Discover a new wine this week with our recommendation for something different, something surprising, something romantic!

2013 Aphros Loureiro, Vinho Verde

Annette Tomei is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to our site.

Aphros Loureiro Vinho Verde2013 Aphros Loureiro, Vinho Verde DOC (Lima), Portugal

The Vinho Verde DOC is located in northwestern Portugal along the Atlantic coast; it extends inland along the Douro River in the province of Minho. The maritime climate provides for prolific vine growth – lush green vines are often trained into high pergolas. Though good for the canopies, the cool wet conditions can be challenging for ripening grapes; hence the characteristic high acidity and very low alcohol content of the average Vinho Verde wine.

Loureiro is one of the three traditional white wine grapes of the region and has grown in the Minho for centuries. It is increasingly common to see it as a single-varietal production, though it is traditionally blended with at least one of the other grapes, Trajadura and Pedernã (aka Arinto).

Aphros was founded in 2002. From the beginning the mission has been to create biodynamically grown and made, quality wines in a manner that promotes ecological and economical sustainability. Their Loureiro is macerated on its skins, fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged sur lie for two months.

Aromas of flinty tart apple and green plum introduce flavors of pear and melon on the palate. The mouth feel is clean with a lingering minerality and tartness. There’s also a silky hint of residual sugar (undetectable sweetness, but the richness is there). This wine is an easy one to enjoy on its own or as an aperitif. It’s also a great wine to pair with a leisurely brunch, lunch or picnic since it will go with a variety of light bites and simple dishes. Of course it goes great with light fish preparations and shellfish, especially sushi.

2011 Jacopo Biondi Santi Braccale Rosso

The Wine of the Week
 by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to

Braccale Rosso 2011, Jacopo Biondi Santi, Braccale (red wine), Toscana IGT, Italy

The Biondi Santi family name is often synonymous with Brunello di Montalcino, a DOCG designated Tuscan red wine made from 100% Sangiovese grapes grown in the region surrounding the town of Montalcino. Jacopo Biondi Santi continues his family’s heritage of making fine Brunellos, while adding a new(er) line of blended wines in the style of those often referred to as the “Super Tuscans” – blends of traditional grapes with international varietals (frequently French).

The Toscana IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) designation was the first IGT in Italy in 1992. It was created as a reaction to a group of maverick winemakers who chose to blend Bordeaux grape varietals into the traditional Sangiovese in order to achieve a more internationally competitive style of wine – now known as the “Super Tuscans”. At first, these wines were categorized as simple table wine (Vino di Tavola), until their acclaim and the prices they commanded warranted a separate category of their own. Today the IGT designation represents a middle ground between the highly regulated and all but unregulated wines of Italy. Those regulations in place are most concerned with general quality standards and are more similar to those of the New World than the Old.

This wine is made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot. Aromas of rich dark cocoa and black cherry come together with a hint of clove. Lovers of dark chocolate-cherry bonbons will swoon. Those aromas carry through on the palate with a wave of tartness, characteristic of Italian wines, and lush tannins that are often characteristic of Merlot. The finish is clean with some saline minerality. This wine comes from a part of Tuscany best known for Italian cowboys and seriously good meat – enjoy it accordingly. This region is also home to a variety of flavorful salumi that pair well with this wine, bringing out its fruitier characteristics. Vegetarians can look to umami-rich roast eggplant or grilled mushrooms for a similarly delicious flavor combination.

2013 Livon, Pinot Grigio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collio DOC

The Wine of the Week
 by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to

2013 Livon, Pinot Grigio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collio DOC2013 Livon, Pinot Grigio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collio DOC, Italy

Friuli-Venezia Giulia is located at the northeastern edge of Italy where it borders Austria and Slovenia. The Livon property is at the eastern edge of this region in the Collio DOC.

Pinot Grigio is one of the most popular grapes of this region. One of the things most people do not know about this grape is that the skins are not the green-yellow of most white wine grapes – “grigio” means gray – the fruit itself is actually a grayish purple color.

In the US, Pinot Grigio wine has become almost synonymous with light, simple bar-poured white wine of little character. Though this may describe many of the mass produced products available, there are plenty of Pinot Grigio wines that express more character both of the grape and of the terroir.

