Mas Janeil Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France
I drank the Mas Janeil from a jar, because I have paws too clumsy for stemware, and was struck by the jam-scent of blackberries, which made me feel like a bear. Maybe I became, for a moment, a bear sunning himself on warming rock, alongside some peppery vines, drinking this extraordinary wine, chewing a leaf. In my dreams, an old black bear often speaks to me and offers sage advice; in my next dream, I will not be surprised if the bear carries this wine’s brightness on his breath.
Bodega Catena Zapata, Catena Alta Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
The Catena Alta Malbec is rich without being gaudy, full-bodied minus the flab, and reminiscent of all things at the perfect tipping point between complexity and abstruseness. The color of rubies, and the round plushness of cherries; the deep density of dark chocolate; the supple glean and shimmer of velvet. Best served beside a flame — campfire or candle, jam jar or stemware — and accompanied by red meat, hearty cheese, crusty bread. It is the adult beverage for adult pursuits.
Zenato Ripassa, Veneto, Italy
Valpolicella wines make you drift and come alert at the same time—a varietal that relaxes you enough for the eyes and heart, the organs of perception, to lift independent. A wine that frees the best parts of you. Zenato’s Ripassa is a beautiful Valpolicella because for the moments you drink it, you are the person you intended to be, and for a few moments every year sometimes are. It induces a sort of aspirational nostalgia: it accepts you as you are now, and for the duration of the bottle lets you be the person—contemplative yet elegant, fun but refined—you set out as. Its mood is autumnal, if Fall skipped Winter and curved directly round in to April. It reminds you, promises you, vines you into the belief that there is still time, with a fresh start after.
Clos du Gaimont Vouvray, Loire, France
My first taste of the Vouvray was refreshingly minty with a gritty, full mouth feel. Then I realized I had just brushed my teeth. A sommelier friend told me this was not considered best practices. I waited four hours and tried again. My second attempt was pure delight! It teased my nose with a delicate floral bouquet. The taste was a rich, solid lemon without harsh acidity. It had a spectacularly smooth finish. This Vouvray is highly drinkable. Perhaps too drinkable. As I stare at the empty bottle, I can’t help but ask, Voulez-vous vouvray avec moi?
The Dome Chardonnay, South Africa
The first time I fell in love with wine, I was at a dinner party where a big buttery Chardonnay was served. Until then I’d only had bad Chablis and that sip of Chardonnay ruined me for life. The Dome Chardonnay delivers that smooth butterscotchy taste I crave, and then some. It’s bold and beautiful and even better than that long ago sip. Swoon.
Bieler Père et Fils Rosé, Provence, France
The Bieler rosé tastes like biting into a freesia-infused apple in a sexy-hippy version of the garden of Eden. Its clean, light taste seems to promise that attractive strangers are about to drape your body in crisp, sun-dried linen before leading you to a hammock where sultry events will unfold. And with this rosé you don’t have to worry about morning-after guilt, because one sip will make even regret taste sweet.
Mastroberardino Lacrimarosa, Campania, Italy
The wine is Mastroberardino’s Rosato from Campania. Your wife pours a glass and you watch: the drink rolling wetly out of the bottle, that cruel glug-glugg, the seething pink of it. You cannot (new medication, sadistic doctor) have any yourself. What’s it like? Oh, this? She uses the word “delicate”; the word “fruity”; she uses the word “bouquet.” You hate her in this moment. You ask for more detail. There is white peach, there is raspberry, she says; there is even plum. You can smell it, you think, from across the table: wild strawberries, sweetness on the nose, though it’s your mouth that waters. She finishes the wine very quickly, the whole bottle, and is all smiles, and somehow you go on.
Szigeti Grüner Veltliner Brut, Burgenland, Austria
ROWAN RICARDO PHILLIPS
Like the atmosphere of a good book that stays with you long after you put it down, this sparkling Grüner is more than just its rich and spectacular finish––it is a delicate and compelling experience of taste, in which an elegant mix of fruit, pepper, citrus and bubbles delight the taste buds and, with its fine body and scent, invite the other senses to join in on the fun.
The Winebow Group
Bieler Père et Fils
Special thanks to Kristen & Charles Bieler