With the holiday season behind us, you might be looking for wine finds which we refer to as “ready-to-drink” wines, wines that don't need a wine cellar or a big expense account.
By: Isabelle Kellogg
Posted on: January 16, 2024
Up to the end of the year, our calendar was filled with exciting, exclusive winemaker events where we swirled, sipped and evaluated wines that will help get you through the next few weeks, with the exception of Valentine’s Day when we’ll be giving you some outstanding Champagne suggestions.
Did you know that Chenin Blanc is the most planted grape variety in South Africa? Neither did we, and one sip of Indaba, a fresh white wine full of aromas of honey, pear, apple, gave us such enjoyment. If a chilled rose is your wish, then try these two Provencal style rose wines. Domaine de Bila-Haut and Marius capture the essence of their Mediterranean terroirs for, with a floral bouquet mixed, lively combinations of red berries and citrus. Wines of South Africa also invited us to sample some outstanding wines such as Le Chant du Coq’s Rouge wine and Tessellarsdal’s Pinot Noir.
We’re often asked if a slight pre-chill for red wine is acceptable. It is, if you don’t have a wine cellar where your wine is kept at an approximate constant temperature of 55 degrees F (-13 degrees C). One wine that benefits from a slight chill in the fridge for an hour is Jean-Luc Columbo’s Les Abeilles from the Rhone valley. The family are also avid beekeepers, and with Taub Family Selections importers, they have a program called Bee Helpful that makes a donation for every bottle purchased to the US Davis Department of Entomology.
The Bordeaux Wine organization launched its “Big Bottle” promotion (yes, a “jerobaum” which is the equivalent of four bottles of wine) this fall. On a chilly, rainy day in Manhattan, we boarded a luxury bus and rode around Manhattan to visit four different restaurants, with winemakers in tow, to sample wines and small bites created especially for these wines: Château Larrivaux, Château Du Taillan, Château Reynier, Château Biac.
Five samples of the 2020 vintage from Bouchard Pere & Fils in Burgundy, the House of Beaune, arrived as a tasting kit recently. One of the oldest, ongoing wine producers and growers in Europe since 1731, Bouchard is also spearheading terroir stewardship in the region, transitioning all its vineyards to organic viticulture by 2026. I simply adored the Premier Cru Beaune Clos de la Mousse whose vinification/origin dates back to 1220! The bouquet of plums, dark chocolate, strawberry jam, with an excellent finish and roundness on the palate, is perfect for a cold winter dinner.
A masterclass for Rhone Valley’s Gigondas AOC wines had the 2016 vintages of Domaine Raspail-Ay, Château de Saint Cosme, Gabriel Meffre, Domaine Santa Duc, Domaine Saint-Damien and Moulin de la Gardette. The geography, terroir and ancient Roman history of this region, and the Grenache grape variety that is used for the majority of the region’s red wines, are very important elements in these elegant, medium bodied wines.
At a vertical tasting of the 2018, 2016, 2015, 2004, 1995 Col D’Orcia’s DOC Riserva Brunello di Montalcino red wines made with 100% Sangiovese grapes, we learned that these are wines where age is an advantage, releasing the aromas of forest mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, chocolate and sage. These wines are for very special occasions and bring about a meditative quality the longer you sip them.
Chile is full of quality vineyards due to its unique geography between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, along with the influence of the Humbolt Current of cold ocean water that flows north from Antarctica along the west coast of South America. Among the plethora of yummy red wines made with classic grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, aged in traditional oak barrels, which we enjoyed are Unrated, a new, affordable wine marketed by Concha Y Toro, one of the world’s largest wine companies (they know about wine!) headquartered in Santiago and its pricier Heritage label, a Bordeaux blend that’s luscious.
The Willamette Valley in Oregon is considered by wine professionals as the best interpretation of Pinot Noir red wines outside of Europe. German winemaker Ernst Loosen sat down with me to taste his Appassionata Estate wines inspired by the movements from Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Piano Sonata. Three Pinot Noirs, a barrel-fermented Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc and a dry Riesling are ready to drink, with or without Beethoven’s music as an accompaniment.
Let’s take a quick look at Sherry wines from Spain. Englishman Thomas Osborne Mann founded his first winery in 1772 in Cádiz, Spain, where the region’s dry, hot summers and mild winters are the ideal climate for grapes. The in depth tasting of their Sherry wines (Finos, Manzanillas, Amontillados, Olorosos) on location at their headquarters el Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz, one of the oldest and most prestigious in Spain, got me excited about Sherry as an aperitif wine with its unique flavor that enhances cheese and their special cured ham, Cinco Jotas.
Our advice is to swirl, sip, swallow and find wines that complement your taste profile but also don't be afraid to try wines that are unfamiliar because sometimes you’ll be surprised at how great they taste!
In addition to a career in communications and marketing focused on the luxury lifestyle sector, including co-authoring and lecturing a case study on French heritage jeweler Mauboussin with Harvard Business School, Isabelle continues to share her experiences about fine art, wine, travel, jewelry and culture as a freelance writer for internationally based digital publications.