Sara’s Sommelier Selections – Jan 4, 2014

Sara d'Amato

Sara d’Amato

There was a lot to love about the January 4th VINTAGES release, which features a real smorgasbord of wines without a great deal of focus. Now that the holiday craze has come to a close, I think it is safe to say that we’re all lacking a bit of focus ourselves. Since we could all use a little healthy redirection, this week I’m featuring wholesome food pairings to inspire us to get back on track.

Flat Rock Riesling 2012
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario ($16.95)

Cline Viognier 2012Flat Rock Riesling 2012Flat Rock’s new winemaker and a former classmate of mine, Jay Johnson, is really showing his prowess with this tension-filled, delightfully nervy riesling at a price that is difficult to beat. Riesling is thought of, in the wine world, as having certain “cleansing” properties due to its ability to sweep any cumulative flavour or textural buildup from the palate while refreshing it with crisp acids. Here is an example that is sure to sharpen your senses.

Food pairing: Vietnamese Pho Soup

Cline Viognier 2012
North Coast, California ($17.95)

This indulgent treat is far less detrimental than most holiday desserts but has a similar generosity in flavour and mouthfeel. I love the sultry, feminine character of this wine and its voluptuous body, which gives it a comforting sensation. Cline has become known as California’s Rhone varietal specialist and this viognier lives up to its reputation.

Food Pairing: Gingered carrots with slivered almonds

Rabl Kittmansberg Grüner Veltliner 2011
Kamptal, Austria ($14.95)

Clifford Bay Pinot Noir 2011Rabl Kittmansberg Grüner Veltliner 2011Light, fresh, clean and perky – this is the way we hope to feel in the New Year as all the crash dieting and exercise begins and self-indulgence comes to a halt. This grüner is filled with all the distinctive pep and spice that makes this varietal easily food friendly and uniquely thought provoking.

Food Pairing: Roasted Halibut with braised fennel

Clifford Bay Pinot Noir 2011
Marlborough, New Zealand ($19.95)

Here is a stylish, nicely balanced but potently flavourful pinot noir exhibiting the freshness of Marlborough. Will not leave you feeling full but is certainly complex and compelling. With low tannins, few sulfites, moderate alcohol and a dry palate – you’ll ensure a more pleasant morning-after.

Food Pairing: Tuna and Tofu salad

Quinta Das Camélias Reserva 2010
Dão, Portugal ($13.95)

J. L. Chave Selection Offerus St Joseph 2011Quinta Das Camélias Reserva 2010One of my favourite aspects of the holidays are the aromas and I’m always sad to say goodbye to that fragrant pine tree, eat the last of the spiced cookies and burn the final bayberry candle (romantic to the core). Here’s a wine that will help curb the longing for the fragrance of the holidays – wines of the Dao have a unique aroma profile that combines notes of pepper and clove along with violets and red berries. This example is sure to satiate (with fewer calories).

Food Pairing: Black rice and beet risotto

J. L. Chave Selection Offerus St Joseph 2011
Rhône, France ($33.95)

Finally, the reds of the Northern Rhône, produced entirely of syrah, can often exhibit terrific focus, length and heady appeal. If you’re looking to sharpen your senses and challenge your palate (trying to regain some sanity after the holidays) then here is a good bet. This traditionalist family is known for producing soulful wines of great complexity that are worth the premium price.

Food pairing: Tabouleh salad with spiced, shredded beef

Happy recovery!


Editors Note: You can find Sara d’Amato’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

From the Jan 4, 2014 VINTAGES release:

Sara’s Sommelier Selections
All Reviews

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