Valentine’s Day is upon us, so that means this week’s wine newsletter is all about Broc Cellars’ Love Red and Stolpman Vineyards’ Love You Bunches, right? Showcasing these tried and true Valentine’s faves is the typical move for many a wine shop - including Hop City in years past - but not this time, folks! This year we’ve switched things up and asked our wine managers, Liz Miller and Jade Palmer, to wax poetic on off-the-beaten-path beauties that hold the keys to their hearts. As usual, the dynamic duo over-achieved and paired their picks with love songs that encapsulate the adventures of love, lust, and everything in between.
Liz, West End’s Wine Buyer, invites us to consider the five love languages. For her, “Creating special moments together - quality time - or sharing music with one another - gift giving - are two surefire ways to pierce through my heart with Cupid’s arrow.” She offers three love songs in three different languages (literally!) and matches them up with her current wine crushes.
Likewise, Jade, Wine Buyer at Krog, reminds us to treat ourselves with a Champagne toast, explains how a sultry Syrah evokes feelings of infatuation, and throws us back to 2003 with a song written by two friends who sent their ideas back and forth through the mail that you definitely put on at least one mix CD for a crush back in the day.
So whether you’re spending time with your significant other or celebrating yourself with a night of selfcare, sit back, listen, and sip away to the official Hop City Valentine’s playlist this Valentine’s Day!
Liz Miller: Wine Manager, Hop City West End
Martha Stoumen Post Flirtation Red $30.99
Paired with: Nada - Amore Disperato
Truthfully, Post Flirtation Red has been one of my wine crushes for some time now. This chillable porch pounder is bursting with juicy red fruit, and doesn’t fail as a wine that pairs with anything but the kitchen sink. Sonically, I’ll be pairing it with the classic Italo disco song, Amore Disperato. The song tells the story of a woman who goes to a nightclub waiting to find a dance partner. Eventually, she sees a striking man whom she fantasizes about every day thereafter. She returns to the club night after night hoping to see him again, but without success. One night she hears her phone ringing, and it’s the striking man on the other line. They finally meet up and dance together, trembling under the stars in a dance of post flirtation (wink wink). On Martha Stoumen’s website, she suggests that you “drink (Post Flirtation) with snacks, laughter, and light Italian disco wafting through the windows”. I wholeheartedly endorse such a suggestion.
Bodega Los Bermejos Malvasía Seco $29.99
Paired with: Elia y Elizabeth - Descripción
In Descripción, Elia y Elizabeth metaphorically describe a lover as the sea and its shore. To me, this could describe the spectacular scenery of the Lanzarote. The grapes here are planted in holes beneath the volcanic ash, so their rootstock can reach the nutrient rich topsoil below. The vines' little heads stick out and reach for the sun, not unlike the lines “Your hair shone with the sun / Your green eyes with the light of love”. The vines are coastal, and reap the benefits of the sea breeze, which recall the lyrics, “You, sitting barefoot in the sand … Your hands touched the waves / You wanted to catch them all”, and “Your breathing was like a wave without stopping.” This wine has fantastic aromatic complexities with hints of mango and lemon oil, and lingering floral notes. Just as the vines share a symbiotic relationship with the ocean and ash, the wine begs to be paired with seafood and soulful music.
L’Arco Rosso del Veronese $33.99
Paired with: Étienne Daho - Week-end à Rome
First of all, this just so happens to be one of my favorite songs. In the song, Etienne describes a trip that he takes with the most beautiful girl he’s ever known. They escape the rain in France for a sunny trip to Italy where they speed in their car, windows down, humming along to songs on the radio as he watches his love’s hair blow in the wind. Etienne almost tells the girl that he loves her, but “keeps his cool.” It paints a picture that has you yearning for a road trip with your crush. I feel like this song deserves the almost obvious pairing with a L’Arco wine, and this one is a great entry level option.
The winemaker, Luca Fedrigo, was madly in love with the granddaughter of famous Amarone producer, Giuseppe Quintarelli. Luca, a seventeen year old Ducati racer, began working for Giuseppe in his vegetable garden, until eventually Giuseppe saw Luca’s hard work and offered to take him under his wing and teach him the art of Valpolicella winemaking. This wine is fruit-forward with complex aromatics of herbs, and underbrush. It’s supple and relaxed with tannin and acidity that provide texture that is only revealed in the finish.
Jade Palmer: Wine Manager, Hop City Krog
2015 Philippe Fontaine Brut Millésime $49.99
Paired with: Victoria Monét - On My Mama
For Valentine’s Day, the focus always seems to be on loving someone else, but what about loving yourself? True love begins with loving yourself, so hype you up today! And nothing cheers me up quite like a great bottle of Champagne. Victoria Monét wrote this song while dealing with postpartum depression during the pandemic. She said, " [the song] came while I was in a place of disbelief in what I was actually saying. So it’s almost like I had to speak it into existence.” The 2015 Philippe Fontaine is a symphony of beautiful notes; think of the sharp horn notes of the song as the tropical fruit notes, while the funky bass beat is the brioche, creamy notes. They come together to create something amazing. Not to mention the scarab beetle proudly featured on the Philippe Fontaine labels - it's an ancient Egyptian symbol that represents good luck, rebirth, and evolution. Turn this song up to 11, grab a bottle of this Champs, and sing this to yourself in the mirror. May good luck follow you wherever you go.
Troon Vineyard Syrah $34.99
Paired with: Phlake - Silly Dancer
This song is so moody and sexy, much like a Syrah. If this song could be a color, it would be the inky, dark, teeth-staining purple of a Syrah, wrapped up in layers of smooth velvet. The lyrics talk about love (lust?) that takes a hold of you completely, for better or for worse. That is what Syrah did to me when I first tasted it early in my wine education journey. I was mesmerized by the layers of flavor - dark, juicy fruit muddled with olive brine and smoked meats. And the Troon Vineyard Syrah is just that - a sumptuous wine that hasn’t let me forget about it ever since I tasted it. It's reminiscent of a Northern Rhone Syrah, but yet completely its own vibe. "You wanted somebody else but bumped into me instead" - if you love French Syrah, try out the Troon Vineyard Syrah. You'll be amazed at how simultaneously similar and different it is.
Idlewild Flora & Fauna White Blend $24.99
Paired with: The Postal Service - Such Great Heights
This song is so incredibly nostalgic for me - it was part of a soundtrack of adjusting to college life and figuring out how to be an adult. I danced like crazy when I saw The Postal Service on tour last year for the 20th anniversary of their sole album Give Up. Such Great Heights is an ode to how awesome it is to be loved and be in love. The soft, saccharine lyrics are laid over a digital, electronic beat - two very different elements existing in harmony together. For this song, the Idlewild Flora & Fauna White came to mind. It’s made of Italian varieties grown in California - two regions worlds apart that come together seamlessly in the bottle. With Italian white wine, we usually think of bright, fresh, clean, and zesty wines whereas California can be rich, juicy, full, and ripe. The Flora & Fauna White blend is a harmonious marriage of the two. Think orange blossoms, lemon zest, Gala apples, and Bosc pears with juicy acidity that’ll have you dancing.