#33 WINTER WARMERS

Rye whiskey has been making a comeback after it almost vanished from the top shelf. There are plenty of reasons to welcome the revival. Four are the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, the Vieux Carre, and the Sazerac cocktails.

They’re classics in every way and mandate rye, though some heretics, in their devotion to bourbon, sometimes try to slip it in.

Templeton 6 Year (★★★ $39.99) is a stylish, excellent choice in any of the rye cocktails. It delivers hints of ginger, apple, mint, vanilla. The rye has complexity and straightforward appeal. First, have it in an Old Fashioned. You’ll like it on the rocks, too.

Johnnie Walker High Rye (★★★ $34.95) is a new, blended whiskey from the popular producer. This rye, with notes of vanilla and green apple, combines rye aged in American oak and the single malts that you’ll find in Johnnie Walker Black Label. Try it first in a Manhattan.

The arrival of Diageo’s 2021 Distillers Edition collection of single-malt Scotch whiskies will give you a grand tour of Scotland. Each Scotch is double-matured in a different cask wood to highlight the notes that define the specific whisky.

The sextet of Distillers Edition whiskies includes the extraordinary and powerful Lagavulin (★★★★★ $109.99), from Islay, that went into Pedro Ximenez casks. It’s an intense, smoky, peaty showcase, as always. From the West Highlands comes Oban (★★★★ $99.99), which visited ex-bodega Montilla Fino casks, and is a fruity, slightly saline, very balanced beauty.

Talisker (★★★★ $84.99), from the Isle of Skye, has more fruitiness and the pepperiness of the regular release. Peaty, but not overly so, and a mainstay for imbibers. Cragganmore (★★★ $89.99) is a Speyside standard, round, balanced, even delicate, with traces of vanilla and green apple. Dalwhinnie (★★★ $94.99) smoothly takes you to the Highlands in peaty, smoky, oaky, malty fashion. And Glenkinchie (★★★ $89.99) from the Lowlands is the lightest of the six, subtle, a bit sweet, finished in sherry casks.

CALIFORNIA DREAMS

Markham Vineyards has an extensive repertoire. Merlot is one of its standouts. Look for the delightful 2018 Markham Oak Knoll Merlot (★★★ $55) from Napa Valley. Heady with fruit, mainly cherry and blueberry, it’s an immediately appealing, food-friendly choice that also announces itself with 14.8 percent alcohol by volume.

The plummy, easy-drinking 2018 Markham Napa Valley Merlot (★★ $29) has generous cherry notes and is 14.6 percent ABV. It includes 6 percent cabernet sauvignon, 5 percent petite sirah, and a splash of syrah.

Both wines are ideal with beef, from filet mignon to hamburgers, as well as with grilled chicken, roast pork, and blue cheeses.

And Markham offers a fine, Napa Valley red blend, vintage 2017, called The Altruist (★★★ $29) that’s sure to remind you of a Bordeaux. The wine, mainly merlot, bursts with cherry and raspberry, leading to a long finish. Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls dedicated this wine to first responders and veterans. Markham makes a donation to The Gary Sinise Foundation.

The 2019 Cuvaison ATS Chardonnay (★★★★ $60) is named with the initials of founders Adda and Alexander Tai Schmidheiny. And winemaker Steve Rogstad’s bottle would make them very happy. The chardonnay is among the winery’s best. The result: a vibrant, vivid varietal, with a floral aroma opening the way for peach and citrus. Serve it with lobster or crab, steamed or grilled.

Sonoma-Cutrer has been satisfying chardonnay devotees for decades. The winery has unveiled a richly satisfying, celebratory wine to mark the years. The 2019 Sonoma-Cutrer 40th Anniversary Winemaker’s Release Estate Chardonnay (★★★ $70) is a Sonoma mouthful, full of citrus, pear, and melon, with some minerality, plus a note of caramel. This chardonnay is a match for lobster, steamed or grilled; salmon, either way; and buttery crab or shrimp.

The ruby-hued, silky 2019 Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (★★★ $36) is ripe with blackberry and black cherry, accented with cassis, vanilla, and a whisper of sweet licorice. Outstanding with roast chicken or roast duck, grilled salmon or roast loin of pork. Or have an early Thanksgiving dinner.

The Duckhorn portfolio takes in stirring red blends under the Paraduxx label.  New and notable: the 2019 Paraduxx Proprietary Napa Valley Red Wine (★★★ $54). It’s a masterful, harmonious union, primarily cabernet sauvignon, and finished with petite sirah, zinfandel, petit verdot, syrah, and malbec. There’s a seductive scent of black cherry and blackberry and spice. Licorice, pepper, and vanilla make cameo appearances in this neatly tied package. Uncork it with either roasted or grilled red meat.

