Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Glass of Wine and a Bowl of Soup

Many years ago, a customer at the wine shop where I worked befriended me and introduced me to a whole new world of wine appreciation. I’m not sure whether to thank him or curse him.

Of course, I am truly grateful that Steve recognized I was a wine geek in the making. He had, at the time, a thousand-or-so odd bottles crowding every closet, corner, nook and cranny in his modest house. And he wasn’t afraid to share.

Everyone needs a friend like that.

I have previously mentioned him in this blog as the person who taught me that good wine need not be expensive, and conversely, expensive wine isn’t always good. He also pointed me towards a region that abounds with great, value-priced wines—Côtes du Rhône.

At the same time, he introduced me to the wines of Robert Kacher, who imports a great many wines from the Rhône, as well as elsewhere in France.

I was reminded of this last night when I was enjoying a glass of Domain de Coste Chaude Côtes du Rhône 2004. This wine is, to me, heaven in a glass.

It’s 70% grenache and 30% syrah, bottled unfined and unfiltered. It displays the bright cherry and white pepper characteristics of grenache with subtle notes of black fruit and spice from the syrah, all held together by an appropriate amount of acidity. That, combined with a reasonable percentage of alcohol, makes it extremely food-friendly.

My girlfriend and I enjoyed it with a steaming bowl of her potato soup. The acidity was firm enough to cut through the thick, creamy soup and the flavors paired together perfectly.

Although some estates are moving towards bigger, more alcoholic wines, there are still plenty of wines like this in the Côtes du Rhône—wines that lean towards finesse and subtly instead of power and bravado.

With many of these wines costing less than $10 a bottle, they are also gentle on your wine budget. The Coste Chaude set me back $8, less a 10% mixed case discount.

I’d also recommend that you look for the wines of Robert Kacher. He imports many wines in the under-$15 category, and I’ve been happy with his selections more times than not.

Thanks again, Steve.

No comments: