No Leap of Faith Needed Here: Stag’s Leap Napa Valley

It is not unusual to see minus (insert number) temps in Minnesota during Christmas week. This is one of those weeks.

photo-97Nothing pairs better with snow, Christmas trees and steak dinners like a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. (Wine is the new black–in this case, black wearable sleeping bag to warm the insides).  This week the wine was: Stag’s Leap Napa Valley 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Stag’s Leap is one of my favorites–maybe because the first time I had it (Artemis) I was on a beautiful veranda eating a great steak dinner with my friend Melissa as we prepared ourselves for a duathlon in the beautiful backyard of Ashburn, NC.  The sun was setting, we had the glow of tanned fitness on our faces, and the air was silent.  Sometimes, wine is the punctuation that helps us remember those important, quiet times.  In this case, Stag’s Leap is a comma, a breath and pause when you want it to go on.

This wine, Stag’s Leap Napa Valley, is another marker in a line of great wines.  Notes of blackberry, baked black cherry with a drizzle of chocolate on top, slight pepper and smokey hints, it is a big wine that likes to be paired with food.  (I loved looking at the leg’s on the glass, thinking this one could debut at Radio City). With 13.9% alcohol and a 2010 vintage, there was also a slight bit of herbaceous undertones–it is a younger wine that might need some air before serving, or perhaps a decanter,  as it tipped toward tannin and alcohol right out of the bottle. (My guess is that I would have loved, loved, loved this if consumed on night #2 as it started to open up with time and a bit of warmth.) That said, it was great when it started to open up-and showed a window on it’s potential.  It’s a drink now, or even perhaps, wait a bit wine.

If you ever see a bottle on sale, as I did with this one (retail $49.99, sale at $35), grab one–just to try your own take at creating a new memory.


A rose by any other name: “Enamore” by Allegrini and Renacer

A rose by any other name sometimes smells, and tastes a bit sweeter.

Given the holiday season, temptations with sweet foods abound, but I’ve successfully avoided most office gatherings and cookie exchanges.  But there is never a good time to give up wine, especially those that go with heavy foods and big tastes.  So when my friend drove in from DC, made some sausage-laced spaghetti in a big, rich and well-cared for sauce, and then asked, do you have any wine that would go with this, I of course dove into the Italian style of an Amarone.

photo-98Cue the wine: “Enamore” (“to be in love”) by Allegrini and Renacer in Mendoza, Argentina.  Even though not from Italy, you’ll still fall in love with what those in the southern hemisphere can do with this style of wine.According to other bloggers, Renacer means, “Rebirth” and this take on the Italian style Amarone, or appassimento (to dry and shrivel in Italian) is a rebirth of a classic. And true to it’s name, I’m in love with it. The wine is comprised of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bonarda grapes, and the color is a deep ruby red that borders on purple.  If love hurts, this is the color I want it to be. (I know–I needed to save this post for Valentine’s day if I keep making bad puns and references).

On the nose are notes of deep red and blackberry fruits and baked sugar, raisin, oak, and hints of chocolate, smoke and other earthy spices.   While the wine is full of tannin, acid and body (and alcohol at 14.5%), it has well-balanced, rich and complex flavors of dried baked plumbs, raisins and the spice and chocolate notes mentioned above.  This is your favorite red wagon you had as a kid, lined with velvet and fur, driven by horses.  The wine has power and elegance and is an affordable take–at $20 a bottle– on an old favorite.  (In Minnesota, I found this at the downtown Minneapolis Haskell’s location).

Grab a bottle and share with your friends or spend the night in watching your favorite black and white movie.  You know you’re in love with it if you, too, miss the workout.  I did.