Eddie Lin, of Deep End Dining and NPR’s “Good Food,” recently asked a group of food bloggers to join him for a special off-the-menu “romantic dinner” hosted by Chef Lupe Liang. Each dish—prepared with love—is based on an ingredient that stimulates a certain spot on the map of human sexuality. Be it animal, vegetable, or mineral, the intention of the ingestion is to get one’s motor running.
In 2009 the Cauquenes region of Chile suffered a terrible earthquake, and therein lies a tale of temblors and terroir. The earthquake wrought significant destruction there, and the winery did not go untouched. Barrels were thrown everywhere. Winemaker Baptiste Cuvelier picked from surviving barrels, and made the best blend possible from what survived, producing a startlingly good wine. All the grapes are fair trade and are grown organically. The wine is very well balanced, with good tannins and bright acids dancing together, promising significant cellar time. It is spicy, rich, and minty. The spice is black pepper and a touch of cinnamon. Richness comes from a blend of black and red fruits, blackcurrant, mulberry, and raspberry together, along with a bit of tobacco leaf and coffee. It also has a very interesting touch of mint, like the inside stripe of an Andes (get it?) mint without the chocolate. Vanilla from the wood makes an appearance on the mid-palate. Tannins are very sweet, the finish quite long. This is a surprisingly good wine, carved from a tragedy, and some of the proceeds will be returned to the region for ongoing earthquake relief. And it just tastes delicious. Highly recommended.
Green pepper, rather than black, on the nose with hints of thyme in the background. Some blackberry notes but no great fruit and mildly herbaceous. Still, certainly a serviceable quaff in an everyday Italian. A good wine for spaghetti or sausage and peppers. Recommended.
If you think all California syrah is huge and unambiguously fruit-forward, this 2009 Wylie from Edmunds St. John will force you to reassess the variety’s profile in that state. It does offer a juicy, mouth-watering character, and a pleasantly fresh finish. Bright and clear, with a ruby/garnet color, it is much closer to Northern Rhône, in that respect, than to most California. In terms of aromas and flavors, it is lively and pretty exciting, moving from spicy notes (caraway, garrigue, white pepper), to something like a sugar glaze on a cherry danish, another note reminiscent of root beer, as well as a little meatiness, like dry-cured meat or aged beef. A very satisfying and food-friendly wine.
Clear, bright, soft golden color. Medium intensity aromatics of pear, apricot, crème brûlée, and stone. Dry on the palate, with medium acidity, medium alcohol, and flavors of pear, apple, citrus, lemon water. A little alcohol is noticeable as the wine warms up. Medium finish. Pair with a salad dressed in a fruit-based vinaigrette. Recommended.
A Napa biggie, a cousin of the pricier Quintessa. Nose of blackberry, eucalyptus, and earth. Rich feel on palate seemingly coming from myriad directions: dark currants, cocoa/chocolate, even some hints of pumpkin pie spice blend. The fruit, however, is a tad out of whack to the tannins and the wine is a bit “hot” (14.5% alc.) making it seem a bit unbalanced. A sinewy, semi-long finish that is slightly sweet. Nevertheless, a quite good wine, and a bargain when compared to many of its pricey Napa neighbors. Try with grilled hanger steak. Highly recommended.
Clean nose with medium intensity aromatics of peach, orange, sweet floral, and cream.