Columns by John

John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

Some really good wines with WineBoy menu suggestions

So friends, how about some new WineBoy recommendations that will titillate your palate, soothe your weary psyche and free your spirit? 

Okay, I know, that’s a little over the top.  So how about this:  the following wines are real good (especially with food), reasonably priced and will likely knock your socks off!

Now that’s more like it, right?  Okay, so here goes.

2007 Patient Cottat Sauvignon Blanc ($13) – This lovely, delicate wine is grown in and around the world famous vineyards of Sancerre in France’s Loire Valley.  Sprightly and lively enough to be an aperitif (or porch- sipper), this baby has lovely citrus and melon notes with just a hint of anise and would make a superb accompaniment to pasta with asparagus and prosciutto.

2007 Domaine Matrot Bourgogne Blanc (Chardonnay) ($20) – White Burgundies from even bad vintages can cost as much (or more) than a digital camera.  So, when you find one that is good – and also reasonably priced – grab that sucker (and forget about the camera). The beauty of this chardonnay, which was produced near the esteemed vineyards of Mersault, is its subtle flavors of apricot, butterscotch and minerals along with perfect balancing acidity.

 I had the pleasure of sipping this wine at a special multi-course dinner at the Bridge Road Bistro where it was paired with a seared sea scallop which sat atop a green papaya salad with a cilantro dressing.  Man, that was a course for the ages! I would also suggest using the wine in combination with chicken breast, sautéed in butter and lemon and finished with a little heavy crème.

2008 Yellow + Blue Torrontes ($13) – If you’ve been reading my words for a while, you know that  I abhor wine snobs, however,  I must admit to being a bit put off by this non-traditional  package. This wine is housed in a bio-degradable yellow and blue box (thus the name).  But, like a lot of unattractive packages, what you get inside can be a lot better than it seems.  In this case, the wine is a pleasant surprise in terms of both quality and quantity. 

First the quality.  Torrontes is a fairly obscure, but very interesting, wine from Argentina with a floral and aromatic aroma, and flavors of citrus, anise and melon.  This would be a great wine to have with fresh fruit or even an Italian sausage and mozzarella omelet.  But the other benefit of the Yelow + Blue is that you’re getting about eight ounces more wine since the box is a full liter.     

2005 Benegas Don Tiburcio ($11) – Another Argentinean masterpiece of both flavor and value, the Don Tiburcio has complex, layered and intense dark fruit tones with just a touch of vanilla.  Surprisingly, the wine, while excellent now, has noticeable tannins on the finish and would benefit from a few more years in the bottle.

Comprised of all the grapes used in a traditional Bordeaux blend (including malbec, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and petite verdot) the Don Tiburcio is one of the most remarkable values I’ve come across in quite a while. Try this wine with grilled sirloin seasoned with garlic, olive oil and crushed black pepper.     

2006 Benegas Sangiovese ($22) – This wine is sangiovese made in the “new” world style with ripe cherry, cinnamon spice and toasty oak flavors.  Dark fruit flavors and a nice dollop of new oak are hallmarks of this robust wine that is round, rich and somewhat tannic.  Serve it with a boned, butter flied and grilled leg of lamb that has been marinated overnight in blend of olive oil, garlic, rosemary and red wine. 

2006 Easton Amador County Zinfandel ($14) this medium-bodied wine embodies what I like most about the zinfandel produced in California’s Amador County.  Simply put, it has a nose of spice and teaberry mint, and flavors that have a nuance of chocolate to go with the blackberry tones that are usually associated with this varietal.  Try it with barbecued baby back ribs with a tangy, sweet, cayenne pepper and tomato-based sauce.     

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