Many of you will watch the Super Bowl game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots on Sunday. I know I will. Perhaps you’ll spend the afternoon and evening at a raucous group gathering at a neighbor’s home, at a local bar with a few good friends and plenty of strangers (soon to be good friends), alone with a pizza that you don’t have to share, or with a significant other canoodling on the sofa between time-outs. Wherever you go, ensure that plenty of quality wines are at-the-ready because you’ll need it at some point.
Fortunately, I was sent, as samples, intriguing wines that are guaranteed to rescue any bouts of boredom, stale conversation, and those tastes of grocery-store-bought chicken wings. After a few sips of the exceptional selections reviewed below, you won’t even care about the Super Bowl because another conversation will have already started.
First Quarter – Coin Toss
It’s always a good plan to start with a bit of bubbly and this keeper from Virginia’s Rappahannock Cellars is a delight. In its second release, Rappahannock Cellars Sparkling Rose 2017 ($34) is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Pale salmon-pink, elements of strawberries, rhubarb, and toast were prevalent on the nose. On the smooth and balanced palate, ripe red fruit, white stone fruit, toast, and the slightest hint of pepper were bolstered by lively acidity. And those bubbles!!!
Second Quarter – Who’s the Last to Score Before the Half?
We’re all ready for a new player in the field of wine and Aridus Wine Company from Willcox, Arizona is one of the best I’ve found. (Click here for more.) Aridus Field Blend 2017 ($28) is a refreshing wine of Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, and Viognier cultivated in estate vineyards. This lovely white blend burst with aromas of lemon zest, yellow flower and lime while the palate offered mouthwatering acidity and flavors of crisp citrus, juicy tropical fruit, and the slightest hint of herbs.
The Halftime Show
Pour a glass of Troon Riesling Whole Grape Ferment 2017 ($20) from Applegate Valley, Oregon. Although the word “Riesling” is on the label, the palate profile isn’t what you would expect. Made with native yeasts that are found on the grape skins themselves, the phrase “whole grape ferment”, in this case, indicates that the grapes are crushed then fermented on the skins, like a red wine. I noted aromas of honey, nuts, light citrus, and orange blossom that were distinctive. The full, round palate was rife with medium acidity and elements of lemon pudding and ripe citrus. Smooth from beginning to end, this wine promises to get plenty of wine lovers talking!
Third Quarter – Extra Points
From Upper Galilee in Israel, a glorious blend of Barbera, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Grenache was found in Galil Mountain Winery ELA 2014 ($22). Aromas of rich red fruit, dark plums, juicy cherries, mocha, and thyme burst from the glass and I was smitten. On the palate, bright acidity and smooth, yet powerful tannins enveloped notes of spice and red fruit leading to flavors of juicy cherries on the finish. Aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, this memorable wine is one to find again and again.
Fourth Quarter – Dessert for the Win(e)
Whether chocolate decadence or crème brulee is on the menu, a glass of M. Chapoutier Banyuls 2016 ($25), is the dessert wine to pour. Often termed the “French cousin of Port”, this fortified wine is from old vines in the French region of Languedoc-Roussillon. From mostly Grenache grapes, intense aromas of blackberries, chocolate, and fruit compote were enticing; on the palate, gentle tannins and rich fruit notes were absolutely magnificent. (You can even have a bit in your coffee.)