As we can all agree, 2020 feels like the longest year ever and we are only half way through as I write this post. Here in Vermont our stay at home order went into effect mid March and luckily we are slowly opening up a little more each week. At times this pandemic has seemed very surreal, almost like I am in a bad dream. Unfortunately, it is very real and has taken a huge toll on all of humanity across the globe. The silver lining however is that it has forced many people to reevaluate their priorities and has allowed them to spend precious moments with their families that they may not have gotten otherwise. Dinnertime in my house has been the highlight of the day.
I really enjoy cooking and as many of you already know I love drinking wine! The wine buying has increased quite a bit over the last few months. Between curbside pickup, free shipping offered from some favorite wineries, and the fact that all of our grocery stores have a pretty decent selection, I’ve been able to acquire some old favorites as well as some new finds. Below are what I feel are the best wines I’ve had during the Covid-19 lockdown. These are new wines that I previously hadn’t tried before and they are featured in no particular order.
MONTEVETRANO COLLI DI SALERNO IGT 2009
Prior to the stay at home order, one of our organic food stores, Healthy Living, had a huge sale on wine. This bottle may have been the best value on the shelf. Normally selling for $65 to $80, we picked this up for $34.99! Montevetrano Colli di Salerno is a dry, deep ruby red wine is from the appellation Colli di Salerno in the Campania region of Italy. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Merlot 30%, and Aglianico 10%. As this had quite some age on it I was a little concerned that it may be past it’s prime hence the sale price. Fortunately, this wine is aging exactly as it should in the bottle. I decanted this for a bit prior to serving and the aromas were quite pronounced. Tons of dried fruit (prune, dried cherry), leather, and caramel. Full body, high acidity, with medium, nicely softened tannins and medium alcohol 13.5%. Sadly I went back to the store recently and as I expected this delicious wine was sold out. Time to try some newer vintages to see how they compare!
VIETTI BARBERA D’ASTI TRE VIGNE 2017
Here is another Italian gem found on sale at Healthy Living from a top producer, Vietti. This dry, red wine is 100% Barbera from the town of Asti in the Piedmonte region. I found it to be deep ruby in color with medium body, medium acidity, medium tannins, and medium alcohol 13.5%. Aromas of red cherries, mushroom, and dusty leaves with flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and vanilla on the palate. I loved this Barbera so much I went back last week and bought another bottle to cellar. Best part was it is still on sale for $16.99!
LOCATIONS F5 RED NV
I have had several wines from Dave Phinney’s Locations project over the years and I think this is such a fun way to travel the wine world through a bottle. Locations F5 red is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc from the Roussillon, Rhône, and Bordeaux regions in France. This dry, full bodied wine is high in alcohol 15% abv, with medium acidity and medium tannins. The nose for me was all red cherry and vanilla but primarily black fruit on the palate. Blackberry and black cherry with some baking spice and black pepper on the finish. I finished off almost the entire bottle myself and paid for it the next day with a throbbing head- but it was so good! Next up for me in this Locations series is the F rosé. I’m also very interested in trying New Zealand (NZ) and Texas (TX) if I can get my hands on them! I usually see this line of wines available from a lot of retailers. I happened to find mine in our Hannaford supermarket chain for less than $20.
LLOPART BRUT RESERVA ROSÉ 2016
I enjoy a lot of different wine styles but two of my loves are bubbly from just about any region and rosé. I love to drink pink and better yet let it sparkle in my glass! This sparkling rosé is a Corpinnat, a new category of sparkling wine from Penedes, Spain. Several Spanish sparkling producers have elected to leave the Cava DO and Llorpart is one of them. This pretty, bright pink rosé is a blend of Monastrell 58%, Garnacha 21%, and Pinot Noir 21%. It is dry and made in the traditional method (second fermentation in the bottle), and 12% abv. Juicy red berries and bread aromas from the lees on the nose with smooth, strawberry yogurt on the palate. I opened this bottle to kick off my birthday celebration this year and was very happy I chose it for my special occasion. Llopart Brut Reserva Rosé 2016 was #51 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2019 and was purchased on wine.com for $26.99.
NV VIGNEAU CHEVREAU VOUVRAY VIGNEAU SELECTION PÉTILLANT BRUT
There are so many alternatives to Champagne that offer great value in the category of sparkling wine and this sparkling Vouvray from Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau in the Loire Valley, France is one of them. This is 100% Chenin Blanc and is also made in the traditional method. Pure gold in the glass, dry, with fine bubbles and bright acidity. Alcohol is 12.5% abv. Notes of crisp apple and lemon are followed by brioche on the finish. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I purchased this bottle and I believe it made the move from Jersey with us. I have seen this wine for sale online at a limited number of sites for under $25.
FATTORIA MORETTO LAMBRUSCO GRASPAROSSA DI CASTELVETRO SECCO
Back to Italy we go with this dry, red sparkling wine from Fattoria Moretto in the Emilia-Romagna region. I absolutely love Lambrusco and I definitely don’t drink enough of it. One of my all time favorite food and wine pairings is pizza and Lambrusco. Since the lockdown we have been having pizza night each week where I make pepperoni and mushroom pizza that has been a huge hit. This wine is a blend of Lambrusco and Grasparossa grapes. Medium to deep purple in the glass with medium body, medium plus acidity, low tannin, and low alcohol 11.5% abv. There is something about the combination of the black fruit flavor, earthiness, and mouth feel of this wine that I love. Lambrusco also pairs incredibly well with charcuterie plates. What’s not to love? I purchased this wine at my favorite local wine shop, Dedalus, for $22.99.
If we were tallying the above list Italy comes out the winner with three wines in the top followed by France. Overall I would say with all the wine we have been consuming lately there has only been one I’ve been disappointed with so not bad on the purchasing front. I hope everyone remains safe at home and healthy and that you just might find a wine or two you love from this list!