December 5, 2012

Appel on Wine: Wine can be an affordable and much appreciated gift

Don't be afraid to give wines as gifts to people who care about wine – this guide will help you make a good choice.

By Joe Appel

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Spanish wine generally is undergoing a large-scale identity crisis, as so many producers chase “international” styles, techniques and ratings. In the nooks and crannies, though, lurk true gems of elegance and complexity. The Volvoreta Probus Toro ($28, Crush) is one of these, though it expresses aspects that will appeal directly to American drinkers who love their big, potent Cabs. Ripe and pure, with a Petit Verdot purple lushness fleshing out the toasty oak-hugged Tempranillo, this is large and accessible but distinct. Most people’s dads will prefer this to a thousand ties or sweaters.

Red wines from the Mencia grape are on that zeitgeist-y cusp between cult and hip. The Pena do Lobo 2010 ($24, Devenish), from Ribeira Sacra’s steep granite-soil vineyards on the River Sil in Galicia, is a splendid example. Fermented in stainless tanks and unfiltered, it’s perfect for anyone looking to be reassured the Old World spirit still prevails in parts of Spain. Dusty, angular and ravishing like a Dolcetto; pretty, peppery and violet like a Cabernet Franc. Unwrapped on Christmas morning, it will be perfect with a light lunch; on a Hanukkah evening, it will light up what’s for dinner.

Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog,, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at:

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