Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cheap Red Wine

The search for an every day, good, red wine is proceeding, with a detour or two. The major detour was yesterday when the local wine store managed to find four more bottles of the Vina Alarba Old Vines Grenache (2005) that has been the house red for almost a year.

There was a sale on the Torres Sangre de Toro ( Blood of the Bull) at $7.99 a bottle. It's a wine that I used to buy fifteen or twenty years ago, but one that had fallen from memory. The 2006 is 25% Carignan and 75% Grenache, or if you are Spanish it is Carinena and Garnacha Tinta. Good fruity nose with some strawberries in it. Medium body with good acidity, and just a hint of tannin. There was a flat and unappealing spot in the the middle that tasted like the floor of the bull arena - and that isn't exactly prime territory. It is 13.5% alcohol, so it isn't over done. It drinks well without having to put much thought into anything but drinking it. At the price it's a decent wine.

The weekend weather did indeed turn cold again, but that didn't stop a meal of New Zeland caught orange roughy on Saturday. It was pan seared with a dusting of smoked paprika. There was a 2005 Domaine de la Croix Senaillet, a Saint Veran. There were flowers and honeysuckle on the nose with ripe pears and apples in the taste. Definitely low in acidity so it tasted more off dry. A decent wine, but at $16 not one I would buy again.

Since the weather was colder today there was a large pot of beef short ribs braised in white wine and chicken stock with black, green and Szechuan peppercorns and a lot of garlic. Served over some noodles and dressed only with the de-fatted and reduced braising liquid it was a great and filling end to the weekend.

The Sangre de Toro got its audition with the meal, and performed as described above. It isn't quite as full as the old vines grenache and it definitely failed with an after dinner bite of dark chocolate. It lacked the fruit to stand up to the chocolate and I suspect the carignan. It is highly drinkable but I doubt it becomes the new house red even at its $7.99 price point.

The house white remains the Marques de Caceres Rioja Blanca, a 100% Viura wine at $6.99 a bottle. Not much chance of that going off the market and even if the price goes up 25% it would still be a bargain.

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