Ten December Wines From France, Italy And Portugal

The State of the World Wine and Vine Sector Report published in April of 2022 highlights that in 2021 the combined surface area of vineyards in France, Italy and Portugal accounted for 23.4% of worldwide acreage, that these countries consume 23% of wines produced internationally, and that, combined, they produce 36.6% of wine throughout the globe. The percentages of bottled wines they produce (as opposed to sparkling, boxed and bulk) vary by country (70% for France; 58% for Italy, and 80% for Portugal). The majority of wines these three countries produce are reds. Most wines imported into the U.S. come from France and Italy, with a respective import value of $1.77 billion and $2 billion.

After reading statistics, it is time to sample a few choice bottles. Below are a range of wines you may want to sample for the upcoming holiday season.

FRANCE –

Château Moulin a Vent. Beaujolais. 2009. 94 points.

From Beaujolais, this Gamay wine includes aromas of rosewater, strawberries and red plumbs. Silky and suave and easy drinking with well blended acidity and subtle background tannins. Classic Beaujolais. Pair with salmon, plaice, a nutty salad or a dessert of cherry sorbet.

Château de Candale. Saint-Émilion Grand Cru. 2021. 95 points.

Aromas of slight sage and blackberries and roasted coffee. In the mouth this includes silky acidity, plums, blackberries—a seductive and slippery Saint-Emilion beauty. Just drinking this wine may convince you to settle in Bordeaux. Firm and confidently quiet tannins, juicy acidity, black and red cherries and even strawberries mid palate, and some cherry tart on the finish. Well structured, confidently quiet in its ability to provide pleasure.

Wolfberger. Black Papillon. Alsace. 2020. 90 – 91 points.

Aromas of light florals, grapefruit and mandarin. Textured and citric in the mouth, with a slab of acidity and a blood orange flavor mid palate with tropical fruits on the finish. An early afternoon sipping wine, and one sip is not enough.

ITALY –

Luretta. Selín Dl’Armari. Colli Piacentini. Chardonnay. DOC. 2020. 94 points.

Butter and honey on the nose, green apples and cream in the mouth. An oily delight on the cheeks, with a hit of marshmallows and peach pie flavors mid palate, and with silky acidity and burnt crisp apple tart flavors on the finish. A warm glow on an autumn evening.

Banfi. Aska. Bolgheri Rosso. DOC. 2019. 91-93 points.

Dark plum color to this wine with a lively and electric bouquet of aromas of roof slates, hedgerow, M&Ms, Swiss milk chocolate, red hot candies, brownies, fudge. Deep and dense aromas with lively energy. In the mouth this is a fudge delight. Think candy store—with marzipan, brownie, plums and ginger mid palate, some dorp licorice, peppermint cane and black pepper on the finish. Smooth drinking, more deep than complex, a biltong matcher. The rambunctious acidity and sweetness could complement foie gras, but will go well with barbecued rib eye steak slathered with a hickory sage sauce. An easy drinking and wholesome mouthful that is well balanced with sleek acidity—think rich hot chocolate from Alpine ski slopes west of Torino. Scrumptious.

Tenute Silvio Nardi. Brunello di Montalcino. DOCG. 2017. 93-94 points.

This 15.5% alcohol wine has the color of red cherries and brick. Aromas are quiet at first with a smidgen of wet clay and fern glen and open up to mushrooms and sultanas. A silky mouthful of taste, somewhat notable alcohol on the finish, but replete with complexity and layers—creamy oxtail and truffle soup, cherry pie, some sage and black pepper on the finish. Tannins are elegant and the wine develops generously in the glass. Pair with a fig tart dessert or cream of mushroom soup.

Colline Albelle. Inbianco. Riparbella Toscana Italia. Vermentino Toscana. IGT. 2020. 93 points.

This 10.2% alcohol wine includes assertive and sharp edged aromas of flint and sea spray, gooseberries and lime. A brittle, crisp hit of zesty and crackling acidity with a lovely lime/grapefruit snap and honey on the finish. Light and bright. Pair with barracuda or lemon tart.

PORTUGAL –

Quinta de Ventozelo. Douro, Portugal. Rabigato DOC. 2021. 94 points.

This 12% alcohol white wine from the Douro region comes in a thin, Riesling like bottle and is made from the Rabigato grape. Includes gripping aromas of peaches and mangoes, lime and some eucalyptus. A delicate wine with Viognier like flavors bursting with tropical fruits, as well creamy but zinging acidity and tastes of grapefruit, gooseberries and mandarin segments. Uplifting and racy. Serve chilled with slices of white pears and goat cheese, or with lime slathered shrimp. Racy, assertive, flavorful, crisp.

Quinta de Ventozelo. Loci. Douro DOC. 2020. 95+ points.

Made from five grape varieties from eight vineyards, this wine with a still bright purple color includes a mixed bag of light red fruit aromas as well as hints of earth and gorse. In the mouth a lovely light layered delight, complex and energetic, bright and still deep. Cherries on the attack, honey, maple syrup and red and black licorice mid palate, and prunes on the finish. Well enveloped tannins. A real beauty here with deep flavors and memorable quality.

Dalva. Porto. Organic. Vintage 2019. 94-95 points.

This 20% alcohol sweet wine includes aromas of a spicebox—with black pepper, sage, rosemary and cumin as well as molasses and orange rinds. This is a feisty mouthful tugging with complex flavors, a dark soup of fruit, spice and some butterscotch on the finish. An elegant package of energetic and swirling flavors—almost too lively to pair with any food. Appropriate both for festivities and quiet conversation. Beautiful.

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