Now that the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled from all the New Year’s festivities, it’s time start working on those dreaded resolutions. I can just hear the dull roar of moans and groans as everyone starts going back to the gym, joining Weight Watchers and tries to cut down on the frivolous spending. But who said resolutions have to be so hard?! So to offset all those mundane yet obviously important resolutions, why not make a fun one to try some new and different wines this year.
While everyone is familiar with the ever popular Cabernet Sauvignon grape, maybe this is the year you venture out and experiment with one of its parents, Cabernet Franc. It is used as a blending grape in many Bordeaux wines, and is the varietal of choice in the Chinon region of France. But here in the States, it has found its home in Napa and more recently in Long Island, NY.
The growing conditions in Long Island give it similar characteristics to the way it is produced in France. It tends to be somewhat light in nature with earthy undertones, red berry flavor and floral notes. Wolffer Estate and Pindar make ones that are quite enjoyable, with the latter being the value pick. In Napa however, the heat brings out the fruit in Cab Franc where they can be big and powerful, yet still carry the herbal and floral nuances making for some fantastic wines. Ironstone has a very drinkable one for about $10 (actually from the Central Valley of CA), but my favorite has to be The Fury from the Revolver Wine Co. It will run around $30 and is really something special, particularly when paired with a peppery beef tenderloin or steak au poivre.
Are you a fan of Italian wine but looking to branch out from your typical Chianti and Montepulciano selections? Keep an eye out for the wines from Montefalco in the Umbria region of Italy. The main grape used here is Sagrantino which produces full bodied, dry red wines that can have blackberry, red fruit and tobacco components. The 100% Sagrantino wines can be pricey due to the rarity of the grape, but they compare to some of the best in Italy with Terre de Trinci being the most well known producer. However, the Montefalco Rosso wines are blends of Sagrantino and Sangiovese which have most of the character, yet a fraction of the price tag, of the straight Sangrantinos. Scacciadiavoli Rosso di Montefalco is a smooth, lush example of that blend and will only run around $15-18.
If your resolution is to make the move to whites for 2011, why not start with Austria’s favorite varietal Gruner Veltliner. These wines typically have a real crisp acidity to them along with citrus, peach and possibly apple flavors. The better ones can get expensive, but there are many in the $10-15 range from the Kemptal and Wachau regions that are great values, and quite food friendly to boot. GRUNER by Etz comes in a 1 Liter bottle which for under $15 is one of the best deals around. F.X. Pichler makes some of the best GV in the world, but they will start around $30 and get up to the $100 range so be prepared to dig a little deep for one of these iconic Austrian whites.
Wishing you the best of luck in following through with all of your resolutions for 2011, and a very happy and healthy year ahead. Salute!