Take The Chill Off

    The Wine Guy

    Well, now that the World Series is over, and the right thing has happened (unless you’re from L.A.), it’s probably a good idea to consider some tasty ways to “take the chill off” as we move towards shorter days and lower temperatures. Here are a few ideas…


    While it may be a little early for really big, deep Cabs, it’s never too early for a great Pinot Noir. Ayres Lewis Rogers Lane Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir 2015, ($44.99),really fits the bill. You can’t beat the Pinots out of the Willamette Valley and this Ayres is a testament to that fact. The aromatics of the Ayres Lewis Rogers Lane Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir are intoxicatingly impressive. They’ll envelop you as you lean in for your first sip, and it just gets better from there. We may have been hooked before we even swallowed our first sip. The warm spices throughout are a perfect match for a Lebanese baked eggplant dish. The eggplant is stuffed with ground lamb, onions, pine nuts and cinnamon, paprika and cumin. It’s like the wine was made for this dish… A more classic pairing is grilled salmon with a side of pan-roasted veggies. Or, crisp-roasted chicken with a mushroom-onion gravy works beautifully too.


    In the mood for grilled or barbecued meats? Then you should open a bottle of Mendel Lunta Malbec, Mendoza, ($24.99). It’s got ripe, dark fruit, beautifully integrated tannins and just the right amount of spice. Grill up some chorizo sausages and offer them with a generous glass of the Mendel and an Argentinian parsley sauce for dipping. After that, we think blue cheese lamb burgers are the perfect entree. Maybe with a schmear of basil mayo?? Roasted beef tenderloin is more sophisticated, but equally delicious, especially if there’s a rich au jus on top. We love the fruit in this Lunta with the vinegary side of pulled pork sandwiches. Don’t forget the creamy coleslaw inside the bun.



    While Cakebread Cellars is primarily known for their outstanding Cabs, son Dennis Cakebread has been involved in producing red blends from Washington State and his Mullan Road 2015 Red Blend, Cakebread, Columbia Valley,($48.95), really brings it all together in a big, yet elegant Rhone-style red blend.  Drawn by the high quality of wines coming out of the Walla Walla, Dennis and winemaker Aryn Morell worked with the famed Seven Hills Vineyard on the southern edge of the Walla Walla Valley appellation as well as vineyards in the soon-to-be-recognized Royal Slope appellation to craft this powerful yet elegant Bordeaux-style Red Blend 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 3% Malbec. The wine was fermented in a mix of concrete tanks and stainless steel, and aged 18 months in 30% new French and American oak. It opens in the glass with aromas of cassis, plums, sweet spices and burning embers. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, with lovely concentration, an abundance of fine-grained tannins and a pure, penetrating finish.



    If you are in the mood for an elegantly-structured, big-bodied Cab from Napa, though, have a glass of Heitz 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, ($49.95) tonight. Heitz Vineyards has a well-earned reputation for producing high quality, distinctive Napa Valley wines, particularly Cabernets. The style is always full-bodied, well-extracted with immense structure. One of the unique aspects to their production is the length of time that they age their Cabs before release. This Cab is barrel aged for a full three years; two years in French oak barriques and a year in large American oak tanks before bottling. This allows the tannins to soften and the flavors to coalesce, resulting in a wine that shows its full expression on release. This is their latest release, the 2013, a legendary vintage for Napa Cab. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced entirely from estate vineyards and brings rich, intense flavors and a beautiful structure that promises to keep this killer Cab going for many years to come.


    Taking the chill off can be quite tasty!

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