Wine for Lovers–And Others

By HOLLY ENDERSBY

Valentine’s Day is all about love….and so is wine. Without love and attention, vines wouldn’t be cared for, grapes wouldn’t be harvested, and YEARS wouldn’t be spent on creating the best wine possible.

So drinking wine is really imbibing love! And this is the month to share some extraordinary wines with that special someone.

Root: 1 2017 Carmenere

While I like many different wines, one of my favorite varieties is from the carmenere grape. This grape was decimated in Europe during the Phylloxera infection that destroyed so many vines. But fortunately, ungrafted, original rootstocks survived in Chile.

An especially delicious carmenere wine is offered under the label, Root: 1.

The label refers to the fact that these wines are made from vines that have never been grafted onto other rootstocks that are more disease resistant. Their “roots” are, therefore, intact and undiluted.

Produced from grapes harvested in 2012 in the Colchagua Valley, the 2017 Root: 1 carmenere is perfect with a wide variety of foods.

The summer temperatures in the Colchagua Valley of Chile in 2012 were unusually hot, resulting in grapes with intense flavor that ripened two to three weeks early. Open the bottle, and let it breath for a few minutes. Then pour this deep, deep violet-colored wine, and simply enjoy the beautiful color before tasting it.

Take a moment to inhale the aroma of rich, ripe deep purple plums and luscious, fresh blackberries.

Our first sip of this lovely wine did not disappoint: it has soft tannins and a rich, mouth-full flavor that lingers on the palette. It also has just a hint of spice—perhaps cardamom—and a bit of black pepper that adds to the complexity of this wine.

Root: 1 blends 85-percent carmenere with 15-percent Syrah to achieve this lovely wine, which I found at WinCo. It is an exceptional buy.

For goodness sakes, don’t leave with only one bottle! We enjoyed this wine with meat-rich lasagna.

Rodney Strong Chalk Hill 2009 Chardonnay

I’ve long been a fan of Rodney Strong wines, and this month’s selection of their Chalk Hill 2009 Chardonnay is perfect for celebrating Valentine’s Day.

The area the grapes come from is in the middle of Sonoma county, along the eastern edge of the Russian River Valley. The soil there is such an important part of the development of this wine: the chalk gives it a mineral character that is integral to this delicious white.

The original owner, Rodney Strong, planted the area with Chardonnay grapes in 1977, and Chalk Hill earned the AVA designation in 1982. Although the wine is fermented in French oak barrels, I don’t find the oak overpowering, which can happen if not carefully watched.

Instead, the influence of the oak rounds out the wine and gives it depth I often find lacking in white wine. Our group enjoyed this balanced wine tasting of ripe yellow apples, complemented by just a hint of light spice. You’ll notice a long, creamy-smooth finish to this fine wine, and the touch of minerality brings a freshness to the finish as well.

Chalk Hill would be delightful with Parmesan-encrusted halibut, sautéed shrimp, or crispy roast chicken all of which make for a great Valentine dinner.

If you can’t find the 2009 bottling, don’t be afraid to try subsequent years of the Chalk Hill Chardonnay: you’ll not be disappointed.

Erath 2016 Pino Noir

Oregon is known for its Pinot Noir, and one of the premier producers is Erath Winery in the hills near Dundee. This winery is situated along the 45th Parallel, at the same latitude as the Cotes du Rhone in France and the Piedmont wine region of Italy.

Understanding the potential for wine production at this latitude, Dick Erath first planted Pinot Noir grape vines in the Dundee Hills in 1969. The climate in the northern part of the Willamette Valley embraces long springs, warm, gentle summers with evening marine breezes from the coast, and cooler falls. This produces a Pinot Noir quite different from the California wines using the same grapes.

If you are familiar with California Pinot Noir you will find those wines more pronounced and assertive than the Oregon Pinot.

The 2016 Erath was very fruit-forward, ruby-red in color, and tasting of lush, ripe Bing cherries.

Unlike many California Pinot Noir wines, the Erath wine has much softer tannins that complement the taste instead of dominating it. This is a wine that will not upstage food, but will delicately complement many different menus.

Erath’s Pinot Noir is light, but not insipid, subtle yet distinctive, and enjoyable with or without a meal. This vintage was given 90 points by both The Wine Advocate and the Wine Spectator in 2018.

Although the vineyard and winery were purchased in 2006 by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the buyer committed to carrying the Erath brand and dedication forward.

If you haven’t visited the northern Oregon wine country, you are missing out on a wonderful trip. Erath Winery is southwest of Portland and easy to get to.

Make time to enjoy the $30 Wine and Cheese Experience the tasting room offers. It’s a chance to enjoy several delicious Erath wines paired with exceptional regional cheeses.

With any of these three wines, you’ll be sure to have a delightful Valentine’s Day….or any day for that matter! MSN

 

 

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