AA: I've been thinking about what to write for this column. And I decided that I want to talk about wines that are not only outstanding, but also obtainable. When you read a movie or restaurant review, you can go check it out for yourself and see if the critic has rocks for brains. What good is a wine critic who yaps about a wine with extremely limited production or a back vintage that no one else can find? Sooo, with that in mind, here's my picks:
The Moschofilero grape produces the leading everyday drinking white wine in Greece. I picked up this wine at first just because I dug the label. But I was blown away by the aromas of honeydew melon and tangerine in the first glass. The grapes are grown at an altitude of over 1,900 feet in the Peloponnese region, and the result is a crisp and refreshingly dry white wine that is tailor-made for the "oh so pleasant" Houston summer. The alcohol content is just a hair over 11 percent, so this is one that won't weigh you down and ruin the rest of your day. And the label is definitely cool.
2005 Cabernet Franc
"Excuse me, Dr. Frankenstein?"
The grape is pronounced Franc, not Frank, but whatever. This bottle rocks out as an easy drinking red and is, in my humble opinion, the perfect pizza wine. Cabernet Franc is one of the five major blending grapes in Bordeaux. Because the grape is a little fruitier, lighter in color and less tannic that Cabernet Sauvignon, it can stand on its own. Mitch Cosentino takes the grapes from choice vineyards in Lodi and St. Helena and blends them together to make this gem of a wine. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.
2005 Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley, California
The gang here at The Corkscrew tastes a lot of wine on a daily basis, and everybody has their own likes and dislikes. Occasionally, though, we taste one that everyone just flips out over. Lynmar Pinot Noir is one of those wines. It has an unbelievable blend of dark fruits and soft, smooth tannins. There's none of that warmth from too much alcohol here, and it has a finish that goes on for days. The best part about this wine is that, while it should evolve nicely for around the next two years, it is ready to consume right now which is exactly what I'm doing.
Hollywood & Vine Cellars
Napa Valley, California
Okay, now we're getting close to the "my taste exceeding my means" area, but this is one of those wines that just has to be written about. One of the leading ladies in the world of California wine, Celia Masyczek, winemaker at the Hollywood & Vine Cellars, has produced a little bit of magic in a bottle. You kind of expect a really hot genie to pop out when you open it. Celia takes the fruit from four of the best growing regions in Napa and meticulously blends them together to create a wine with a wonderful fruitiness. There's bright black cherry and blackberry with a little bit of plum all making appearances as you let it glide past your tongue. It takes a while to open up, so it's a good idea to pull the cork, set it on the dining room table and go finish cooking.
If I had an unlimited budget for wine consumption, my first choice would be to take the money and buy a few cases of the first wine I wrote about and go to the Greek islands and find a stunning Greek girl. But if I'm forced to drink alone, then I'm drinking Gaja Barbaresco Contesia. This wine, made from 100 percent Nebbiolo grapes, is the very reason you drink wine. This bottle is full of flawless texture and finish, with an absolute perfect blend of fruit and tannins, and it could very well inspire you to sell your house and move to Piedmont so you can consume it with a little more ease. I get asked a lot which wines go great with hearty Italian food. Italian food/Italian wine it's not rocket science. Drink this for a special occasion, or any occasion you want to make special.