On my first blog, allow me to establish the limits of what you may expect from me. I am not a wine snob, nor do I pretend to having one of those miraculous palates that can on the first sip detect the merest hint of boisenberry with overtones of dark chocolate. All I can claim is that I have consumed many a good bottle (and far too many bad ones) on two continents for more years than I care to remember, and that I have some sense of typology, that is what a decent wine from a given region and made from the specified grape variety, ought to taste like. I call them as I see them, that is pretty much it.
That said, yesterday evening I fixed an undeniably assertive beef curry. The challenge was to find a red which would not have the sort of delicate to subtle individual character that would be utterly destroyed by the curry, but would still have enough substance to stand up to it. What I settled on was a Cotes du Roussillon.
These wines, grown on the northeastern slopes of the Pyrennees, have much in common with the Catalans grown across the border in Spain. At their best, they can pack a hefty punch, and are not easily upstaged by even very assertive foods. The bottle in question, a 2006 Chateau Planeres de Saint Jean ($9.99 on special at the State Liquor Outlet in Hershey PA) came decorated with a bronze medal, awarded at the 2007 Macon wine fair.
Well, let's face it, standards in France are not what they once were either. The Planeres, while it passed the first test of standing up to the curry (admittedly a hard one) faded very rapidly, to the point of having virtually no finish. It also has no nose to speak of (I established this well before anesthesizing my own with the curry). I would not recommend it as an accompaniment to less assertive foods, it would simply come across as too dull.