Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Priceless Friday Evening

Coming home after a difficult, and rather unusual Friday, maybe slightly later than usual, I started it off with a good hour of play with the granddaughter and then a crispy glass of Vernaccia di San Gimignano (DOCG) as an aperitif, produced by Az. Agr. San Quirico from the province of Siena, Italy. It’s a really nice, easy drinking white wine. I must admit I kind of fell in love with the Italian DOC wines when I drank my first bottle on a rainy day at lunch with a pot of seafood pasta in Monterrosa al Mare, one of the 5 villages in the Cinque Terre region of Italy. I like the crispiness of it, but without the heavy acidity of some white wines that tends to get stuck at the back of the jaw.

That was followed by a simple, but excellent Italian dinner of Spaghetti Bolognaise al Ragu and a few glasses of Cono Sur from Chile, a red wine made from the Carménère grape, a cultivar I never had before, something that Monica brought home from a wine buying excursion in Lexington. (She buys wine like she buys cars. She looks at the shape for the bottle and the attractiveness of the label. And more often than not the wine surprises the hell out of me.) Cono Sur, for the non-Spanish, it looks like an obvious wordplay on the French word connoisseur, a person knowledgeable about wine, but it actually refers to the Southern (sur) cone (cono) region of South America including all of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, and sometimes Paraguay and southern portions of Brazil.

If you go west in the cono sur, squeezed between the Andes mountains and the Pacific ocean, you will find that long thin land called Chile, the largest producer of Carménère. The Carménère is a member of the Cabernet family. It is a cultivar with a fruity aroma and taste of plum and blackberry, a hint of chocolate and the smokiness of a Merlot. It is originally from the region of Bordeaux in France, but these days it is rarely found in France. Among wine historians Carménère is one of the 6 noble red grapes from Bordeaux. The others being Cabernet sauvignon (the king of reds), Cabernet franc (a great blender), Merlot (the smoky one), Malbac (which is doing great things for Argentinean wine farmers) and Petit verdot.

After dinner I opened a fresh bottle of ten year old KWV brandy, which Monica brought back from her recent trip to South Africa, poured me a sniffer, and I retreated to the study to watch the Stormers, (being a blue and white-hooped blooded Capetonian) gave the Western Force, in their own backyard of Perth, Australia, a solid hiding in a Super 14 rugby match.

A perfect end to a busy and tiresome week and a great Friday evening.


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