To wrap up the year I’m dedicating this column to novelty. 2014 is on the horizon and there’s nothing like a New Year to inspire a fresh approach to life and love. This is a time to try something you’ve never heard of, or take something you like to the next level. Take a risk. Test new waters. And don’t stop until you find something that truly thrills you!
I was hesitant to go in a different direction at work, and when I finally relented and took someone’s rather revolutionary advice… well, visit DiVino to see for yourself. This year I met some people whom I would never have given a second thought, and they filled my life with color. I even opened up an old door (so old I walked past him in the park without noticing), but with new eyes. It’s been truly inspiring.
So here are my wine selections, chosen for their originality, novelty, or just plain quirkiness. Don’t be afraid. You’ve got a whole year ahead to make and correct mistakes!
1. Anthony Napa Anomoly 2012
Anthony Nappa has been referred to as the darling of North Fork Wine Country for his enterprising production as well as for his support of tiny winemakers. His wines are available to taste alongside those of other producers at The Winemaker’s Studio. In what the Italian’s call an enoteca regionale, here you can sample local flavors alongside cheese charcuterie plates. It’s a brilliant addition to my favorite domestic wine region. Anomoly is Napa’s Pinot Noir rosé – or ramato-style Pinot Noir. As he says, it’s designed to challenge your perceptions. A white wine made from red grapes, it’s salmon-pink in color, pure and un-oaked, with notes of ripe strawberries and white cherries. The finish is long and bright, sort of like the outlook on 2014.
2. Leib Pinot Blanc Reserve 2011
Not only is Pinot Blanc a departure from the ubiquitous and crowd-pleasing, if rarely mind-altering Pinot Grigio, but it’s also uncommon outside of Alsace, let alone North America. I had a bottle of this at the tail end of a jarring weekend. It was so unexpectedly delicious we all felt at peace when it was gone, and promptly ordered another bottle. I know what you’re thinking, but the wine was sincerely nuanced, with tropical (if contained) notes of star fruit, lemongrass, lime, as well as an opulent creamy rosy quality. It intensifies as it opens, but stays consistently zesty and clean at the finish.
3. Le Vigne di Zamò Pinot Grigio (Ramato)
Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Gris, lies, color-wise, between Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. If pressed with the skins, it comes out pink and is referred to as ramato. This wine comes from Friuli, an area in northeastern Italy known for extremely intense mineral notes and a very distinctive character. This one has all of the floral and fruity aromas of Pinot Noir, but in a toned-down memory-of kind of way. Once you’ve had this, Pinot Grigio will never be the same.
4. Fay Ronco del Picchio Sforzato di Valtellina 2007
You may have heard of Amarone, the red wine from the Veneto made from dried Corvina and Rondinella grapes. Sforzato, or Sfurzat, in the local dialect comes from Lombardia, Italy, an area close to the Swiss border. Like Amarone, it’s also made from raisins, but 100% Nebbiolo (Chiavenasca as it’s called locally) – the same grape used for Barolo and Barbaresco in the neighboring region of Piemonte. Intense, full-bodied and warm, Sforzato (especially with some age) exhibits a whole range of aromas, from dried fruit and leather to tar, coffee and black licorice.
So pop the cork on one of these bottles… or on your love life… and inspire a fresh approach to life and love in the New Year!