“Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it: You are about to be stranded on an island for a year with a small group of friends. You get to pick the wine. Choose one red and one white, sticking to choices your provisioner will have no trouble finding at a reasonable price.”
What a delicious yet difficult challenge! We had a mandate to stay with accessible and affordable choices (Jessie up to $8, Susan up to $12, Lindsey up to $15), while keeping our friends and any natives in good spirits over a full year. Luckily, we had no trouble finding fabulous, companionable everyday wines—for island or home.
Jessie Price’s Picks
White: Famega Vinho Verde (Portugal) $6
Vinho Verde (Green Wine), from a region of Portugal known as the “Green Coast,” is meant to be drunk young. Fâmega has a tart, clean, lemony taste and a wonderful effervescence. “It is invigorating,” says Jessie, “and would be a refreshing drink while relaxing under a palm tree or as an accompaniment to a seafood feast served by a loincloth-clad, bronzed waiter.”
Red: Gandia Hoya de Cadenas (Spain) 1999 $8
Tempranillo is considered Spain’s indigenous noble grape and the vine behind some of the country’s best wines. This medium-bodied Tempranillo with its dark mahogany color has a sharp, mouth-puckering quality. While versatile enough for sipping on its own, its boldness would stand up to any wild-game dinner.
Susan Buchanan’s Picks
White: Hugel Gentil (Alsace, France) 2002 $11
The fruit character of Alsatian wines should not be mistaken for the sweet, syrupy concoctions most of us have known. Each type of grape used, including Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sylvaner, brings its own uniqueness, making this wine delightfully complex. The aroma is spring-fresh with an intoxicating blend of fruit buds; its taste is all that and more, with sweet melon and tropical lychee. It is dry and crisp enough for the hot season and lush enough for cold-weather drinking.
Red: E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône (France) 2001 $12
Côtes du Rhônes are refined country wines with medium body, easy enough to play an everyday role. A subtle yet feisty spice introduces and wraps around the raspberry and strawberry fruit. This will go with almost any meal we conjure up on the island, and it is happily sipped out of juice glasses or even coconut shells, as someone likely forgot the wine goblets.
Lindsey Bolger’s Picks
White: Anselmi San Vincenzo (Veneto, Italy) 2003 $13
Warm straw color and aromas of delicate fruit and floral precede a brilliantly balanced flavor derived from a blend of Garganega, Chardonnay and Trebbiano grapes. It has a pleasing sweetness that is not cloying and is wonderfully enhanced by a clean finish. This wine is graceful and lithe with enough substance to capture and hold one’s attention for a year or more.
Red: Cline Ancient Vines Mourvèdre (Contra Costa County, California) 2003 $14
Amongst the vast acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, a few California wineries have plantings of Mourvèdre, an important grape in the Rhône and Provençal regions of France. Cline’s handsome, well-structured and charming wine is succulent and abundant with ripe red fruit, firm but in no way leaden. Its sun-warmed tropical wood scents are invitingly substantial and lush. It is powerful and bursts with American-grown masculinity to remind us of home. ew
wine-pairing suggestions: page 80
-Susan Buchanan is a lawyer and cook. Jessie Price is EatingWell’s assistant food editor. Lindsey Bolger is director of coffee sourcing and relationships for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.