Holiday Feasts!

Not too long ago, we were asked for opinions about wines with holiday meals. Never being short on opinions, I was happy and excited to oblige! The subject was what wines to have with the following main courses- Pork Roast. Beef Roast. Turkey. Baked Ham. Leg of Lamb. The suggestions were to focus on our wines, but all other quality wines are easily accepted here.

Pork Roast. My gosh! There are so many things to say here. Saying “Pork Roast” to me is like saying “empty canvas’ to a painter! Such a wide variety of styles to consider…but.. let’s assume were talking a lovely pork loin roast gently dusted in herbs, salt, pepper and, above all, garlic. This is a classic set-up for both the rapier and the broadsword. I’ll give both of these considerations herein. The rapier approach- the wine that will just cut through to the flavor of the meat, not fight it, not change it, just fit it- 2 choices, a nice strong Sauvignon Blanc for white crowd and a gracious, Beaujolais-like Rougeon. Both of these wines will find the gentle, lean flavor of the slightly caramelized pork; they will also catch the seasonings and give them a gentle push to the palate. The broadsword approach would be the bigger Tempranillo. With a little age and softening, the earthy flavors of the wine will add to the dish like another sauce. If you have a nice hearty pan sauce for the pork roast, you can go younger- say a 2008 Tempranillo, to match the tannins.

Beef Roast. For me, not too much rapier action here (Pinot Noirs and burgundies are the foils for beef). Outside of wild game, beef is the most demanding of the red meats. It needs something to stand up to the intense flavor and the strong effects of the cooking (at least around here!) Go with the stronger wines like the Cabernet-Syrah or the Zinfandel. If the treatment of the beef is gentle- low temps, low spicing, the Cabernet-Syrah is great. However, if the meat is roast over coals, and there’s lots of pepper and spice, go with the Zin!

Turkey. One thing my dad taught me early on, every wine goes with the turkey. There are no bad matches- we’ve had white wines, red wines, dry and sweet; they all fit. However, look to the sides. if you have an American Colonial style dinner, with savories, puddings, brothy dishes, then the Sack, a colonial-style dry sherry is perfect. It was George Washington’s pick with a trussed, boiled turkey! If you have spicy, southern or southwestern accents, a medium red like Cabernet Franc is superlative.

. Baked Ham. Easiest pick in the house. While lighter, leaner wines like Riesling and Seyval Blanc are fine with a ham, nothing is as wonderful with a great ham as a drier rose’ like the Rosato. The classic blend of salty meat, with fruity, slightly acidic, bare touch of tannin wines is heaven sent.

. Leg of Lamb. Around our house, Merlot rules the roost with lamb. The classic approach with garlic, peppercorn, salt and rosemary is too hard to resist. If we don’t have a Merlot on the shelf, we run out to get a good one! The breadth of the fruit of that grape massages the flavors of the meat, and the moderated tannins turn the lamb fats into pure flavor!

Petite Sirah 2002 Mags

We opened one of these for Christmas ’07. It was decanted and allowed to rest for several hours before consumption. It was really marvelous, and it’s hoped you have a few of these left! Rich cherry-raisin and blackberry fruit, still young and vibrant; lots of sharp black pepper in the nose, the sweetness of the pepper hasn’t developed yet, still piquant; the tannins of this wine had a pretty hard veil when bottled, that held back flavor rather than just being strong and astringent, but now these tannins are softening well, at least as handled here with breathing, and allowing the more subtle flavors of black olive, cinnamon-chocolate oak and smoke to develop. This wine was heartily enjoyed with Veal Parmigiana having a hefty layer of basil pesto under the cheese. The richness of the Petite Sirah fruit perfectly matched the well-cooked tomatoes and then the spices took over the show! You could easily hang onto this wine for a generation or so, but it just might start showing a substantial amount of it’s flavor in the next 5 – 6 years.

Rio Red 2003 Redux

After we found the 2003 Rio Red in Jerry’s 7 vintage tasting to have TCA (corked) taint, I opened another one from our cellar. It was such a relief to see this wine as it should have been- Rich, ripe strawberry and black raspberry fruit, with minty rose and tobacco. The palate was young and bright, still fruit dominant in front, and a nice acid/tannin balance that begged for homemade pizza.

Rio Red: a 7 vintage sampling

Jerry Adkins brought a 7 vintage vertical sampling of Rio Red to the Winery. Plenty of revelations here. Our intention is to make the Rio Red so that it’s fruit is pretty vibrant for about 4 years, structure hangs in nicely, and some bottle bouquet develops, and MIGHT last longer. But basically we want the wine to have it’s most useful life within 4 years of the harvest date. But this sampling showed they can go much longer in a good cellar, well-cared for.


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Petite Sirah
Rio Red

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