Sparkling – California
Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé, NV (Carneros); $29
Pale peachy apricot color and strawberry/cherry aroma with hints of toast and vanilla; vibrant mousse and bright, clean, tart fruit.
White – Argentina
Trivento White Orchid Torrontés, 2016 (Mendoza); $11
Almost colorless, with floral aroma and hints of lime and minerals; bright and lively with clean, crisp lemon/lime flavor.
White – California
Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc, 2016 (Sonoma County); $15
Aromas of minerals, honeydew and lemon grass; bright and vibrant with zippy acidity and fresh, clean flavor.
White – Chile
Concha Y Toro Frontera Chardonnay, 2016 (Central Valley); $12/1.5L
Pear aroma with a hint of toast; pleasant fruit with notes of baked apple and butterscotch
White – France
Vidal-Fleury Côtes du Rhône Blanc, 2015; $15
Tropical aroma with undercurrents of apple and spice; full flavored and rich with hints of guava, pineapple and citrus.
Ferraton Père & Fils Samorëns Côtes du Rhône Blanc, 2016; $14
Subtle aroma of grass and lemon; full-bodied with crisp acidity and lovely concentrated, tart fruit.
Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc, 2015; $15
Floral and honey aroma with delicate hint of apple; concentrated, vibrant fruit flavor and unctuous texture with a lemon zest finish.
Domaine de la Mordorée La Reine des Bois Lirac Blanc, 2016; $39.95
Very aromatic with notes of spice, stone fruit and florals; full-bodied and loaded with rich tropical fruit and a lingering, opulent finish.
White – Germany
Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Blanc de Noirs Trocken, 2016 (Rheingau); $15.99
Aromas of minerals, florals and stone fruit; vibrant acidity and plentiful fruit with bright tropical notes.
Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Berg Roseneck Riesling Kabinett, 2016 (Rheingau); $15.99
Honeyed pear and mineral aroma; flavorful and fruity with notes of apricot and tropical fruit balanced by crisp acidity.
White – Italy
Franco Serra Gavi DOCG, 2016; $12.99
Subtle almond aroma with hints of lemon; full of mouthwatering flavor of lemon zest and minerals with a bright finish.
Hofstatter Pinot Grigio Alto Adige DOC, 2016; $19
Orange zest and floral aroma; lively, nicely balanced and full flavored with crisp acidity and honeydew notes.
Hofstatter Joseph Gewürztraminer Alto Adige DOC, 2016; $26
Spicy floral and lychee aroma with a hint of orange; smooth and rich with mouth-filling flavor and a delicious honeyed finish.
Rosé – Chile
Casillero del Diablo Rosé, 2016 (Chile); $11
Strawberry/vanilla aroma with a hint of rose petal; crisp and tangy with notes of tart cherry and Red Delicious apple.
Rosé – France
Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé, 2016; $15
Creamy berry aroma with a hint of florals; full-flavored with lively acidity and lush ripe berry notes.
Vidal-Fleury Côtes du Rhône Rosé, 2016; $15
Very floral aromatics with clean berry notes; mouthwatering and fresh with dry raspberry flavor.
Ferraton Père & Fils Samorëns Côtes du Rhône Rosé, 2016; $14
Slatey mineral aroma with delicate floral and cherry notes; tart, bright cherry flavor with racy acidity.
Red – Australia
Penfolds Max’s Shiraz Cabernet, 2015 (South Australia); $22.99
Very deep color and inviting aroma of tobacco, eucalyptus and brambly dark fruit; rich and full of concentrated berry flavor with hints of vanilla and cocoa.
Red – California
Robert Mondavi Winery Maestro, 2014 (Napa Valley); $50
Deep color and complex aroma of earth, florals, cinnamon, toasty oak and black plums; rich fruit with good balancing acidity and tannic backbone.
Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 (Napa Valley); $72
Enticing aromas of dark chocolate, rich black fruit, earth and tobacco; full bodied with concentrated fruit and bold tannins.
Red – France
Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge, 2013; $15
Lovely aroma of rose petals, dark berries, earth and dark chocolate; nicely balanced and medium bodied with good acidity and rich fruit flavor.
Vidal-Fleury Côtes du Rhône Rouge, 2013; $15
Earthy, brambly aroma with hints of vanilla, blueberry and dark cherry; mouth-filling fruit flavor with firm tannins and a big finish.
Château de Sablet Bordeaux, 2016; $12.99
Bright cherry aroma with a hint of rose petal; clean and medium bodied with pleasant, tart fruit and solid tannins.