This particular wine has a pale butter-yellow color and aromas of freshly sliced apples and steely minerality. It is much rounder and more supple on the palate than most would expect. The ripe apple flavor carries through with a touch of lemon and a bit of creaminess to the minerally-astringent finish. As with many Pinot Grigio wines, this is a good choice for sipping on its own, but it will also transition nicely to the table – especially with seared scallops, lobster, Dungeness crab, and other rich treats from the sea, as well as roast chicken, pasta with delicate creamy sauces, or lighter flavored risottos.

Mulderbosch, Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé

The Wine of the Week
 by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to

Mulderbosch Rosé2014, Mulderbosch, Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Coastal Region, South Africa

Although wine has been made in South Africa since the late 17th century, the region did not have a measurable presence in the international wine market until the 1990s. In the early years, South Africa was known for Pinotage, a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsault that produces a red wine with a reputation that is still suffering from poor quality products thrust on the market in the region’s early years. Unlike the Pinotage, South Africa’s Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc have both earned accolades

Today, the South African wine industry reflects a developing blend of influences. Grape varieties are French-influenced, but in a truly New World manner, the industry is increasingly international in flavor – Europeans, Australians, and Americans (north and south) have set up shop in this new and minimally regulated region where land is inexpensive (in comparison) and creativity is welcome.

Mulderbosch is one of the most recognized names in South African wine, yet it has only been around since 1989 with its first vintage in 1994. Although wine making is in the hands of a South African with strong roots in the local industry as well as international training, Mulderbosch was acquired by a California wine company (Terroir Capital) in 2011.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant grape in South Africa’s Coastal Region, though typically found with Merlot in Bordeaux-style blends, it does make a lovely rosé. This particular wine has a deep garnet-pink color. Aromas of tart grapefruit and graphite/pencil shavings open to hints of peppery berries; on the palate, juicy sun-ripened strawberries with a black pepper bite. Ever-so-slightly sweet, this wine is a great match for the international table – especially one that is heavily influenced by the aromatic spicy dishes of India and Southeast Asia. You may also notice a refreshing bite of effervescence, similar to the style of Vinho Verde (a result of bottling when still very young) – this crisp, palate-cleansing tingle just adds to the appeal and food-friendly character.



Bodegas Franco-Españolas, Rioja Bordón, Rioja Reserva

The Wine of the Week
 by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to

2008 Rioja Bordon Reserva2008, Bodegas Franco-Españolas, Rioja Bordón, Rioja Reserva, Spain

Wine has been produced in Spain for over 3,000 years and in the Rioja region for pretty much all of that time. Rioja began its climb to popularity in the 19th century when phylloxera overcame the vineyards of Bordeaux and many French vignerons moved to the region to start anew. When it came time for Spain to codify wine production standards and designate regions, Rioja was the first to be recognized in 1933, then again in 1991 with an upgrade to the more rigorous DOCa designation.

Bodegas Franco-Españolas has been producing wines in Rioja for over 125 years. The name of the Rioja Bordón is a reference to the company’s French roots (the “Franco” part of the original partnership were from Bordeaux).

Tempranillo is the most common red wine grape in Rioja, followed by Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo (Carignan). It is a thick-skinned grape that is native to Spain but has adapted well to other parts of the world. Berry and cherry flavors found in youthful wines give way to chocolate, tobacco, and earthier flavors as the wines age. Aging in oak barrels is integral to the production of Rioja with the various sub-designations relating directly to aging processes. For example, to be labeled Reserva, the wine must be aged for a minimum of 3 years, 12 months of which must be in barrel.

The 2008 vintage of the Rioja Bordón Reserva is ripe with red berries and cassis along with graphite, and rich leather overtones. On the palate, fruity dark cherry flavors are deepened with bitter cocoa and black pepper. Moderate, balanced tannins and refreshingly tart edges make this a most enjoyable wine for the present, and hint at potential for longer-term deliciousness as well. For the price (average $16 as of Dec 2014), this is a great value wine, especially for holiday entertaining. As for sharing the table, think roasted game meats, stews and braises – not just red meats but game birds, duck (duck confit over lentil salad?), or even a hearty roast chicken preparation.