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Catching up on tasting reports today, let's turn to a couple of good reds that I've enjoyed recently with meals. Goats do Roam, a popular, affordable brand from Charles Back in South Africa, is made from a blend of grape varieties in the style of a Cotes-du-Rhone ... hence the punning name. The 2002 vintage just recently turned up in this area. Assisi in Umbria, next door to Tuscany, may be better known for St. Francis, the patron saint of animals and nature, than for its wine; but this regional blend from the producer Sportoletti is worth getting to know.
Sportoletti 2001 Assisi Rosso ($14.99)
This excellent wine blends the traditional Sangiovese grape with Merlot in unspecified proportions to make an Umbrian equivalent of a modest "Super Tuscan." Very dark garnet in color, almost black, it shows bright reddish-purple highlights. Ripe and full, cherry-berry aromas gain complexity with hints of herbs and licorice. Just as ripe and forward on the palate as the nose, a burst of juicy black fruit is saved from "fruit bomb" status by snappy acidity and an edge of soft tannins. U.S. importer: Winebow Inc., NYC. (June 2, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: Ripe and forward fruit makes it a natural with crisp-skinned, garlicky roast chicken.
VALUE: Quite competitive at this mid-teens price.
WHEN TO DRINK: Drinking beautifully now. No rush to drink it, but I don't see it as a long-term ager.
WEB LINK: The winery Website is available in Italian and English. A fact sheet in English on the Assisi Rosso is online at
Goats do Roam 2002 South Africa Red Wine ($8.99)
A blend allegedly chosen by a herd of goats that broke into Charles Back's vineyards and ate grapes at random, this Rhone-style red is actually made from a blend of varieties that varies from year to year. The newly arrived 2002 contains Pinotage, Shiraz, Cinsaut, Grenache and Carignan in undisclosed proportions. Dark ruby in color with reddish glints, it shows spicy black-plum aromas with just a hint of earthiness. Its ripe, peppery and plummy flavor is shaped by tangy, lemon-squirt acidity. U.S. importer: Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, Ala. (June 11, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: Went very well with a dish made to match, an African-style chicken stew with peppers, tomatoes and peanuts.
VALUE: Very good value.
WHEN TO DRINK: Like the everyday red Rhone wine that it emulates, it's not really intended for aging but won't suffer from two or three years in the bottle.
WEB LINK: You'll find the Wines of Charles Back website at
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Wednesday, June 18, 2003