Red – Italy
Hofstatter Meczan Pinot Nero Alto Adige DOC, 2016; $21
Earthy berry aroma with hints of black licorice and smoke; pleasant and clean with tart cherry notes and bracing acidity.
Franco Serra Barbera d’Alba DOC, 2016; $10.99
Earthy, brambly aroma with notes of black tea; ashy, tannic character with medium body and balanced acidity.
Villa Calcinaia Casarsa, 2013 (Rosso del Colli Della Toscana Centrale IGT); $46.99
Deep inky color; aroma of violets, black currants and black tea; rich, concentrated fruit with solid tannins and tart cherry skin finish.
Prices may vary.
Fortify Your Soul!
As the nights turn chilly, fortified wines begin to beckon. A fireside glass of port or sherry brings perfect mellowness to any evening. Fortified wines are simply wines to which spirit has been added, which raises the alcohol level and stops further fermentation. The styles are many and varied, from bone dry to teeth-rattling sweet. Here are a few available to us here.
Port and Port-style
Port is truly a book-worthy subject, but suffice it to say that it is wine to which brandy has been added. It is almost always quite sweet and falls into either the “ruby” category – bottled when still young and deep red – or the “tawny” category, the best of which have been aged in wood for six years or longer and have taken on a tannish, amber hue.
Churchill’s Dry White Port, NV; $25/500ml
Aromas of figs, dates and maraschino cherries; nutty and mildly sweet, with flavors of toasted walnuts and caramelized sugar.
Churchill’s Reserve Porto, NV; $20
Dried cherry aroma with hints of vanilla and cassis; very fruity and rich with concentrated Mission fig and cherry/mocha notes.
Romariz Fine Ruby Porto, NV; $16.99
Black plum and Mission fig aroma; intensely sweet dried cherry flavor with dark chocolate notes.
Romariz 20 Year Old Tawny Port, NV; $54.99
Butterscotch aroma with nutty overtones and hints of fig and sultanas; sweet and decadent with nut brittle, caramelized sugar flavor. Rich and indulgent.
Romariz Vintage 2011 Porto; $69.95
Deep inky color and vanilla and blueberry compote aroma; robust, rich and sweet with powerful fruit and balancing acidity and tannins.
Quinta do Noval Late Bottled Vintage Port, 2009; $24.99
Very deep color; rich prune plum and fig aroma with a touch of baking spice; concentrated, powerful sweet fruit with notes of vanilla and dark chocolate.
This highly under-appreciated fortified wine comes from the area around Jerez de la Frontera in Andalucia in southwest Spain. White grapes – predominately Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Muscat of Alexandria – are vinified in many styles, varying from the bone dry and somewhat austere fino, to the intensely sweet, thick-bodied cream sherries.
Leyenda Fino Sherry, NV; $14
Nutty, briny aroma with a whiff of cider; clean, crisp and very dry, with toasted nut and rich, dry fig flavor.
Leyenda Oloroso Sherry, NV; $14
Caramelized date and fig aroma; dry and nutty with full, rich flavor of dried fruit, maraschino cherry and almond.
Leyenda Cream Sherry, NV; $14
Rich caramel aroma with a hint of almond; intensely sweet with flavors of brown sugar-coated figs and sweet cherry.
Alvear Cream Pedro Ximénez, NV (Montilla-Moriles); $9.99
Toasty burnt sugar aroma with a hint of vanilla; very sweet and raisiny with a touch of nuttiness.
Leyenda Pedro Ximénez Sherry, NV; $18.99
Caramel apple and Medjool date aroma; intensely sweet and rich with silky, smooth viscous texture.
There’s a near-endless variety of ways to create regional or proprietary fortified wines. The Rivesaltes below has been aged in barrel for several years and allowed to become fully oxidized. The Amore is a Merlot-based, port-style dessert wine with added chocolate flavor.
Domaine de Rancy Rivesaltes Ambré ARC, NV; $27.99
Aromas of spun sugar, nut toffee, crème brûlée and caramel pecans; very sweet and decadent, with sugared fig and baked apple notes.
Trentadue Chocolate Amore, NV (California); $22.99/375ml
Delicate hint of chocolate with aromas of dark cherries and vanilla; delicious, with true chocolate taste and wonderful balance.
These fortified wines made with the addition of herbs and other botanicals are known mainly as cocktail ingredients – dry vermouth for martinis, for example, and sweet vermouth for manhattans – but they can be delightful on their own, over ice with a slice of orange.
La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Blanc, NV (France); $16.99/375ml
Intense herbal aroma with spicy eucalyptus, mint and lime notes; sweet and unctuous with a pleasing bitter edge.
Prices may vary.