It's 10:50 am, Saturday. It's freezing outside yet sunny -- perhaps the coldest day of the year so far, and my girlfriend and I share the unspoken thought of not leaving the apartment. As I map out my eating schedule for the rest of the day, she says "Let's drink some wine. Is there anything we can open?" I immediately go back into food thoughts. Linguine with meat ragu would be a tasty lunch, and I do have sauce I could thaw. If that's not a meal that wants red wine, I don't know what is. I figure I better open it before lunch so it can breathe and open up.
So I've rationalized opening a bottle of wine before 11 am. What do I open? Well, I've got many Italian bottles that aren't all that cheap, some I'm holding, and some that I'm saving for special occasions. Then I recalled a bottle that I purchased for no other reason than to taste it before Monday, the first day of all wines being 25% off at Astor Wines, and see if I want to buy a few at the discount price. My palate is fresh in the morning, so why not begin the day with red teeth and a smile?
The wine I chose is another from the value country of Spain. More specifically Bierzo in the Northwestern area that is a part of Castilla y Leon. What drew me to these parts was that reoccurring theme in my wine ramblings, Cabernet Franc. Apparently, once again another grape was either misidentified as or thought to be a clone of this grape, and this time it's a grape called Mencia. Most think that this grape makes fruit-driven light reds in the beaujolais style, but it turns out, in the right hands and soil, it can deliver bordeaux qualities, but more commonly, characteristics of the Rhone Valley.
From Bodegas Pucho, this wine was grown and made in the Cantabrian Mountains, at elevations of around 1700 or 1800 feet. According to some in the know, the vines grown in the hills lead to wine with much more structure than the fruity, valley-grown vines in the area. The vines are between 40 to 80 years old and the soil is clay ferrous hillside. It's fermented in steel tanks for 12 months and aged in the bottle for 6 months before release.
Ruby red color. Red berry fruit driven nose. Smooth flavors of plum and cherry with a satisfying mineral quality. The taste that hits you first is reminiscent of a Cab Franc, a lively burst of fruit and minerals. The finish reminds me of a good Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, with an almost tart cherry finish. It stood up well against my rich meat ragu, and I think it would go well with lighter dishes from chicken to pork. Taking a page from Taj of The Cork and Demon, I am going to do a superhero match to this wine...Spiderman. Not dark and mysterious like Batman, not muscular like Superman, but agile and clean cut with the ability to charm Kirsten Dunst. My grade: B+