Selections for October 2016

Properly Mellowed Bordeaux – Once More

2006 CHATEAU La CABANNE – Pomerol, France

Last month we brought you a nicely-aged 2007 Bordeaux from a less-prestigious area.  This month we show you another from one of the two Right Bank premium sub-regions, Pomerol.  The arrival of this wine is perfectly timed, as today we expect to see the Bay Area’s first significant dumping of rain.  Such weather dramatically adjusts my appetite in a particular direction, and I’m not the only one so affected.  I was a supermarket produce manager for several years and repeatedly noted the phenomenon with respect to my customers’ buying habits.  On warm days with the sun beating down my lettuce and tomato sections needed constant tending.  On gloomier, grey days my sales of potatoes, onions, and other root vegetables would take off and the lettuce was largely forgotten. 

While I made similar recommendations last month, this wine experience provokes repetition.  Aged Bordeaux, with its relaxed and comfy mellowed-out way, is wonderful with slow-cooked meats, whether braised or roasted.  That, of course, is what many of us inherently choose to eat on rainy Fall / Winter evenings, and a visit to my old produce haunt equips the chef with mushrooms and root veggies as delicious accessories. 

This is 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc (the two stars of the Left Bank) from the land of Chateaux Petrus and Hosanna grown in gravelly-clay.  The 2006 Bordeaux vintage always struck me as an under-sung year, with preceding, highly-hyped 2005 stealing the thunder.  I think this lovely wine is a good lesson to the wine lover that there are good things – and sometimes better values – to be found outside the limelight. 

For my romantically-inclined sense of wine, aged bottles like this transcend flavor descriptors such as tobacco, plum, and leather and can actually exude an attitude of nostalgic warmth.  For my rain-adjusted mood, I’m drinking the perfect red.     

Saucy Stuffe!

2009 TAMARAL RESERVA – Ribera del Duero, Spain

There could hardly be a more appropriate alter-ego to the 2006 Bordeaux described above.  While no youngster either - at seven years of age - this 100% Tempranillo exudes a very different effect of irresistible hedonism to the eye with densely opaque maroon-ness and to the nose with a nearly-hickory sense of sauciness.  On the palate there is depth of fruit weight, amply laced with the dark caramel of oak.  Then there’s the structure:  Tempranillo, especially as grown in Ribera del Duero, can be both tannic and acidic.  While most wine varieties startle the palate with just one of these effects, Spain’s noble grape can challenge your mouth with a double whammy of effects. 

Anticipating this daunting combination of sauce and grip, we prescribe a hearty dose of quality lamb.  In Spain there are two main treatments of that meat and both are delightful replies to a wine such as Tamaral.  Young lamb, with nothing more than salt applied, can be quickly grilled yet effectively catch the cooking smoke to better complement the tobacco in this wine.  Alternatively, a lamb shank might be slow roasted to provide a more melt-in-your-mouth effect.  If this doesn’t sound quite correct I apologize before insisting that lamb’s richness contributes by “lubricating”.  When a big wine’s tannins and/or acids strip your tongue of its protective coating, you restore it via protein.  All this is worthless to vegetarians, to whom I apologize and recommend a hearty wild mushroom dish!

If all goes as planned your club may be seeing THREE different Ribera del Dueros over the coming months and one, remarkably,  will be white!