Aside from the 37th Winterlude festivities, February can sometimes be dull, so why not sparkle it up with an afternoon brunch or lunch, featuring some new releases. Start with a sparkling or a new white wine and a red. A grouping of cheese, another for meats: interesting cold cuts, salamis’s with a few baguette thins and great mustard, tiny quiches, maybe a little soup (hot or cold) in a shooter, some one bite cupcakes or cocoa brownies to finish. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to make it fun and very satisfying. Introduce a little Port when the cappuccino machine goes on and folks will be talking about this for ages. Different and edgy.
Now this is why I love winter!
AC, Rhône, France
$17.95 (Vintages # 392555) 11.5% alcohol
The aromas are like putting your face into a bouquet of roses. Pale golden in colour, those tiny bubbles are just bursting with ripe strawberry and raspberry flavours that continue to effervesce with lemon-lime juiciness. It is a beautiful sparkling wine, perfect for a brunch or to share with a special someone during February. Would be divine with strong cheeses or just on its own.
Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand
$18.95 (Vintages #225557) 13.5% alcohol
While not new to Vintages, this 2013 release offers everything in a great Sauvignon Blanc. Pale in colour with lively green apple flavours that give your mouth a vivacious squirt of acidity. Very fresh with lots of lemon-lime on the palate this white wine is also soft and creamy, with a tangy and clean finish. Not overpowering but there’s lots of backbone and it will stand up to spinach spanakopitas.
Barossa Valley, Australia
$24.95 (Vintages #995092) 14.5% alcohol
You can’t go wrong with a 65% Shiraz, 25% Mataro and 10% Grenache blend. Aromas of ripe plums and sweet spice carry through to the palate in this bold rich wine. Smooth as silk on the tongue with soft tannins and a fruity finish almost reminiscent of Christmas cake. Layered and complex, lots going on with every sip and you could easily cellar this beauty for a few years. This red wine would be fabulous with a Cottage pie and don’t skimp on the garlic mash topping.
$14.95 (Vintages #232652) 14% alcohol
Dark and inky in colour, smokey aromas waft from the glass. After just one sip of this red wine, sweet, very ripe dark berries coat the palate that seem to last forever. Blackberries and sweet spice permeate the long fruit finish. Tannins are soft but complex, the wine has good body and would stand up handsomely with anything grilled or some hot salami and olives. It’s also a great sipper on its own with a page turner book and a fireplace.
Warre’s Warrior Finest Reserve Port
$16.95 (Vintages# 197202) 20% alcohol
DOP means Protected Denomination of Origin which means it has identifiable characteristics from a certain area in Portugal. With an unbelievable price point it did not disappoint. “Warrior” is the oldest brand of Port in the world, having been shipped continuously since the 1750’s.
A nose of buttered toast, hazelnuts and coffee, it is so big and smooth and deliciously sweet on the palate it reminded me of raisin pecan pie. Silky red fruits partner with the above on the tongue making this one delicious drink. I also got a little lemon and licorice the finish, the flavours did not stop coming and I was pretty impressed for that price. With some strong smelly cheese and a bowl of warm mixed nuts, that would be a powerful afternoon or after dinner delight. (Would also make a great hostess gift).