Introducing Caparoso wines
If you believe, as I do, that good food and good wine go together so well that no wine experience is complete without food (or vice versa), then you'll want to follow along today as I introduce a new wine label presented by an old friend who's a top expert in both food and wine.
Regular WineLoversPage.com readers will recognize Randy Caparoso's name as one of our earliest and most popular contributors: "Randy's World of Wine," subtitled "Wine & Food Advisory from the Melting Pot of the Pacific," has been appearing regularly in our pages for more than five years.
Randy, an award-winning sommelier with a quarter-century's experience, has written about wine for The Honolulu Advertiser since 1981, and many will also recognize him as the longtime wine director and founding partner of the Roy's restaurant group.
He recently embarked on his own wine-label project called Caparoso Wines, a "negociant" effort in which he takes advantage of his knowledge and industry contacts to assemble quality wines from selected West Coast sources for blending and bottling under his own label.
As you might expect from an award-winning sommelier and leading expert on food and wine, these are wines made to enjoy with food ... not tannic or ageworthy collectibles but wines intended to pull the cork and enjoy. If you've ever sat puzzled in a restaurant trying to find a wine to bridge the steak, shrimp, chicken and vegetarian plate that your friends have ordered, you'll realize how welcome a food-friendly wine can be!
Caparoso wines are marketed primarily to restaurants plus a few wine retail stores. As word of their approachable quality and low-midrange prices spreads, they're becoming more widely available - especially in the U.S. - but at this point if you want to give them a try, you'll have to live near, or travel to, the eight states where they're currently available: California, New York, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois (Chicago), Nevada (Las Vegas), Hawaii and, soon to come, Maryland and Texas.
For more information on Caparoso Wines, including a list of all the restaurants that currently have them on the list, click to
To read Caparoso's wine columns, visit Randy's World of Wine,
Caparoso wines haven't reached us here in Kentucky yet, but I'm hoping. Meanwhile, I was able to get my hands on three samples for this report. The Pinots should still be on the market; the 2000 Cabernet has sold out (and has been replaced by a 2001), but may still be on some restaurant wine lists.
Caparoso 2000 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($12)
Dark ruby, with a distinct amber glint. Perfumed black-fruit aromas open up to classic Cabernet blackcurrant with a hint of eucalyptus. Its flavor is soft and ripe, with plenty of fruit and gentle acidity for balance. A wine made to go with food, it's a perfect match at our table with roast chicken. Made from Paso Robles fruit and a touch of Syrah, it spends 11 months in a combination of French (80 percent) and American oak. At a suggested retail price of $12, most restaurant wine lists will offer it in the $25 to $35 range.Caparoso 2001 San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir ($19)
Clear ruby in color, this approachable California Pinot offers ripe cherries and brown spices on the nose and palate: Cloves and cinnamon and fresh, juicy fruit. Although it spends time in a combination of new (30%) and old French oak, fruit remains the focus in a wine so juicy that it almost seems sweet, well balanced by crisp, unobtrusive acidity. Showing off Pinot's affinity for food, it made a fine match with lamb shanks braised with white beans. Its suggested retail price of $19 would yield a fair restaurant winelist price around $40.Caparoso 2001 Oregon Pinot Noir ($20)
Clear ruby with reddish glints, this wine from Oregon's Willamette Valley shows Pinot's herbaceous side with tomato-skin, olive and tobacco-leaf scents over a base of fresh red fruit. Spicy, snappy fruit carries over to the palate with hints of olives in a gentle flavor that's interesting and complex. Went well with lamb shanks and would make an intriguing match with a broad range of fare from red meat to salmon, not to mention ripe olives or interesting cheeses. Its $20 suggested retail tag should map to a restaurant price in the low $40s.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2003