For a new year’s resolution you might actually keep, here are 9 wines and spirits to try out in 2015. I asked a group of sommeliers, mixologists and writers what they want to imbibe more of in 2015 — and what they would like to see more consumers try as well. One trend that stands out — it may be time to raid your grandparent’s cabinet for those sherry glasses.
Amaro — Hristo Zisovski, Beverage Director at Altamarea Group
Americans tend to end their dinners on the sweet side, but Hristo Zisovski prefers a different path. “I like bitter things and Amaro is a great way to finish a meal, especially if you’re full,” he says. “People aren’t always in the mood for dessert or something syrupy. This allows the option for an extra element of flavor.” These bitter Italian herbal liquors come in a variety of styles and strengths, so you can ease your way in with a bottle like Braulio Amaro which is “alpine style — more minty and fresh but not aggressive.” When you’re ready for the big leagues, however, Zisovski’s favorite producer is Varnelli which produces Amaro Dell’erborista and Amaro Sibilla. “These are not beginner’s Amaro. They’re fresh and honeyed and then they really dry it up. Very intense at the end.”
(photo by Adam Morganstern)
(photo by Adam Morganstern)
Nocino — Adam Sachs, Editor-in-Chief at Saveur
“This is my year to finally make nocino,” says Adam Sachs, referring to a walnut-based liqueur commonly made in Emilia-Romagna in Italy. “I’ve got a few bottles of very flammable Everclear ready to go — now I just need to order the green walnuts from California in June and find the patience to let the stuff macerate for months.” And how will Sachs fill the time until then? “I’ll continue to drink lots of Pic St Loup, Morgons and whatever funky oddball French wines I can get my hands on plus copious amounts of Wild Turkey and ice, preferably in the bathtub. Too much information? You asked.”
Sherry — Talia Baiocchi, Editor-in-Chief at Punch
Talia Baiocchi just wrote the new definitive book on Sherry — so what does she love most about it? “This is a wine whose range encompasses both the driest and sweetest wines in the world,” she says. “It’s versatility and its complete singularity within the world of wine. There is simply no other wine like it. And once you come to love to it, nothing else can satiate the craving for it.”
Her recommendations: “Any of the biological wines (fino, manzanilla, or manzanilla pasada) from Equipo Navazos, which are bottled at a higher average age than most and only very minimally filtered. Anything from Fernando de Castilla, especially the Palo Cortado Antique, which is an exceptional representation of this style.” And for collectors: “The older wines from Valdespino and El Maestro Sierra. From the former, the Amontillado Coliseo and Palo Cortado Cardinale are two fantastic wines of very old age and intensity. From the latter, the Amontillado 1830 is one of the best vintage wines in the region.”
Washington Wines — Daniel Beedle, Wine and Beverage Director at Juni
If you want old-world complexity with new-world forwardness, Daniel Beedle believes Washington is the place to turn. “Scores of extremely talented and well-educated winemakers are trying their hands in Walla Walla and Columbia Valley,” he says. “They aren’t weighed down with the high land prices of California and are free to experiment with different varietals and winemaking styles.” Most importantly, Beedle believes high-quality Washington wines are starting to outperform their California counterparts at the same price point.
“I generally find there is less manipulation of the wine through heavy use of oak or tinkering in the winery. Vintage variation also plays into the state’s charm and lends character to the wines.” Beedle is also excited about the age-worthiness of the region’s reds. “I’ve been drinking a lot of older wines from DeLille, Woodward Canyon and Quilceda Creek, and they are drinking wonderfully. Great investments to sell or enjoy down the road.” His two top producers are Waters and Gramercy Cellers.
Gin — John Winterman, Managing Partner at Bâtard
“I have always been a gin drinker,” says John Winterman, “and one of my favorites is The Botanist Islay Dry Gin. It’s wild and complex, and not something you want to dilute with tonic water. It has layers that are on slow release and a seductive nose that keeps you guessing. “Winterman also loves Citadelle Gin, from Cognac, which is the house gin at Bâtard. “Our bartender, Candice Valetutti, has been mining classics like gin fizzes, the aviation and the like — without the modern ‘twist’ that people need to add.”
Georgian Wines — Alice Feiring, Wine Writer
The country of Georgia may not be familiar to the average wine drinker, but evidence suggests they’ve been making wine there longer than anywhere else (about 8,000 years). “They’re an exploration, a great way to open your mind to different worlds,” says Alice Feiring. “The 2012 and 2013 vintages are better than ever.” Orange wine (made when white grapes are allowed more skin contact time after crushing) is a popular method here and if you’ve never tried these wines, Feiring believes Georgia is the place to start. “Orange wines can sometimes be harsh with tannins and dried out,” she says. “But these wines have juiciness and a great balance of fruit and structure. Close your eyes, pretend you’re drinking a red and you’ll love it. ” Feiring highly recommends wines from Alaverdi Monastery, Pheasant’s Tears and Iago’s Wine. And if you want to learn more about these, and other natural wines, be sure to check out her newsletter.
