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Warming Winter Reds

Dylan here with some more glorious wine recommendations. For updates on how Simon is doing, please follow the Caring Bridge link, where his family is posting regular updates.

In order to find the wine gems that we offer, our team does weekly tasting sessions. In Simon's absence, our community of regular, diehard wine connoisseurs has joined some of our tastings to share with us directly what they enjoy most. As we are fond of saying at Wine Friends: ‘everyone's palate is different, subjective and unique’. Not only that, but from day to day our tastes may change, and wines may develop. Having a member of our community taste with us provides an extra palate and opens a broader discussion about the qualities of any given wine. Besides, it’s just plain fun; there’s nothing better at this time of year than sharing wines that bring great joy and pleasure with members of your community.

This week we sat down with Tim Crosby, our neighbor and friend and longtime avid lover of wines. From Burgundy and Bordeaux, to Stellenbosch and beyond, this man has tasted it all and is no stranger to detecting quality. Tim’s knowledge of wine is matched with his love for music through his long career in broadcasting. This pretty much makes us soulmates; I think we could talk for hours about music, wine - the very essence of life. Together we found some great-value, warming winter reds that we share with you all here.

This traditional blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 10% Garnacha comes to us from Rioja, Spain. Rioja is roughly divided into two approaches to winemaking. The traditional method focuses on combining fruit from all over the appellation, and then aging the wines for an extended period of time in oak barrels. However, prior to the Riojan boom, in which the region’s global popularity increased dramatically, a different approach to winemaking was developed. Producers used fruit grown on individual vineyards, resulting in wines that were locally specific and had a great sense of place. These wines were also handled using far less oak aging. These two methods of production continue to ‘battle it out’ today. Bodegas Exopto, however, combines the two approaches and thereby creates wines that strike a unique balance between elegance, and powerful expression. Their Horizonte is full with intense red cherries, cranberries, and concentrated fruit character on the nose, very smooth tannins on the palate, and a lingering finish. The sheer concentration of the fruit beautifully balances the high alcohol content, and yet, the alcohol also acts like a blanket keeping you warm on these cold winter days. This is a wine that will hold up to richer foods, pairing perfectly for example with a slow cooked roast, vegetables and copious volumes of gravy!

'For 19 dollars, yeah, that's pretty cool' - Tim Crosby

Up to Northern Italy we go, just below the Swiss border in Northern Piemonte, for our next wine. We recently featured this producer's traditional Prünent, which is just lovely. Cantine Garrone are producing some amazing value wines. They work in incredibly unique, untamed territory, and handle their grapes intricately. Machine harvesting is impossible in this terrain, so everything is done by hand with very minimal intervention. Cantine Garrone’s Munaloss Vino Rosso is fantastic value - an incredibly lifted, light blend of 50% Nebbiolo, 30% Croatina, and 20% Barbera, with a seductive bouquet of bright red fruit aromas, dried herbs, and a structural elegance that is just wonderful to sip. This wine is lighter on the palate with very fine, integrated tannins and a long finish. Let it sit for an hour after opening, and it will unfold beautifully. For me, this elegant Nebbiolo-based blend is just the most satisfying glass of wine, with its refined, expressive fruit, dried herb and earthy character. Perhaps I’m nostalgic but sipping this gem reminds me of sitting cozily by the fire at the end of a long day, while the rain pours outside.


This week's cellar selection Perfect for events, gifting, or tucking away in the cellar.

We are excited about the new vintage of this great expression of Aglianico from the Basilicata region in Southern Italy. D'angelo Caselle produces wines grown on the volcanic slopes of mount Vulture, and their 2012 vintage has graced the Wine Friends racks before. This 2013 is just so complex with alluring notes of ripe plum, herbs, baking spices, white pepper and forest floor. You can tell this wine has some age on it already with its deep, slightly brown color and bottle aging notes of leather, tar, and tobacco. This beauty is simply ‘Christmas in a glass’ and has the structure and character to develop elegantly over the next few years.

Please keep in mind that next Friday will be the last day of deliveries before the holidays, so be sure to get you orders in.

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