BY RICK RIOZZA
“and that’s an invitation…to make a reservation…” Okay! For many of us wine enthusiasts who travel, it tends to be a trip, stay or vacation that pretty much revolves around visiting wine regions and wineries. They say you can’t take those memories from us, and it is pretty cool to reflect the wine haunts we’ve been to.
With all my heart, I wish I could have taken all of you loyal readers with us to the far flung wine destinations around the world; but, Airbus’s offer to sell me a plane large enough was—honestly, too prohibitive a cost.
Hey!—at least let’s make the most of it and play a little mystery wine tour game where I describe the surrounds visited and you come up with the wine region or the famous wines that are produced there. This’ll be great!—we’re waiting to take you away!
Tour #1: For starters, let’s give you a big clue: This wine valley is a beautiful oasis amid the vast sagebrush desert that rolls across most of America’s northwest interior. The region’s name means “many waters,” and it highlights the rivers and aquifers that provide so abundantly for those who discover this place—from the earliest native peoples and French fur trappers to Oregon Trail pioneers and Victorian wheat barons.
The city therein still has a small college town feel—and am I getting a scent of sweet onions wafting about? Some of the vineyard property is made up of basalt rocks as big as your fists; it reminds some of the original vintners here of the land in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region in the south of France.
The red wines produced here are very dark, brooding, and wonderfully dense with lively red and blue fruit flavors. The balance of ripeness, tannins, and acidity are seamless; I’ve gone on record to state that the Syrah from this area is some of the best in the world.
Tour #2: We’re spending Euros here and our oh-so-helpful tag-a-long driver keeps reminding us that we will surely cover all “10” areas of this region. Almost every sommelier and foodie around the block knows these red wines are capable of pairing with virtually every international dish.
Last St. Paddy’s Day, for that classic Irish meal, the beverage star of the show was not a Guinness, nor Tullamore Dew, but this red wine that paired perfectly with both corned beef and cabbage, and, later that night, a Rueben Sandwich to boot—who knew?
This bright, earthy, lip-smacking wine with floral aromas, often packed with rich but tart red fruits is delicious. Big Hint: For so many years, this was the first wine of the year’s vintage to be shipped, opened and enjoyed all around the world on the same day with festivities, parties and revelry. (Of course it was too young for certain, but did we have a fun time or what!)
Tour #3: I’m practicing my Italian in this region where one could trip on a truffle and roll down a hill deep in fog. The wines from this area include one that brought all the rulers of the world over to taste and then branded “the king of wines, and the wine of kings.” This world class wine continues to amaze with its stunning flavor profile that seductively changes during the course of your meal—so pour a big glass
Other lighter red wines from this area have been deemed the best vino for enjoying a pizza. Even the residents of Napoli, where pizza originated, when they’re not enjoying a simple Coke with their pie, admit that those wines from up north, “sono deliziosi!”
Tour #4 Finally, we are again off to a different continent and visiting a country that no one thinks about as being a beautiful and fecund wine region. That’s about to change over the next five years, so it’s good to be up this as you may well be the first on your block to share this sturdy red wine with the neighbors.
Actually, this area has a wonderful wine history with Italians and the Spanish making it over here in the late 1800s. And just as with two of its neighboring countries who have embraced a French varietal to go on to even bigger and perhaps better heights in the wine trade, the region we’re visiting is doing the same with yet a different grape variety that produces a wine that is packed with antioxidants, resveratrol, and rich polyphenols that make it one of the healthiest wines on the planet!
I’ve googled this wine and so many cardiologists and health professionals are on the band wagon of touting the qualities of this wine.
It’s my medium to full-body table wine of choice these days. As most Californians, we love the smooth and rich flavors of a hefty dark red wine; the concern often, is that those wines can come off a bit fruity sweet. Our wine in town here, pretty much leaves that aspect out. So we can enjoy its flavors of blackberries, black cherries, black licorice, black plums; coffee, earth, leather; cassis, chocolate and jam; and prunes, smoke, vanilla & spices without any annoying sweetness.
It’s a wine that loves plenty of time to breathe before serving—from several hours to several days! Talk about easy maintenance—and, welcome back home. Cheers!
As your somm-about-town, I get to visit with plenty of you vino lovers who are a part of wine clubs and winetasting parties about. Next time you gather why not take this quick mystery tour game and let me know your responses. Magically my tour disclosures will appear in the next column. Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org