Selections for November 2016

As threatened . . .

2013 PASANAU ‘Ceps Nous’ – Priorat, Spain

Insider industry chatter: 

I hate buying a glass of wine at a restaurant because I know how they work it.  A typical eatery wants to pay for the whole bottle with the first glass sold.  Most consumers don’t share my insight so they buy into this, but it bugs the hell out of Yours Truly so he more often just orders a Martini or a beer instead. 

THIS wine appears (or did, it may now be off the list) as a BTG (“by the glass”) menu entry at Walnut Creek’s Parada, a good Peruvian restaurant.  I have ordered many glasses of Pasanau there because, regardless of the distracting equation to which I’m privy, this wine says a lot for the money.  Sometimes value is truly perceived by the palate!

Here is a blend of Grenache, Merlot, Syrah, and Mazuelo (Carignan) providing dark, plummy and

caramel-y warmth for a terrific price.  This amount of big, dark delivery is unusual for the type; Priorat of any kind normally costs more. 

Also unusual is the significant critical acclaim for a wine at such a price.  Wine Spectator weighs in with a 92 point rating, proclaiming:

“Savory and spicy notes of licorice, cigar box and cardamom frame a deep core of plum and kirsch in this expressive red. Firm tannins and balsamic acidity impart a solid structure. Drink now through 2023.”

Food pairing:  If you’re not enjoying the delicious fare at Parada we suggest you put your grill to work and

do skewers of marinated poultry and/or meats to complement this wine.  – And buy the wine HERE to keep your BTGat a minimum!

We taste with our eyes

2014 LA ATALAYA del CAMINO – Almansa, Spain

I’d like you to pay special attention to the appearance of this wine as your pour it.  It is red-black, impenetrably-saturated in density.  It is remarkable.  Then smell it, cautiously:  Deep fruit and wheelbarrow scents happen abundantly.  Now, a furtive sip: The idea of concentration remains intact with tobacco and stewed plums, and now it’s time to wonder if there are sausages on the grill or in the skillet!

15% of this blend from southeastern (“Moor-ish”) Spain is Monastrell, better known as Mourvèdre.  That grape happens a lot down here.  The larger, 85% component?  A cross created in the south of France over a century ago:  Alicante Bouschet, known here as Garnacha Tintorera.  This is one of the world’s only red grapes containing red juice (nearly all others flow clear) and the resulting wine product is therefore incredibly impacted with color.  I worked with Alicante Bouschet myself back in the 90’s at Livermore Valley Cellars.  As many times as we ran this variety through the press I continued to be shocked by the color being expressed. 

Alicante’s parents are Grenache and Petit Bouschet, another creation of Nurseryman Henri Bouschet (who like his name, apparently).  You’ll find a little mixed into old vine Zinfandel vineyards here in California, and a bit in the South of France and even Tuscany, Italy.  More of it happens in Almansa, Spain and surrounding environs.  Here, it gets ripe enough to shake off its greener “stewed tomato” flavor tendencies to become more broadly appealing.

Enjoy this black, mouth-coating wine with food that’s correspondingly robust in flavor and protein content . . . Like I said:  Sausages!!