This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, Jul. 20, 2007 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20070720.php.
This blend is no mutt
In Monday's discussion of "Offbeat Blends," we talked about the merits of blending grape varieties (like Bordeaux) as opposed to the advantages of making wines 100 percent from a single variety (Burgundy, for instance).
In pursuit of the edges of the envelope, Monday's column featured a California wine that married California's own Zinfandel and a Bordeaux blend of grapes in roughly equal proportions, and did so surprisingly well, the more austere Bordeaux grapes toning down the Zin's natural exuberance in a wine of real elegance and grace.
Today, let's wrap up the week with a virtual taste of another wacky California blend.
Wine maker Kent Rosenblum, a veterinarian and once-time home wine maker turned pro, pays homage to his veterinary background with a doggy theme: In addition to the punning moniker, Rosenblum's "Chateau La Paws Cote Du Bone Roan" bears a dog bone and canine footprints across the label.
Those who normally shun wines with cute animal labels can tread safely here, though: In spite of the undeniable "cuteness" of the labeling, this wine is quite serious. An offbeat blend of the Rhone-style flavors of Syrah (70%), Mourvedre (10%) and Carignane (8%), it adds a substantial splash of Zinfandel (12%) to add an exuberant edge of sunny California fruit to the flavor mix.
The winery declares it a "Southern Rhône style wine ... reminiscent of a Côte du Rhône from the South of France, but with a Rosenblum twist."
I'm not sure I'd go that far. Its hefty 14.9% alcohol and that very berry Zin component mark it clearly New World. I don't get a real echo of the Rhone here, but some of the sunnier slopes of Languedoc in a hot vintage ... maybe.
That's nitpicking, though. It's a big but surprisingly elegant red, and the high alcohol doesn't diminish its competence at the dinner table as companion to steaks, prime rib or even a hearty ratatouille.
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Here's my tasting report.
Rosenblum Cellars 2005 "Chateau La Paws" California Cote du Bone Roan ($11.99)
This unusual blend of Carignane, Syrah, Mourvedre and a ration of Zinfandel is inky blackish-purple in color. It offers up ripe black fruit aromas with notes of spice, smoke and meat. Plummy, almost pruney fruit flavors are warm and full with 14.9% alcohol, but there's good acidity there to give it structure, and a sense of balance that spares it from dismissal as just another California whack-you-upside-the-head big boy. (July 18, 2007)
FOOD MATCH: Bold meets bold in a happy marriage when I paired it with the streamlined summer version of ratatouille featured in yesterday's Wine Advisor FoodLetter, a hearty, meatless melange of garden-fresh eggplant, summer squash and tomatoes with onions, garlic, green peppers and lots of fruity green olive oil.
VALUE: Absolutely no grounds for complaint at this just-over-$10 price point.
WHEN TO DRINK: Gauging the aging potential of one-of-a-kind blends can be iffy, but the fruit, structure and balance of this sturdy red certainly suggests the possibility of evolution with several years of cellar time. If you're feeling adventurous, it wouldn't take much of an investment to put a few away just to see what they do.
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