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The Meat of the Matter PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Citara - BT Contributor   
March 2012

Red, white, and you: Agreeable wine for $12 or less

Vino_3-12South Florida has a dirty little secret. Meat.

Okay, so it’s not really dirty. And around here it’s not much of a secret. But ask your average member of the Great (Frozen) Unwashed what floats our dietary go-fast boat and they’d probably say something like stone crab, rum, cigars, and cocaine.

They obviously haven’t got a hint of an inkling of a wild-assed guess of a clue. They obviously don’t know that from Key West to West Palm Beach, there isn’t a flyspeck of a neighborhood so bereft that it doesn’t have at least one emporium devoted exclusively to the preparation and sale of meat.

They obviously haven’t made a tour of our fair region, where if stacked atop one another, good ol’ American steakhouses, Brazilian churrascarias, Argentine parrillas, and designer burger joints could reach all the way to the stockyards of Chicago. And that’s not to mention the steak-heavy menus of just about every other type of restaurant, the multitude of delicious things Cuban cooks do with pork and beef, the elevation of bacon to a sacrament and the pig to fatty, succulent saint.

Indeed, even a red-blooded, red-stated, beefaholic Texas carnivore is a lily-livered wuss compared to the typical meat-eating South Floridian, who can down blood sausage at breakfast, bacon cheeseburger at lunch, and a hunk of mojo-marinated lechon asado the size of a soccer ball for dinner. And that liver? Fry up some onions and it would be pretty tasty too.

Of course, when you’ve got big, fat slabs of irresistibly savory meat, you need big, fat, irresistible red wines that can go toe-to-toe (or nose to tail) with them at the dinner table. (Or at the breakfast table, if you must. Really. Knock yourself out.)

And since we’re talking big and fat we really must talk about Carmenère, which is to big, bold, full-figured varietals what Kirstie Alley is to an all-you-can-eat buffet. The 2007 Santa Rita Reserva is a perfect example, delivering powerfully dense, jammy aromas layered with scents of oak, black olives, leather, mushrooms, and black ’n’ blueberry fruit. It tastes like that, too; and its texture is thick, almost viscous, so much so you might be able to cut it up and eat it with a fork, just like that haunch of blood-rare cow on the plate in front of you.

Covering much of the same jammy, layered ground is the 2009 Tres Ojos Old Vines Garnacha. Right out of the bottle it shows off a deep, inky purple color that could have dyed some ancient king’s royal robes, yet stick your nose in the glass and the bracing red and black cherry fruit is given welcome nuance by sniffs of clove, olives, toast, and mint. Despite its “old vines” designation and 14.5-percent alcohol, it’s no stupid, flabby fruit bomb but rather a well-balanced, well-structured wine that’s as much a complement to meat as teeth.

You can pretty much chew on the 2009 Delas Cotes-du-Ventoux, too. Unusually fruit-forward for a French wine, flavors of cassis, plums, dried fruit, leather, and spice don’t just tickle your taste buds, they slap ’em around, then come back and slap ’em some more. The wine’s soft acids and tannins make it ready to drink now, especially with manly man meats like roast beef, prime rib, wild boar sausage, and the like.

Continuing down the ladder from huge to merely large, we come to the DeLoach Vineyards 2009 California Cabernet Sauvignon. This is another “fill up your nose with all kinds of good smells” kind of wine, though its aromas of cloves, cedar, tobacco, and black olives are rather more intense there than on the palate, where red and black cherry fruit predominate.

All the stuff of the DeLoach, plus the black pepper characteristic of California Zinfandels, comes pouring of a bottle of Cline Cellars 2008 Zin. It’s got that king’s robes color about it too, plus 14-percent alcohol. But despite its black fruit intensity, it’s remarkably light and fresh in your mouth, with a balancing acidity and long, peppery finish. If you’re looking for a spaghetti-and-meatballs red, you just found it.

Big fruit in the nose, smaller fruit in the mouth is also the deal with the fetchingly named Thierry & Guy Fat Bastard Shiraz. Born in 2010, it’s still a mere pup, with its scents of blackberries, figs, and cassis dissolving a bit on the palate. Which is not such a bad thing, as it gives the wine a welcome balance, though the tartness of its fruit will mellow with age.

Lighter meats like pork and veal, even chicken, would play well with the 2010 Montresor Valpolicella. It opens with perfume aromas of red cherries and raspberries, earth and spice, then segues into flavors of cherries and berries, easy on the palate, easy to like, easy to pour with our dirty little secret. But don’t tell the Frozen Unwashed.


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