Wines for All Seasons

As the weather and seasons change, consumers seize the opportunity to enjoy what wine experts call seasonal wines. However, I am of the belief that wines do not have to be seasonal in nature. I enjoy food-friendly, versatile wines that fit all seasons. From classic varieties like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling to less familiar varieties like Malagouzia, Pinot Blanc, and Xinomavro, there’s something for everyone: both still and sparkling wines at varying price points, all highly rated by some of the world’s renowned wine critics. Below are eight of my favorite selections to enjoy year around.

2016 Alpha Estate Malagouzia, Turtles Vineyard, Florina PGI, Greece, $18
Many of you may not have heard of Malagouzia, a white wine grape native to Greece, but it’s more readily available than you think and so flavorful. A combination of sweet floral and fruit aromatics leads to tangy citrus and green apple flavors on the palate. Sur lie aging adds a more complex mouthfeel. This combination of tart fruit and texture makes this wine the perfect accompaniment to Greek mezé, cheeses, pasta, seafood, and vegetable casseroles.

2016 Alpha Estate Rosé of Xinomavro, Florina PGI, Greece, $15
Another Greek variety you may have never tried is Xinomavro, a higher-acid black grape known for its tannic qualities and ageability. The rosé from this grape is more delicate, with aromas of freshly cut roses and a palate that is reminiscent of a bowl of wild strawberries. The sur lie aging adds a bit of creaminess to go along with its acid, thus this wine complements fatty seafood like crab cakes and salmon, as well as gazpacho and pizza.

NV Ferrari Brut Rosé, Trento DOC, $25
Made from 60% Pinot Nero (the Italian name for Pinot Noir) and 40% Chardonnay, you can’t go wrong with this highly-acclaimed, Italian take on brut rosé, with its abundant, fine bubbles, floral notes and tangy red berry flavors cradled in biscotti. Enjoy this traditional method sparkling wine on its own or with sushi, fried foods, or pink shellfish such as crab, lobster, and shrimp.

2014 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $55
This Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is full bodied and voluptuous, rich and round. Black cherry and crème de cassis share the palate stage with cinnamon and chocolate. From start to finish, this wine goes the distance and then some. Pair this beauty with hearty grilled meats such as lamb, filet mignon, New York strip, and ribeye.

2015 Lieb Reserve Pinot Blanc, North Fork of Long Island, New York, $22
The lesser known variety of the Pinot family, Pinot Blanc, is a specialty of Lieb Cellars. Spending only six months in stainless steel, its fresh mélange of citrus and stone fruits and delectable acidity are begging for clams, lobster, oysters, and scallops. Pair this not only with food, but with windswept, coastal days with family and friends.

2015 Lieb Reserve Cabernet Franc, North Fork of Long Island, New York, $30
A blend of 85% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot, and aged for 10 months in Hungarian oak, this medium-bodied, lower-alcohol, Bordeaux-style blend really shows off its earthy, Long Island heritage. Juicy acidity, red berry flavors, and spiciness are begging for fatty, red meats like barbecue baby back ribs, burgers, and beef stew.

2014 Matetic Corralillo Chardonnay, San Antonio Valley, Chile, $16
The 2014 Matetic Corralillo Chardonnay is mostly fermented in French oak, 35% in stainless steel. Sur lie aging, bâtonnage, and malolactic fermentation add heft to a palate replete with flavors of cooked apples, baking spices, and vanilla. A wine this substantial pairs with buttery shellfish, salmon, and creamy chicken dishes. My ideal pairing with a Chardonnay like this is steak, so break the “red with red meat” rule and give it a try, if you dare. Don’t forget the classic guilty pleasure pairing: hot, buttered popcorn. Delish.

2016 Meli Riesling, Maule Valley, Chile, $13
Riesling is for all seasons and this example is no exception. With just the right balance of citrus and stone fruits aromas and flavors, zesty acidity, and weighty mouthfeel, the 2016 Meli Riesling is all at once mouthwatering and luscious. Drink this wine with Asian cuisine, ceviche, and ají pepper seasoned Peruvian dishes.

What’s In My Glass

A few years ago, I used to post reviews such as these, where I shared a few noteworthy wines I’d been drinking. Today seems as good of a day as any to do the same. Below, in the order consumed, are a few of the special wines that have been in my glass lately.

2012 Damselfly Sémillon, Lake County
2012 Damselfly Sémillon, Lake County

2012 Damselfly Sémillon, Lake County, not yet released
This wine was a gift from the producers. It’s not often you find Sémillon as a standalone, dry wine, but this inaugural effort from Damselfly Wines is an easy-to-drink sipper with loads of lemon and lime and a long finish. As it warms up, juicy tropical fruit flavors become more pervasive, as does lime peel on the finish. The story behind the name Damselfly, as shared on the bottle’s back label, is both inspiring and befitting of this Sémillon. I can’t wait until this wine is released to the public. I paired it with scallops and veggies.

2012 Trentadue La Storia Merlot, Block 500, Alexander Valley
2012 Trentadue La Storia Merlot, Block 500, Alexander Valley

2012 Trentadue La Storia Merlot, Block 500, Alexander Valley, $34 at the winery
Another gift from a friend, this award-winning, 100% Merlot will change your mind about the grape if you still hold any ill will against it. On the nose and the palate, it’s decadent, with black cherry, raspberry, baking spices, cocoa, and vanilla. At 25 Brix when the grapes were harvested, and aged in 38% new French and European oak, this Merlot yields a fine balance of ripe berries, oak influence, firm tannins, and lively acid. You may drink this now or lay it down for three to six years.

2012 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

2012 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $55 at the winery (sold in six and 12 packs online)
Legend has it that Faust sold his soul to the devil in exchange for magical, supernatural powers. This wine, like its namesake, exhibits its own magic in the glass. The grapes are cold-soaked and fermented in both stainless steel and French oak, then aged for 19 months in 100% French oak (30% new). A blend of 80% Cabernet, 16% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot from vineyards in Coombsville, Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder, St. Helena, and Oak Knoll District, this wine is deep ruby-purple in color, with a dense, luscious mouthfeel and long finish. Layers of black cherry, blackcurrant, and chocolate dominate the nose and palate. It’s a quintessential Napa Cabernet. Decant it and drink now or age six to eight years longer. This was a sample provided by Faust by way of Fineman PR.

That’s what’s in my glass. What’s in yours?