Ahhh, February, without a doubt one of my favorite months of the year, and it has nothing to do with that Valentine’s Day stuff. It’s cold, windy and rainy/snowy, some would say miserable. Not me. It makes me feel alive! It truly brings the kid back into my soul, when I used to jump into puddles just for the fun it or build a snow fort with an arsenal of snowballs to ambush your friends from, since you just called them to come over. The beautiful thing is that I still do this, although I get tired within ten minutes and have to go back inside. BUT THE SPARK IS STILL THERE BABY!!! At least now I can go inside and drink adult beverages, instead of some juice box, start a fire, pour some soul warming wine, cook good food all while making fun of my friends and how old THEY are getting. Let the spark ignite something this winter, even if it only lasts ten minutes, and then enjoy good wine with good people! 2003 Buchegger Grüner Veltliner Pfarrweingarten ($19.99) How can you say no to a wine coming from the Pfarrweingarten, or preist’s vineyard? A richer, tropical wine that reminds me of fresh mango, not yet fully ripened, drizzled with a beautiful, unfiltered Spanish olive oil and then dusted with a small cracking of white pepper. 2004 Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner Steinsetz ($21.99) This 2004 Grüner, planted in alpine pebbles that were transported by the primeval Danube and then covered by black and loamy soil, loess and gravel, gives birth to a wine that exudes full-bodied minerality with spikes of peppery acidity that are held together by a creamy core of fruit. 2003 Heidi Schrock St. Laurent Kraxner ($39.99) Are you ready for one of the finest reds in all the land? This is, without question, one of the best expressions of the St. Laurent varietal that I have ever had! Only two words can described this wine: power and grace. A silky caress of sweet tobacco and rich fruits compacted by a core iron depth and mineral salinity that leaves you sitting if you were standing and standing if you were sitting. —Eric Story
That is the food I want this time of year. There are plenty of wines that pair wonderfully with these foods. A few of my favorites are: 2004 Vina Y Tia De Lozar, Ribera del Duero ($10.99) A charmer! Dark, ripe fruit immediately jumps out of glass at you. It is backed with more subtle hints of its oak, cedar, smoke and spice. On the palate the wine is similar to the nose; it greets you with dark, pure almost juicy fruits then fleshy soft tannins and behind the fruit and tannins the unmistakable savory earthiness of tempranillo. Think braised short-ribs! 2004 Bodegas Arrocal, Ribera del Duero ($12.99) This is bigger, more complex wine. The fruit is multidimensional; dark juicy berries and crunchy red fruits all tossed together. The palate is round, plush and long, the perfect showcase for all those fruit tones. Almost hidden behind the fruit are hints of oak and spicy earth that linger on the finish. Stylish, clean and modern, this is a heck of a deal. Great with Persian herb stew! 2004 Bodegas Quinta de la Quietud “Corral de Campanas,” Toro $21.99) Dark, vibrant and bold, looking at this wine you would think it was a monster, an opaque violet bruiser. The nose offers dense dark fruits and berries that slowly revealed tarry earth and exotic spices. The big surprise is the palate: structured and long with ripe supple tannins, reminding me of a forward right bank wine. Decant and enjoy this seriously indulgent wine. —Kirk Walker
Enjoy these wines with desserts, chocolates, cheeses or your sweetie! 2004 Bodegas Silvano Garcia Monastrell Dulc, Jumilla (500ml) ($21.99) 93 points Robert Parker: “It is produced from 50-year old Mourvedre, vinified, then fortified with alcohol ... The superbly concentrated 2004 displays blue fruits, violet, and camphor aromas, followed by a full-bodied, enormously-endowed palate with more residual sugar than its taste reveals.” 2004 Bodegas Silvano Garcia Moscatel, Jumilla (500ml) ($21.99) 92 points Robert Parker: “Silvano Garcia fashions some intoxicating, heady, sweet reds, with the Moscatel resembling a French Beaumes de Venise. With loads of exotic tropical fruits intermixed with apricots, this honeyed sweetie possesses a light gold color as well as plenty of alcohol and glycerin.” 2003 Candela Bellum, El Remate, Valencia (500ml) ($29.99) 93 points Robert Parker: “…an Amarone-styled offering produced from late harvested Monastrell. It possesses a dense ruby/purple color, a fig and raisin-like character in its perfume of blackberries, chocolate, and scorched earth, moderate sweetness, and wonderful purity as well as intensity ... one of the top discoveries of all my tastings.” 2004 Vinos Piñol Mistela Blanca, Terra Alta (500ml) ($29.99) 95 points Robert Parker: “The 2004 Mistela Blanca is a rich, sweet elixir made from White Grenache. Its amber color is followed by copious quantities of honeysuckle, creme brulee, coffee, licorice, and cherry scents in its overpowering yet complex aromatics.” 2004 Vinos Piñol Mistela Red, Terra Alta (500ml) ($29.99) 92 points Stephen Tanzer: “(90% garnacha and 10% syrah) Bright dark ruby. Pungent, wild aromas of dark cherry liqueur, smoked bacon, truffle and maple syrup. Supersweet and highly concentrated but with a surprising light touch for such a powerful, velvety drink.” Happy Valentine’s Day! —Anne Pickett, firstname.lastname@example.org —Anne Pickett
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