After giving you a glimpse into the world of modern wine culture and introducing you to winemakers who set new standards through responsibility, sustainability and passion, we thought it was time to present a selection of wines that will prepare every household for that perfect quiet evening.
All that time spent staring at a computer screen, conversing with clients, or running busily from errand to errand. There are only so many hours in the day, now set some aside for rest and tranquility. While some stocked their pantries with toilet paper and non-perishables in the past, the French stocked up on good wine. Perhaps a nice bit of inspiration to attune ourselves to those who are known not only for their good style, but also their savoir vivre. Because what’s better than an idle moment with a good glass of the best wines, whether on a cozy cold winter evening or a balmy summer night? With these 12 bottles of great wines, we’ve taken the stress of selection from your shoulders, with rich and delicious selections suited for any moment.
The family business from the Rhenish-Hessian Switzerland derives its strength from the community. Their down-to-earth attitude, knowledge and years of experience are reflected in their best wines. A wine culture based on intense trust between humans and nature. The family has an intimate knowledge of their vineyards and the unique nature of their soil allows for variety in their wines. They’re open to new ideas whilst cultivating traditional ones. Most notable is the Riesling “Porphyr” from young winemaker Frank Achenbach. An animated and precise wine with fine acidity, a slightly smoky note and balanced fruitiness. The best stories are still created at the convergence of young and old. In vino veritas.
With their classic grape varieties, the Alois Lageder family draws from the diversity of the South Tyrolean region, which they call home. For their compositions, individual components and occurrences are examined in both the vineyard and cellar, connecting them anew every year. The family winery cultivates 55 hectares according to biodynamic agricultural principles. Their holistic approach shapes their viticulture. This is also the case with the Casòn Bianco from the Masterpieces-Series, the main components of which are the Viognier and Petit Manseng grape varieties.
As early as the 1990s, and with the first signs of climate change, the Lageder family decided to grow the resilient Viognier grape variety – and they were right. The small, loose and thick-skinned grapes are rather robust and a wise choice due to lower levels of sugar and a good acid structure at higher temperatures. Nowadays, the grape variety is the essence of a true culinary delight: the Casòn Bianco Viognier Petit Manseng. An aromatic, fruity white wine with vanilla and roasted aromas, from a winemaker with vision and taste.
The Cerrado del Castillo is an excellent wine in every aspect. The grapes are obtained exclusively from more than 40-year old bush vines, which ripen organically in a real palace garden. The young winemakers only use outstanding vintages for the production of this fine wine. This is the case when the necessary balance is achieved and the harvest reaches the apex of expressing its terroir.
The subsoil is characterized by alluvial soil from the Tirón River, interspersed with a lot of gravel, a deep, loose and calcareous clay soil and a grainy sandstone-based soil. A unique foundation that produces this excellent red wine with a deep, black cherry colour, elegant, intense aromas of ripe red berries and many spice-nuances. On the palate you immediately notice its fine balance and aromatic persistence. Feeling like royalty is easier than you think.
Dreissigacker is characterized by sustainability, proximity to nature and time. A winery located in the middle of Rheinhessen. Dreissigacker's wines polarize. They are unique, genuine, real. Many reasons that justify their large fan base. “Biodynamic viticulture,” says Jochen Dreissigacker, “is the logical consequence for everyone who deals intensively with ecological viticulture. The aim is to work as close to nature as possible in order to create optimal conditions so that the wine can thrive and grow.” The essence of biodynamic viticulture is working in cycles. Nature supports, protects and strengthens itself in recurring circles. You can find out more about Dreissigacker's approach here.
With its Vintages line, Dreissigacker has set a new standard all across Germany. For this series, different vintages are combined, which possess different climate conditions, maturity stages and aromas. Each vintage characterizes the wine in its own special way and allows for something to emerge that’s unique in its dimensions. The top wine combines three vintages: the fresh and bold aromas of 2019, the youngest vintage, the well-rounded balance of 2018 and the fine aroma of a delicately and diligently matured wine from 2017. What a grand amalgamation.
Introduced in 1985, Esporão Reserva Red was the first wine ever produced by Esporão. Since then, the company has been inviting artists to individually design and enrich the labels for the Reserva and Private Selection vintages. Thirty-two Portuguese, one Brazilian and two Angolan artists have already taken part in this tradition.
The 2017 vintage was recently presented by Esporão Reserva Red, whose label was visually brought to life by the poet and artist António Poppe. The wine represented by this label is made exclusively from grapes that come from sustainable agriculture and are hand-picked. The winemakers of Esporão make a conscious effort to cultivate in harmony with nature. The outcome is an improved grape quality. After the harvest, the wine is vinified in small temperature and pressure controlled tanks, after which it matures for 12 months in American and French oak barrels.
The Esporão Reserva Red has an intense ruby red colour and exudes aromas of wild berries and blueberry jam, wrapped in a hint of coffee, black pepper and light roasted notes from the barrel. Winter-appropriate flavours, artistic packaging. This top wine is perfect as a present.
The philosophy of the Foradori winery simultaneously sounds like manifesto and religion: “The immobile plant should be observed and somehow even heard. We are free farmers united in our respect for the earth and its abundance. We are passionate about growing plants that retain their natural expressive power. We transform the fruits of our earth for the benefit of those who reap their goodness. Our primary goal is to create harmony between people and nature. If a healthy cultivation method allows a grapevine to express itself in its entirety, the fruit that emerges from it will be an expression of authenticity.”
