Let’s discuss a wine region this week, one that’s long famous for some of the best cabernet and merlot in the world and a Bordeaux-like style minus that French-like earthiness.
Just getting my first glowing reports from Little Rock’s Copper Grill & Grocery “Meet the Winemaker” wine dinner, with Ron Bunnell. Some say it was the best they ever attended (though I have it on good authority that much wine was enjoyed)! Congratulations to the fine kitchen and dining room staff at Copper Grill, and to Ron for the great wines. I believe that the red blend, Spring Creek Redd (not misspelled), was a particular favorite. This cab/syrah/merlot blend was also a favorite the “After Work Wine Tasting” at Fayetteville’s Pesto Café last month.
Read about the February “After Work Wine Tastings” in Fayetteville and Little Rock in James Cripps’ “Wine Junkie Report”. The Northwest Arkansas tasting will be at 5 p.m. Feb. 18 at Pesto Café. It’s $10 to taste four wines.
Try a new wine this week!
California’s Alexander Valley produces food-friendly wines
To demonstrate the variety of styles available from California, open a bottle of cabernet sauvignon from Alexander Valley next to one from Sonoma Valley or Napa. And the next time you’re looking for a cabernet to accompany a dish that might be easily overpowered, open a bottle of cabernet sauvignon from Alexander Valley.
Located in northern Sonoma County, along the upper portion of the Russian River north of the town of Healdsburg, Alexander Valley is responsible for nearly one-half of the county’s wine production. Wines from here tend to combine depth of flavor with a food-friendly elegance that isn’t found in many other parts of California. The area’s style is also known for fine, relatively unobtrusive tannins. Tannins are what can make a young red wine puckery and also allow it to gain complexity with cellaring.
Of the valley’s 44 wineries, Alexander Valley’s flagship has long been Jordan Winery, but that’s been so hard to get for so long that a lot of wine lovers don’t even know the name any more. One that is available that offers good quality at a fair price, is Souverain. Long time wine fans might remember this as the old Chateau Souverain, but recent bottlings have dropped the word “chateau.” Francis Ford Coppola bought it, with plans to rename it and make it a centerpiece of his Sonoma County line of wines.
The Souverain brand still belongs to Fosters of Australia (the same ones who own Fosters beer, Beringer, Meridian and many other well-known brands). The current 2004 vintage has depth of flavor, with hints of black cherry and plum, with a toasty oak finish from aging in French and American oak barrels. The tannins are fine and supple. It’ll be great with beef or lamb.
Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon retails for around $20 a bottle. The merlot is also very good.