Swiner's Cellar: Picks from the past
Holiday Wines 2016
LA VIDA AL CAMP, BRUT CAVA | BARCELONA, SPAIN
I love popping this cork and drinking it with food! Spain’s traditional sparkling wine, Cava, is not only delicious, it boasts layers of flavors from bright citrus to a hint of yeasty brioche and smoky minerals. It has a supremely satisfying rich, full finish. Oh, and it's less than half the price of most Champagnes.
Pair with every food, every meal of the day until spring.
PERTICO, PINOT GRIGIO | ALTO ADIGE, ITALY
I love this everyday fruity white. Bright and crisp, with rich aromas of apples and pears. The balance gives this wine strength and structure. It is dry and smooth on the palate with a pleasant mineral aftertaste with a full and rounded finish.
Pair with hot spicy food, white fish, cheese boards.
MATTEO CARREGGIO, NEBBIOLO | PIEDMONT, ITALY
The king of big european reds, brains and brawn are matched perfectly in this fireside bottle. Nebbiolo is said to make the “king of wines and the wine of kings.” Its finesse and power are expressed through ghostly fruit, sweet earth and rose petals. This bottle changes dramatically with exposure to air and shows best after decanting or aerating.
Pair with Cream or Bolognese Pasta
LE CUPOLE ROSSO, SUPER TUSCAN | TUSCANY, ITALY
An American-Italian winemaker, in a corner of Tuscany, blends red French grapes to make this bottle international just like him. Big california red blends will have tough competition with this bottle thanks to its heavy dose of Cabernet Franc, a grape not normally associated with Italian wine. This represents the dizzying heights that the Cabernet Franc grape can reach when made by a truly great producer. It shows off a hedonistic nose displaying cherries, roasted herbs and exotic spice notes with a warm lingering finish.
Pair with Ribeye or Roast Prime Rib
ALESSANDRIA BARBERA D'ALBA 2014
Autumn is my favorite time of the year and for this romantic season I have chosen Gianfranco Alessandria Barbera d'Alba. This red bottling is for autumn because it pairs deliciously with various seasonal foods and it offers warmth for the changing season. Its food pairing abilities are rooted in its tart character, light finish and its complex depth all of which are attributable to the cool climate where it grows. The northern Italian region of Piedmont is cool because of its elevation, at the base of the Alps. I love how this wine opens up little memories of biting into a caramel apple. The richness of the caramel gives way, through each bite, into the bright green granny smith apple hidden underneath. The ripe fruit is there but its shy personality shares the stage with many other tones. This multi-dimensional style progresses with notes of cooking strawberries, dried daisy stems, spiced tea and muffin batter.
“Barbera is light red wine, but it walks and talks with a rustic quality that I miss when drinking other light wines, like Pinot Noir.”
Tasting notes: Tart cooked cranberries and strawberries, dried flower stems, muffin batter, spiced tea, rose hips and old letters.
Pairing notes: This mountainous region of Italy produces dishes without tomato sauce, pasta or meatballs. It is known for its meat roasts and braises, dairy and foraged foods like mushrooms and truffles. So, if it draws together it goes together! Pair with pork, lamb and venison, cream sauces, hard cheese, cassoulet and pie!
Montrose Rosé - Light, bright and dry!
On a hot summer evening when a dark, heavy red wine seems like too much, pair Domaine Montrose Rosé with anything that comes off the grill. Monterose is happy when chilled in a cooler of ice along with beer. This young rosé has a maturity and elegance that holds its integrity as it warms slightly in the glass.
This rosé is made with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes along with others (Grenache and Syrah). These bold grapes are used to make many of the biggest, baddest, driest and most expensive wines in the world. When making Cabernet rose, winemakers change their process and only press the juice of the red grapes, without letting it soak with the skins. I like to think of it as ‘Cabernet Sauvignon grapes pressed for summer and dressed to party.’ Most pink wine made in the United States is cheap, cheerful and sweet but this orange-pink French bottling is anything but that.
Nine miles from the Mediterranean Sea, Montrose’s vineyards and domaines produce incredibly innovative and elegant wines. This region, Languedoc, is the warmest area of France, and with its average 300 days of sunshine per year, the grapes ripen with bold flavor and elegance. The soil is dry, infertile and composed of clay, gravel and volcanic rock causing the vines’ roots to struggle deep underground to extract mineral-laden water.
- Tasting notes: Take time to smell strawberry filling and taste the touch of salt on the finish.
- Pairing: Shows well with with Savory Swine’s day-fresh seafood, grilled meats or just by itself.
- Country: France
- Grape: Grenache 65%, Cabernet Sauvignon 25% & Syrah 10%
RED: Tenuta Ibidini, Nero d’Avola
I love when a wine can surprise. Most great bottles of red offer juicy berry-driven fruits but what about the other fruits we love? My spring red pick from Sicily’s Tenuta Ibidini brings red fruits like cranberries and dried fruits like cherries to the glass. For the first grilling of the season or an impromptu pitch-in - this wine is a perfect fit. Few people have heard of the grape, Nero d’avola, but many can appreciate its charms. Open or decant to let wine breathe 30 minutes prior to serving.
Pairing: Plays nicely with grilled white meats or just by itself.
Country: Italy / Sicily
Grape: 100% Nero d’Avola (similar to bigger Pinot Noirs)
WHITE: TENUTA IBIDINI, INSOLIA
As we all climb out of our winter coops, you should have a wine that says “Spring is here!” Insolia is a vibrant white that is full of spring characteristics. The nose blooms with green tea, citrus and star-fruit. It is a traditional wine from Sicily, named after the exotic Insolia grape that grows there. As I tasted hundreds of wines preparing for my sommelier exam, this bottle stood out and continues to draw the attention of my thirst. It offers an unoaked brightness like Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a richness that works brilliantly with grilled brats and salads. For get-togethers, throw a bottle in the ice with the beer and enjoy!
Pairing: Works with cheese board, salads or grilled pork (from the Savory Swine of course!)
Country: Italy / Sicily
Grape: 100% Insolia (similar to un-oaked Chardonnay)
VIÑA ALBERDI RESERVA 2008 - LA RIOJA ALTA, SPAIN
When there is a wood fire going- I love drinking this wine! Viña Alberdi has an exuberant, romantic personality but a body that is taut and lean. The fruit hangs out in the edges of this wine, notably ripe and dried black and red fruits. Its bouquet jumps out and inspires thoughts of camp fires, barns, baking, boxes of old letters and humidors. The haunting smells in this wine are soulful and addicting because they keep changing as you drink.
Famous for its long-aging red wines, the Spanish wine growing region of Rioja offers the world a focused look at wine with maturity. La Rioja Alta’s winery is just north of the city Haro, there the Tempranillo grape ripens at the foot of the Sierra de Cantabria Mountains. Because the traditional wine-making process is intense- at least 2 years in American oak and bottle aged beyond that- this wine opens up in the glass over and over again.
Pair with pre-dinner fare like cheese, salami and olives or with roasted birds.