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05 March 2006

A Duo for the Solo

Occasionally I dismiss wine that seems food-hostile.  The reason being is that I normally pair wine with lunch or dinner.  Thus I look for wines that compliment rather than clobber.  With the exception of fortified and dessert wines, drinking wine solo isn't something I do.  However, I've sampled two wines recently, that, while not terribly compatible with food and my palate, do seem suited for solo sipping.  Call them, "a Duo for the Solo."

Loganchard Logan Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2001 ($14)

I have the damnedest time with ultra- buttery, smooth, tubby Chardonnay.  While they offer sexy scents, few possess enough food-friendly acidity.  As a result, once in the mouth, these wines bear-hug the tongue, and reluctantly give up taste bud real estate.  Thus, many food flavors are dulled rather than enhanced.  I wouldn't classify Logan Chardonnay as food-hostile - perhaps food-stand offish.  Still, I found this wine hard to resist.  It offers the typical vanilla-caramel-tropical fruit scents expected in California Chardonnay.  Yet there is also an added layer of complexity abiding below the bluster.  The stand out here is a Kalamata olive aroma (no, I'm not nuts - I detected this aroma during two different sampling sessions; as did my co-taster).  The olive aroma carries through to the palate along with a buttery mouthfeel.  Very pleasant.  If I owned a bar and wanted to offer happy hour by-the-glass specials, this wine would be at the top of the list. 

On a somewhat related note, the Logan label is part of Talbott Vineyards.  The Talbott name is perhaps more closely associated with mens wear.  As a debonaire sixteen year old, I pinched a bright pink Robert Talbott tie from my uncle to wear to prom.  I'm proud to report that it was the only pink cravat at this semi-formal shindig (I don't think my date fully appreciated this bold fashion statement).

Capcanes02 Capçanes 'Mas Donis' 2002 ($8-$11)
As far as $10-$12 wines go, Mas Donis is a fine value.  It comes from the Spanish wine producing region of Montsant - a neighbor of Priorat, and not too far from Barcelona.  Capçanes, a wine producing cooperative, originally gained notoriety as a kosher wine producer for the Jewish population in Barcelona.  Then the folks at Eric Solomon's European Cellars partnered with the cooperative with the aim of producing wine for the American market.  This meant bigger, bolder wines passing through "extensive oak regimes."  Mas Donis is a blend of Garnacha and Syrah.  It's full of ripe black cherry & sweet vanilla spice scents.  I think it's lacking in the acidity department, and a bit heavy in the alcohol & residual sugar arena.  However, the wine is certainly not off-putting (as long as it keeps its distance from my dinner table).  Again, as a happy hour by-the-glass wine, Mas Donis definitely works.

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