Oaks on Riojas
and wines with warm spices
Aromatized wines to sate all your vices
Big, New World reds and all that they bring
These are a few of our favorite things!
Enjoy the Wine Team's selections for this Holiday season!
Avennia “Gravura” 2018
Distributed by: Kysela Pere et Fils
Regular: $39.99
TWS Sale: $31.99

I love getting outside on a frosty, wintery day – but I might like coming back inside on a frosty, wintery day just as much – kicking off those boots, getting cozy, cooking a hearty meal, and opening a bottle of something delicious. For such occasions this season, my winter warmer pick is the 2018 Avennia “Gravura,” a Bordeaux style blend from Washington State.

The wines of Avennia are a bit of a paradox to me, in the best of ways. They are at once a transparent glimpse into the land and vines, yet are also beautifully polished and crafted. Distinct representations of Washington’s growing regions with an old world feel, the wines show winemaker Chris Peterson's precision and his ability to allow the natural harmony of the grape varieties and vineyard blocks to speak for themselves.

The 2018 Gravura is a blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 12% Cabernet Franc, sourced from sites throughout four AVAs: Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, and the newly designated White Bluffs. Grapes are harvested relatively early and picked when they are just barely ripe in order to retain vibrancy and acidity. Fermented using native yeasts, the wine is aged 20 months and sees 60% new oak before bottling with no fining nor filtration.

Pouring a striking deep ruby in the glass, the Gravura shows aromas of blackberry, black cherry, stewed plums, pine, moss, and milk chocolate. The palate adds flavors of currants and a graphite/minerally quality. Full bodied with seamlessly integrated tannins, the silky smooth texture and lengthy finish make this wine pretty irresistible. Perfectly content on its own or alongside a juicy ribeye and a baked potato, a few bottles of this wine should be stacked with your firewood in preparation for a snow day.
-Lauren Loeffler
St. Lorenz Gluhwein
Distributed by: Prestige Ledroit Distributing Co
Imported by: Leonard Kreusch Inc.
Regular: $12.99
TWS Sale: $9.99

My selection for this year's Winter Warmer is Saint Lorenz Christkindl Gluhwein. This is a one-liter bottle of red wine enhanced with clove, cinnamon, orange and lemon peel. Served warm, this spicy and delicious treat is the perfect accompaniment for a walk in the cold to look at Christmas lights or to curl up by the fire after running your holiday errands. You could dress it up by adding a cinnamon stick, dried orange, or star anise garnish. Its 8.5% ABV could also be augmented with a splash of Fireball cinnamon whiskey, dark rum, or the spirit of your choice. This stuff could put a smile on Scrooge's face, so get yourself a bottle or two and enjoy!
-Dan Zetlmeisl
G.D. Vajra Barolo Chinato
Distributed by: Winebow
Imported by: Vajra USA
Regular: $69.99
TWS Sale: $55.99

As the winter solstice approaches the nights grow long and the days grow cold. This is when we look to the holidays and the reunions with the ones we love and have missed to bring warmth to our soul; only the right elixir can make it warmer. I am choosing GD Vajra Barolo Chinato (key-NOT-o) as my winter warmer this holiday/solstice season. Chinato is an aromitized wine not dissimilar from vermouth typically from Italy’s Piedmont region but most famously Barolo Chinato from DOCG Barolo. Barolo Chinato must contain 100% Barolo DOCG wine, which is fortified with distilled spirit (often grappa) steeped with various macerated spices, herbs, and quinine bark as a bittering agent as well as addition of a sugar.

The wine portion of GD Vajra Barolo Chinato is 100% nebbiolo from GD Vajra’s DOCG Barolo Albe. 15% of GD Vajra Barolo Chinato’s makeup comes from their “chinatura” (an alcoholic spirit extract of various herbs and spices) consisting of collection herbs and spices drawing influence from the surrounding Alps as well as Sicilian orange peels and brown sugar. The aroma of this Chinato is influenced by the nebbiolo with cherry and floral notes but the “chinatura” is apparent with, cinnamon, clove, orange, and uplifting herbaceous quality. The palate is rich, warm, and a bit medicinal with a touch of tannin and sweetness. Barolo Chinato is favored as a digestif for many and is a harmonious paring with dark chocolate but can be an enjoyed just as well before a meal.

