Under the Table Wines
We love picking interesting, exciting wines every month for our Under the Table members. If you want more information about the wines or ideas of what foods to pair with them, the details below are here to help.
Red: 2014 Calcu Cabernet Franc, Colchagua Valley, Chile
At Calcu, they firmly believe that Cabernet Franc is going to be the next big trend in wine. Not sure that Chilean Cab Franc will replace Malbec from Argentina as the go-to for South American wine, but their stance is understandable when you taste this wine. Using sustainably grown grapes, Calcu makes a textbook example of warm climate Cab Franc. The wine has notes of vanilla, blackberry, and dark chocolate with silky tannins that linger. Pair this wine with something hot off the grill, whether its lamb chops or duck. It also loves tomatoes, so when it’s too hot to cook, order a pizza and pop the cork.
White: 2015 Tabali Grand Reserva Viognier, Limari, Chile
Founded in 1993, Tabali were pioneers in Limari, which is one of the northernmost regions in Chile. Limari is close to the Atacama desert, but it’s cooled by morning fog and afternoon breezes from the nearby coast. That climate gives Tabali the ability to make such fresh and perfumed whites. This wine is wonderfully aromatic with citrus and floral notes. The dry, fruit-driven palate is round and full-flavored. Citrus fruit, apricot, and pear are balanced by gentle acidity, leading to an elegant wine. You can go a few different directions when pairing this wine with food: use the fruitiness to complement curries or Indian dishes, play up the roundness with butter-poached scallops or pasta in a butter & lemon sauce, or take advantage of the acidity and enjoy it with tomatoes and salads.
Red: 2015 Tramin Lagrein, Alto Adige, Italy
Tramin is one of the oldest networks of farmers who formed a winery, and their love of the land and their grapes comes through in their wines. The winemaker came on board in 1992 and helped elevate the wines to a more serious, complex level. Although known for their white wines, Tramin makes a smaller amount of outstanding reds, including this Lagrein. The grape is indigenous to this part of Italy and is known for floral notes. This fruity red is ideal for warmer weather because it's elegant and balanced. With plenty of black fruit notes and just a touch of dark flowers, this red matches well with grilled salmon. It stands up to spice rubs and jerk seasoning, so now might be a perfect time to grill. If you're picnicking, pack some washed-rind cheese and serve this wine to counterbalance those pungent flavors. Retail: $17 (not regularly stocked; can be special ordered)
White: 2016 Argiolas S'Elegas Nuragas di Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
Argiolas is one of the premiere wineries on the island of Sardinia, off the west coast of Italy. The owners replanted their vineyards in the 1980s so they could focus on lower yields and Sardinian varietals. If you want to learn about Sardinian wine, Argiolas is a good place to start because they care deeply about the history of wine on their island. We're excited to feature this wine for you because it's a grape that's new to us: Nuragas. This light, delicate white has notes of lemon and peach with a nutty background note. All this wine really needs is warm weather and maybe some sunshine. If you're pairing it with food, keep it simple -- ceviche, sautéed shrimp, pasta primavera. Retail: $15
Red: 2014 Reininger Helix Pomatia, Washington, US
Based in Walla Walla, Reininger focuses on elegant Washington State wines. They started their Helix label in 2004 so they could expand their reach and get their powerful, fruity wines into more people's hands. By sourcing grapes from throughout the Columbia Valley, Reininger can offer the Helix wines for affordable weeknight drinking. In fact, they refer to the Pomatia as their "Tuesday night wine". It's a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Long-lasting, medium tannins give the wine good structure while notes of black fruit, spice, and flowers give the wine complexity. Pomatia manages to be a great wine with pasta & red sauce as well as a strong complement to burgers or grilled pork chops. Retail: $15
White: 2016 Graziano Dry Chenin Blanc, California, US
First planting vines in 1918, the Graziano family has been making wine in Mendocino, California for four generations. The great granddaughter of those original planters is now the head enologist at the winery. Although the winemaking tradition in this region is at least a century old, there are still only a few wineries in the area. Graziano makes single varietal wines that show off the ripe lushness of Mendocino fruit. Chenin Blanc can be bone-dry, sticky sweet, and everywhere in between. This dry version is mineral-driven with good acidity but also with the round fullness common to California wines. There are layers of aromas and flavors that will make you stop and think: wet stones, stone fruit, citrus, apple, and pear. The brightness of this wine is best with lemony pasta, light seafood dishes such as roasted trout, or roasted chicken. Retail: $15 (not regularly stocked; can be special ordered)
Red: 2011 Finca Museum Reserva, Spain
The founders of Finca Museum were looking for a wine-growing area where great values could still be made, which led them to the tiny D.O. of Cigales in eastern Castilla y Leon. Here, they grow Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo) in poor, rocky soil that's not good for any other crops. This tough climate and terrain gives you a Tempranillo that's markedly different from the reds of Rioja. This wine is concentrated with notes of tobacco, licorice, vanilla, and ripe raspberry. The silky texture and long tannins will stay with you. If it ever warms up, we suggest firing up the grill and serving this rich red with your favorite cut of grilled meat. Otherwise, it would be lovely with aged cheddar or bleu cheese or with a smoky black bean soup. Retail: $14 (limited availability)
