Cynthia’s Painting the Town Red!
We recently released a list of our white wine list. This list of red wines has proven a little harder for me to write, because I love drinking red wine. So much so that I find myself enjoying them more than thinking about (and writing about) them. Our philosophy about food and wine is that both should be enjoyed with verve and a zeal for living!
Below you’ll find my attempt at describing some of these wines as objectively as I can—knowing that several of them will be discontinued very shortly after publication. But what the hey, nothing lasts forever!
Limited though this list may be, it is a careful collection of flavors that beguiled my palate upon the first savored sips. Who would typically drink this wine? Is it flavor-forward or coy? Do I detect a hint of black pepper, cherry? Is that a shaving of white truffle?
While quaffing wines and tasting them for their unique “vineprints” is a lot of fun, sharing them with you, and hearing what you all think is—well, funner!
Vini Rossi! Vins Rouges! Red Wines! Vinos Tintos!
Domaine Coudoulis, Lirac – If I had to choose a clause to describe this wine, it would easily be a “meat and three”. Upon first sip, I experienced a good chewy rare steak of a grape that was followed by a soft, starchy potato, the clean sweetness of a fruity vegetable, followed by an earthy black truffle mushroom. (All those layers in one sip!) In short, this wine is a meal that packs in its money’s worth! A blend of Grenache (one of my favorite grapes, so far), Syrah and Mourvedre, I just think you can’t go wrong with this one! (Enclosure: cork)
Mara “Syrage” Lot 7 – I tend not to be a fan of domestic wines, but every now and then, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Thanks to my friends at Quality Wine & Spirits, I was introduced to two domestic wines that are affordable and thoroughly enjoyable (impressive, even). The “Syrage” is a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon and it has New World fruity highlights with an undercurrent of Old World earthiness—must be the French oak barrels. Whatever it is, it’s a good quaff with a hearty meal. (Enclosure: cork, and an unbelievably stately bottle.)
Y&B Malbec – Please don’t let the modest packaging fool you on this wine. It is easily rising above my other lower cost wines and elbowing its way on to my unofficial “Top 3 Everyday Drinking Wine” list. I’m no expert, but I’m beginning to think that the brightly colored tetra pack is the secret behind maintaining the delicate, fruity flavor of the Malbec grapes. Maybe it’s protecting the grapes from taking on a leatheriness when exposed to light. Or maybe it’s the fact that the grapes are 100 percent organic, upholding Y&B’s “Yellow and Blue” significance. There are a whole host of reasons not to hesitate with purchasing this wine, but you have to taste it to believe it. (Enclosure: tetra pack, screw top)
Steltzner Claret – Let’s give another nod to Quality Wine & Spirits for introducing me to a domestic wine that I’ve had on my wine list since day one. This Napa valley blend (from the “Stags Leap District”) ranks high on the “Affordable and Thoroughly Enjoyable” charts. You’ll definitely taste some cherry, vanilla and there’s something that makes me think of pine forests too. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc has produced a solid companion to any dinner. Aged 22 months in the barrel, it’s a wine that can definitely be quaffed now, but they say that it will “age gracefully” over the next several years. I can see that. It is clean, deep garnet red and simply delicious. A collector’s wine? You tell me, I can’t seem not to drink this one today. (Enclosure: cork)
Flaco Tempranillo – What red to drink when it’s hot outside? If you haven’t guessed, I have a penchant for full-bodied wines. I like wines I can chew. But every now and again, you want something a bit more easy-going. This is definitely a lighter-bodied wine, but you can’t get past its Spanish personality. What do I mean by this? The literal translation for flaco in English is “skinny”, but in Spain it is also a familiar expression for “dude”—a comfortable buddy. That’s what this wine brings to the table: it’s uncomplicated—fruity and smooth enough to drink any time, but also ready to party as a Sangria. If only I had the patience to cut up fruit and get some ice! (Enclosure: cork)
Postales del Fin del Mundo – Every time I pull this wine from the rack, I fantasize about putting on my leather jacket, hopping on to an old motorcycle, riding across South America and fomenting a revolution. You can practically see the minerals of Patagonia—a region in Northern Argentina that’s home to some of the continent’s glaciers—just looking at the blue hues translate into a purpleish glass of wine brings out my revolutionary spirit. This wine has me wandering through remote forests. A crisp breath of evergreen in the air leads into a clean taste of the Malbec grape followed by a blackberry burst (maybe due to the Cabernet Sauvignon). Formal enough for a fine dining experience, this wine can also kick off its patent leathers and join you for a hike and a picnic. (Enclosure: cork)
Avignonesi “Rosso“ – Italian wines are tricky for me. A lot of times they come in impressive bottles with gorgeous labels and my taste buds are hoping the red liquid lives up to the hype. This blend of Prugnolo Gentile, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon absolutely does, so you can relax. It’s the affordable Alfa Romeo of Tuscan wines. It pours a ruby, garnet red, has some hints of black pepper, but it boasts a round, smooth flavor. I wouldn’t save this wine for a special occasion, but you can expect for this wine to make something special out of a regular day. (Enclosure: cork)
Bastille, Cabernet Sauvignon – I’ve been told this wine was specially blended for my wine purveyor, Ultimate, by Bourgeois Family Selections. These importers are committed to working with sustainable, organic and bio-dynamic wineries in France. Seems that price is also something they are conscious of. This very affordable Cabernet Sauvignon definitely makes a bold entrance, with a deep, red intensity. Its fruitiness is low, but it has a personality and a bite. This wine has me thinking of a portly Gerard or a Robert, taking refuge under a tilleul with some bread, cornichons and a merguez. It’s a hot summer afternoon on a sandy town square. They’re playing petanque and drinking the next best thing to water. (Enclosure: screw top)
Cescon Tralcetto Pinot Nero – California Pinot Noir had its moment in the spotlight thanks to the Hollywood movie, Sideways. But Italy didn’t need a movie to communicate the beauty of this grape. It had known about this delicate, finicky fruit long ago, when it imported this French grape to grow in Italian soils. This one happens to be a Veneto wine that emits hints of rose petals on the nose. A lighter-bodied wine, it still packs a flavorful punch, there are spices here including clove and black pepper, maybe a hint of white truffle. You will enjoy this wine with meats and cheeses, fruits and salads. (Enclosure: cork, and a piece of vine tied on to the bottle with a red ribbon.)
Zestos, Garnacha/Tempranillo – There’s a reason why this is one of my top-selling reds. It’s so easy to drink and, of course, the price is totally right! What makes this red easy to drink? In my humble opinion, there’s a nice fruitiness that lets you know the grapes were picked not too early, not too late, enough alcohol to taste like wine—not grape juice or vinegar—and a jamminess that’s not chewy, but that lends a certain amount of body to the sip. I almost forgot to mention: it’s organic! (Enclosure: cork)