FMN – September 2019 – Dorian (Storm Wines for Contemplation)

With football season here, I was planning to discuss the whimsical pairings of wings and wines to aid in the enjoyment of your weekend sports celebrations. However, with an unwelcomed guest named Dorian threatening to drop by, I felt it remiss not to acknowledge our rude party crasher.

Rather than paining over what I can pair with debris fields and whatever I have defrosting in the bowels of my freezer, I say pick some of your favorites. So while you are buying all the milk, bread and toilet paper off the shelves, stop by your local liquid coping store and stock up on whatever you feel will get you through the storm, so to speak.

One argument for white wines during this time remains the potential for sweltering heat and little to no air-conditioning. There also exists the issue with chilling these wines, but I’ve already factored that in with my generator equations.

There are so many white wines that I consider ‘sippable’ but many seem impressively priced. If you have the extra coin after doing your hurricane prep, by all means spend away. Australia has some good value lately as their strength in the US market has declined. Poised for a comeback with their extensive marketing campaign, buy them now before the prices go back up.

Having little to talk about with the knee-high swells on the Florida beaches, one of the weather sensationalists remarked that the ocean was ‘frothier than usual’. Although a ridiculous statement, it did remind me that I’ll need to stock up on sparkling wine for this whole ordeal. I do keep some handy at all times for just such emergencies but one can never be too prepared.

Being on a Spanish wine kick lately, I immediately gravitated to Cava. These traditional method sparkling wines can be found all over Spain as the DO Cava is not tied to a certain region but rather a method of production. One stipulation for Cava is the allowable grape varieties: Macabello, Parellada, Xarel.lo, and the recent addition of Chardonnay. The final wines vary in flavor profiles due to the varied growing regions and the differing percentages of the allowed grape varieties. As one of the best values for sparkling wine in the world, you’ll need to have some of this on hand.

For the red wine aficionados, I decided to go for both a lighter and heavier red as this is no time for temperance. I love Burgundy wines but I’m often gob-smacked at the prices. These can be some of the most expensive Pinot Noir in the world. I find that denoted regional wines like Bourgogne AOP, Côtes de Nuits, or Côtes de Beaune and the village wines of Côtes Chalonnaise (Rully, Givry, and Mercurey) offer some great value for Pinot. But if you are bent on bringing home an Échezeaux or Romanée-Conti, let me know and I’ll bring the generator.

Although there are many weightier red wines to choose from, I wanted to select a wine that could not only pair well with my gourmet grilling but also be sipped while I contemplate my existence. There are many things one can discover about oneself with the accompaniment of a bottle of wine and the background rumble of a generator. Self-awareness remains a building block toward self-actualization. I digress.

Pomerol would offer a strong argument for these ‘meditation wines’, but my preparedness dollars won’t permit this expense. Remaining on the Right Bank of Bordeaux but moving just next door, Lalande de Pomerol offers a budget-friendly compromise. A completely separate appellation, these wines offer many of the sexy characteristics of Pomerol due to similar soil, climate and grape varieties. One drawback: they generally are not quite as ‘ageable’ as Pomerol, but that element was never going to be a factor with my consumption practices.

My final selection comes from the fact that I love fortified wines. Although they vary in production methods (a future article), suffice it to say that ‘fortified wines’ offer some residual sugar and linger around 25% abv. Knowing that I will be eating dark chocolate, a personal coping mechanism, Port moves to the front of the line.

Port wines are called such due to traditionally being stored and aged in warehouses and exported from the city of Porto, at the mouth of the Duero River. Although the styles vary, I prefer Late Bottle Vintage due to the richness of a vintage, some of the oxidative notes of a tawny, and the early drinkability of a Ruby. Even if the LBV is unavailable, pick up any style and try it. Not to be too cheeky but as they say ‘any port in a storm’. These wines are scary addictive and as a traditionalist, I’ll be sipping mine by candlelight (whether compulsory or otherwise).

There are many preparations that need be made with a huge storm coming but do not forget the alcohol. Imbibing will elevate the ambiance of downed trees, powerless homes and the smell of neighborhood grills preheating mixed with the slight nuance of generator exhaust. In all seriousness, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I pray for you and your families. Stay safe.


Suggested Wines:


Cape Mentelle Semillion / Sauvignon Blanc         Margaret River, Australia             $14.99

This easy sipping white wine has overt aromatics of citrus (lemon, lime), citrus blossom, acacia, and a slightly waxy nature. The palate is dry with bright, medium plus citric acidity. The body is elevated and slightly viscous due to the Semillion. Flavors of smoked citrus, citrus pith, and barely ripe tropical fruit emerge. This blend (61% Sauvignon Blanc / 39% Semillion) truly exemplifies the best of both grape varieties. Pair this with heavier shellfish dishes, seafood ceviche, goat cheese and ‘my child is off school due to the hurricane’ days.


Segura Viudas Cava Brut                                            Penedès, Spain                               $10.99

This Cava is a blend 50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada and 15% Xarel-lo (shar-el-low). One first notices the nose of ripe orchard fruit and an earthy floral note. The palate is bright with persistent bubbles, a creamy but prickly mousse and a slightly fuller mouth-feel, resultant from 15 months of aging on the lees. There are flavors of ripe green apple, lemon and pineapple with a slightly forest floor, earthy nuance. This is a ridiculous value for a traditional method sparkling wine. Pair it with anything or nothing.


Domaine Faiveley Mercurey 2016                           Mercurey / Burgundy, France     $31.99

A chunky, example of why southern Burgundy is a sexy, well-priced option to some of the more expensive Cote d’ Or. There are aromatics of red fruit (raspberry, cherry and cranberry), and earthy dried autumn leaves. The palate has crisp crunchy red fruit acidity, medium minus body, integrated alcohol and light fine grained tannins. I love this wine with wild fowl (duck, goose or quail), mushroom dishes and just sipping and watching the reports that the hurricane moved out to sea.

Chateau de Roquebrune 2014                   Lalande de Pomerol                                     $23.99

With this 100% Merlot, one first notices a nose of cigar box, leather, slight menthol and spice along with macerated red / black fruit with plum. The integration and balance of components allows coexistence without any one element standing out. The silky texture of this wine makes it a pleasure to drink with fine grained tannins and a cocoa powder finish. I love these wines with crispy pork fat, blue cheese and shallot covered burgers, and contemplation.


Talor Fladgate LBV 2012                                             Portugal                                            $23.99

The nose has layered aromatics of red fruit, cassis, candied plum, and a slight floral and anise component. The palate has evident residual sugar and a caressing viscous mouth-feel. Flavors of red and black fruit compote, plum, fig and baking chocolate are overt. The ripe tannins are evident but not off-putting. This wine is a dessert in itself or with rich chocolate desserts (especially with berry sauces), pungent cheeses (Stilton), and winds over 74mph.