5 wines perfect for Valentine's Day


With Valentine's Day approaching, romance is in the air, so I've included two wines in this week's recommendations made by vintners currently planning their weddings. They include an outstanding chardonnay from California's Central Coast and a quirky sparkling red wine from Virginia. A modestly priced champagne and two classic zinfandels round out the selection.

Oceano Chardonnay Spanish Springs Vineyard 2016

3 stars

Central Coast, California, $38

Oceano is the project of Rachel Martin, executive vice president of Boxwood Estate Winery in Middleburg, Virginia, and her fiance, Grammy Award-winning music producer Kurt Deutsch. It's an impressive debut wine, sourced from a vineyard just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean near San Luis Obispo. There's a lot going on in the glass, as waves of citrus and tropical fruit flavors compete for attention. Just sit back and enjoy each sip. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.

Frog's Leap Zinfandel 2015

3 stars

Napa Valley, California, $33

Frog's Leap has never been a winery to shift in the adverse winds of a consumer trend. When zinfandel producers began to favor the more powerful, extra-ripe style, Frog's Leap stood firm with what some call a "claret" style of zin, more like a classic Bordeaux in its balance, weight and alcohol level. The 2015 is a classic "field blend" of 79 percent zinfandel, 19 percent petite sirah and 2 percent carignan, delicious with red berry fruit and a deep sense of earth. And though they don't tout it on the label, Frog's Leap has long been a leading proponent of organic viticulture. Enjoy this with any dish you'd pair with red wine. If you're pairing with chocolate, look for the savory, nutty type. ABV: 13.6 percent.

Chateau Montelena Zinfandel 2014

3 stars

Calistoga, Napa Valley, California, $38

Montelena's zinfandel is another in the classic "claret" style. It's a blend of zinfandel and primitivo. The latter is now recognized as a clone of zinfandel, and wineries are beginning to distinguish them; I'm not sure consumers can at this point. Raspberry and cranberry with some savory herbs characterize this beauty. ABV: 14.5 percent.

Champagne Trouillard Extra Selection Brut

2 stars

Champagne, France, $36

Trouillard offers classic champagne at a reasonable price for its quality. It's crisp and refreshing, with hints of red berries. Enjoy it for a toast and the first course of your Valentine's dinner. ABV: 12 percent.

Casanel Vineyards Red Spark 2015

2 stars

Virginia, $40

This is a novelty wine, and it's easy to see that Casanel winemaker Katie D'Souza, who is engaged to Boxwood winemaker Tyler Henley, has fun making it. It's 100 percent Norton, Virginia's irrepressible red grape, fermented in the traditional champagne method. Think of Lambrusco, only fruitier. Just thinking about it makes me hungry for a dense chocolate torte with raspberry coulis. ABV: 13 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.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Food

Dining deals: Restaurants roll out sweet summer specials
Dining deals: Restaurants roll out sweet summer specials

The summer dining-deal spree has begun. It’s the most tempting part of the off-season, when restaurants offer all kinds of specials, from affordable prix fixe menus to catchy (and cheap) themed nights.  Here’s a hearty batch of them. We’ll update this list as new, must-have specials come up.   It’s no wonder that...
Pink Starbursts and brownie edges: How our quirky preferences are driving the future of snacking
Pink Starbursts and brownie edges: How our quirky preferences are driving the future of snacking

About a year ago, my younger sister texted me a photo included in a clickbait listicle about "genius" food inventions: a plate of brownies at a bake sale, each individually wrapped square color-coded with a sticker to designate if it came from the corner, middle or edge of the pan. "Leah dream," she wrote, knowing that in this scenario...
How to stock your kitchen for quick shrimp dinners
How to stock your kitchen for quick shrimp dinners

I’m still learning kitchen tips from my 87-year-old mother. Rather than rely on pricey delivered meal kits, she stocks a modest supply of essentials suitable for fast weeknight dinners and impromptu guests. Frozen shrimp, purchased on sale, is a standard. Same for a few key frozen vegetables, fast-cooking pasta, canned tomatoes and refrigerated...
Surprise someone with a bouquet of macarons
Surprise someone with a bouquet of macarons

It hardly seems possible, but Ladurée, the macaron master from Paris, has created some new flavors from flowers, a food and drink trend picking up this spring. Claire Heitzler, the head of pastry creation, developed the summer collection, using floral essences. The macarons are fragrant and delectable, in rose, lavender, lily of the valley,...
Kale, not jail: Some ex-cons make a living out in the yard
Kale, not jail: Some ex-cons make a living out in the yard

Even by the standards of the Bay Area, where sourcing local, organic chicken feed is seen as something of a political act, the spectacle of 30,000 fruit and nut trees being tended by formerly incarcerated orchardists is novel. The green thumbs are there because of Planting Justice, a nine-year-old nonprofit that combines urban farming with environmental...
More Stories