An occasion loved by some and loathed by others, Valentine’s Day poses conundrums for romantics and cynics alike. Flowers or chocolate? Fancy dinner reservation or meal cooked at home with love? Champagne or red wine? Miller High Life or handle of vodka? Couch or recliner? Netflix or Hulu? In this, our first of a few different takes on Valentine’s Day, we focus on the lovebirds and have chosen wines in honor of romantic love. Whether flirtatious, floral, luxurious, seductive or just plain pretty, they are best enjoyed with your sweetheart or sweethearts (hey, we don’t judge). Next week we will have a list celebrating celibacy, heartache, and envy. Because sometimes you just need to drink a bottle of wine by yourself in your underwear.
Chris Brockway’s Love Triangle
Chris Brockway, Northern California winemaker on a revivalist mission to bring back unusual varietals and use often overlooked plots of land, has the answer to your romantic needs with his trio of “Love” wines. These make worthy Valentine’s Day libations not only for their heart-laden labels but for their floral aromas and drinkability! With an option in red, white and rosé you can find something for your one true love (or loves).
Broc Cellars Love White 2014. Made from Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier, the Broc Love White blend is a luscious, medium bodied white wine with a nose full of white flowers and stone fruit and a honeyed citrus and stone fruit mouth. Apricot and peach notes conjure the eroticism of ripe fleshy fruit and medium acidity means that your lips never pucker! (Save that pucker for your sweetie.)
Broc Cellars Love Red 2014. This blend of 75% Carignan, 14% Valdiguie and 11% Syrah is light in color with a medium body and great balance. It is a vibrant red blend with a (dare I say) romantic bouquet of wildflowers and roses on the nose, layers of red berries and a subtle spiciness.
Broc Cellars White Zinfandel 2015 (since we’re out of the Love Rosé until the spring). With its pale blush color, delicate acidity, and a subtle minerality, Broc's White Zinfandel is more reminiscent of a Provençal rosé than of your grandmother's White Zin. The color alone is enough to make it a great Valentines wine. White pepper and orange citrus fruits dance on the palate. It’s a New World wine with Old World style.
Kate Norris began making wine when her partner Tom Monroe bought her a full ton of Syrah grapes as a gift. Save your lover the work and buy one of Norris’s French-inspired, Oregon-produced wines. La gamine, French for a playful, mischievous young girl, reflects the flirtatious and whimsical name. The Gamine Grenache Rosé is a soft and delicate sparkling rosé made in the Pétillant-naturel (a.k.a. Pét-Nat) style, an "ancestral" method of sparkling wine production that, unlike champagne, does not undergo an induced fermentation in the bottle, but ferments spontaneously. She offers both a dosage (sugar added for the fermentation) and non-dosage (only naturally occurring sugars). We have the non-dosage version which smells like apple blossoms and honeysuckle and tastes like a crisp, juicy apple. The elegant, pale, pink hue is to be admired while imbibing.
Norris’s Gamine Syrah titillates you from feet away as the fragrance of clover honey from the beeswax coating wafts towards you. This wine itself smells of cigar box and fallen leaves, smoke and garrigue – the mélange of juniper, thyme, rosemary and lavender associated with French Mediterranean wines. This red fruit dominated wine has well integrated oak and a wonderful acidity on the finish. Like its name this is a fun, feminine wine.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Julien Pineau
Julien Pineau and his partner Laurent Saillard recently took over a portion of the esteemed Clos Roche Blanche Vineyards in the Loire Valley. His terroir driven wines are romantic in their homage to tradition: Pineau has deep respect for the soil, the vines, the insects, and the flowers and he exhibits a laissez-faire attitude in the cellar letting the wines speak for themselves. The Bocca Di Rosa is a Cabernet sauvignon made in the Pét-Nat style. The name itself, Mouth of the Rose, is erotic. This juicy wine has a savory quality and a gentle sparkle. It smells of tangerine pith, tamarind, and brown spices and tastes like biting into a ripe mandarin orange. The presence of red berries and peaches adds to the sensual fruit flavors.
If You Love Something, Set it Free
Banshee Mordecai is a reference to the falcon in The Royal Tenenbaums who is released by his owner Richie Tenenbaum at the beginning of the film and comes back to him at the end. The wine of the same name is a blend of Cabernet sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Carignan and Cinsault from Banshee in Northern California. Full-bodied without being overbearing, Mordecai is rich and luxurious with notes of black and red fruits, licorice, espresso, bramble, and spice. If you drink this wine with your lover, you can rest assured he or she will be back.
The Birds and the Bees
The Flower and the Bee, whose name brings to mind the infamous euphemism, is a bright yellow, mineral wine made from the Treixadura grape that tastes of pit and orchard fruits with a subtle citrus backdrop and notes of white flowers. La Flor y la Abeja will fill your nose with honeysuckle and orange zest and finish with a chalky minerality. A great pairing for the legendary aphrodisiac: oysters!