worthy wines.
Now for the more serious stuff:
Wenzel Autark Furmint Vogelklang 2019 ($62) First, a magical white from our friend Michael Wenzel in Burgenland, Austria. This Furmint is planted on a vineyard full of blue quartz. “Vogelklang” means bird song, very apt for a wine that truly sings in your mouth. I would compare this to the best Sauvignon and Chenin Blancs. Beautiful yellow currants and fresh, zingy cherry notes are amplified by the purity of the quartz. This wine will age 10-15 years and would go brilliantly with cheeses, a feta and citrus salad, or roast chicken.
Jean-Claude Lapalu Vin de France Alma Mater 2018($53) This is a very unique red from Beaujolais, France. Winemaker Jean Claude describes it as ‘the crazed result of some wine-hazy thinking’. His technique is truly one-of-a-kind in the region. After the initial fermentation of the Gamay grapes, Jean Claude ages the wine with the skins for 7 months in clay amphora, rather than traditional wood barrels. He does this because he feels that the wine and amphorae exchange “elemental energy” that allows the wine to express the story of the terroir. This wine is simply superb. Bright, beautiful red fruits abound with an honest lingering palate that goes on forever. It will also age for 15-20 years. A versatile pairing wine, it will compliment sausages, charcuterie, triple cream bries, and other delights.