Sherry — Victoria Levin, General Manager at Landmarc
“Sherry! Sherry needs its day in the sun,” says Victoria Levin. “It has been making more appearances in craft cocktails recently, but it needs a chance to stand on its own. Put down that Port and save that Sauternes for later. This is an old-school, traditional sipper that can start a meal, cleanse the palate after your pork belly and finish the experience paired with dessert, poured over it or savored on its own.”
Levin recommends Fernando de Castilla Palo Cortado Antique — “an exciting example of how versatile Sherry can be, from a top notch producer. Nutty, savory, bittersweet and elegant.” — and Oloroso El Maestro Sierra “15 Year” — “an absolute classic, tight balance of sugar and acidity, exotic, almost spicy and mouth stunning.”
Zinfandel — Morgan Harris , Sommelier at Aureole
“I think we’re going to see the rebirth of Zinfandel as a major market force,” says Morgan Harris, sommelier at Aureole. “Most customers think of it as an inky, black opulent wine, but the best producers are making exotic, aromatic styles that evoke heady Pinot Noir more than the sturdy bass notes of Bordeaux varieties.”
For classic-style zins, Morgan recommends Storybook’s “Mayacamas Range” or Martinelli’s “Giuseppe and Louisa.” But, he’s also excited about more experimental vintages coming out. “Turley is making a heady, full-bodied bone-dry reimagining of ‘White Zin,’ and Chris Brockway at Broc Cellars makes a light and fresh Zinfandel á la serious Beaujolais. I’ve even heard murmurings of producers making naturally sparkling lambrusco-esque Zinfandel.”
Rum — Tony Sachs, Spirits Writer
“I think we’re entering a golden age for rum,” says spirits writer Tony Sachs. “It’s kind of the Wild West of spirits, with a very wide spectrum of styles.” Rum doesn’t have a lot of regulations, however; so, you have to know which distillers to look out for. Tony’s suggestion: “My recent discovery is Lost Spirits, a tiny distillery in Monterey, California. Their Navy Strength rum is the easiest 136-proof spirit you’ll ever try.”
Gin (Not Vodka!) — Adam Minegar, Bartender at Raines Law Room
Adam Minegar has a simple request for cocktail patrons: ditch the vodka and pick up the gin. “People feel safest with vodka, but the one with the least amount of flavor is considered the best,” he says. “Building a cocktail from a neutral spirit is pointless. Gin has many amazing flavors that complement anything you throw at it. That’s what a cocktail should be built around. Take any vodka drink and swap it out for gin.” His favorites are Tanqueray (“the quintessential London Dry Gin with big juniper flavor”) and Dorothy Parker Gin from the New York Distilling Company in Brooklyn (“more floral flavors and fantastic with citrus, or in a classic martini”). And for some more interesting gin selections, see my previous article.
Sherry — Zachary Sussman, Wine Writer
“I’ve been wrestling with a serious sherry addiction,” says Zachary Sussman. “Once forgotten, or stigmatized as a mass-produced sweet wine, they’ve been riding a new wave of popularity. I hope more customers will embrace it. They’re steeped in the rich culture and history of Andalusia — the land of Flamenco and the poetry of Garcia Lorca — extremely versatile with food and made in a diverse spectrum of of styles. Most recently, I’ve become interested in sherry called ‘en rama’ — a minimally filtered style of fino and manzanilla, designed to taste like wine poured directly from the cask. Some of my favorite are the bodegas of Barbadillo, Valdespino and Hidalgo, all of whom make exceptional wines across the board.”
Aged Wines — Kelli White, Sommelier at Press
One would think older wines are always sought after, but Kelli White sees a renewed interest in “properly aged wine” in 2015 over the buzz of newly released vintages. “For me, a mature bottle of wine is always more exciting. I love the complexity, the finesse, and the interplay of fruit and earth. A California Cabernet with 5, 10 or 20+ years on it, or a similarly aged Burgundy, is pure delight.” Some of her recent favorites: the 1991 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon, 2000 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon and 1990 Michel Lafarge Clos du Chateau des Ducs Volnay.
Amaro, Vermouth and Sherry — Pamela Wiznitzer, Mixologist
“Let’s get real — when we want to be social and hang out at a bar, it doesn’t necessarily mean also getting drunk or sloppy,” says Pamela Wiznitzer. “I think people are really coming around to low proof spirits: Amaro, Vermouth and Sherry. It’s a return to flavor without the excessive punch of overproof intoxication.” For Vermouth, Wiznitzer suggests Noilly Prat Ambre and Lillet Rosé — “both are excellent on the rocks with a twist or in a highball with soda water.” Amaro Montenegro and Campari are “drastically different but delicious Amaros,” and a favorite Sherry is Williams & Humbert Jalifa Solera Especial 30 Years Aged Amontillado.
thanks to original post:http://www.forbes.com/sites/adammorganstern/2014/12/29/the-9-best-wines-and-spirits-to-start-drinking-in-2015/