Our friend Rich is a forward-looking, optimistic sort. This upbeat approach extends to his thinking about the duration of winter, which he says is over once the calendar flips to February. His reasoning is that by Groundhog Day daylight is getting noticeably longer, spring is happening somewhere just south of us, and this time of year we’re walking briskly out of a seasonal dark hole rather than slinking into it. Next time Rich drops by for a visit, chances are good that no matter what the temperature is, he won’t have bothered to put on a coat. You’ve got to admire a guy who can so thoroughly inhabit his own imagination.
Few people are Rich’s match when it comes to a sunny outlook, but we’ve got our own ideas about how to manage winter, no matter its duration. These mainly involve plenty of firewood, a playlist of late Rosemary Clooney, and a simmering pot of lentil soup. It’s a combination with a wonderfully warming effect. As for solar radiation, we’ve got plenty of that stored up in the wine cellar, where every bottle holds the memory of a bygone summer.
This little group of red wines delivers an abundance of local color and character - things we love and look for in European country wines - not to mention the requisite doses of liquefied solar radiation. We expect to be sipping some of these right through till spring. Whenever that may be.
Coltibuono “Cancelli’’ Toscano IGT Rosso 2008 Bright as a button with pleasing cherrylike fruit and some really fine zip. Even better the second day. Around $10. At Martignetti Liquors, Brighton, 617-782-3700; Kappy’s Liquors, Medford, 781-395-8888; Golden Goose Market, North End, 617-367-3198.
Castelmaure “Col des Vents’’ Corbières 2007 Dusty herb aromas; mouth crisp and leanish with good freshness and an edge. Versatile. Around $11. At Central Bottle Wine + Provisions, Cambridge, 617- 225-0040; Our Glass Wine Co., Saugus, 781-941-8068; Marty’s Fine Wine, Newton, 617-332-1230.
Vignerons de Caractère “Syrah-Grenache’’ Vin de Pays de Vaucluse 2007 Sweet, simple little cooperative-made blend with some nicely fleshy fruit; little in the way of texture or complexity, but cheery enough for two. Around $8. At Blanchards, Marshfield, 781-834-9068; Spirited Gourmet, Belmont, 617-262-0379; Central Bottle.
Lageder “Riff’’ Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT Rosso 2007 Pale, pinot-esque hue and lightish body point to a cool climate source; some pleasing spicy-herbal aromas and flavors; brisk; lithe; balletic. Around $12. At Magnolia Wine Co., Watertown, 617-924-6040; Esprit du Vin, Milton, 617-296-9463; Foodie’s Urban Market, Duxbury, 781-934-5544.
Mont Tauch “Chasse Gardée’’ Fitou 2006 Modestly cedary nose; nice balance of dark red fruits and earthy, forest-floor notes; some appealingly chewy texture. Around $11. At Wine Emporium, South End, 617-262-0379; Vin Bin, Marlborough, 508-480-9463; Central Bottle.
Stephen Meuse can be reached at email@example.com