Tim Vandergrift's Favorite Wine Kits

I get asked all the time, “What’s your favorite wine?” That’s like asking a parent, “Who’s your favorite child?” Of course you have one, but who wants to say out loud? I rarely have less than a dozen wines in my cellar or on tap at home. But there are a few that I return to again and again, both as staples for a well-rounded dining table and as candidates for both aging and early drinking. Here are a few of my favorite children, err, wines.

Winemaker's Reserve™ Moscato

Fresh and vibrant, this white wine has aromas of dried fruit, pineapple, white grape, and lychee.
The fruit in this wine begs to be complemented and challenged. Pairing with melon wrapped in prosciutto works on two levels: the melon showcases the acidity behind the lush fruit, and the sweetly savory prosciutto highlights the perfumed fruity sweet notes. Scallops sautéed in butter do the same, playing on the themes of acid and fruit, while peach slices, slid into individual glasses, topped with Muscat and allowed to chilled for an hour are a fabulous treat, especially with Danish blue cheese on the side.
Drink young and enjoy the zippy, lush fruit, or age for an impressive change-up of depth and elegance.

Sommelier Select™ Chilean Malbec

Chile's endless coastline and steep hillsides capture the Pacific climate for the world's most perfect growing conditions.
This Malbec expresses deep garnet intensity and robust tannin. Rich and juicy, the ripe red fruit gives way to the cinnamon spice. Toasty oak balances vanilla and honey on the finish.
This is my secret weapon for people who ‘don’t like wine’: it never fails to win over skeptics, and despite drinking fabulously right at bottling day, it ages very well. Throw a grilled steak or even a pepperoni pizza at it and watch it shine.

Winemaker's Reserve™ Pinot Grigio

Light straw tinged with green, this wine's up front lemon, grapefruit, and pear notes give way to floral aromas, and the crisp, zesty acidity makes it dance on the palate. Medium -bodied wine, it marries lush drinkability with smooth refinement, scented with citrus and a clean finish that lingers on minerals, white fruits and almonds.
Pair with white fish and light seafood dishes, like sole in buerre blanc or grilled halibut, broiled oysters, or for a zesty treat, ceviche. Pinot Grigio also works with sliced pears and soft cheese (or white stilton!)--or even with calamari on a sunny patio.

Sommelier Select™ Rossa Ardente With Grapeskins

Based on Italy’s Amarone, this is one of the biggest and most intense red wines. The addition of dried grapeskins not only increase the sugars, but also the tannins, making this a blockbuster wine with cherry, dry chocolate, prune plums, almond, dried fruit, heavy and redolent with black fruit.
Tart cherry and a gripping finish flirts with aromas of almond and toasty spice, blown up by powerful richness and knitted together by amazing tannins. Some drink it extremely young (under three months!) but when they try two and three year old bottles they’re convinced it’s a different wine, it develops so much elegant length and structure.

Sommelier Select™ Chardonnay

My overriding thought when I tried the very first glass of this wine was, ‘fruit salad in a glass!’. This is an elegant, ripe wine with warm-climate character of tropical fruit notes layered with honeycomb and hints of citrus. It's highlighted by crisp, ripe apples that taste like they came right off of a tree.
This complex aroma underlines honeyed notes of vanilla and toasted oak for a satisfying, smooth finish. It drinks very well under a year, but pulls out all the stops as an elegant glass at two or even three years.

Sommelier Select™ Old Vine Merlot

Old vines produce intense, concentrated grapes. This Merlot goes past plum, raspberry, and strawberry fruit, to dense blackcurrant, pepper and spice. The full body and lush, integrated tannins enfold deep oak notes of smoke and toast, and a lush, mouth filling finish make it a wine worthy of densely flavoured, rich foods like duck, game, or soft cheeses.
Tempting as it is to drink young, I find it changes twice, almost abruptly, becoming far more open and full-bodied around 9 months, and again at 15-18 months when it becomes velvety and lush.

Winemaker's Reserve™ Riesling

Marked by refined, vibrant aromas of peaches, apricots and white fruit with floral and citrus blossom notes when young, this gorgeous pale yellow wine shows nuances of honeycomb, citrus peel, and dried fruits as it ages.
On the palate it's assertive, distinctive and elegant, with juicy white fruit balanced by vivid acidity and a long luscious finish. An excellent food wine, it drinks well on its own and responds to light chilling firm acidity and a crisp finish make it immensely satisfying and a knock-out with shellfish, especially oysters and prawns.
Riesling’s secret superpower? It ages better than any other white wine. Put a bottle away for four or five years and it will transform utterly, into a dry, stately wine of incredible depth, while still retaining zesty freshness.

Sommelier Select™ - Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon W/Skins

The oldest vines (between 60 and 80 years) produce fruit unlike any other. This Cabernet Sauvignon has stupefying levels of fruit and extract. The blackberry, blackcurrant and jammy notes give way to pepper, mint, cedar and black cherry. Dense and dark, with rock-ribbed tannins when young, it will round out to a smooth lustrous finish that goes on forever at its peak.
All of our red juices are macerated in our wineries to get the most out of their skins, but adding an extra dose of skin material turns up the volume on the wine's character. Despite showing well young, this is also a brilliant long-haul wine. If you’re a griller, you’ll want this with steaks and roasted lamb, but it’s equally excellent with a great hamburger.
Winemaker's Reserve™ Pinot Noir

Where the Amarone is a monstrous blockbuster of a wine, Pinot Noir is as elegant and sophisticated as a ballerina, and dances as well. Immediately silky in the mouth, it’s firm but supple tannins show off bright raspberry and red-cherry notes that slide alongside spice, a hint of truffle and herbs and a beguiling finish that manages to evade precise description even as it delights and lingers.
The killer application for this wine is with high-cacao chocolate, the finer the better--you’ll make friends instantly with this combination. Aged, it develops an elegant and intense full-bodied wine, deep with refined tannins and notes of coffee and tobacco.