Make a New Year’s resolution to experience fantastic new wines in 2012.
Just because the holidays have passed and the credit card bills are piling up, doesn’t mean you should give up great wines in January and February. Likewise, you can break out of the old Chardonnay/Merlot/Pinot Grigio rut and enjoy new sensory delights from around the world.
Since the Middle Ages, Barbera had been the definitive grape of the Italian Piedmont Region.
Winemakers loved growing this hearty red grape because it would flourish in rougher terrain, allowing them to set aside their most choice land for the more fragile Dolcetto and Nebbiolio.
Barbera flourishes anywhere there are Italian immigrants – from New Jersey and California to Argentina. By the last decade, however, Barbera fell out of favor among the wine community, perhaps because authorities arrested Italian winemakers for adding toxic methanol to their product.
But venerable Barbera, hearty enough to overcome such a scandal, is making something of a Renaissance on the world stage. Both in the Old and New World, winemakers have rediscovered its medium body and gentle notes of blackberry and cherry. Compare the supple, buttery notes of an Italian Barbera to the robust fruit flavors of a California Barbera.
With its moderate acidity and relatively mild tannins, this versatile wine pairs beautifully with a hearty chili or savory gumbo. If you’re keeping a New Year’s Resolution, this makes the ideal companion for a healthy Caesar salad, as well. With 125 calories and 4 carbs per glass, it won’t ruin your post-holiday fitness regimen. Hilton Head Island natives and visitors appreciate a great Barbera, it is currently our number one selling red wine!
February: Pinot Blanc
Will the real Pinot Blanc please stand up?
Pinot Blanc is a natural genetic mutation of Pinot Noir; it’s the blue-eyed baby of two brown-eyed parents.
While it was originally cultivated in the Alsace region of France and Germany, California winemakers used it for decades as their secret ingredient to smooth out some of their more robust Chardonnays. To complicate matters, American grape growers unknowingly misclassify other white grapes as Pinot Blanc.
Yet, when you can get your hands on the real thing, it is worth the sleuthing. French, American and Italian Pinot Blancs are crisp, slightly tart and packed full of tropical fruit notes.
If you’re a Chardonnay lover, a great Pinot Blanc will take that love affair to the next level.
If you’re looking for something a little more delicate on a cold February night, German and Austrian Pinot Blancs tend to be slightly sweet, but never cloying.
Whether or not you’re a lover of sweet or dry wines, Pinot Blanc’s powerful fruity notes and buttery smooth texture make it the perfect companion for decadent Valentine’s Day chocolates.
By Georgene Mortimer, Island Winery
The perfect bottle of wine awaits at Island Winery on Cardinal Road. Store/Tasting hours are Monday-Saturday, 12:30- 5:30 p.m. 843-842-3141 or www.islandwinery.com.