Carols greet me as I shed my coat and brush snow from my hat. The door jingles shut with the familiar seasonal sound of sleigh bells. Tis the season for wine lab-els fa la la la. I begin roaming the aisles searching for a label that grabs my attention. Doon whimsy, watercolor flowers, goats-a-roaming, regal ducks, gothic script.
(faint voice) "Santa."
Nothing causes me to break stride. I've seen it all before. Round two: a tango-ing couple, elks and stags, birds of prey and carved heads. Still nothing.
(faint voices) "Santa."
During my third orbit, it registers: Santa. That bottle says Santa. I step back, observe that I'm in the small & odd-sized company that is dessert wine. I look again and verify that I was indeed reading correctly: "Santa." It was as if I had been guided by a shining star (or 80 watt bulb). I found Santa's wine! I picked it up, rotated the label slightly and read: "Santa..... Sofia." Sigh. But still, this was the label that stopped me in my tracks (plus, upon further inspection, it does depict a cunning lion and two unclothed sirens. So there's that). Considering the time of year, a label with 'Santa' written in red is indeed apropos.
Santa Sofia Recioto della Valpolicella 2001
Valpolicella, the $0.05 Tour
Valpolicella (translation: "valley of many cellars") wines hail from the Veneto in Italy's northeast. They are made primarily from two native grapes, Corvina and Molinara. Modern Valpolicella is a light, crisp red wine. The two more unique styles of Valpolicella are Recioto and Amarone. Recioto is the ur-style, originating in Roman times - a sweet, high alcohol wine built to withstand the tribulations of transportation by foot or chariot. Reciotos are made from semi-dry, past-ripe grapes left on the vine, or raisiny grape clusters dried on straw mats. This is one of the truly unique players in the world of dessert wine.
Santa Sofia Recioto della Valpolicella 2001 ($35; 375ml) [imported by Laird & Company]
- Black cherry color, fading to glossy ruby and finally to pink with distinctly colored tears/legs
- Intense scents of dried cherries, plum and dates. Complimenting aromas of rose and leather also linger in the glass
- This wine is sweet yet structured. In the mouth, the flavor builds subtly and lasts long after swallowing. Santa offers flavors of cherry and licorice, and hints of toasty almond/amaretto
***.5 (3.5 stars out of 5)
This is a great cold weather wine. Sip a glass by the fireplace and warm your jingly bells up. For food pairing, treat it like a Port (bleu veined cheese, toasted walnuts and almonds, or biscotti). I sipped my glass of Santa with Bleu de Auvergne cheese.