Chow Town

Dave Eckert shares some of his favorite foreign wines, from South Africa to Chile

Winter is a good time to drink red, but don’t limit yourself, says columnist Dave Eckert.
Winter is a good time to drink red, but don’t limit yourself, says columnist Dave Eckert. File photo

Recently, I shared some suggestions for domestic white and red wines that match perfectly with the season’s heartier fare and colder temperatures.

In this column, I round up some foreign wine picks. Let’s start with white wines, because although I drink far more red than white this time of year, I believe there is plenty of room for whites in winter.

White wines

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The 9 Lives Sauvignon Blanc hails from Chile’s Central Valley and is easy to drink and well-balanced. It is also a great value. Submitted

9 Lives Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99): This is a great wine to start off the evening — light and crisp with citrus aromas and flavors. The 9 Lives Sauvignon Blanc hails from Chile’s Central Valley and is both easy to drink and well-balanced, perfect for that glass of vino at the end of a tough day at work or to sip on while preparing dinner.

Tenuta Ca’Bolani Sauvignon DOC Superiore ($16.99): I’ve enjoyed Italian red wines for decades, but these days I am increasingly impressed by that country’s white wines.

You’ll find Tenuta Ca’Bolani in Friuli in the very northeastern part of the country. With its hilly terrain and cooler climate, Friuli is home to some of Italy’s finest white wines. This is one of the better Sauvignons I’ve had from Italy! With hints of grapefruit essence on the nose and a pleasant, slightly herbal, finish, the Ca’Bolani Sauvignon is crisp, bright and vibrant.

Masseria Altemura Fiano ($12.99): This is a grape variety I most often encounter in Campania along the Mediterranean coast. This version originates from the other side of Italy in Puglia, located in the heel of Italy’s boot. Not as complex as the Fianos I’ve had from Campania, this bottling is quite pleasant — medium-bodied and crisp with notes of peaches and apples on the nose and in the palate.

Joseph Drouhin Vaudon Chablis ($30): From France and one of the finest negociants (distributors) in the world comes this Chablis. Made from 100 percent Chardonnay, like all Chablis, from that region’s mineral soil, this is a wine to be enjoyed year-round. I find it especially delicious in the winter accompanying a perfectly roasted chicken.

Sparkling wines

Champagne Drappier Brut Nature ($60): This Champagne is beyond pleasant, much closer to sublime. It is a 100 percent Pinot Noir Cuvee with no dosage. In other words, there is no additional sugar added for a secondary fermentation, only the wine’s natural residual sugar. But, lest you think the wine is sweet, it most certainly is not. It is, however, fresh, pure and complex — a treat on the darkest and coldest of winter nights!

Red wines

I could devote this entire portion to Italian wines as they are my favorite reds in the world. But to provide some diversity and to spread the love, let me start with wines from four other countries that I’ve enjoyed immensely: France, Spain, South Africa and Chile.

Chateau de Saint-Amour, Beaujolais Cru ($21.99): Collectively, there are few types of wine I enjoy more than Beaujolais Cru. They are the best that Beaujolais offers and can be found ranging in style and weight from light-bodied and overtly fruity to fuller-bodied, earthy and complex.

This wine, from the smallest of the 10 Beaujolais Crus, falls somewhere in the middle. With delicate red fruit aromas and floral notes on the palate, the Chateau de Saint-Amour is a pleasure to sip on its own, but really shines with heartier foods.

Famille Perrin Gigondas “La Gille” ($35.99): You simply can’t go wrong with any wine produced by Famille Perrin, the family behind the amazing wines of Chateau de Beaucastel. This wine, from Gigondas in the Southern Rhone Valley, is one of my favorites. This is a Grenache-dominated wine, medium-bodied, extremely complex and well-balanced.

Vina Pomal Rioja Reserva ($21): I’ve been a fan of Riojas since the late ’80s. Rioja continues to produce wines that offer both great flavors and great value, like this Reserva. Offering a combination of intense red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of earth on the nose and in the palate, the Vina Pomal is a terrific example of complex and distinguished Rioja.

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For a $12 wine, this Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile’s Concha y Toro has a lot of depth. Submitted

Casillero del Diablo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon ($12): Speaking of great values, this Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile’s Concha y Toro has been a “go to” wine for me for years. Rarely will you find a $12 wine that can provide such depth. For those of us who love a good Cab, this is a wine to buy by the case.

Meerlust Rubicon, Stellenbosch ($37.99): One of the finest wines from South Africa, the Meerlust Rubicon, a Cabernet Sauvignon, is an absolute gem. From a family spanning eight generations, the Rubicon is an amazingly complex wine that entices you with a dark and brooding nose before unleashing a cavalcade of flavors of dark, rich fruit, dark chocolate, leather, and tobacco.

Delicious now, this wine could easily age for 20 years or more.

CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino ($80): Okay, so I couldn’t resist. I had to recommend at least one Italian red wine. And, if it’s going to be just one, it’s going to be one if my all-time favorites.

Brunello di Montalcino is often called the “King” of Tuscan wine. One sip of this beauty and you’ll know why. From the famed Frescobaldi family, the CastelGiocondo is a classic Brunello, summoning up the very best that the Sangiovese grape can produce. Elegant and opulent, it is the perfect combination of earth and fruit with layers of dark, ripe red fruits, hints of saddle leather and spice, and a long, vibrant finish. Like the Rubicon, this Brunello will benefit from years of aging.

Well, I don’t know about you, but this list might just be enough to get me through till spring. Cheers!