Every bottle has a story

I am not a wine expert, but with each bottle I try and share with friends, I learn more. Wine is an exceptional social drink; it is the marijuana of alcoholic beverages because it must be shared. I seek to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I drink the wine in my closet, as well as my enthusiasm for the finds that come my way and the excellent values that I find. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too, so please share!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three grapes of deliciousness

There's a wide selection of wines that do well with lamb. Many will think of Brunello di Montalcino, and Borolo is a good choice as well. But the wines of the Southern Rhône are exceptional matches with lamb. And there’s such variety! Recently I prepared a boneless leg of lamb stuffed with goat cheese and spinach, served with the 2007 Domaine les Aphillanthes Côte du Rhône-Villages Cuvée 3 Cépages.

Despite my fail on the entrée – the rolled lamb came undone in the oven and overcooked a bit – this Côte du Rhône-Villages matched wonderfully with the lamb, goat cheese and spinach. Domaine les Aphillanthes has produced some great wines over the years, most scored in the high 80s and low to mid 90s by Wine Spectator. It has delicious fruit that comes across smooth, velvety, with just the right amount of tannin giving it a long, memorable finish.

The name 3 Cépages refers to the three grapes used in this blend: Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. The 2009 currently out is highly rated as well and you ought to be able to find it for less that the suggested $25 retail price. I paid $16 for the 2007, which was rated 91 by WS.

I rate this with a 9 using my scale at the left.

Despite the over-doneness of the lamb, the leftovers made excellent stew. As I revealed here, the secret to great lamb stew is the wine you use to cook with. With this particular batch, I used a 2009 Ventoux, an appellation in the Southern Rhône. The Cuvée des 3 Messes Basses is an inexpensive blend that you ought to find for about $10. It’s good drinking on its own, but it was also great in this stew. Of course, nothing comes close to the batch I made with a 2004 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. That was one awesome stew!

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