This quarterly column presents the opportunity to have your wine comments and questions aired. If you have a question, comment or slam, e-mail [email protected] creativeloafing.com.
High and Mighty
Bernie opines: Just read "Aging Gracefully" [8/13/03], and anyone moderately familiar with wine knows that the grape of Chateauneuf du Pape is grenache, usually from 50 to 70 percent of the blend. Yes, there is some syrah in it, but the grape that gives it guts is mourvedre. Syrah is the grape of the northern Rhone. Also, recommending that people search for 30- and 40-year-old wines is a fool's errand.
Yes, O Knowledgeable One, you're right, grenache is the main grape in Chateauneuf. I must've been smokin' something while writing that column ... or maybe I was hoping an arrogant wine geek would catch me in an error. As far as finding 30- and 40-year-old wines, if you want it badly enough and are willing to spend enough money, you can find anything out there on the Internet. Believe me ... or not.
Texas State of Mind
Daniel writes: First, let me say how much I enjoy your writing. Unlike many others, you do not try to talk down to your readers. Opinions expressed in a very clear opinion, experiences passed along to others, thanks. As a true "wino," I would like to add a good selection from Texas, the Llano Estacado Chardonnay has been in my top five for years. High Plain, Lubbock area, 3,000-plus elevation, dry "upper desert," cold winter, hot summer, little rain ... unusual area.
I, along with many other wine professionals, have been watching the Texas wine scene grow in quality and selection. Unfortunately, that wine is virtually impossible to find outside of Texas because it's illegal to transport it across state lines. Seems the limited supply and lack of popularity make the wine not profitable enough for our local distributors to take interest. But once the Supreme Court reverses those silly, unconstitutional and anti-competitive laws, we'll all be happier winos. Read more about this grassroots fight at freethegrapes.org.
Waiter, There's a Carb in my Wine
Mr. Parent asks: Any suggestions on super-low-sugar red wines? The driest of the dry? Does an index or database exist listing sugar/carb content for popular brands? My wife is changing her white wine habit for health reasons and is hesitant to drink reds without knowing what she is getting into.
Actually, all wine is low in carbohydrates. Dry reds, like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, range from 1.8 to 3.0 carbohydrates per 5-ounce glass. Diets lambast wine not because of its sugar content or carbohydrates — most of the natural sugar in the grape juice is fermented out — but because drinking alcohol of any sort will cause your blood sugar to fluctuate, making you crave more food. That said, the driest red wine you can buy — that with the least residual sugar leftover after fermentation — is generally cabernet sauvignon. And, although a database for particular brands doesn't exist, you can learn about all the nutrients in wine in the USDA online database at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic.
Pepper Bridge 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Damn, this wine rocks. Sportin' some namesake black pepper, with ripe dark cherry and a soothing toasted oak finish. It's tight at first, but swirl it and watch it impress. $42 1/2
Wirra Wirra Vineyards 2001 Church Block McClaren Vale Sexy, smooth cherry in this amazing cabernet-shiraz-merlot blend. A nice touch of mint, too. $12 1/2
Firefly 2002 ChardonnayYummy melon and lemon soothe the palate as this Aussie unknown hits your mouth. Smooth, even acids. $12