For all of our Dallas/Fort Worth friends and followers, we hope you are somewhere warm, safe, and opening a very good bottle to warm you from the inside this weekend. Today at 11am I will join the news team at KXAS-TV/NBC DFW in Dallas to share some selections that will put you in the mood for romance and keep your nose and toes toasty. More on the wines, and a few perfect pairings below.
And, please subscribe to the blog to receive your weekly dose of wine tips and pairing ideas. I would love to have you join the adventure. #EveryGlassIsAnAdventure
If you’re treating your sweetie to a special night in, bubbles are the perfect beginning. Fun and flirty, and filled with freshness and character, I always look for a traditional method, or Methode Champanoise, sparkling wine, and if it is pink, even better for Valentine’s. Any of these will pair beautifully with light tapas or canapes, grilled lobster or shrimp, or lump crab cakes.
For a classic, delightfully rich, with a medium-body, Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut Rose Champagne ($65) shines with floral rose and fresh berry aromas, followed by wild strawberry, tangerine, and red apple with a distinct note of fresh tarragon and mint, finishing with a creamy nuttiness.
Classic method American options, like Cuvaison Brut Rose ($50) from Carneros, are also ideal. The latest vintage release, 2017 from Cuvaison, includes a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the classic of Champagne, using a variety of clones giving texture, richness, and structure to the beautifully fresh and vibrant sparkler with natural freshness and juicy, fruity flavor profile.
From Anderson Valley, Goldeneye Brut Rose ($65) showcases the complexity, and elegance, of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the rugged, rustic, untamed region of Northern California. Creamy and toasty on the open, with freshly baked bread and marzipan melding with mandarin, verbena, honeysuckle, and ripe melon with just the right note of spice on the finish to keep you going back for more.
When everyone else focused on still wines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Argyle showcased how Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the region would shine as sparkling wine. Today they continue to craft from of the region’s most elevated, approachable sparklers with character. Argyle Blanc de Noir Brut ($35)from Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, blends raspberry, pomegranate, and strawberry-filled Pinot Noir with Pinot Meunier, another classic variety used in Champagne, adding floral notes of violet and rose, creating a fresh, slightly savory sparker that can easily take you from the cocktail hour through dinner.
For enjoying over a leisurely dinner of grilled ribeyes or beef tenderloin with red wine sauce, go bold with a robust red, like a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa.
Bold and powerful, created as a love story about two people, Dave and Christi Ficeli, and their passion and love of each other, and an incredible Oakville vineyard, Game Farm Vineyard. Named in honor of the Elizabeth’s in Christi’s family, “women with grit and determination” according to Christi (Elizabeth,) the fourth dynamic woman to bear the name, C. Elizabeth began in 2002 when the couple dreamed of what their Napa Valley future might be and knew they wanted to create something that would be a lasting legacy for their family, something that would fulfill their passions, producing premium quality wine. When they found their Oakville vineyard, they knew their dreams would become a reality.
C. Elizabeth Game Farm Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($150) highlights the concentrated, highly structured richness found in Napa’s Oakville, with blue and black fruits, followed by licorice, pencil lead, and leathery finish. With the 2017 vintage of the wine, the winery will be giving back to their Napa Community, devastated by the 2017 wildfires, and then hurt again last year with the fires of 2020 in the middle of Covid. C Elizabeth will donate 50% of all sales of the C. Elizabeth Game Farm Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon to the Napa Valley Community Foundation through the month of February (so stock up now!)
Started by 8 couples and friends from Utah, Parallel Napa Valley Cabernet showcases earthy, silky, savory Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, crafted to perfection from celebrated winemaker, Philippe Melka. With a tiny production (less than 600 cases total produced for the entire winery annually) the bold red is ready to be enjoyed upon release, as the idea is to toast with the people you love, celebrating the joy of life and friendship. Complete and complex, melding fresh acidity with a nice astringent note of tannin, Parallel Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($110) opens with floral notes of violet and bay, leading to black cherry, blackberry, roasted espresso, dried woody herb, and tobacco. Bold, yet beautifully balanced, thanks to the expert craftsmanship of Melka, the concentrated wine is perfect for winter weather enjoyment.
Meaning “The Heart of the Vine” Sullivan Vineyards “Coeur de Vigne” Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) brings a touch of Merlot and Malbec to create a floral, earthy, fruit-filled wine balanced with Rutherford earthiness. Silky and smooth, with layers of ripe plum, blueberry, spiced almonds, black truffle, and warm spice like nutmeg, all-spice, and star anise. Though the wine has complexity, it isn’t overpowering, making it easily enjoyable upon release, pairing with anything from braised short ribs or grilled steaks, to barbecue or burgers, lamb chops, even grilled pork chops.
From the volcanic soils of Napa’s high elevation, Howell Mountain, Paraduxx blends a touch of spicy, peppery Syrah into their Paraduxx Howell Mountain Red Blend, ($85) giving the Cabernet dominant wine a spiciness, telling the story of these high elevation vineyards. Strong and striking, with persistence and power, the wine shows layers of woody herb, graphite, black and blueberry, bacon fat, and dark chocolate, with lengthy, dusty tannins.
To end the night, go classic, with rich aged sherry, brandy, or port wine. Each can be paired with creamy flan or caramel custard, nutty dark chocolate desserts, or (my favorite) strong Stilton or nicely aged blue cheese.
Many of the finest Port wines produced in the Upper Douro Valley of Portugal are crafted by the Symington family, including the wines of Dows, Warre’s, Cockburn’s, and Grahams, including dried fruit, pepper, and spice-filled Ruby and Late Bottle Vintage Ports, each phenomenal, showcasing the terroir with and character of their family-owned vineyards dotted throughout the region. But for me, an aged Tawny is the key to my heart. Showcasing the characteristics seasoned oak gives to the wine, revealing harmony and balance in the glass, Graham’s 20 year Tawny Port ($60) layers dried orange peel, toasted cinnamon and nutmeg, dried fig, caramel, and hazelnut.
If you like something a little drier, but still nicely complex and balanced, Gonzalez Byass Lepanto Solera Gran Reserva ($55) brandy from Jerez, Spain. Produced from Palomino grapes since 1866, it is the only Brandy de Jerez produced 100% in Jerez from the Palomino variety. The brandy is aged in 600-Liter Fino casks, used in the traditional Solera system to produce Tio Pepe, now aging the brandy for 15 years, revealing a profile of creamy vanilla, sandalwood, raisins, toasted almond, and warm spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.
Also from Gonzalez Byass, one of the preeminent Sherry producers in Spain started in 1835, Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Oloroso Sherry ($30) produced from the Palomino variety, showing notes of nutty salted peanuts and almond brittle, bitter orange, toasted coffee, and toffee.
Or, slightly sweeter, Nectar Pedro Ximenez ($30) blending predominantly Pedro Ximenez with Palomino and Moscatel to create a palate filled with toasted almond, caramelized orange rind, dried fig, and butterscotch.