The grapes for the Granato grow between the gaping and steep slopes of the Trentino Alpine landscape. In the glass, the Granato by Elisabetta Foradori is a deep garnet red. It smells of wild plums, morello cherries, tobacco and dried cranberries. One can save the bottle for a few years (or decades) and let it mature, but when opened immediately, some time in the carafe is beneficial. A remarkable wine and feast for the senses. As a side note, the vineyard also produces its own cheese and grows its own produce. So, definitely worth a trip, perhaps for the next harvest season?
The Becker Winery is located near the gentle Vosges, immersed in smooth valleys and wide landscapes. Between Alsace and the Palatinate Forest one can immediately feel the influence of savoir vivre and the inclination to eating, drinking and living well. The majestic Pinot Noir, the king among red wines, is also the wine that the Becker family is particularly proud of. The vineyard’s excellent position with its thick limestone subsoil, is the ideal location for this grape variety. The pinots are very concentrated, have ripe, firm tannins and combine fine elegance with a wide range of red fruit aromas. They have been among the best Burgundy wines in Germany for many years. The winery owes its reputation and rank to its outstanding quality. The Pinot Noir Schweigen grows on the vine between 27 and 52 years and has a scent of forest fruits, tobacco, spices and delicate notes of vanilla. A wonderful combination for the winter.
The origins of Bodegas y Viñedos Gómez Cruzado go back to 1886 when Ángel Gómez de Arteche, a nobleman related to the Duke of Moctezuma de Tultengo, decided to start producing and bottling his own wine in the heart of the Rioja Alta. The result was a centuries-old wine cellar, whose wines are steeped in history, suitable for late hours, deep thoughts and extravagant tales. The Montes Obarenes Rioja also has potential for evenings that know no end.
A fresh and complex white wine from 2016 that ages joyfully. A mild winter with little rain was followed by a hot and dry summer. The soils of the region showed symptoms of stress. But not the cultivation areas of the Viura and the white Tempranillo grapes, which are used here for production. The vines are grown at an altitude where the soil has the ability to better store water. Lucky for the winemaker. And lucky for us, because we are willing to age a little for this wine.
The labels of the Pitnau wines are already tempting. A finely illustrated picture of the colourful Bee-eater—a bird that occasionally nests in the southern Danube region and attracts ornithologists from all over Austria—adorns the elegant bottles. The region, long known as the white wine cultivation hotspot, experienced a digression in the 1980s due to a scandal in which antifreeze was added to wines for profit maximization. In order to rebuild consumer confidence, Hans Pitnauer, the son of a winemaking family, made a decision that would have a lasting impact on the entire region in the southern Danube area. He altered the focus to red wine. A momentous decision. Today, Zweigelt is the most widely planted red wine variety in Austria and the Pitnauer family’s focal point is clearly this popular grape.
A scent of cherry, chocolate and nut-nougat surrounds the award-winning, ruby-red Bee-eater Zweigelt, which now enjoys cult status, not only because of its stunning label, but especially because of its engaging taste. Everything here also happens without the use of insecticides and herbicides. One more reason to put this wine under the Christmas tree or to enjoy it yourself.
A strong, aromatic wine with a long finish. A wine that requires time and maturity – which is granted without hesitation. The vineyards, where the grapes for this wintery swill grow, are protected by gentle hills in the Rhine plain, where a warm microclimate prevails. The dry gravel and sand-based soils that warm up slightly are necessary for the ripening of the tasty red wine grapes. For the signature cuvée “Das Kreuz,” the grapes are picked by hand, sorted and destemmed again in the winery and fermented with natural yeasts without pumping. At Rings, the natural elements are treated as consciously as the wine itself.
The young and experimental winemakers of Rings attach great importance to a balanced ecosystem. They practice organic farming because they are convinced that only healthy soil can produce wines that naturally and authentically reflect their origins. Buckwheat, vetch, mallow, alfalfa and clover thrive between the vine rows. They bind nitrogen from the air and naturally supply the soil with it. Rapeseed and oilseed radish plants push their roots deep into the ground and ensure good ventilation. You can find the full story about the young winemakers of Rings here.
The Terlan winery was founded in 1893 through the merging of 24 winegrowers who wanted to free themselves from dependence on big landowners. At the time South Tyrol was known primarily as a red wine-growing region, but its development into an excellent white wine region is thanks to the Terlan winery, an absolute insider tip among connoisseurs.
The three grape varieties Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc were already being cultivated by Terlano in 1850. Initially planted in mixed batches, these wines were pressed together, matured and called the Cuvée “Terlaner.” This is one of the oldest white wine cuvées in Italy. Today, however, the grape varieties are vinified and aged separately and then combined as a cuvée. The majority of this cuvée is matured in steel tanks and a small part in large wooden barrels. The mixture combines freshness and complexity and is, especially in the magnum bottle, a perfect gift for a lasting impression.
Since its founding in 1849, top-quality wines from outstanding vineyards have been maturing in the historic cellars of the von Winning winery. In 1907, Leopold von Winning set himself the task of doing this location justice by vinifying great wines. Intensive and natural processes result in aromatic and healthy grapes, which are vinified in the historic wine cellar without any external influences. The winery’s excellent wines ferment warmly in the wood, turbid and without artificial cooling. As such, valuable, aromatic phenols are preserved, which give the wines their complex style.
The Sauvignon Blanc I has ripe fruit, piquant herbal aromas and a balanced minerality. They are underlined by a fresh acidity and subtle wood notes. Also underlined should be the gold-emerald green label with white writing. An elegant wine for blithe hours on sunny, cold winter days and perhaps just the right thing for those beloved in-laws.
Words: Esther Seibt