One Wine to Rule Them All- Verso Rosso Salento, 2012 Italy

THIS is your big Winter Red!!

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I’m 1000% serious.  This is absolutely THE wine you are gonna fall head over heels for during the chillier months that are upon us.  The best part?  You’ve probably never heard of these grapes.  You might not know how to say Verso or Salento (VAIR-so and sa-LAIN-to).  Heck, you might not have had an Italian wine quite like this before.  But trust me, YOU’RE GONNA FLIP!!

This wine is special for several reasons– first, it comes to us from one of my favorite portfolios, Small Vineyards.  In order to be included in Small Vineyards, the wine must be hand-harvested, from a family-owned estate, and be farmed in an ecologically friendly manner.  Note the word organic is not in use here; in my opinion it’s a bit irrelevant- you can trust that this wine comes from people that really cares about their impact on the environment as well as making the best wine possible, which I trust over a USDA certification eight days a week.

Raisins are tasty.

Raisins are tasty.

Second, this wine is big and sexy for a cool reason; a portion of the grapes (no, I’m not sure which ones) were allowed to “raisin”- which is exactly what it sounds like!  Also known as “appassimento”, it is a process of allowing the grapes to hang out and dry a bit- concentrating their sugars.  It is a labor-intensive process, which results in the reduction of the yield.  A labor of love, I would call it.  So it means they end up with LESS total wine to put into bottles, BUT the wine that results is so rich and flavorful it’ll leave you speechless- and (AND!) it it not weighed down with a high alcohol content!  This wine comes in at a solid 14% abv.  That’s a full 1.5-2 percentage points less than your average Cali Cab, Zin or Shriraz- the typical wines “big red” drinkers tend to like.  Balance, people- balance!  And it means you can drink a bit more of this guy without that thick, heady feeling you get after two glasses of Zinfandel.

Alright, so I got wine-nerdy there for a minute- so let’s get moving with HOW IT TASTES!  Because that’s what’s gonna keep you coming back for bottle after bottle.  But before I forget, this wine is a blend of 60% Negroamarao, 35% Primitivo (aka Zinfandel’s parent grape) and 15% Malvasia Nera.  A giant nose of figs, cloves, anise, vanilla, raisins (go figure), a hint of olives and black peppercorns, a nice lift of dried flowers and red berries and blueberry.  The texture is silky, polished and mouth-coating.  There’s some unique spicing at work here that I can’t quite pinpoint… I want to say it’s Sumac, but I can’t be positive.  It’s taunting me.  The wine finishes with elegance and a tangy little pop.

So I saved the BEST FOR LAST!  This bottle will cost ya just $16!!  

To add to the fun, this wine is available as part of TURKEY PACK #2 at Cellar on Greene this year!  That means you can have it along with three other swell bottles to take to your Thanksgiving feast quickly and effortlessly.  Never heard of a Turkey Pack?  Well, you must click here and check them out.  They’re only our most popular wine club item every year!  Good news is, you can absolutely grab them as a walk-in purchase- it’ll take 2 seconds for us to pack you one.  So you can leave it til last minute, if you’re at all like me!  

Happy Thanksgiving, wine-lovers!

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Beast of the Week- Orin Swift Abstract, 2012

It’s cold out, y’all.  What does that mean?  It’s time for a beast of a red wine!  Stop looking, because you’ve just found it.  After all, who does beast better than Orin Swift?  Maybe a few.  But not with the same kind of finesse.  So, I write to you today from under a fleece blanket, wearing a hoodie, having refused to turn on the heat last night.  House is a balmy 66 degrees.  It’s mornings like today’s that cause conversations like this to take place:

hash tag- bed tweet.

hash tag- bed tweet.

So now that I’ve managed to get out of bed without the assistance of a wifi-enabled thermostat that also makes coffee (speaking of which- I would marry this gadget if it existed), we can talk about this gigantic beast of a wine!  Yep, it’s early, but it’s okay.  You need this wine in your life to get through these first painful days of “winter”.  Been itching to build that first fire of the year?  Plan on it, plan on a bottle of this to go with it, and you’ll be a happy camper.  This wine is good for sipping on it’s own after dinner- not that it wouldn’t be good with food, but it’s rich palate makes it great as a stand-alone.

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Look at that!  A way cool label.  Something Orin Swift Wines also excels at.  The last vintage of the Abstact was an all-black label, with raised, textured pictures on it.  Also pretty cool, but this one is a little more eye-catching.  So the 2012 is a blend of Grenache, Petite Sirah and Syrah of undisclosed percentages.  The fruit was sourced from Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Amador and El Dorado.  The nose has a nice California Grenache-y wildness- some high notes of herbs, red raspberry and a hint of fresh flowers.  Give the glass a swirl, however, and be prepared for vanilla, vanilla, vanilla- and some intense blackberry liqueur, black cherry, dark chocolate and black licorice.  Sage, pepper and a touch of clove are hiding in there, too.  I should also mention that this wine is a whopping 15.7% alcohol- heat is definitely a trademark of Orin Swift wines, but the booze is carried here gracefully and without awkwardness.  Like this:

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She’s in a chariot, in case you can’t tell.  I searched long and hard for a better image, but no luck.  AND in case you don’t know who this is- ONLY one of the greatest, most deliciously vile female characters ever written- Atia of the Julii.  Love. Her.  

This wine greets you with flashy, dark fruit and leaves you with a brooding spice content and a bit of tannin.  That’s always what I’ve liked about the Abstract, in particular- it’s pensive and dark and a little closed.  The Prisoner is eager to meet you and smiles a toothy grin; the Abstract stares you down for a few minutes before agreeing to shake your hand.  Once it does, it is generous, hangs on firmly, and does not disappoint.  I consider this wine to be a steal at $28 retail.  It is for sale at Cellar on Greene as we speak, so I suggest hopping to it before it’s too late!  Orin Swift wines are almost always scantily available, and once November and December roll around, even more so.  Happy drinking!