Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wine Blogging Wednesday #43: Comfort Wine

Wine Blogging Wednesday for March 2008 is all about comfort. New dad Joel Vincent, who not only dreamed up the Open Wine Consortium but posts to his own Wine Life Today Blog, clearly knows how to find comfort in the chaos. With all that exciting stuff going on, he still hosted WBW. Pretty impressive.

Joel asked us to drink and write about a wine that made us feel relaxed, comfortable, and happy at the end of the day. In essence, he wanted to hear about our go-to comfort wine--the bottle we reached for knowing it was going to deliver.

For me, the choice was easy, and it won't come as a surprise to regular readers: the wine has to be from Chateauneuf-du-Pape. For me, drinking wine from this region is like sipping time, and time is something that I don't have enough of these days. It's historic, and old-fashioned, but fruit-forward and ready to drink young as well as with some age on it. It's made with grenache, which is aromatic, but usually has some syrah in it as well to add some heft to the wine. It's everything I ever want from a wine in term of fruit, acidity, complexity, and green/floral notes. When I feel bad and want to feel good, I open Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

So when we got news over the Twitter wires last week that Joel's new daughter, Alexa, had been born, I popped open a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape in her honor. A little bit before WBW, I admit, but I thought Joel would forgive me in this case.

I bought the 2001 Clos de l'Oratoire des Papes Chauteuneuf du Pape a year ago from Whole Foods, on sale for $21.99. Right now, you can find it for around $30. While this wine did make me feel my normal, Chateauneuf-du-Pape sense of comforted, and represented good QPR, I think you can do better for around $30, although for just over $20 this was good QPR. The wine was rustic, with simple plum and spice aromas and flavors. A bit of black olive and bacon fat were detected upon on first opening, but those aromas dissipated quickly as it got some air. Then, the fruit came forward, and the wine tasted mostly of plums and cherries. After a day on the counter, preserved with some of that gas in a can, it had turned into a Grenache fest with lots of sweet fruit and very little spice.

If you have a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and want to experience even more comfort, try pairing it with this Mediterranean-style chicken and bean stew. The warm, herbal flavors were a perfect counterpoint to the spice and fruit, and the tiny bit of heat from a dried chili pepper that cooked in the stew helped to pick out the peppery notes in the wine.

Thanks to Lenndevours, for dreaming up this event, and thanks to Joel for hosting and sharing the joy of his new daughter with us in the blogosphere. Alexa has lots of virtual aunties and uncles to count on from the wine blogging world--and she better look me up when she's checking out colleges! See you back here for the WBW #44 announcement from host Gary Vaynerchuk and the roundup of all this month's posts.


Orion Slayer said...

This is a great topic for WBW: I get to know a little more about the great bloggers I read every day. I think you can learn a lot about a person from their "comfort wine."

Thanks for the recipe. This looks like something I can do! I like the way you incorporated the label in the blog post.

Dr. Debs said...

I liked this one, too, OS. The recipe is EASY--even after work, and a one pot wonder. All you need is some bread, some wine, and you are set (the one you love: optional).