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.

2011 Lieb Cellars Reserve Blanc de Blancs: My Lake Tahoe Wine of the Moment

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The first weekend of May 2017, I finally crossed Lake Tahoe off my bucket list with my first trip there. It seemed only fitting to celebrate my inaugural visit with a sparkling wine. Instead of choosing Champagne or a California sparkling wine, my usual go-tos, I selected the 2011 Lieb Cellars Reserve Blanc de Blancs (sample, $30 SRP). Similar in style to a Crémant d’Alsace, this bubbly is made from 100% pinot blanc from the North Fork of Long Island, New York, and is aged for 48 months prior to disgourgement (dégorgement). On the palate without food, it shows bright, tart, citrus flavors, such as lemon, lime, grapefruit complemented a yeasty quality that I likened to fine, French brioche. The refreshing acidity begged for food, so my travel companion and I, while enjoying our warm, inviting fireplace after an unexpectedly snowy, wet day, decided to have some fun with this wine, trying out pairings such as Kettle brand Salt and Pepper and Sea Salt and Vinegar potato chips, dry roasted sea salt almonds, and beef jerky. Of course, we had to revisit these options a few times (poor us), but we both concluded that bubbles and potato chips are always a winning combination, and in this case, specifically the Kettle Krinkle Cut Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper potato chips, whose thick texture and simple flavors of potato, salt, and pepper intensified the wine’s fresh fruit qualities. Less is indeed more. To learn more about Lieb Cellars and to purchase, visit their website, or better yet, visit in person.

Cheers!
Beth

2016 Bridge Lane Chardonnay: My Wine of the Moment and Beth’s Smart Sip

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2016 Bridge Lane Chardonnay

The 2016 Bridge Lane Chardonnay (Lieb Vineyard, North Fork of Long Island, New York), produced and bottled by Lieb Cellars under their second label, is everything I love about chardonnay: clean, crisp, dry, and pure. Oakless fermentation and aging allows the bright, tart and zingy acidity to shine. Imagine biting into a crunchy, green apple, then chasing that with juicy grapefruit, lemon, and lime. At 12.5% alcohol and 0% residual sugar, feel free to pour a second glass or three, and sip this nearly guilt free. This is a whole lotta unoaked chardonnay for $16/bottle. I suggest pairing this with raw oysters or a warm day at the beach. Grab this chardonnay for spring and summer, available by the 750ml bottle, 3L box, or 20L keg. Only 1100 cases produced. Sample provided by Lieb Cellars. If you’re in the Long Island area, taste this wine and other offerings at Bridge Lane’s tasting room at 35 Cox Neck Lane Mattituck, NY 11952, phone 631-298-1942.

Cheers!
Beth