Selections for December 2016

Sometimes “Slight” is Right . . .

2015 MONTE TONDO CORVINA – Veneto, Italy

Last month’s Spanish reds, Pasanau Priorat and Atalaya from Almansa, were handed to you with more courage.  We know many wine drinkers judge their reds based on the visual impact of dark color and the satisfying effect of a big, muscular mouthfeel.  Those two wines delivered on those merits.  This wine – charming, coy, and evasive - refuses to conform.

Think of good red Burgundy or Cru Beaujolais as you approach Monte Tondo Corvina and eat with it accordingly.  Serve this at cellar temperature (or a slight chill if the day is warmer) and match it with rotisserie chicken, turkey breast, or quail.  Expect a quaffer - not a whopper - and all will be well.

Corvina is a significant grape in the Veneto, grown near the city of Verona.  When dried for several months it plays the leading role in the great Amarone.  To taste it on its own, “un-raisined,” is a rare treat.  Flowers and citrus and botanicals and black pepper abound in the nose (try this in Pinot glass for full effect) and the palate feel is nervy and refreshing.    

One final allusion may seal the deal for the wary.  This is another provision of Tom Kelly’s Small Vineyards, as evidenced by the gold sticker on the bottle neck.  Tom’s the guy in the hat who has adeptly shown you a great night of Italian wine for the last four Julys in a row.  Imagine HIM eloquently describing this:  You’re converted!

If Corvina’s for the Turkey, Bordeaux must be for the Roast!

2010 CHATEAU TEYSSIER – Montagne Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France

This may meet more winter wine expectations (though I’m tellin ya:  It’s Corvina for the turkey!).  There’s nothing like dark and solid, sometimes a little grim red wine to match the chilly and damp mood of this time of year (the happy holidays notwithstanding!).  This is less for quickly grilled steak and more for the slow-cooked (braised) meats; whether short ribs, pot roast, or osso bucco.  Garlic mashed potatoes?  A small mountain, please.  Wild mushrooms atop?  Sil vous plait!  Root veggies?  A quandary:  How to have parsnips without the rutabagas, the turnips, the carrots, the onions . . . Okay, mix ‘em up!

You get the idea.  Bordeaux alone is a forlorn Scrooge of a wine (though I’ve been known to go there in my overstuffed chair).  With the right company it relinquishes taciturnity and accommodates.

This is a rare find:  A 2010 Bordeaux not yet sold out.  Perhaps the best vintage of the last decade, 2010 furnishes all the fruit of the jubilant 2009’s and supplies structure to boot.  Even at this $20 level you’re witnessing some seriously chewy wine guts on your palate, but there’s plenty of berry and blackcurrant fruit at play as well.

From Bordeaux’s Right Bank comes a Merlot-based impact red acting younger than it actually is with flamboyant cherries, freshly-turned dark, damp soil, and sweet leather.  Juicy and simultaneously chunky on the palate; this wine knows where it’s from.  It’s all a matter of knowing where to take it!