White: 2016 Azul y Garanza Viura, Spain
Founders Dani Sánchez and María Barrena are passionate about organic farming, and their landscape even includes vineyards in the Bardenas Reales Natural Park in Navarra. They take a gentle, natural approach to their treatment of grapes from the vineyard through the winemaking process, including aging wines in concrete tanks . This liter of white is 100% Viura, the most common white grape in Rioja. This white has notes of apricot, citrus, and almond, reminding us a bit of SweeTarts. Despite the party-sized bottle, this wine is delicate and deserves at least a moment of appreciation for its balanced elegance. When pairing it with a meal, think seafood like paella or grilled fish. Or explore the world of Spanish tapas and serve it with a tortilla or Manchego. Retail: $15
Red: Famiglia Bianchi Red Blend, Argentina
Founded in 1928, Bodegas Valentin Bianchi is a fourth-generation, family-owned winery that is certified organic. They strike a balance between respecting tradition and enjoying experimentation. This red leans towards the experimental side; it's a blend of Malbec, Argentina's flagship grape, and Nebbiolo, arguably the most important grape in Piedmont, Italy. These two grapes complement each other beautifully in this hearty red. Persistent tannins are nicely balanced by mouthwatering acidity on the finish. There are notes of blackberry, pomegranate, and plums that help make the wine approachable and just the right amount of bold. The bright acidity in this wine balances richer meat dishes, such as roasted rack of lamb. If you feel like grilling, get some flank steak and pop this cork. Or go meatless with a warm mushroom and butternut squash farro salad. Retail: $15.99
White: Tercos Torrontés, Argentina
The father of owners Pedro and Patricio Santos is renowned in Argentina because he was the first person to export Malbec to the U.S. It seems that Pedro and Patricio have learned a lot from their famous father because the Tercos line makes true-to-varietal, lovely Argentine wine. Torrontés is an aromatic white grape that's rarely seen outside of Argentina. This refreshing white is dry but fruity with notes of tropical fruit, citrus, and apple. The floral and fruit notes in this wine pair beautifully with green curry. Choose lighter fare to go with this delicate wine -- a simple roast chicken or poached fish. Retail: $13.99
Red: 2012 Chateau Haut-Bourcier Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux, France
From the lesser known area of Blaye (east of the Medoc within Bordeaux), Chateau Haut-Bourcier is committed to sustainability both in farming and winemaking. We wanted to showcase a Bordeaux that's from a smaller producer that you likely haven't seen before. We've been on a Merlot kick lately, and this Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend makes us so happy. The wine is incredibly smooth on the palate with notes of bell pepper, red cherry, and a hint of vanilla. It shows the beauty of Merlot's fruit and the structure that even a touch of Cab lends when blending wines. February means stews and braises, right? This wine complements those rich, hearty flavors: pot roast, chicken pot pie, or roasted pork. It would be just as lovely with a hunk of your favorite blue cheese. Retail: $14.99
White: 2015 Cave de Lugny Les Charmes Macon-Lugny, France
In Burgundy, Chardonnay is the primary white grape, ranging from zesty Chablis to lush Meursault. Macon, in southern Burgundy, tends to produce ripe and friendly Chardonnay. As one of the biggest names in Macon, Cave de Lugny produces approachable Chardonnay that shows off the beauty of this area. One of their single vineyard wines, Les Charmes is their flagship wine. There are significant citrus and green fruit (think pear and apple) notes. Just when you think the wine is going to zing you, a creaminess kicks in that rounds it all out. This wine is such a delight for wine drinkers across the board, from CA Chard lovers to those who've sworn off Chardonnay altogether. Pair this wine with a creamy seafood pasta, roasted chicken, or aged cheddar. Retail: $15.99
Founded in the late 1700s, Villa Wolf came under the control of renowned winemaker Ernst Loosen in the 1990s. Ernst has since passed on the winemaking at Villa Wolf to a young husband and wife team who focus on showing the clean, pure expressions of wines from the Pfalz region of Germany. Across the board, their wines are lovely examples of their respective varietals, and they're quite affordable.
Red: 2015 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir
This Pinot Noir is a remarkable value because of its complexity. It has notes of black fruit — notably blackberry and black cherry — with a hint of menthol and earth. It’s an elegant wine that’s a harbinger of the greatness we can expect from German Pinots in coming vintages. This wine, this weather — time to start roasting. Pair the black fruit flavors in the wine with a blackberry mustard sauce for roasted pork loin or duck. Play up the earthiness with pasta in a creamy mushroom sauce. Use the versatility of the wine to make roasted chicken and beets extra special. Retail: $15.99
White: 2016 Villa Wolf Pinot Gris
Of the 100s of wines we taste, we rarely see Pinot Gris from Germany, which is one of the reasons we're so excited about this wine. It has notes of green orchard fruit -- think juicy green pears and Granny Smith apples. The fruit is balanced by good acidity and a light hint of minerals. The roundness of this white makes it a great match for roasted pork with pears or a whole roasted fish. The fruitiness complements rich cheeses, such as brie baked in puff pastry or a pungent bleu. Retail: $10.99