In the blistery cold of winter, particularly in today’s flurry of a Colorado snowstorm, it’s easy to forget that elsewhere in the world, it’s summer and prime grape growing season! In the deep Southern Hemisphere, wine producers’ workers are toiling under a hot, blistery sun, and they are looking for a bountiful harvest just after the New Year!
While we wait for those wines to be bottled and delivered to our nearest wine shops, here are some great picks for all of your holiday festivities in the Northern Hemisphere this month!
Mendoza, Argentina has the Andes foothills’ high altitude, persistent winds, plentiful sunshine, and just enough snowdrift irrigation to thank for some great wines. The region accounts for more than 60 percent of Argentina's overall production and virtually all exported wine.
The Trivento Torrontes from Mendoza uses the predominant Trivento winds blowing through the region as well as a Spanish-introduced perfumed Malvasia grape hybrid for an exceptionally people-friendly wine. The refreshing and crisp grapefruit and pear characters balance well with taut acidity and a floral but dry finish. At the reasonable price, this goes wonderfully chilled and ready for impromptu sharing with friends.
The Zuccardi Tito Red Blend retails around $33/bottle, and comes from La Consulta Vineyard, which handpicks its grapes for impeccable ripeness. There’s earthiness with dark fruit and commanding complexity. We experienced a long, smooth finish, a glut of tannins, though, that was well matched to the weight of the fruit.
For the Wine Dispensary to move Down Under, New Zealand has found its own ways to produce superb Sauvignon Blanc despite the Loire Valley beginnings; in some circles even lauded as being the truest expression of the Sauvignon grape. Amusingly named for its creepy subliminal mention of Americans using the Valley’s satellites above to spy on the Middle East, Spy Valley is consistently pleasant, with agreeable residual sugar that doesn’t rob its dryness. It pairs particularly well with crowd-pleasing holiday party hors d’oeuvres such as veggie dips and fragrant salads, or a seafood entrée with grilled seasonal vegetables.
Australia brings us big and bold with their Henry’s Drive Shiraz. It avoids being alcoholically hot, over extracted, and jammy, but is rather poised, pleasing the nose with sharp, peppery and dark fruit. A bottle with some age will smooth out the rough edges and give out a voluptuous, smooth finish. For festivity season this is as easy to drink at cocktails as it is with hearty holiday dinners.
Relish these wines this month while celebrating with friends and family, but continue to remember that there will be plenty more to come as the Southern Hemisphere gears up for harvest and bottling, including Torrontes, bright Sauvignon Blancs, and rich Shiraz!