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celebrating wine

sidewaysI’m no oenophile (connoisseur of wine), by any means. But I always enjoy a glass of red. Unlike Miles, Paul Giamatti’s character in Sideways who refuses to drink Merlot, almost any red wine will do. But I definitely have some favorites.

Tempranillo

Yesterday evening, I attended an event at Scalo Northern Italian Grill in Nob Hill (the one here in Albuquerque, not the one in San Francisco) and the happy hour reds included Cubo Tempranillo. Oh, I’ll have that! I said.

According to the Total Wine & More Guide to Tempranillo Wine:

The Tempranillo (tem-prah-NEE-yoh) grape is as important to Spain as the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is to the Médoc. The great reds of Rioja and Ribera del Duero are Tempranillo based. This versatile grape is capable of yielding big, full-bodied reds with firm tannins and loads of complexity to very light and easy-drinking wine with light tannins. Typically Tempranillo yields red wines with red-fruit flavors, which include cherry and ripe strawberry with rustic nuances of leather and earth. With substantial oak aging such as the Gran Reservas of Rioja, Tempranillo produces elegant and complex wine with multifaceted layers of flavors. Also known as Tinto de Toro, Tinto Fino, and Tinto del País.

I can neither confirm nor deny the firmness of the tannins or degree of complexity of the glass of wine I enjoyed last night, but it was very, very nice. I haven’t encountered Tempranillo often, but every time I’ve tasted it, I’ve always wanted more.

Malbec

Malbec is another wine I will usually choose if it’s available. The Total Wine & More Guide to Argentinian Malbec Wine says:

The flagship red grape of Argentina, Malbec [MOWL-beck] was once popular as a blending grape in Bordeaux, where it is still one of the permitted varietals. Malbec plays a supporting role in many appellations in South West France and especially Southeast of Bordeaux, in the region of Cahors, where it is the primary grape and is referred to as “the black wine,” due to its deep, dark color.

Nowhere does Malbec’s star shine as brightly as it does in the Mendoza region of Argentina. The ripe and plush Malbec wines of Argentina feature dark fruit flavors of blackberry, blueberry and black raspberry and supple tannins, with nuances of violets and toasty oak in the more expensive offerings. Blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah add additional complexity.

1629

Winery_1But New Mexico has it’s own history of wine production, and my current favorite red wine is locally produced. Casa Rondena Winery is located in the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. The facility includes several buildings with indoor and outdoor tasting areas. You can hang out in one of them, bring your own picnic to enjoy on the grounds, or—if you can afford it—even get married there.

Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I’ve been treated to all of the Casa Rondena reds, the absolute best (and most expensive) of which is:

2009 1629 – A true Casa original: 50% deep dark Syrah; 41% dense, soft tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% spicy Tempranillo; – blended and named in honor of the first vinifera plantings in North America, right here in New Mexico!

The first time I enjoyed a few sips of this wine was at the end of a tasting. It was near closing and the owner, who happened to be behind the bar, wanted us to experience the effect the size and width of a wine glass can have on the way the wine tastes. So he gave us several more samples of this fantastic wine in various glasses. I hadn’t had dinner yet, but I kept on sipping, to the point where I got a bit tipsy.

Periodically my friend, who belongs to Casa Rondena’s wine club, will pick up a bottle of the 1629 and we will enjoy it together whenever we have something to celebrate. It just seems too good to have on an ordinary day. But maybe that thinking needs to change. Maybe we ought to use the wine to turn an ordinary day into a celebration. I’m game to give that a try if she is.

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

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