Posted by: Erin | February 5, 2010

Winter Wine Round-Up

Over the holidays, I had some fairly good luck with wine. On a visit to the local wine place, I stumbled across a moscato I had a year or so ago at Finale. It’s called Nivole, by Michele Chiarlo. I was very excited about this. I didn’t recall the exact taste, but I remember liking it quite a lot. I bought a bottle to bring back to Boston with me, planning to save it for New Year’s. (It’s not super expensive, but it’s not a cheap wine either – I think I paid about $13 for it – so I didn’t want to just drink it without some sense of occasion.) The wine was good, though not as spectacular as I remembered it. I would buy it again, though, if I could find it in Massachusetts, which, thus far, I have not been able to do.

At the same liquor store, I also found the elusive Sutter Home moscato that I’ve been looking for for ages. I didn’t know they made one until last year when I saw it on their website. But for some reason, it’s nearly impossible to find, at least in Massachusetts. So, as you might imagine, I gleefully snatched up a bottle of this moscato as well. This one was much cheaper (about $6), so I decided to share it with my mom before I came back to Boston. It was sweet, but not cloying, a nice dessert wine. (I had it with chocolate chocolate cake, and it paired nicely.) I would definitely recommend making sure it is properly chilled before drinking, though. Room temperature does nothing for it. I prefer the Nivole to the Sutter Home, and I think I preferred the Macari moscato that I can no longer find since the Martignetti’s in the North End closed to both of these, but for a $6 wine, it’s a decent dessert wine.

As most people know, I’m not really one for red wines, but I did try two new ones over the holidays as well as the moscatos. (Admittedly, I had sips of other people’s wine, not my own glass, but that’s hardly the point.) First, I tried a wine called Carmenere by Concha y Toro. (I’m fairly sure it’s the one I’m linking to, but the label looks a little different – I believe it had the more multicolored sunset Frontera label like this one, but I think they’re the same wine.) Unfortunately, I don’t remember a whole lot about the wine, but I do remember being pleasantly surprised by it. I probably wouldn’t drink an entire glass of it myself, but it was one of the more tolerable reds I’ve had.

I also tried a malbec. I’m not sure what kind it was, as it was ordered at a restaurant and I wasn’t paying attention to the reds on the menu. I liked it better than the carmenere, but I don’t remember it well either. (This is why you should blog about food-related things less than two months after the fact.) I think I would prefer either with food rather than alone, as I generally don’t find reds to be all that great on their own. (During the holidays, I also rediscovered the Portuguese red table wine that was my first tolerated red wine. That, too, I prefer with food – we had it with an excellent rib roast.) If anyone has recommendations on a malbec for me, feel free to share. I really don’t know anything about that variety, and have no idea what I tasted.

A few weeks later, a bunch of us went out after work to Toro in the South End (which I have blogged about before). I decided to be adventurous and try a new wine there. After much debate, I decided to try the NV Marques de Gelida Rosé Cava. Like the Nivole I had at Finale, it came in a tall, slender flute, causing everyone at my end of the table to inquire as to what I had ordered. The wine’s color was gorgeous, a deep transparent red. I admit, I felt quite classy drinking it. Sadly, it was nowhere near as good as I’d hoped. Again, it wasn’t awful, but I probably wouldn’t order it again. I tend to put too much stock in the descriptions of wine that involve fruits – I always think of it more in terms of how the flavors would play in a juice rather than a wine, so I tend to get a little more disappointed than I probably should. This one was described as “ripe raspberries, silky finish.” I didn’t taste raspberries at all, and I’m not entirely sure I tasted any sort of fruit in it, really. So that was a disappointment.

My final recent discovery is that there are a few vineyards that produce both moscatos and rieslings. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi and Barefoot make both; Gallo has a moscato under their Twin Valley label, but no riesling. At random, I decided to buy a bottle of the Barefoot moscato. (I didn’t like their chardonnay when I tried it last year, but I also don’t really like chardonnay in general, so I’m not sure it’s their fault specifically.) I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m hoping it’ll be good. I may try the others next, though after trying Gallo’s white merlot a while back, I’m not too optimistic about theirs.

And that sums up my latest wine-centric adventures, which, in retrospect, makes me feel like something of a lush when I write it all out in one big blog post. 🙂

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