Great Pinot Noir

This is part of a series of posts about the wines offered at Slows BBQ during the summer of 2015.

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2012 Pinot Noir, Evesham Wood, Le Puits Sec

Arguably the finest Pinot Noir made outside of Burgundy comes from Salem Oregon. Le Puits Sec means “the dry well” and its red emerges entirely from 3 acres on the 8-acre estate vineyard (so bottles are scarce.) Since 1986 Le Puits Sec has been farmed without chemicals or irrigation. The fruit it produces is supple, balanced, and thought-provoking. Most importantly it is a smashing drink with BBQ. Think of this selection as an indulgence for the wine-loving staff and owners of Slows, and one we are eager to share with you.
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This wine is offered only by the bottle. The price is artificially low at $40 for carryout and $60 on-premise. (standard retail in Michigan would be more like $50)

This is a tiny winery with a real philosophy and one that’s adhered to. Never lip service!

Beaujolais

This is part of a series of posts about the wines offered at Slows BBQ during the summer of 2015.

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2013 Beaujolais, Domaine Dupeuble

A rowdy naturalist Gamay with fruit verging on strawberry jammy. It’s dry, but the dearth of tannins promotes sensations of very ripe sweet red fruits and mulled cranberry tea.
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Beaujolais is the appellation – think of that as a region with winemaking rules.

Gamay is the (grape) variety.

It depends on the order you taste them. But if you try this and then try the Hullabaloo Zin, they will both seem to be on the sweeter end of the spectrum.

The most consequential difference is the degree of alcohol. This claims to be 12.5% while the Zinfandel claims 14.5%. The actual difference is probably greater. Test it with St. Louis Spare ribs. You may find that the seasoning tends to exaggerate the taste of alcohol and vice versa. You’ll have to decide the respective merits. Personally, I’ll go for the Beaujolais most of the time, and use the Zinfandel as a digestif.

Shiraz or Syrah

This is part of a series of posts about the wines offered at Slows BBQ during the summer of 2015.

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2012 Syrah-Malbec, Ancient Peaks, Renegade

This is the other jammy red (see the Zinfandel) except here, the predominance of Syrah makes the jam taste more of blueberries, licorice, vanilla and smoked bacon fat.
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Shiraz is just what they call Syrah in Australia. The use of one term or the other may imply something about a wine’s style. The majority of Shiraz from Australia is jammy, verging on sweet, robust and infused with vanilla flavored oak. It’s antithesis is Syrah from southern parts of France where the climate and custom produce wines leaner, more acidic, and earthy.

Ancient Peaks Renegade is somewhere in the middle. (We can call it Shirah if you want. Or Syraz.) It is certainly a “big” wine with big sweet alcohol and big tannins. That’s what hot dry growing conditions produce. But for such a big wine there is complexity too, with a decisive grip of tannins, thanks in part no doubt to the proportion of Malbec in the blend.

And this is a great Paso Robles wine estate, with interesting geology and a commitment to do the most with it.

Zinfandel, Red

This is part of a series of posts about the wines offered at Slows BBQ during the summer of 2015.

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2012 Zinfandel, Hullabaloo

This is the quintessential Jam-flavored wine, with notes of spiked cherries and orange peel. A selection inspired by Mr. Rose, it pairs well with St. Louis spareribs smothered in Slows’ gingery Sweet BBQ sauce.
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Be careful. At least in Detroit – who knows about other cities – more people ask for “Zinfandel” expecting the sweet pale pink version than do those expecting this thick, ruby red beast. I find it helpful to qualify, Red Zinfandel.

The fruit comes from Lodi, which seems to have a lock on good Zinfandel for reasonable prices.

Regarding Zinfandel: prospectors and immigrants at the turn of the century found that Zinfandel thrived in California. By the 1980s everyone wanted pseudo French wine – Cabernet and Chardonnay – and old vine Zinfandel was a bargain, a nerd’s secret selection. The creation of White Zinfandel had the dual effect of making use of and thereby saving a lot of Zinfandel vines and also displacing the reds from the retail market.

