Winter’s wines are bold, seductive, and ripe for tasting.
By Irene Moore
Now that winter has arrived, it’s time for more full-bodied, colder-weather wines — “colder” being relative of course, depending on where you live. In wintry climes, these wines — big, heart-warming wines — are meant to be drunk with winter’s comfort foods: heavier meats, pastas, risottos, and rich desserts. You can still enjoy the most luxurious wines in the world — rich Champagne, full-bodied reds, and honey-dripping Sauternes — even if temperatures go no lower than 70 degrees. Just close your eyes, and imagine a fire crackling in the fireplace, with the smell of something delectable roasting in the oven.
SEDUCTIVE AND EXPENSIVE
CHATEAU PÉTRUS POMEROL 2005
The Chateau Petrus vineyard in Bordeaux is one of the most famous in the world. The wines are classics, among the most expensive money can buy. In Pomerol, on Bordeaux’s Right Bank, Merlot achieves its greatest triumph. The secrets behind its quality are old vines and the perfectionism of its terroir. The average holding is only 6.5 hectares, so quantities of the wine are limited and, therefore, pricey. Made exclusively of Merlot grapes, the Chateau Petrus Pomerol Pomerol 2005 is the ultimate in seductiveness, with a rich, velvety texture and sumptuous bouquet. Dark ruby in color, it is a powerful, full-bodied, tannic wine. It has aromas of blackberry and green olive, with a hint of mineral. Its mouthfeel is super-caressing, and it has notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and berry, concentrated with black cherry and mocha. $5,000, 750 ml.
PROFOUND AND DESIRABLE
PENFOLDS GRANGE 2009
Known mostly as Shiraz in the New World — in France, it is Syrah — this grape is responsible for some of the most desirable wines in Australia, particularly from Penfolds in the Barossa Valley. No other wine company in the world can match Penfolds for its sheer quality and variety of wines. Penfolds’ style, like most Aussies, has never been shy and retiring. Here the warmer climate produces a riper, more-powerful wine. It has notes of ripe, rich, sweet fruit — often oak-influenced — with rounded-tannic structure. This full-bodied, deep, garnet-colored wine puts forward a vivid expression of blackberry-preserve aromas amid underlying cassis, black-cherry, spice-box, and chocolate-box notes. Its taste profile is concentrated in floral, cassis, and spice. $700, 750 ml.
VIBRANT AND JUICY
ARCHAVAL-FERRER MALBEC BELLA VISTA 2011
This gutsy red wine’s varietal composition is 100% Malbec from the Mendoza region. Full of spicy red berry flavors, the grape originated in France and is now widely grown in Argentina, where it produces deep-colored wines with powerful tannins. The Bella Vista 2011 vintage is vibrant and juicy, with notes of crushed blackberry, blueberry and dark raspberry. It has fine tannins and accents of wildflower, graphite and cured tobacco lingering on the fruit-filled finish. Founded by a group of Italian and Argentine friends in 1998, who had a dream of bringing Argentine wine to the forefront of the world’s wine culture, they remain a small winery in order that their wines remain top quality. Each of the wines is a different expression of Malbec. $140, 750 ml.
DARK AND EXPRESSIVE
VEGA SICILIA ÚNICO GRAN RISERVA 2004
Spain’s Castilla y Leon, the Ribero del Duero’s region’s oldest, most-prestigious, fine-wine bodega was founded in 1864. It continues to turn out the quality wines for which it became famous — even before Ribero del Duero was on the world’s fine-wine map. The legendary Único Tempranillo blend is Vega Sicilia’s flagship. The qualities of the Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, in different proportions, are assembled to perfection in this wine. Each provides a factor that makes the wine great in every vintage. If not quite the heavy, oaky giant of the Ribero del Duero’s past, it remains beautifully constructed and harmonious, with dark, powerful fruit. It offers an infinite complexity that, on the palate, is immensely silky and elegant and has an ageing capacity that only a handful of wines in the world can claim. $250, 750 ml.
ABUNDANT AND OPULENT
CHATEAU MOUTON ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC 1986
Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac 1986 is one of the classics of Bordeaux’s vinous empire. In 1945, Baton Philippe de Rothschild celebrated the end of World War II by commissioning a contemporary artist to create an original work for the new vintage. The tradition is still carried on to this day. Famous contributors include George Braque, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol. Rich and opulent, this Bordeaux blend is a profound expression of a great northern Medoc vintage. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, it has a subdued bouquet of minerals, blackcurrants, smoky new oak, and spices. Its elegant taste profile displays notes of vanilla and leather. $2,000, 750 ml.