The holiday season has arrived! We all look forward to these long nights around the table, sitting with friends and savoring dishes to keep us warm. Braised meats, slow cooked beans, root vegetables, rich desserts: all of them cry out for wines that can stand up to the plate. Here are a few treats from our shelves that we look forward to savoring all year-long – wines we save for special occasions, just like this month’s holiday gatherings. Here we present a show-stopper right bank Bordeaux for your holiday meats, as well as two after-dinner wines: the first, a Barolo Chinato to sip with dark chocolate, and the second, a rich red Banyuls from southern France. Enjoy!
Château La Grave Canon-Fronsac “La Fleur de Cailleau” 2008
Paul Barre makes this ultra-traditional Bordeaux at Château La Grave in the town of Fronsac on the northern bank of the Dordogne river. This cuvée is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
We love Barre’s rich, dark Bordeaux for its balance of fruit, tannin and earth. It’s perfect with roasted or braised beef or lamb on a cold winter’s night.
Cappellano Barolo Chinato
In 1895, pharmacist Dottore Giuseppe Cappellano invented Barolo Chinato when he steeped a secret blend of china bark, spices and herbs in a fortified Barolo wine. Happy Piemontese have been sipping this mysterious elixir after meals ever since. We can pick out notes of licorice, cinnamon, cherry, hazelnut, earth and clove. Cappellano Barolo Chinato settles the stomach, tantalizes the taste buds, and pairs perfectly with dark, dark chocolate. We only receive a tiny bit each year and when it’s gone it’s gone, so call ahead if you’re looking for a bottle!
Domaine du Traginer Banyuls “Rimage Mise Tardive” 2009
Jean-François Deu is the winemaker at Domaine du Traginer, where he farms according to biodynamic principles and plows with his mule Nanu. Valerie and Ihsan paid him a visit a few years back and he insisted they stay for dinner while his wife cooked a ridiculously huge cabbage. Banyuls is a rich, fortified dessert wine, and this beauty is made with late harvest Grenache, Grenache Gris and Carignane grapes. These extra-ripe grapes produce a rich, heady wine with notes of stewed fruits and warm baking spices that pairs wonderfully with cheeses, nuts and dried fruit after dinner.
Julie Cappellano is the General Manager and Wine Buyer at Formaggio Kitchen South End, Boston.