Almost daily, Im tasting a wide range of spirits, wines and beers, whether at restaurants and bars, distilleries, wineries or breweries or as samples crossing my desk. In the month of February, here are my top 5 wines tasted February beer highlights are here and spirits here.
1. 2010 Vigneto Saetti Rosato dell’EmiliaThe hands-on, family production of 2010 Vigneto Saetti Rosato dell’Emilia from Modena is evident from the silky fabric label to the humbly printed note inside the bottle seal explaining the wine’s small, organic production from winemaker Luciano Saetti.
It’s a fantastic Lambrusco, dry, funky, earthy yet elegant with subtle strawberry, merely hinting at the depth and range of Lambrusco available in the unreal Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, one of my beloved lifetime travels. Purchase at LA wine shop great, Domaine LA, for $18.99.
2. 2011 Ravines Riesling at AL’s Place
At my favorite restaurant opening of the year thus far, AL’s Place, rare (outside of NY) upstate New York Riesling is on the menu, thanks to Sam Bogue (from Central Kitchen), who consulted on the thoughtful beer and wine selections. The dry, complex (thanks to a whole cluster press) 2011 Ravines Riesling from vineyards on the east side of Seneca Lake is an ideal companion to chef Aaron London’s stunning vegetable and seafood-forward dishes. Purchase directly from the winery for $24.95.
3. 2013 Pascal Janvier “Cuvée Silex” Jasnieres Chenin Blanc at Francis
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I’m crazy about Loire wines and this Chenin Blanc from a tiny vineyard and butcher-turned-winemaker, Pascal Janvier, reflects the terroir of its chillier climate and clay, limestone and flint soils. It’s all mineral, crisp satisfaction, lovely with the likes of Francis chef Melissa Perello’s silky Mt. Lassen red trout ($29), partnered with potatoes, grilled leeks and a smoky mustard-caper relish. Purchase from Kermit Lynch or K&L for roughly $22.
4. 2012 Petalos Bierzo Descendientes at Mourad
Another transporting wine, I was delighted to be served a Galician wine during the striking tasting menu at the new Mourad. Served with hand-rolled couscous, redolent of flowers, herbs, preserved lemon, this complex red 2012 Petalos Bierzo Descendientes sings of Spain‘s surprising Northwest region, Galicia. The wine’s herbaceous and floral notes play with espresso, spice, plum, all with a velvety mouthfeel. Purchase online at K&L for $19.99.
5. 2010 Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva at FlorioBy the bottle at Florio for a reasonable $44, or around $25 online, this small production (under 800 cases) 2010 Tenuta di Arceo Chianti Classico Riserva transports me straight back to the region (and my Tuscan honeymoon), reaching perfection paired with pastas from Florio’s new chef Colin Dewey.
A bowl of his excellent tagliolini and meatballs or strotzapretti is stunning with this comforting Sangiovese, exhibiting dark fruit, tobacco, earth, spice and sheer comfort.