Food & Drink

Don’t overlook international wines

The focus of my column has always been on Washington wine, and with good reason. Our state produces all of the essentials a wine enthusiast could ask for; white wines ranging from a crisp, vibrant riesling to a full-bodied chardonnay, and a wide array of red wines, from a velvety merlot to a big and bold cabernet sauvignon.

But even if all of your taste preferences are covered by Washington wineries, you’d be foolish not to enjoy wines from other parts of the United States and from around the world.

Such Old World wine-producing countries as France, Spain, and Italy, and such New World sources as South Africa, Australia, Chile, and Argentina offer an immense variety of styles to complement and contrast anything from Washington in your wine supply.

Today, I’ll give you several international recommendations I’ve recently enjoyed that make great choices for wineophiles looking to venture outside the Northwest.

Borgo M 2013 Pinot Grigio (about $12) – This refreshing Italian white has a lightly floral and fruity aroma with plenty of crisp citrus flavors and a lemon-drop finish. It pairs well with Manila clams in butter broth and is currently on the menu at Keenan’s at the Pier restaurant in Bellingham.

Montes Twins 2012 Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon (about $15) – This 50/50 blend is sourced from Colchagua Valley in Chile. It’s loaded with dark berry, plum, and black currant fruits, followed by a layer of even darker bittersweet chocolate and espresso. The soft finish makes it instantly enjoyable and a pleasure to taste.

Bodegas Beronia Rioja Reserva 2008 (about $19) – This beautiful Spanish red is comprised almost entirely of tempranillo, and its opening cherry flavors are accentuated with subtle clove and cinnamon spice. The lingering, complex finish suggests caramel and hazelnut with a dusting of cocoa powder. It pairs nicely with a variety of tapas, from octopus to linguiça.

Kaiken 2012 Ultra Malbec (about $24) – Another excellent Chilean malbec, this one is filled with reserved blueberry and blackberry flavors and underscored with an earthy, mineral-like quality and supple tannins. The 14.5 percent alcohol content comes off as slightly hot; a quibble quickly tempered by the dollop of vanilla bean on the finish.

Antonelli San Marco 2010 Montefalco Rosso and Arnaldo-Caprai 2012 Montefalco Rosso ($19 to $25 each) – Montefalco is a subdivision within central Italy’s Umbria region is and known for its big, heady red wines. Both of these wines have a sangiovese base and 15 percent sagrantino.

The Antonelli also blends in cabernet sauvignon and merlot, so its cherry, red plum, and toasted oak profile is perfectly balanced with grippy tannins.

The Arnaldo-Caprai is finished with just a bit of merlot. It’s a touch lighter in body, with red currant and berry flavors, firm tannins and a pleasant splash of green tea on the finish.

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