Now the wheel has turned and Great Zinfandel is scarce because the demand is so high. We are delighted to have found this. Here’s a pdf with more details.

Cabernet

This is part of a series of posts about the wines offered at Slows BBQ during the summer of 2015.

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2013 Cabernet-Merlot-Syrah, Pont de Gassac

A stern rendition of Cabernet with ample scents of weathered oak and gravel. It’s a brisket wine for sure, and we love how it tastes by itself on a warm lazy afternoon.
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Consider the many fine Cabernets from Washington, or California or South America. Essentially they taste sweeter than those that come from Bordeaux and the Languedoc. And that would be fine, except when temperatures rise in the dining room, wine tastes even sweeter, not to mention more alcoholic.

This is why the best Cabernet for the BBQ all summer is a very dry one. No matter how hot it gets, this item will remain balanced with its deep core of organized phenolics providing freshness.

This is the same producer that makes our Chardonnay, and one of the best in the Languedoc. Unlike the Chardonnay, this comes entirely from vineyards they own, which have been planted with low-yielding vines. This means the wine is concentrated, both in color and intensity of characteristic flavors. Tasting suggests notes of blackberry, olive, maduro cigars, cassis and Mexican chocolate.

Merlot

This is part of a series of posts about the wines offered at Slows BBQ during the summer of 2015.

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2011 Merlot 60%, Domaine Chiroulet

A striking resemblance to Bordeaux from St. Emilion, with ripe notes of black currants and ash. You may also detect an aroma of very dark chocolate. Enjoy with a plate full of thinly sliced brisket
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This is one of two wines Slows is offering from Domaine Chiroulet.

For the past generation of wine drinkers Merlot has been trapped in a kind of feedback loop. Popularity led to hurried over-production, which led to bland wines, which paradoxically led to more popularity. It’s a case study in the polarities of appreciation: enduring affection comes from patience and authenticity, while fashion is an eager consumer of cosmetic enhancement and simulation.

The flood of bad Merlot on the market in, say 2004, was vegetal, thin and scrupulously sweetened in an effort to cover its flaws. And it worked. To some degree it still works. But assuming we can avoid that, the question is: what does real Merlot want to be?*

Merlot in its native region of Bordeaux has a very small geographical focus where it excels. In the communes of St. Emilion and Pomerol the soil, weather and presumably the microflora conspire to create Merlot wines that are dense and chocolatey but with an elegant perfume of violets. As you move away from these dots of land, even within Bordeaux, Merlot begins to take a back seat as a utility blending component for Cabernet Sauvignon. Even farther away, it just doesn’t work at all. Merlot is fussy to grow.

The Cote de Gascogne is not far from St. Emilion, but its vineyards that resemble it are apparently few in number. This is one. The wine it produces is dramatic in terms of its severity of flavor. As the music begins to play it reveals embraceable sweetness and lightness.

This wine is exemplary of a red wine that has the internal balance, ripeness and structure to taste good at very warm atmospheric temperatures.

More on this estate here.

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*(See the similar Chardonnay question here.)

Pinot Noir

This is part of a series of posts about the wines offered at Slows BBQ during the summer of 2015.

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2012 Pinot Noir, Bourgogne, Vincent Thomas, Clos de Baccarat

This is like the Chablis of Pinot Noir, impossibly light-bodied and scented of tea, tart cherries and black minerals. Strictly natural farming and cellaring practices make it a hit with BBQ.
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This blog has previously written about this wine.

Did you only drink this a few months ago? Try it again. This is an example of how context can dramatically change one’s experience of a wine. In the cold winter months, this Pinot Noir was entirely made of structure – tannins, acids, fruit skin flavors, stems. In July the structure is overwhelmed with sticky ripe fruit sensations – strawberries, tea, root beer, cola, cherries.

This will be a common theme for the Summer 2015 reds. The higher the temperature the sweeter the wine. Some wines are more suitable for this condition than others. More on temperature here.