Expert advice: What vintages are the wine pros drinking right now?

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Pamela Margaux recommends pairing a bottle of Xavier Vacqueyras 2009 with grilled meat or an autumn stew. Photo: Jon-Phillip Sheridan Pamela Margaux recommends pairing a bottle of Xavier Vacqueyras 2009 with grilled meat or an autumn stew. Photo: Jon-Phillip Sheridan

There are enough people in this town whose lives revolve around wine that there’s no excuse for buying without an expert’s opinion. ’Tis a new season and and even wine-colored denim is in. Here’s a shopping list built by the professionals for when it’s time to refresh your cellar.

The sommeliers

Andrew Cole, tavola
Frecciarossa Sillery 2011. $42.
“This white wine made from 100 percent Pinot Noir represents the next hot trend from Lombardy, Italy. It’s rich and chalky and smells like wild flowers with hints of yellow apple and spice. I love this wine with grilled figs, baby arugula, and a wedge of Gorgonzola dolce with a drizzle of vincotto or aged balsamic.”

Corvidae Wine Company Lenore Syrah by Owen Roe 2009. $42.
“This Syrah from Washington State, is lively yet smooth with an intense black peppery spice and lots of dark fruit. It balances Old World structure and restraint with New World jamminess and oakiness. It pairs wonderfully with our braised octopus sugo with San Marzano tomatoes, Calabrian chilies, and capers tossed with strozzapreti.”

Crivelli Agoghe Monferrato Rosso 2007. $62.
“This Ruchè and Syrah blend is the perfect fall wine—at once, both light and floral and intense and jammy. With macerated berries, earth, and spice on the palate, it’s unique and simply delicious. When we offer the duck ragu with fresh pappardelle, the combination’s tough to beat.”

Farrell Vangelopoulos, The Ivy Inn
Duckhorn Migration Chardonnay 2010. $55.
“I still like a BIG California Chardonnay if I am drinking white wine and this one from the Russian River Valley is just that. It drinks like a red and holds up to hearty fall dishes.”

Praxis Merlot 2007. $30.
“I am finding that Merlot is where you get more bang for your buck. So to keep me from drinking the mortgage away, I go there. I always like tasting the barrel in the wine and this one has big plum flavors tempered with cedar and vanilla, making for a plush combination.”

Efeste Final-Final 2008. $50.
”This Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend from Washington State is juicy and ripe with a complexity that lingers in your mouth.”

The distributors

Dan Cotting, The Country Vintner
Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner 2011. $16.95 (Tastings of Charlottesville).
“An incredible display of what the grape is capable of when grown in some of the best vineyard sites along Austria’s Danube River. It’s got mouth-filling citrus fruit precisely balanced with structured acidity and complex minerality. It’s an absolute steal for under $20. Drink it any time of year with just about anything.”

Sant Antonio “Scaia” Rosso 2011. $13 (Wine Cellar in Staunton).
“This wine from Veneto, Italy that uses the same grape (Corvina) as Amarone is done in a light, bright style loaded with juicy cherries and ripe blackberries and plums. It’s aged in stainless steel instead of oak, which makes for a food-friendly red that’s great with everything from tomato-based dishes to pork, veal, game, cured meats, hard cheeses…you get the idea.”

Stolpman “Hilltops Vineyard” Syrah 2009. $55 (special order from any retailer).
“This Syrah from Santa Barbara blows my mind every time I taste it, which at its price, isn’t very often. It’s got a mid palate of ripe blueberries, blackberries, and plums with black pepper, earth, and gaminess in the background. This is the perfect pairing for fall’s braises and stews—especially those involving fatty and delicious beef and root vegetables.”

Pamela Margaux, Margaux & Company
Xavier Vacqueyras 2009. $27 (Foods of All Nations, Tastings of Charlottesville, Wine Warehouse).
“This Rhone wine is rich with red fruits and the wonderful herbaceous notes that come from the wild garrigue that grows throughout the region. I love this wine, especially with grilled meats and autumn stews.”

Domaine Pinson Mont de Milieu 1er Cru 2009. $36 (Foods of All Nations, Tastings of Charlottesville, Wine Warehouse).
“This Chablis is the perfectly pure essence of Chardonnay. Lees contact give it a rich, creamy mouth feel while still allowing for the steely mineral notes to shine through. I pair it with grilled salmon with Israeli couscous.”

Dame de Briante Brouilly Beaujolais 2009. $18 (Foods of All Nations, Tastings of Charlottesville, Wine Warehouse).
“Gamay at its finest—beautiful, bright dark fruit and plum notes, kissed with just the right amount of neutral oak. Perfect with saucisson, cheese, and crusty baguette.”

The retailers

Dave Kostelnik, Feast!
Barboursville Cabernet Franc Reserve 2010. $22.50.
“I think this should be the poster child for Virginia wine. The quality of each vintage is remarkable. At the recent Virginia Wine Summit, this was blind tasted against a much-admired French Chinon and won by an overwhelming majority. Pair with anything that has good marinara involved.”

King Family Seven Port 2009. $34.95.
“Traditional Port crosses the Mason Dixon Line and takes a two-year snooze in Kentucky bourbon barrels in this Virginia favorite that starts with a refined figgy sweetness and finishes with a firm bourbon-laced uppercut. Add a wedge of Bayley Hazen Blue cheese and dessert is served.”

Stinson Chardonnay 2011. $21.95.
“This local, lightly oaked wine with fantastic body and richness works so well as the mercury begins to drop. Pair it with hayrides, *pumpkin carving, apple picking, gourd-arranging and any other stereotypical Martha Stewart-ish fall activities that come to mind. *Note: Use caution when mixing liberal amounts of alcohol, sharp knives and over-sized vegetables.”

Joyce Watson, Wine Made Simple
Ox-Eye Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2010. $19.99.
“2010 was a great year in Virginia and the fruit for this wine was left to hang until very ripe, resulting in intense flavors of raspberry and violet. This would pair well with pork tenderloin with braised local apples.”

Damien Lorieux Graviers Bourgueil 2011. $13.99.
“This wine from Central Loire Valley is a very fresh and unpretentious Cabernet Franc with crisp acidity and prominent spiced-fruit flavors. It will pair well with fall vegetable dishes such as roasted butternut squash with butter-browned onions and gnocchi in a sage sauce.”

Camino Del Inca Malbec 2008. $14.99.
“These Argentine vineyards are 6,000′ above sea level with day-to-night temperatures that vary 50 degrees. The wine beautifully expresses the terroir with aromas and flavors of red fruits, plums, blackberries, and earth, with sweet tannins and a long finish. Pair with anything off the grill.”

  • Hill

    Look, right above this comment box I see an ad for the eldest retail wine shop in Charlottesville. No vintage recommendations from the wine-pro’s wine-pro Robert Harley? Shame!

  • Tannin

    No pre-2007 reds on a list of “What … the wine pros [are] drinking right now”? Really?

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