A. Diehl Kerner 2018
Pfalz, Germany, $16
Andreas Diehl is producing some delightful wines meant more for immediate enjoyment than long-term contemplation. A. Diehl Kerner is a wonderful example of this style. Kerner is not a familiar grape to most people, but it is definitely one worth getting to know. It is named after a 19th-century German poet whose body of work includes drinking songs. Kerner has riesling in its DNA and shares some of its characteristics, including crisp acidity and a citrus and stone fruit profile, but it is hardier and more productive than riesling.
This subtle, pale-gold wine opens with delicate fragrances of fresh lemon, apple and oleander blossoms. Its acidity is on full display from the first sip, crisp yet perfectly balanced, creating a lively and uplifting effect on the palate. Citrus notes repeat, accompanied by honeydew melon, and a strong finish of freshly sliced comice pear. There is just the right amount of residual sugar to provide an overall symmetry. Uncomplicated and exceedingly enjoyable, this wine would make a suitable pairing partner for a diverse array of foods. However, it would be most rewarding with Chinese, Thai and Indian dishes that have a bit of a kick to them.
Fresh. Fruity. Fun. And at $16 for the larger 1-liter bottle, you can keep the drinking songs going long after the dan dan noodles are done.
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Ovum Big Salt 2018
Established in 2011, Ovum Wines is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team John House and Ksenija Kostic. Ovum specializes in crafting natural wines solely from white grapes, especially riesling, sourced from a variety of Oregon appellations. The wines, expressions of both oceanic and volcanic soils, highlight a pronounced salinity which, Ovum claims, is reminiscent of a day at the beach.
Ovum Big Salt is predominantly a blend of riesling and gewürztraminer, two aromatic grapes typically found bottled as single varietal wines. Because neutrality and a sparsity of intervention are key to creating natural wines, the winemakers use native yeast for fermentation, neutral receptacles throughout the winemaking process, and they refrain from fining. The only addition is sulfur dioxide.
This wine is a shade of straw suggestive of wind-dried beach grass. The nose is all riesling with petrol and peach, dappled with an obliging brininess. The attack highlights keen minerality and, after a momentary tingling on the tongue, develops into a mouthfeel so creamy it borders on fleshy. Acid props the wine up on the palate without being obvious. The gewürztraminer makes itself known on the finish, with notes of lime, lychee and green apple. This wine is the vinous equivalent of eating an oyster on the half shell. A perfect wine to enjoy with sushi, it will even handle the wasabi.
For $20, this wine provides a day at the beach without having to leave home.
M. Chapoutier Belleruche Rouge 2018
Côtes du Rhône, France, $13
One of the family names most associated with the Rhône Valley, M. Chapoutier has been creating terroir-expressive wines in the village of Tain l’Hermitage for 200 years. Current owner and industry innovator Michel Chapoutier has been employing biodynamic viticulture — a practice that adds vitality to the soil and plants — since the 1990s. He has even opted to include braille on all of his wine labels — a tribute to a blind philanthropist from Tain who owned a special parcel of grapevines from which Michel sources grapes for one of his best wines.
M. Chapoutier Belleruche Rouge is at once elegant and approachable. Comprising approximately 80 percent grenache and 20 percent syrah, extended contact between the grape skins and juice have created a highly saturated wine that coats the glass in a mouth-watering, black-cherry hue. Heady alcohol tickles the nose, slowly subsiding to aromas of caramel, blackberry brambles and smoked meat. The wine is velvety smooth on the palate, where blackberry notes are echoed and joined by fresh blueberries. Tannins are present but tame, and the finish is juicy and refreshing. The overall impression is one of fresh berry pâte de fruits. Serve on the slightly cooler side to highlight its natural brightness. This wine is a great accompaniment for your favorite meat-topped pizza, or pair with Mexican fare such as burritos, enchiladas and carne asada.
Elevate your eat-in experience with a quality Rhône red for a mere $13.