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Burgáns Albariño 2018

Rías Baixas, Spain, $16

No wine region better demonstrates the success of women winemakers than the maritime town of Rías Baixas in northwestern Spain, where half of the winemakers are women. The small size of individual vineyard holdings has led to an abundance of cooperatives, where families’ resources are combined to produce wine. Burgáns is a custom cuvée produced by Martín Códax, the largest cooperative in Rías Baixas, at which oenologist and agricultural engineer Katia Álvarez has been head winemaker for 15 years.

Burgáns Albariño is produced from 100 percent albariño, the queen of grapes in Galicia, harvested from the most prestigious — and coolest — subregion, Val do Salnés. The wine shines pale yellow gold in the glass. On the nose, citrus makes a statement then paves the way for tropical fruit notes, led by papaya. The palate is a veritable fruit salad with apple and peach being bolstered by juicy oroblanco. Although the acid here is more than refreshing, the mouthfeel is round and lightly creamy. A touch of minerality appears at the end of a slowly unraveling finish in the form of flintiness on the tip of the tongue. Seafood is the favorite fare in Rias Baixas. Pair with steamed mussels with lemon and pepper, bacalao empanadas, or try alongside a butternut squash risotto.

This subtly weighty wine is the perfect white for closing out winter and easing into spring.

Arrowhead Acres Farmhouse White 2019

North Franklin, Connecticut, $22

A relative newcomer to the Connecticut wine scene, Arrowhead Acres Winery is the latest addition to Arrowhead Acres Farm in North Franklin, having opened in 2018. The winery’s 27-year-old winemaker, Mackenzie Beckwith, may very well be the youngest winemaker in the state, but she is not without some know-how. Beckwith, backed by a degree in plant science, is currently growing 2 acres of grapes, with plans to expand this spring. The remainder of the grapes used for their roster of just under a dozen wines are brought in from New York and California.

Arrowhead Acres Farmhouse White is crafted completely from the locally popular white hybrid grape, Cayuga, the majority of which is estate grown. The wine appears pale yellow in the glass. The nose is quite attractive, showcasing aromas of citrus and pineapple, and potent lemon tree blossom perfume. Pineapple lingers on the palate, where it is joined by muscat and cooked pears infused with a hint of baking spices, reminiscent of a baked pear tart. The acidity level is pleasantly refreshing, imparting a zesty zing in the back of the throat on the finish. This off-dry wine would be an apt pairing partner for baked brie with caramelized pears, Laksa noodle soup, and Tandoori chicken. 

Farmhouse White is currently only being sold at the winery. However, the tasting room has winter hours and COVID precautions in place, so why not take a road trip? 

Charles Krug Merlot 2017

Napa Valley, California, $25

Charles Krug, a Prussian immigrant, is credited with establishing the very first winery in Napa Valley in 1861. The eponymous winery was brought into the Mondavi family fold in 1943 and has been run by them ever since. A decade ago, the Mondavis hired industry veteran Stacy Clark to head up winemaking operations for Charles Krug. Now with 35 years of winemaking experience under her belt, Clark continues to create wines expressive of both their variety and terroir.

Merlot is the star of Charles Krug Merlot Napa Valley, supported by cameo roles from cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, and malbec. A warm garnet hue greets the eye, inviting the imbiber to partake. Incense and vanilla notes from French oak aging are the first to reach the nose, pursued by black plums and blackberries. Echoed on the palate, these fruits take on a brighter quality with an assist from deftly defined acid, evolving into black cherries and sugar plums. The acidity is carried through on the finish of mixed berry jam and graphite. Soft tannins are present, but do not overwhelm — the strong but silent type. This has all the warmth and velvetiness of merlot with a welcome bit of brightness. Choose this wine to accompany flap steak with beurre rouge, Austrian goulash with paprika, and pork roast with merlot-shallot sauce.

Enjoy this classic expression of Napa Valley merlot and taste a bit of American history.

Renée B. Allen, CSW, FWS, CSS, is a wine and spirits expert and the director of the award-winning Wine Institute of New England, which offers wine and spirits education and events. Allen is a professor at the University of New Haven, a wine competition director and judge, and can be seen on WFSB’s Better Connecticut.

This article appears in the March 2021 issue of Connecticut MagazineYou can subscribe to Connecticut Magazine here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get our latest and greatest content delivered right to your inbox. Have a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram @connecticutmagazine and Twitter @connecticutmag.