Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert! This week I have a roundup of some delicious wines for you to try. As well as the usual wine options for the week, I will also share my whisky choices for the first time in this column.

The wine choices for this week are a mix of old-world and new-world styles as demonstrated by the comparison between the two reds: one is a red grape not usually found in PA (Blaufrankisch) from Austrian producer Krutzler and the other is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Australian producer Wakefield which is definitely new-world with its fruit-forward style.

The Scotches I’ve showcased this week are the perfect fall-time sippers and offer totally different flavor profiles from each other. One is smokey and earthy (Finlaggan) while the other is more gentle and sweet (Highland Park 15). It is worth noting that Finlaggan is in fact a mystery distillery from the Islay region but enthusiasts have narrowed its flavor profile to three possible distilleries: Ardbeg, Caol Isla or Laphroaig. Either way, it delivers on flavor at a good price.

The Highland Park 15 makes a stunning gift as it comes in a beautiful ceramic decanter with the classic Gaelic symbols embossed on the bottle. If one could bottle the flavor of fall, this might be it!

If you’re looking to grill some of those amazing fresh vegetables from the garden then turn your attention to Gruner Veltliner, a white wine varietal commonly found in Austria. Sharp, crisp and clean are the best words to describe this intense white. Don’t mind the higher price point of this white wine, it delivers on flavor and leaves an impression. Here are my wine and whisky picks of the week!

Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon 2018: (Clare Valley, Australia). Off-dry to medium-dry red, deep purple color. Juicy blackberries, cassis, grape bubblegum, vanilla and a hint of smokey oil burst from the glass on the first sniff. To the taste, this full-bodied red is high in intensity featuring flavors of blackberry, dark cherry balsamic, smoked BBQ char, herbs, black currants and black pepper on the finish. Medium acidity and medium tannins add a bit of grip in the background. BBQ notes and dark fruit linger on the medium finish. A juicy, berry-oriented wine perfectly suited for burgers or ribs. Slightly out of balance but delicious! Drink now. Good! $24, 14.5% ABV

Krutzler Eisenberg Blaufrankisch 2017: (DAC Eisenberg, Austria). Dry red, deep silky ruby color. Earthy notes rise from the glass, including musty spice, cigar box, dark earthy cherry, petrol smoke, leather and mellow barnyard. The palate packs a hit of medium-plus acidity with prominent sour cherry notes and medium body. Elegant cherry, red plums, leather, peppery spice and a mouth-drying effect make this a tight, old-world wine worth cellaring for several years. The wine is fruity but quite dry with low residual sugars. A deliciously pure note akin to cherry Kool-Aid can be detected along with fine leather and delicate spice. Long finish. Will develop with age. Drinkable now but will be better in a few years. Very good! $32, 13% ABV

Highland Park 15 Year Single Malt Scotch: (Orkney, Scotland). Dry to off-dry whisky with a medium-gold color. The nose is beautiful and smooth with notes of maple, red apple skins, cinnamon, chopped walnuts, butterscotch, porridge, fresh Play Doh and spun sugar. The Scotch is medium-plus bodied on the palate with a wave of fall-time flavors: cooked oats, maple, honey, cinnamon/cardamom, heather and cough drop eucalyptus. The whisky opens nicely after 15-20 minutes where gentle peat, salted licorice and hints of savory leather make an appearance. The blend of breakfast and fall notes are intoxicating as well as the finish of light peat. The perfect sipper to watch the leaves fall. Must try for scotch fans. Outstanding! $150, 44% ABV

RABL Gruner Veltliner 2018: (DAC Kamptal, Austria). Dry white, pale lemon color. This Austrian white is crisp and clean with a medium-intense nose of citrus, vegetal earth, white pepper, wet rocks and riverbed. On the taste, we are greeted with steely mineral, lemon zest and some tangy zip from the medium-plus acidity. The wine is lively and intense with crushed limestone powder, zesty limes, gravel mixed with sweet mineral and plenty of clean citrus flavors on the long, satisfying finish. Flavors to look for are white peach, star fruit, nectarine, white pepper, gherkins and zesty, saline mineral. Light body. The perfect wine for high-quality seafood dishes. Pair with poached langoustine and grilled asparagus on angel hair pasta with lemon foam. Very good! $35, 12.5% ABV

Finlaggan Single Malt Scotch NAS (No Age Statement): (Islay Region, Scotland). Dry, smokey whisky, deep lemon color. The bouquet of this mystery distillery is full of sea-like delights. Smoked heather, iodine, sea salt, campfire ash, medicinal lemon peel and Fisherman’s Friend lozenges are the main highlights. On the palate this scotch is gentle and soft at first but it follows through with a bit of bite. Salty earth/soil, medicinal citrus peels, salted black licorice and a sweet tangy edge counter the slight bitter and herbal tones of honeyed heather. On the finish are creamy, chewy tannins which grip the mouth with a prickle of peat and smoke. The addition of a few drops of water is highly beneficial. New flavors appear: malted milk, ashy soot, baked apple, vanilla, sweet tar resin and golden apple. Worth a sip and can be found for a decent price. Very good! $75, 46% ABV

Cheers and thanks for reading!