December Domestic Wine: 2010 Lange Twins Zinfandel, Lodi, CALIFORNIA

For five generations, the Lange family has been growing sustainable winegrapes in the Lodi Appellation, and in 2006 they opened a winery to showcase their passion for growing winegrapes – because great wine starts in the vineyard.

Building on their successes as a vineyard management company, the winery was their first step into crafting wines made solely from their estate vineyards.  Since opening in 2006, they have continued to expand their state-of-the-art winery to keep up with the demand for their Lange Twins wines as well as private labels and custom winemaking services.

Although they have the latest winemaking technology at their fingertips, they never lose sight of the fact that only great wine can be made from great winegrapes.

About the Winemaker: David, a second generation winemaker who graduated from University of California, Davis, is a 25 year veteran winemaker from Robert Mondavi. As Director of Winemaking at Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, he led a team of enologists in creating and evolving their wine style to improve the quality of Woodbridge wines. He helped pioneer winegrower lot processing for direct wine quality feedback, supported barrel aging of premium wines for enhanced quality, and drove stylistic winemaking for hundreds of different wines. His winemaking philosophy stems directly from Robert Mondavi himself, driving continuous improvements while nurturing a respect for both grape and wine.

Varietals: 100% Zinfandel

Alcohol: 14.9% by volume

Tasting Notes: The 2010 Zinfandel has an aroma of bright crushed blackberry and blueberry fruit. On the palate, loads of fresh vibrant blackberries meld with notes of spice and are balanced by a touch of vanilla oak and soft tannins. It is a luscious wine!

Food Pairings: Zinfandel is a great wine for the cold weather months. Pair this wine with richer foods like braised meats or even with heavy cheeses. Zinfandel can also be a great dessert pairing, especially with chocolate and fresh berries.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich, flavorful, and spicy…loaded with flavor. A great wine for this time of year. Enjoy at home, by the fire, with some hearty soup or chili. The wine will warm you up!”-JL

December Imported Wine: NV Biutiful Cava Brut Rosé, Requena, Valencia, SPAIN

‘Biutiful’—how a Spaniard would read/say the English word ‘Beautiful.’

The Biutiful Cavas are produced at a winery created in 2007, utilizing the latest technology for the production of Cava. The vineyards are based in Requena; a region with a grape growing history dating back to the 7th century BCE. The region lies about 70 km West of the Mediterranean Sea and combines Mediterranean and Continental climatic influences. The winters are long and cold, getting down to near 0F. The summers are quite short punctuated by long, hot days with a cooling easterly wind in the afternoons/evenings. The elevation of the vineyards is between 700 and 900 meters and they grow Macabeo, Chardonnay, and Garnacha.

About the Winemaker: Winemaker Isaac Fernandez brings more than 25 years of winemaking experience to his latest, and namesake project. As the nephew of Mariano Garcia (the winemaker for Vega Sicilia), one could say that Isaac comes by his talent naturally. Using his network of relationships he sources fruit from superior, older vine vineyards in northern Spain. The fruit is handpicked and destemmed prior to vinification. Isaac’s philosophy is simple, “I try to respect the identity of the vineyards and of the grapes with which I work.”

Varietals: 100% Garnacha

Alcohol: 11.5% by volume

Tasting Notes: “Smoky stonefruit aromas lead to a fresh and zesty feeling palate that hits firmly with plum, raspberry and citrus flavors. The finish on this rosé Cava is solid but gaseous, with red-fruit and citrus flavors to spare.” Wine Enthusiast, Issue 2609, October 2013

Food Pairings: Cava, like most other sparklings, is one of the best food pairings around. Whether you are pairing Cava with fried and rich food as a palate cleanser, or with a main meal like butternut squash soup or seafood, you will find this to be a match made in heaven. Try Cava with unusual pairings like sweet and sour food, tangy and tart flavors, and salty dishes!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “A great bubbly, with crisp and zesty acidity. Tart cranberries and a nice creaminess. A great sparkling for the holidays, especially if serving food with it. Cheers!”-JL