SPEAKING OF CORKS

Cork Genius is a four-piece tool kit to make sure the wine bottle uncorks without the assorted mishaps that can upend the process. The set includes a wine bottle opener, a foil cutter, an aerator pourer, and a vacuum stopper, and instructions on their use. Efficient and effective. $24.98, available at corkgenius.com, amazon.com.

TEA TIME

This close to Valentine’s Day, an apropos selection is named “Cupid’s Cup.” From Adagio Teas, this offers an herbal embrace of hibiscus, vanilla, and strawberry. As you might expect, it’s both sweet and tangy. Adagio also is ready for Chinese lunar new year with a Year of the Tiger tea. Cupid’s Cup is $15 for a pouch at adagio.com

LESS PLASTIC

PATH’s aluminum bottles are refillable and recyclable. They come filled with pH balanced purified still water, sparkling purified water, or alkaline with 9.5 pH alkaline water. The bottles should last for countless refills. A nine-pack is $19.99, at drinkpathwater.com

“SOONER SUDS”

The 46th state to enter the union has a complex history. Land run. Dust Bowl. Trail of Tears. Route 66. “Cimarron.”  Big 12 football. Sooners. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved musical. Lots more, good and bad. Birthplace of Mickey Mantle and Garth Brooks, Ralph Ellison and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Gene Autry and Joan Crawford. But liquor and beer? Well, Oklahoma entered as a dry state. Prohibition wasn’t fully repealed till 1959. Beermaking required careful navigation and imagination. The story of modern brewing starts in 1992. So, Brian Welzbacher’s “Oklahoma Beer: A Handcrafted History” (American Palate/History Press, $21.99) is an informative, earnest history and story, with an epigraph from Marcus Aurelius, and a notation that the information “is true and complete to the best of our knowledge.” There’s a list of breweries across the state. Make plans.

ANNIVERSARIES

More than most, this year has anniversaries to toast, from the publication of “Ulysses” 100 years ago to the release of “The Godfather,” a mere 50.

On the shelf next to James Joyce’s novel, the last century’s most important, is its complementary poem, T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” also from 1922. Continue to pour.

Virginia Woolf gave us “Jacob’s Room;” and Margery Williams, “The Velveteen Rabbit.” Sinclair Lewis, “Babbitt;” and F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Beautiful and the Damned.” Rainer Maria Rilke: “Duino Elegies.” Bertolt Brecht contributed “Baal,” and Ludwig Wittgenstein, his landmark “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.”

And, on film, the 1972 list requires a case of wine from a top vintage.

In addition to “The Godfather,” which gets better with every viewing as does acting of Al Pacino and Marlon Brando, 1972’s English-language movies included Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Last Tango in Paris,” with an even greater performance by Brando.

The year also yielded Alfred Hitchcock’s necktie thriller, and last memorable film, “Frenzy,” Bob Fosse’s echoes-of-Isherwood “Cabaret,” Peter Medak’s Vantablack-comedy, “The Ruling Class,” John Boorman’s rural-Georgia nightmare, “Deliverance,” John Huston’s right-cross “Fat City,” Billy Wilder’s Lemmony “Avanti!,” Robert Aldrich’s allegorical western “Ulzana’s Raid,” Sam Peckinpah’s betrayal-theme “The Getaway,” Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s slick and sharp “Sleuth,” Elaine May’s talent-laden “The Heartbreak Kid,” and “What’s Up, Doc?,” the screwball rom-com from Peter Bogdanovich, who passed earlier this month.

International films of 1972 truly had something to declare.

Ingmar Bergman’s in-color, final big-screen meditation on meaning, “Cries and Whispers,” opened. So did provocative, distinctive works such as Werner Herzog’s “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” Luis Bunuel’s “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” Andre Tarkovsky’s “Solaris,” Eric Rohmer’s “Love in the Afternoon,” Federico Fellini’s “Fellini’s Roma,” Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant,” and Jan Troell’s “The New Land.” An all-star lineup.

Uncork one more bottle. Maybe two.


ABOUT THE BLOGGER

For 34 years, Peter Gianotti reviewed wines, spirits, restaurants, and books at Newsday. He twice won Press Club of New York awards for food writing. Before he became a food critic, Gianotti was a Washington correspondent, a financial writer, and New York City reporter for the newspaper. His books include “Food Lovers’ Guide to Long Island” and “A Guide to Long Island Wine Country.” Gianotti received his B.A. from Fordham University, where he taught journalism; and his M.S. from Columbia University, where he also was a Bagehot Fellow. Harry, his Creamsicle-hued assistant, prefers the bouquets of riesling and pinot noir.

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