This month's top picks
Enero, Janvier, Gennaio, January…onward !
’14 is already getting smaller in the rearview. It’s time, not just to turn the page, but to toss the whole danged calendar in the recycling (both literal and metaphoric) and start anew with twelve fresh pages. It’s also time to recalibrate our corkscrews and churchkeys as we polish the glasses and set the table for another go-round. Meanwhile, we’re renewing last year’s resolution (and the one before, and before that…) to keep bringing you the most honest-to-goodness delicious, responsibly farmed, passionately produced wines, beers and ciders we can find. There you have it. Here we go. Life is short, make every glass count. Happy New Year.
Domaine Laguille Ugni Blanc-Colombard Côtes de Gascogne — $8.50
Wake up your palate and your appetite with this delicious bargain. Notes of sassy citrus, meadow flowers and cool minerality highlighted by brilliant acidity make for an exuberant sip—that strongly suggests another (and another…).
Domaine Laguille Rosé Côtes de Gascogne — $8.50
This bright, spicy bottle of pink refreshment offers notes of pink grapefruit and strawberry, highlighted by crisp acidity. A great, every day, go-to bottle!
Domaine Laguille Merlot Côtes de Gascogne — $8.50
Lively, robust and bursting with fresh, ripe red fruit, this wine is just plain easy to like. Notes of spice and an earthy note lend complexity and character. Great with sturdy fare, from grilled meats to roast chicken or moderately assertive cheeses.
Medici Ermete Lambrusco Secco — $11.50
Finally, Lambrusco is shaking its 1970's - induced stigma to be recognized as yet another of Emilia-Romagna’s gifts to our mouths and souls. Ripe blackcaps, alluring hints of rhubarb, a savory not and a veil of bubbles...you get the picture. This wine begs the company of your bistecca, salmon formaggio (amazing with parmigiano reggiano), your favorite ragu… et cetera. An essential bottle in any well – stocked ‘fridge!
House of Independent Producers (HIP) chardonnay — $12
You could spend three times the loot for Washington chardonnay – and not get near the pleasure this delcious, un-oaked, Chablis – inspired wine offers. Highlighting pure, lemony varietal flavors, entwined with notes of gravelly, sage-tinged terroir, this is among our new favorites. An outstanding value!
House of Independent Producers (HIP) merlot — $12
Here’s a reminder that there’s plenty more to merlot than many of us have come to think. This one shows the varietal's capacity to offer power and grace in its expression of the vineyard, in this case the renowned Bacchus Vineyard, known for merlot that’s both approachable and well structured. Think red fruits wrapped around a core of dark cherry, tinged with spice and a certain high lonesome note. It’s a beauty, and worth twice the price!
House of Independent Producers (HIP) cabernet sauvignon — $12
Yes, Virginia, there still are cabernets like this. Yes, even in the wild, wild west, even for such a pittance. A lean (but generous), sturdy, racy, bold expression of cassis and blackberry fruit, accented with notes of wild herb and blackberry leaf. Real cabernet, in other words. Unadorned, sans obfuscating oak and jam-jar ripeness. Just plain good!
Powers Viognier — $12
Talk about exceeding expectations! This is just plain delicious - and astoundingly affordable given the first-rate quality. Most importantly, it smells and tastes like viognier - viognier with "just-right" ripeness, so that all the lovely high tones of nectarine and white peach fruit can weave a lush texture for notes of lychee nut and tangerine to add bright accents. Lovely!
Maison Dénuzière Côtes du Rhône "les Septentrionales" — $11.50
Like its Provençal origins, this bold, but agile wine is infused with a sense of light. It’s an energy that dances on the palate with lively red berries while framing its brooding notes of dark fruit. Ripe, tangy cherry and raspberry fruit greet the nose, woven with notes of garrigues and mineral. That theme plays again on the palate, where it’s joined by a whiff of black cherry and warm stones. Easy to drink and great with everything from grilled salmon or tuna to pizza or pasta.
Le Cirque Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes rouge — $13.25
The Pays Catalanes are to the rest of the Languedoc -- Roussillon as the Duero is to Rioja, a darker shade of berry fruit, more pronounced notes of Moroccan spice and dark chocolate -- and a generally sun-splashed, wind - swept ruggedness. Case in point, this amazing blend of carignan, grenache and syrah that wears its juicy black raspberry, bittersweet chocolate and savory notes with a bright, easy-to-drink freshness.
Godelia Bierzo blanco — $15
While the words “Spanish wine” are often nearly synonymous with “red wine”, that shouldn’t let keep you from enjoying some of the world’s most singular, enchanting white wines (like this one). Made primarily of the indigenous godello and dona blanca grapes, it’s vibrant, racy and edgy, while offering a generous texture bright citrus fruit, accented with hints of apricot, chamomile and mountain herbs. An undercurrent of minerals rounds out a gorgeous bottle of wine. Arriving early January.
Godelia Bierzo tinto — $17.75
We’re convinced that Bierzo should be the Next Big Thing—but are betting that it won’t (it has way too much character for that). Think red fruits: cabernet franc – like edginess and brilliance married with seductive, pinot-like bright cherry notes. Add a minerally note, high harmonies of savory tones and muscular, agile energy and you’re getting the idea. Wrap it all in a gorgeous texture that’s brimming with racy energy and you’ll be pouring your second glass right away. Arriving early January.
New Year. New Beer. Be Hoppy.
Fremont Brewing “Spring 77” six-pack cans — $10
Spring may still be a couple pages deeper in the calendar, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have it in your beer glass (or straight from the can). This tasty session IPA is a tip of the cap to yesteryear’s Horlucks and Sicks Brewing Companies, and their flagship beers 66 Select and Rainier. As with the entire lineup of Fremont’s offerings, this is danged fine beer—and at a mere 4% ABV, you’re sure to need/want a few.
Full Sail Double Bock — $8.25
Check out Full Sail’s newest edition in their Pub Series lineup, lush, full-bodied and layered with flavors and aromas of caramel, coffee, dried figs and chocolate, nicely accented with Santiam and Perle hops. Oh, so satisfying…
A Session for the 12th Man? — $12.50
Any beer-drinking 12th Man knows that the only thing better than victory is victory and beer, preferably something both delicious and easy enough on the both the taste buds and the brain to invite another and another. Something "sessionable". Like Session 12-packs (of course). Check out the new IPA and the current offering in the “Session Series” line-up – Export Lager. And, at just about a buck per beer, who’s to argue?
Thirsty for more?
Get to know PCC Beer and Wine Merchandiser Jeff Cox through Notes from the Cellar, a chronicle of his adventures in and ruminations on wine.
The fine print:
All tasting notes are written by the PCC wine team, except where attributed otherwise — and in those cases, we wholeheartedly agree, and simply couldn't say it any better ourselves.