One thing I love about Chinato is due to its addition of distilled spirit and higher alcohol content it is preserved better than other wines and can last a few weeks after opening and still perform beautifully. Although meant to be enjoyed as is, one can use Barolo Chinato as an ingredient to a true “treat yourself” cocktail by replacing vermouth for a Manhattan. Simply combine 2 oz rye whiskey, 1 oz of GD Vajra Barolo Chinato, hold the bitters (plenty of aromatics already provided), lightly stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe, garnish with a Fabbri Amarena cherry and enjoy. Stay warm and bottoms up.
-Matthew Supik
Radio-Coteau Pinot Noir
Neblina Vineyard 2019
Distributed by: International Cellars
Regular: $64.99
TWS Sale: $51.99

As the shadow of night stretches to its longest length, we have the holidays as a glimmering point of focus. We reach into our winter reserves and pull out all the good stuff to brighten the way through. Cheer, generosity, and warmth season our gathering as spice seasons our feasts. To me winter smells like mulled wine, spiced fruit, firewood and earth and these are also the flavors I seek-out to bring comfort in the cold. 

This winter I'm finding a bit of that comfort in Radio-Coteau's La Neblina Pinot Noir. The nose is rich and complex red and black cherry intertwined with vanilla and cinnamon layered over top of cocoa powder and earth. The palate is smooth, with soft tannins and light acidity. This beautiful wine is grown organically in the Goldridge soil of Sonoma Coast, California. Radio-Coteau is certified biodynamic, making this thoughtful wine a treat I would love to share. 
-Sheena Callage
Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Shiraz
Distributed and imported by: Kysela Pere et Fils
Regular: $24.99
TWS Sale: $19.99

The cold of winter makes me want to spend my nights curled up by the fire under a blanket (or an oversized hoodie). The question is, what wine do you drink to help continue to warm you through the chill? My answer has to be a rich red wine with plenty of chocolatey, juicy dark fruit but enough body to pair with the big, comfort-food that winter brings.

The Thorne-Clarke Shotfire Shiraz checks all those boxes and more. The vineyard-sites are all located in Australia’s famous Barossa Valley: an extremely fertile valley in the state of South Australia. This region is famous for yielding some of the most dramatic, rich, structured, and precise Shiraz in the world. This wine is no different.

The grapes are destemmed before fermentation and then aged in American oak barrels for 14 months. 40% of the barrels used in aging have never been used before, allowing for greater extraction of the oak flavor in the final product. After those 14 months of aging, the wine has a velvety rich texture and full flavors of blackberry jam, chocolatey oak, and a pleasant surprise of bell peppers and aromatic, fresh herbs. Medium tannins and a touch of acidity contribute to the hauntingly beautiful long finish that warms you for hours.
-Jake Groenke
Gassier Cotes du Rhone
Distributed by: Constantine
Imported by: Winery Direct
Regular: $14.99
TWS Sale: $11.99

In the winter, (and especially our most recent winters) I need comfort, and for a comforting wine I always return to Southern France, especially the Cotes du Rhone. The wines there are big, warm, earthy, spiced and herbal. Gluhwein, (or mulled/spiced wine) may be the most comforting beverage in existence, and my favorite Cotes du Rhone often share some subtle Gluhwein characteristics. Many of these classic spice notes come from the use of old oak barrels and some from the grape varieties themselves (especially Syrah), but it is the origin of the Rhone’s warm herbaceous quality that is most interesting.

The herbal quality of Southern French wine is an incredible illustration of the grape’s ability to transmit and express place. The French call this character “garrigue” which refers to the rough Mediterranean scrubland where thrive plants such as lavender, thyme, rosemary, sage, and sometimes juniper. Think herbs de Provence. The closest word in American terroir might be chaparral. 

