Here are five wines to start the new year, including two outstanding pinot noirs from Northern California and a pair of smoky, savory reds from France. To balance these, try a rich assyrtiko from Greece.
Peay Vineyards Pomarium Estate Pinot Noir 2014
Sonoma Coast, Calif., $66
From the northernmost winery on the Sonoma Coast, this lovely pinot is silky and voluptuous. At a D.C. tasting in August, Andy Peay said people had been skeptical when he and his brother planted their vineyard along the upper Sonoma Coast: “They said it was too cold and wet, which has turned out to be true once or twice.” Luckily, 2014 was a ripe vintage, as was the 2009, which Peay also poured that evening to show how the wine can age. Another pinot noir labeled simply Sonoma Coast is also excellent and may be easier to find in restaurants and at retail. Alcohol by volume: 13.8 percent.
Thierry Germain Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny 2015
Two and a half stars.
Loire Valley, France, $24
From one of my favorite Loire Valley producers, and in a terrific ripe vintage, this wine from cabernet franc is delightfully savory, with earthy, mushroomy flavors balanced by black fruit and refreshing acidity. It is a food-friendly red that can match a wide variety of dishes. ABV: 13 percent.
Copain “Tous Ensemble” Pinot Noir 2015
Two and a half stars.
Mendocino County, Calif., $30
Mendocino County’s vineyards are not as close to the coast as those in the West Sonoma Coast region, but because they are farther north, they are definitely cool-climate. And Mendocino grows some outstanding pinot noir, including this delicious blend. Copain has a reputation for elegant, balanced pinots and syrahs. I recently tasted the Tous Ensemble blends; others called Les Voisins are more widely available in the Washington area. The winery was recently purchased by Jackson Family Wines and is switching distributors, so availability should improve. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Domaine Vetriccie 2014
Ile de Beauté, Corsica, France, $11
I raved about the white wine from this Corsican producer last summer. This delightful, inexpensive red is a blend of niellucciu and sciaccarellu, two mouth-filling grape names, with a sploosh of merlot and syrah. The result is a smoky, savory wine that tastes more expensive than it is. Bravo. ABV: 12 percent.
Techni Alipias Idisma Drios Assyrtiko 2015
Drama, Greece, $17
This assyrtiko is a rich, lovely white wine, riper and fuller than the racy style the grape achieves on the island of Santorini. Look for flavors of peach and apricot, with an attractive salinity that cries out for food. ABV: 13.5 percent.
– – –
Three stars Exceptional, two stars Excellent, one star Very Good Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.