Have No Fear...I'm Still Here

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s tends be a little hectic, and things have finally slowed down to a more manageable pace. Despite not having posted about booze in a while, trust me…I have been sampling plenty of good stuff and you deserve to know about it.

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So today I am keeping it very simple: here’s a three-bottle flight of French wines I have tasted since Thanksgiving that is worth your time, money, and effort to find in your local beverage depot. Three different styles from three different regions of France. Ready…go!

Domaine du Petit Clocher Anjou Blanc ($14): Chenin Blanc continues to be an underrated grape variety, and you get 100% of it here. Lemon curd flavors and a fleshy texture are countered by a zing of acidity to balance things out. A solid way to introduce yourself to the Loire Valley’s style of Chenin Blanc.


Pascal Aufranc Chénas Vignes de 1939 ($16): The “Cru” level wines of Beaujolais have always been some of my favorite light reds as they have more substance than village-level Baeujolais and definitely more depth than the candy-like Nouveau. This wine is made from 80 year old vines, featuring violet aromas, vibrant strawberry fruit, and a stony/earthy character with gentle tannins.


Chateau d’Arcins Haut-Medoc ($25): A 50-50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot., this wine shows textbook blackberry and cedarwood flavors and aromas with noticeable tannin and acid that are synonymous with Bordeaux from the Left Bank. The wine I had was from the 2014 vintage, which is a damn fine year for Bordeaux, but you may need to let the wine air out a bit to soften (pour this into a decanter and let it sit for a couple of hours before drinking). With time, the texture becomes more plush, the blackberry fruit seems riper and more powerful, and a dark chocolatey note seems to come out on the finish.

This Week in Tony's Cellar...

Last week was loaded with afterschool activities, rehearsals, concerts, and caring for ill children. It's not easy to find time to get some adult beveraging in with all of that going on, but by golly I found a way to make it happen! After all, part of my service to you is to share what I am drinking, which I realize I have not done nearly enough since starting this blog. You need to know what tastes good, brings you value, what might make a nice gift, and so on.

Fortunately, among the chaos of the week I tasted some terrific wines (sorry...no time for spirits or beer). The Old World triumvirate of France, Italy, and Spain dominated my liver and brought moments of happiness. I have some good things to share with you as all of these are worth seeking out and trying for yourself.

Mionetto Prosecco Brut ($16): Mionetto has been making Prosecco for 130 years, with styles ranging from casual to prestige-level. This flagship product is fresh and lightly fruity; we added some peach nectar for a simple Valentine's Day cocktail.

Bodega Otazu Navarra Premium Cuvée Red Blend ($13): Rioja's neighbor Navarra is red and rosé-dominant. Aside from traditional varieties like Tempranillo and Garnacha, Navarra also plays with international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This particular blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Tempranillo, and 20% Merlot is loaded with dark cherry, blackberry and tobacco flavors. An easy weeknight red to enjoy with a juicy burger.

Château Saint-Cosme Little James' Basket Press Red ($14): Saint-Cosme is best known for its wines produced in the Gigondas region of the Rhône Valley (a neighbor of the higher-profile Châteauneuf-du-Pape region). This multi-vintage 100% Grenache is aged in concrete tanks, leading to a very fresh, yet dark and deep wine. Awesome with a medium-rare roast beef.

Maison Louis Latour Marsannay ($23): Louis Latour's wines are a consistently great way to get introduced to the individual villages of Burgundy. Red wines from Marsannay are 100% Pinot Noir, and this expression shows a mix of red and black fruit. Fragrant yet powerful on the palate, its savory finish begs for some roast duck, but a charcuterie platter or flavorful cheese (like Munster) would do just fine here, too. We had this as a reward for surviving the busy week!

As for the week coming up...

February 21st: We are tasting a range of wines from Steele of Lake County, California at the Divine Wine Emporium. Bill Bishop, National Sales Manager at Steele, joins us in the classroom. He is a fantastic storyteller and with vineyard holdings throughout California, you can get a very good feel for which styles you prefer over others. Steele's wines are a longtime favorite of the store as they consistently deliver for the price.

February 25th: I am delivering a tasting of kosher wines for a group that is preparing for Passover. The time to taste wines for the holiday table is now, and I will be showcasing an array of wines from Bordeaux, Spain, and Israel, all produced in accordance with kosher guidelines. It's a fun topic to revisit for myself, but it is also great to promote the fact that kosher wines are quite tasty!

Hope your week is off to a great start!