A beautiful example of garrigue is the Cotes du Rhone from Michel and Tina Gassier, whose only image on the label is a sprig of rosemary. The nose gives a beautiful array of fresh and semi-dried fruit: figs, dates, black plums, orange peel, cranberries, and blackberries, as well as clove, star anise, smoke, and leather. On the palate lavender and rosemary appear with pepper, sage, red cherry, wood, black olives, and faint charcuterie. The texture is soft but substantial. Comforting. This was great right out of the bottle, but aerating by pouring into another container (or just pouring from glass to glass) could help it express itself. It’s a lot of wine for $11.99 a bottle.

If you would like a more showy, delicious, and expensive version, we still have some bottles of the 2013 “Trois Sources” Chateauneuf-du-Pape from La Vieille Julienne. For winter warming comfort I also recommend (when we have it) the Breuil Fine Calvados, preferably by a fire.
-Kasimir Bujak
Bodegas Riojanas 'Monte Real'
Gran Reserva 2011
Distributed by: Well Crafted Wine & Beverage Co.
Imported by: Bodegas Riojanas USA
Regular: $49.99
TWS Sale: $39.99

Christmas is a special time of year. The last glimmer of light before the long, dark, dead of winter. The days are short and brisk, but the nights are lively and alight with the festive spirit. This is the time of year to get out your comfiest socks and sweaters and cozy up by the fire (or space heater with an iPad set to a looping fireplace video for those of us that don’t live in a fairytale) To be honest, this time of year calls out for seasonal oddities: egg nog, mulled wine, spiced hot cider. You’re more like to see me with a mug of hot cocoa with a healthy dose of Bailey’s than you are to see me pulling the cork on nice bottle of wine for myself.

However, ‘tis the season of dinner parties with friends, co workers, and, of course, your family. Strangely, feathers get ruffled when I show up in festive pajamas with a half-consumed thermos of mystery Christmas-cheer-for-one, so, to abate the inevitable scorn, it’s always best to have a bottle of red on hand. Personally, I like to lean towards a hearty red with plenty of oak influence this time of year. While Bordeaux is often the candidate, I’ve actually been leaning towards Rioja this season.

After all, Rioja wines were intentionally styled after Bordeaux to appeal to the same consumer, but with two key benefits: 1) Far more affordable for comparable quality, and 2) extended cellar ageing before release. While Bordeaux wines are released young with the onus of ageing largely on the consumer, Rioja wines have a strict ageing criteria. The Grandaddy of them all is Gran Reserva, having to spend a minimum of two years in oak barrels and 3 additional years cellaring in bottle.

Gran Reserva Rioja wines are brawny, rustic, and intense, and the Monte Real 2011 Gran Reserva is certainly no exception. The nose is more reminiscent of a cowboy’s saddlebag than fermented juice: a heady mix of old leather, young tobacco, and cedar. The palate is rich and complex, expressing beautiful notes of spiced plum, brandied raisins, and dried cranberry. There is a pleasant yet persistent tannic grip throughout the finish, and tertiary flavors continue to evolve and coalesce long after the wine has left your lips. Frankly, there are few wines that can come even close to this amount of power and complexity in the ballpark of $50
-Andrew Sayers
Partida Creus MUZ Vermouth
Distributed by: Genin Selections
Imported by: Selectiones de la Vina
Regular: $34.99
TWS Sale: $27.99

It’s that time of the year again to deck the halls, jingle all the way, and roast our chestnuts with a fantastic bottle of wine and you must look no further for a wine that would make Rudolph’s nose turn red than with Partida Creus’ Ver-Muz Natural.  

This liter bottle is a “natural vermouth” comprised of a mixture of red and white indigenous varietals with herbs added from a specialist from Torino (whose grandfather was Mr. Carpano himself).  This wine will Donner your Blitzen with notes of deep plums, soft red cherries, orange peels with cloves and allspice.  So, this holiday why not drummer boy your way into the holly jolly spirit with a gift of frankincense, gold, and a Natural-Biodynamic-indigenous varietal-Red and white oxidative blend with added spices Vermouth!
-Andrew Thorp