We can’t believe we’re closing out the year of Eater Wine Club, and what a year it has been! Our somms this year have taught us about terroir and what makes a piquette; they taught us everything there is to know about garnacha and lesser-known grapes like teroldego and babić; they took us to the islands and to Eastern and Central Europe. But December was all about New York-based sommelier Jhonel Faelnar, and his wines that were inspired by exploration and travel.
Every wine carries with it a sense of place and time — reflecting where the grapes are from, how they’re grown, the people who made it, and the culture that encapsulates it all. So with Jhonel’s picks, we experienced a little escapism through the bottles. Here are Jhonel’s notes on what we drank in December:
- Casa de Mouraz Clarete Red: “This is a field blend and a co-ferment of alvarelhão, jaen, trincadeira, and fernão pires (aka a mix of red and white grapes) that’s taken from a Spanish style that’s akin to a lighter red or a deeper rosado. Casa de Mouraz’s rendition is layered with strawberry and cherry, along with a little bit of basil and white pepper; a distinctive note of loam and earth comes through to round out this unique creation. Serve with a slight chill and enjoy it with heartier fare, like duck.”
- Hild Elbling Trocken: “If you ever wondered what yuzu juice would be if it were made into a wine, you needn’t look further. Hild’s version of these rescued old elbling vines offers just that: pleasantly aromatic and bursting with notes of yuzu and Meyer lemon with that familiar acidity in the background. Because elbling is such a focused variety in terms of flavor, it’s really a wine that supports the dish in front of it from the get go.”
- Petit Ours Matthieu Barret: “Easygoing, ripe, and supple, with a classic black pepper finish. Not to mention it’s got an adorable label, which simultaneously draws the eye and tells you to drink up and not to take it too seriously. Enjoy this over an outdoor fire while grilling anything and everything over the flames.”
- Riesling Weihwasser Feinherb Stein: “‘Feinherb’ means that the wine is technically off-dry (aka a little sweeter), but the sheer amount of acidity easily balances out that extra residual sugar and gives you a harmonious wine in the glass. Notes of tropical fruit such as guava, pineapple, and lanzones are at the forefront. Pair it with anything from a light crudo all the way to Hawaiian-style pizza.”
- Domaine de Grisy Bourgogne Rouge: “This Bourgogne Rouge from Domaine de Grisy is sourced from the northern vineyards of Auxerre. Bright, fresh, and crunchy, pinot noir grown here often features a higher dose of acidity than from further south in the region. It's the perfect entry-level red Burgundy to whet the palate for an even deeper dive into the region. Pair with this roasted chicken with a fruit-based reduction or perhaps a richer salmon or tuna preparation.”
- Avesso Quinta de Santa Teresa: “Here, the avesso grape gets the spotlight as a single-variety bottling. This white can evoke the feeling of chardonnay from Chablis or chenin blanc from South Africa, leaning on citrus notes of Meyer lemon and lime zest. It will be just perfect paired with bacalhau espiritual or with freshly grilled seafood of your choice.”
- Aldo Marenco Pirona Langhe Rosso: “This barbera is lush and structured, with notes of fresh raspberry, sarsaparilla, potpourri, and earth. This red can pair easily with anything you throw at it, but be adventurous and enjoy it with a hearty cacio e pepe or a red wine-braised octopus.”
- Brand Electric Chardonnay Acid Test: “If chardonnay were ever raised to be riesling, that would be exactly what Brand’s Electric Chardonnay Acid Test would taste like. (In fact, there’s 10 percent riesling blended in!) Zippy, fresh, and mineral in all the right ways, this wine wakes up the palate like nothing else. And I don’t mean mineral in a Chablisienne fashion. We’re talking German-level: bone-dry trocken, through and through. Pair it with the best fresh oysters you can find.”
Want to stock up on wine to take into the new year? Buy more December bottles here.