Without reader comments and e-mails, writing a blog can be a lonely experience, and wine is a subject that demands convivial discussion. Some interesting conversations have developed in the past year, and it's always exciting to get new input. So here's two wines straight from the comments that I probably would not have tried otherwise.
First up is one from Michael Hughes, fellow Memphis wine blogger. In reference to my Beaujolais Nouveau post, he recommended a replacement wine, the 2007 Novy Four Mile Creek Red Wine. $12, 14.1% abv. Made from Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache, and other grapes sourced from vineyards throughout California. It's got a gorgeous color similar to a Nouveau--too dark for a rosé, with a purple that's got more blue than a regular red. Wonderful earthy nose with a touch of vegetation, which you don't see that often from American wines. It's crisp on the tongue, with some mild plum flavors and a slightly tart finish. This is an odd duck, with a light body that belies its strong grapes. Pinot Noir blends are rare outside of Champagne, and usually the Pinot just gets lost in the sea of other grapes. While it might be tricky to pair this with a specific dish, I think it would really shine as a general lunch wine. Should go well with a wide range of salads and sandwiches.
California wine blogger Samantha Dugan (who, like Michael, works in the retail side of the wine business) noted that I'd mentioned Port a lot to the exclusion of other fortified wines. She recommended a Madeira from Cossart Gordon, the 5 Year Old Bual. $17, 19% abv. Made from the Bual grape on the Portuguese island of Madeira, about 350 miles off the coast of Morocco. High temperatures favor a fortified wine, and Madeira has the distinction of being practically indestructible. If you want a regular wine to survive more than a year you're going to need to keep it in a controlled environment. Madeira can easily last a century under heat and motion and other damaging factors. Indeed, in the 1500s it was discovered that some of the best Madeiras were those that had been carried by ships around Africa, to India, to Brazil, etc. These were not smooth, climate-controlled voyages.
It's got a lovely color, like maple syrup. The aroma is similar to a Tawny Port, but with more of a tangy quality. There are scents of golden raisins, stewed fruit, hazelnut... Think about a really good homemade fruitcake, not one of those industrial bricks you find at the store. The flavor is only mildly sweet, with matching raisin and nutty notes, and a delicate finish. It's a great after dinner drink that I think would go well with sheep's milk cheeses and gingerbread.
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In the future I can't promise that I'll try every wine that gets recommended--a lot of it depends on local availability. But rest assured that I read every comment and look forward to new and exciting suggestions in 2009.