Wine Picks

Shari’s Picks® for January!

It’s the New Year. I wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe 2024 filled with many delicious wines!

Many of us are recovering from holiday indulgences in January and looking to save expenses where possible. Good news! In addition to a delicious value red from the Rhône Valley in France, I have a red and a white that over-deliver for their price of $15.95. Bonus! Both reds are organic.

Let’s start with the white. Recently released at LCBO is Essay 2022, from MAN Family Wines in South Africa. The name is a play on the short form for South Africa, which is SA. I like it. Catchy and easy to remember! As for the wine, it is refreshing and full of flavour. The blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier, and Roussanne makes an interesting change from the popular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio wines. It has forward tropical aromas and fresh pear flavours followed by balanced acidity. Serve Essay 2022 as an aperitif or pair it with various foods, including grilled fish, curry dishes, roasted asparagus, and Chèvre.

Essay 2022| Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne
Coastal Region, South Africa | 750 mL | 13.5 % alc | sugar 3 g/L screwcap | LCBO +414144 | $15.95

From Puglia, organic and made in the appassimento method is Zensa Nero D’Avola Appassimento 2021. Appassimento wines are made with ripe grapes that have been dried and then fermented into wine. Amarone wines are classic (and costly) examples of this style. Zensa Nero D’Avola Appassimento 2021 sells at a very affordable price of $15.95, a fraction of Amarone wines. Pronounced SENZA, it means “without.” No chemicals. No pesticides. The wine is a bit higher in sugar than I usually select, which results from pressing the sweet, dried grapes. The richness of this wine is perfect for cold days and hearty meals. The wine has hints of raisins in the aroma, followed by flavours of cherries and a smooth lingering finish. Serve with charcuterie boards, grilled meats, vegan tomato pizza and Parmesan cheese. 

Zensa Nero D’Avola Appassimento 2021| Puglia, Italy | 750 mL 13.5 % alc | sugar  10 g/L | screwcap | organic | LCBO +31801 $15.95

Coming to VINTAGES on January 6 is the red La Nerthe Les Cassagnes Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2020. Made from organic Grenache, Syrah and Mouvèdre, this is the partner to the highly rated white Château la Nerthe Les Cassagnes de la Nerthe Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc 2022released December 2 and is now challenging to find. Château La Nerthe is considered one of the oldest estates of the southern part of the Rhône Valley. It is known for its Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, which usually sell for between $65 and over $170. At the relatively bargain price of $25.95, I don’t expect La Nerthe Les Cassagnes Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2020 to last for long! It is balanced, with rich cherry aromas, flavours of dried pepper and soft tannins. Serve with grilled steak and vegetables, roast duck, sausages and Comté.

La Nerthe Les Cassagnes Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Rouge 2020 Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre | Rhône, France  
750 mL | 14.3 % alc | sugar 3 g/L
cork finish | Organic | VINTAGES +494674 | $25.95

Cheers to a great New Year!

Shari 🥂

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