The Father’s Day holiday is a great excuse to spend way more than you normally might on a bottle of wine. Perfect time to cook something special and blow him away with a truly unusual wine.
But it’s not easy to pick from among the thousands of choices. Recently our tasters—some more experienced and some less—tested five unusual wines with widely varying reactions to the color, aroma, body, taste and finish of each. These splurge wines are listed below in roughly the order of our collective favorites, along with a little story about each and the winemakers’ notes. Remember, lots of factors affect how a wine turns out. Barrels for aging are one of the many. Read more about barrels here.
- Le Dix de Los Vascos ~$65 – Le Dix, meaning ten in French, was introduced in 1996 to celebrate Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)’s first ten years in Chile. Grapes for this wine are grown in the oldest vineyard at Los Vascos, 200 acres of up to 80-year-old vines planted in 100% planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. The vision of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) to expand their estate took them to South America in 1988, where they made the first French viticultural investment in modern Chile. Winemaker’s notes: Deep ruby red color. Expressive nose with fruity aromas of prunes, cherries and ripe raspberries followed by notes of tobacco, leather, and graphite. Ageing in French oak barrels gives the wine nice toasty notes that blend to perfection with rose and gooseberry notes and hints of hazelnuts and cinnamon. The broad range of plump tannins from the different varieties in this blend help to create a unique mouthfeel of outstanding complexity. Grape Varieties: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Carmenère, 5% Syrah Acidity: 3.4 g/L – pH: 3.62 Alcohol: 14.5%
2. Marchese Fumanelli Amarone della Valpolicella 2009 ~$80 – The classic Valpolicella is young and fresh with high acidity. Amarone is the venerable edition from this area, and the price reflects the long nurturing process required to make this wine. After the late harvest, the grapes are left to rest on wooden racks for 120 days to dry and concentrate flavors. The wine is then made with a combination of traditional and innovative techniques. The grapes are de-stemmed and soft pressed in January and macerated for 25 days. First fermented in stainless steel, the wine is then aged for 30 months in French oak barrels and a further 8 months in the bottle. Read more about Amarone here.
Winemaker’s notes: An intense garnet red color. The wine displays typical fruity fragrances of mature cherries and wild berry with elegant hints of sweet spices, cinnamon, tobacco and chocolate. A wine of great structure that is rich, rounded, soft and velvety. A richer, more powerful yet elegant style showing lots of ripe baked red fruits. Full-bodied with firm, structured tannins. Warm on the palate, with very long finish. Grape Varieties: 40% Corvina, 40% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella Alcohol: 15.5%
3. Bodegas Caro 2013 Cab-Malbec ~$63 – CARO was born of the alliance between two wine cultures— French and Argentine, two noble grape varieties—Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec; and two renowned wine families—Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena, both families vignerons since the 19th century. They applied their deep knowledge of the art of winemaking to the specific characteristics of Mendoza’s high altitude terroir to create a unique wine: CARO.
Winemaker’s notes: Intense ruby color. On the nose, aromas of red and black fruit aromas, mingled with hints of mocha and spices. Evolves slowly, revealing layer after layer of elegant fragrances. On the palate, the acidity is refreshing and persistent. Well-balanced tannins contribute to the harmony and smoothness of the palate. Grape Varieties: 50% Malbec, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon Acidity: 5.18 g/L – pH: 3.7 Alcohol: 14.5%
4. Barons de Rothschild Champagne Brut Multi-vintage ~$100 – This cuvée combines 60% Chardonnay, primarily grands crus, and 40% Pinot Noir, mainly from three small villages in the champagne region of France. The Chardonnay of this champagne takes the wine into the unforgettable style of Barons de Rothschild champagnes.
Winemaker’s notes: Strong, assertive opening that leads into a well-rounded wine—powerful yet restrained; the sign of long aging in traditional cellars. Exudes aromas of pear and nuts (almonds, fresh hazelnuts) marrying with hints of white flowers and faint toasty notes. Brilliant and clear with pale golden highlights, the very fine bubbles carry an abundant, persistent *perlage. Grape Varieties: 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir Alcohol: 12% Acidity: 7.3 g/L – pH: 3.21
*Perlage: In a glass of sparkling wine, it indicates the chains of bubbles that ascend from the bottom of the glass to the surface of the wine. Perlage is an important quality indicator for a sparkling wine: the more numerous, the finer and the longer lasting the bubbles, the better and the more refined the wine. From the wine glossary at ClicksandCorks.com.
5. Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape 2012 ~$63 – The winter of 2011-2012 was cold and dry—including two weeks in February of freezing temperatures and a strong Mistral wind gusting up to 62mph that killed many buds and froze numerous old vine stocks. A cool and humid, rainy spring restored groundwater, but that summer was very dry in this region, unlike the rest of France. Two very hot weeks in August ripened the grapes so harvest of the small yield began early. Winemakers were able to bring out high concentrations of delicate tannins. Then they aged the wine 2/3 of the time in oak barrels and 1/3 in casks and wooden vats, and blended it just before bottling.
Winemaker’s notes: Dark red, with a purple border. The nose is rich, pure and complex, with black fruits and sweet spices. On the palate, lots of roundness, with nice refined tannins. Finish is very long, with notes of black cherry and black berry, with a silky touch on the tongue. A feeling of youth and freshness emerges. The aromas given by the ageing in oak are still visible, with hints of spices and roasting, but they will be soon integrated into the wine and will make it really complex. A wine with a great cellaring potential and with an impressing aromatic expression. Grape Varieties: 44% Grenache Noir, 37% Syrah, 14% Mourvedre, 5% Cinsault Alcohol: 14.5%