WTOP Wine of the Week: New Year’s resolution — Drink the good stuff

There are a lot of really great wines out there and my motto for 2021 is “why wait?” (AP/Eric Risberg)

2020 is (finally) over … thank goodness!

Between a pandemic, economic adversities, national protests, fires in California, hurricanes in Florida, tornadoes in the Midwest, and let’s not forget murder hornets, I for one am glad to say good riddance to 2020.

However, through all of the bad news and hard times, there were definitely a few highlights. Chief among them for me was relearning the lesson to not take anything for granted, least of all a good glass of wine shared with friends — socially distanced, of course, and family that moved back home.

So while 2020 was definitely one for the not-so-great record books, it definitely reinforced my determination to really stick to the same resolution I make every year, to drink more of “the good stuff,” but this year I most sincerely mean it.

There are a lot of really great wines out there and my motto for 2021 is “why wait?” This is the year I will pick up the bottle, look at the label and say, “You know, I think today is just a fine occasion to enjoy this.”

And best of all, it doesn’t have to be an expensive bottle of wine, just one that will be important to you.

For me, I’m going to start the week off with the 2018 Pascal Jolivet Blanc-Fume from the Loire Valley of France. I simply adore this sauvignon blanc wine.

The producer made his own resolution with this vintage by changing the name of the wine from “Pouilly-Fumé” to “Blanc-Fumé,” taking the wine back to its original roots by using the name of the appellation that was created in 1937 (Blanc-Fumé de Pouilly).

The wine has lovely aromas of lemon custard, dried apricot and flinty minerality. On the palate, flavors of citrus, orchard fruit, and pineapple sweep over the tongue with precision, with a lovely crescendo of crisp acidity on the clean finish. $55

Another goal is to drink more Italian wines. Every time I open one up I think, “I really like this. I should try more Italian wines.”

One value-oriented red that caught my attention this past year was the palate-pleasing 2016 Tenuta del Portale Aglianico del Vulture Riserva from Basilicata, one of Italy’s smallest wine regions.

The Aglianico grape becomes supercharged in the volcanic soils of the Del Vulture appellation and many wine connoisseurs consider these wines to be the new generation of collectible wines from Italy.

The ample bouquet offers up scents of dark cherry, candied fruit, and aromatic herbs. The flavor has an exceptional and powerful personality, marked by flavors of dark cassis and black plum with warm and stylish undertones of spices.

This is a wine with marked minerality and flavor that give it a wonderful combination of balance and drinkability. $16

Lastly, I am going to try more Grenache-based wines. My oldest son is a budding oenophile in his own right, and he has turned me on to a wonderful assortment of Grenache wines that I would not have discovered had he not moved back home during the pandemic.

Grenache is one of the most ubiquitous grapes planted in the world, yet few wine drinkers are aware of the varietal even though it is used as a main component in many French red wines from the Rhône region as well as Spanish reds from Rioja, where it is known as Garnacha.

Winemakers in Australia and Central California are doing some pretty magical things with the grape as well.

My choice for 2021 is the 2018 d’Arenberg Derelict Grenache from the McLaren Vale region of South Australia.

It is a far cry from its namesake since it shows up in the glass with conviction and wonderful aromas of violets, black cherry and blueberry jam followed up by luscious flavors of kirschwasser, licorice, and spice on a medium-bodied frame. The fruit-driven finish is round and expansive. $25

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