Full disclosure: Monsters & Critics received free samples of the products mentioned in this article for review. However, the opinions expressed are independent and our own.
For February’s Wines of the Month, Monsters and Critics found four new reds, one rosé champagne and one Crémant d’Alsace sparkling pinot noir rosé to try this Valentine’s Day — which run the gamut from affordable and fabulous to a bit pricier and astoundingly good.
Do not buy into the “buy her a diamond” adverts, or the go-to box of chocolates or bouquet of roses hype.
Valentine’s Day is more meaningful with a quiet homemade dinner or even better, some well-curated sexy small plates served with an array of quality wines.
Even better yet, a chilled bottle of rosé Champagne.
The bubbles are a great way to finish some savory treats, and rosé sparklers are versatile and can be served as an aperitif before a meal, or through to (or as) dessert. Another option is trying a Crémant d’Alsace, a sparkling pinot noir rosé.
It is important to note that unlike standard champagnes, rosés can be a bit more expensive and are usually prepped and taken to market in smaller production lots.
This Valentine’sDday, if you are either in love or just happy to be single and free, don’t fall for the marketing hooks nor feel left out.
Do something intimate and delicious for yourself and perhaps a loved one to celebrate.
We organized our February finds by country:
Monte Velho (Herdade Do Esporao) 2015 Vinho Regional Alentejano
At well under $10 a bottle, this ruby red pour is a fantastic choice for a meal with any chicken, lamb or even beef.
It is complex with berry and fruit top notes, and is a subtle and drier red to savor that will not be as cloying as a Cabernet. The winery is a landmark and was founded in 1267 and these ancient boundaries of Herdade do Esporão have remained virtually unchanged.
The wine is a blend of Aragonês, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, and Syrah grapes. Portuguese wines are some of the finest Europe has to offer. And most affordable to boot.
USA (North Fork of Long Island, NY)
Martha Clara Estate Reserve Merlot 2013
Martha Clara winery is one of the best vineyards on the east coast. This sexy red will give California Napa wineries a run for their money.
The New York vineyard is making some heads turn in great part thanks to the work of winemaker Juan Eduardo Micieli-Martinez.
He uses “A blocks” in the Northville Vineyard mixed into a sumptuous blend of 90 percent merlot, 6 percent cabernet sauvignon and 4 percent petit verdot grapes for this particular wine.
The exceptional result is a reserve merlot that presents in a glass as a deep ruby red jewel, with a complex structure that begs for a beef or pork dish to match it.
This wine is aged for 18 months in both American and French oak barrels before bottling. You taste the deepest hue of stone fruits such as plums and black cherries, all reined in and underscored with some spice and hints of coffee and chocolate. I would not serve this with seafood. Incredible stuff.
This wine SRP is around $38-40 a bottle.
Willm Cremant d’Alsace Rosé Sparkling Pinot Noir
A fine pour for the money. Willm is a sparkling pinot noir that has hints of strawberry and raspberry in a complex palate that is drier and crisper than you would imagine. Every year we are astounded that Cremant d’Alsace wines aren’t more popular.
They are champagne’s saucier and more structured bubbly cousin. But being from the Alsace region of France, by law they cannot be referred to as champagne.
The average critical rating for this pour is 88/100, and for around $22 a bottle, it sure tastes like some sparklers we have tried clocking in at four times the retail price.
This rosé sparkler veers to the dry side, medium body and fruity and crisp at the same time. This pour was made to serve with savory and unctuous small bites, hors-d’oeuvres and nibbles.
Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé
Had a good year? Feeling a bit flush with cash? This is a more expensive pour than the others, but at around $65-100 a bottle (depending where you buy it) you will experience as good if not better than Brut Rosé Champagne costing upwards of $350+ — such as Dom Perignon Rosé and Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé which are utterly ridiculous in cost.
Laurent-Perrier delivers a superb balance of dry with a touch of sweetness allowing one to get the full taste without any astringent distractions (proseccos are notorious for this).
This sparkler is accompanied with a slight scent of rose water and almost a vanilla finishing aftertaste.
Tiny bubbles net a floral and fruit aromatic wine as you taste apple, pear, orange and a brioche finish, yet despite all these notes it is not too sweet.
Soft and delicate for a medium-bodied sparkler with balanced acidity and a long finish. This is a lovely champagne and will make an impression.
Domaine de la Guicharde Cotes du Rhone 2015
I cannot rave about this family that makes these eco-certified fantastic wines enough.
Isabelle and Arnaud Guicharde bought Domaine de la Guicharde back in 1988.
Their winery sits near Mongragon in the village of Derboux in the Cotes du Rhone region of France, the estate located near the top of the Massif d’Uchaux where the famous mistral winds of France keep the vines from rot and disease.
Oenophiles will note that in 2005 the Massif d’Uchaux plateau was granted its own appellation status in recognition of its exceptional terroir.
The Guichardes hand-pick and sort before undergoing fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The Guichardes employ organic farming and are certified organic by ECOCERT and use Biodynamic farming practices.
For around $10 you can enjoy the Guicharde Cotes du Rhone, blessed with a vivid palate of cassis and dark berries, licorice, and spice.
The wine is 65% Grenache, 35% Syrah, from vines that are an average of 25 years old. Freaking amazing wine for the money.
Domaine du Seminaire Cotes du Rhone 2015
Another family affair in France, Domaine Seminaire is a well-kept secret at the average price of $11. This ruby red intensely full bodied red wine has an average wine score rating of 89/100. This ruby red intensely full bodied red wine has an average wine score rating of 89/100
This is a perfectly aged Grenache (75%) and Syrah (25%) blend that was made for a meat dish, preferably game, beef or lamb. This presents as a shiny dark ruby pour.
The nose holds bits of blackberries and stone fruits, even tiny hints of olives as the palate is subtly teased with herbaceous notes and black pepper even some licorice.
Structured tannins and a minerality that keeps it all sewn up, this is a delightful wine – albeit a very full-bodied one- for the red lovers.