Febuary’s Shamrock Selections

Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.

As you might have noticed, we try to always give you wines that are seasonably appropriate. Light and crisp whites in the summer, with deeper and heavier reds in the winter. There are, of course, alway exceptions, but that’s a trend line we try to stick to. So, what do we do with a month like February? Just a few days ago it was almost 80º without a cloud in the sky, but as I write this (Valentine’s Day) it’s 45º and raining. Well, we tried to split the difference with a wonderfully delicate white wine and big, bold red. Drink them whenever and however you like, but as always, enjoy.

2013 Garnier & Fils Premier* Cru Chablis "Mont de Milieu"

I was recently helping a customer in the shop when he asked me about chardonnay, saying that he never drank it because of the “ABC rule.” He went on to explain that this stood for “anything but Chardonnay,” a rule he’d learned during college. I’ll admit that hearing him say this broke my heart, as there are just so many excellent chardonnays being produced in the world. Of course, for every great chardonnay, there is a…less great chardonnay out there lurking on the shelf (but not our shelf, we only stock the great ones). 

I tell this story because I’m sure there are several of you who’ve heard of the ABC rule, or who, in general, have a mental picture of chardonnay as a strangely buttery, flabby wine that’s often given out for free at charity events. I don’t blame you for being weary, but don’t worry, you’re entire life (or at least the chardonnay aspect of it) is about to change!

Chablis is a small commune in the Burgundy region of France where some of the world’s best chardonnay is grown. Chablis is a sexy, sports car version of chardonnay, the Beyoncé of Chardonnay if you will. A key thing to look for here is a racing acidity that serves as the wine’s backbone. It’s this acidity that allows the wine’s fruit flavors to really shine. Right off the bat, you’re sure to notice a strong lemon aroma (personally, it reminds me of a lemon cream), that’s followed up with notes of ripe peach and fresh pear. The finish here is quite long and commanded by a lingering hint of brioche or of lightly buttered baguette. 

A wine like this can really elevate a simple meal. One of my weeknight standby by recipes is for poached salmon with a beurre blanc sauce, and I can only imagine how well the wine’s acidity would balance with the salmon’s natural fat. If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, I think this would be an excellent pairing with a hearty grain-based salad with a light vinaigrette. 

*Now, if you look at the bottle, you’re going to see “1er” which is pronounced “premier.” Unfortunately, no one told me this until after I had been working at the shop for about six months. I had been pronouncing it “une-er.” Don’t make the same mistake I did! 

2011 Los Vascos Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua, Chile

The second wine is from Chile’s Colchagua Valley. It takes the idea of a Bordeaux-style blend (i.e. lots of cabernet sauvignon, with other French blending grapes) and gives it a uniquely South American twist. The predominate grape here is still cabernet sauvignon (75%), with carmenere, malbec, and sryah rounding out the rest in almost equal amounts.

When I first opened this wine, I was struck by how reductive it was. That’s a fancy way of saying that the winemaker took special care to expose the wine to as little oxygen as possible. What that means for us is that this wine greatly benefits from being run through an aerator once (or even twice) or decanted for at least an hour.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be rewarded with a surprisingly fruity wine. The most immediate fruit notes for me were plums and blueberries. Blueberries is a tell-tale sign of malbec for me, so even had I not known where this wine was from, it would have given me a hint. Where this wine really gets interesting is its finish. There was a lot of debate amongst our staff on this, but we all came away with notes of chocolate, tobacco, black pepper (that’s the syrah saying hello!), and mocha.

This wine is just aching for food, and I want to give it some meat. I think it would be excellent with steak or pork, even lamb. Likewise, I think this would really shine if paired with a hearty pasta (ooh, lasagna!). While you’re cooking, add a splash of wine to the sauce to liven things up.

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