Easter is a bright and lovely holiday - and deserved a bright yet soft and lovely wine to share with friends. After not writing ANY blogs for many months, I am returning to my beloved wine blog - and the 2009 Crystal Basin Renegade Red is a wine deserving of being my first blog post for the resurrection of The Wine Hacker.
It's no secret that I love a good red blend - the Renegade Red is crafted of 18% each 2009 Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Sangiovese, with the majority being the 2009 Zinfandel. This wine is soft with delicious strawberry and plummy flavors, but packs a Malbec and Zinfandel punch - with toasty oak coming from barrel aging in French and American oak for 18 months. When tasting, I tasted a cedar finish with a soft vanilla overtone complimenting the beautiful raspberry/strawberry zinfandel front palate flavors.
Crystal Basin calls this it's "Tuesday night, non-pretentious, Pizza-and-Pasta wine", but I found it lovely enough to take to a gathering of my friends for Easter, all of whom found it perfect for the occasion. It stood up nicely to the Easter ham as well as the cheesy broccoli casserole and green beans without losing brightness or character. It also has great clarity and a wonderful claret red color, making it more elegant that just a "pasta" wine.
Blends tend to get a bad rap as some lesser labels have used them to use up "leftovers", creating blends that widely vary in quality and taste. Crystal Basin is a small, El Dorado county wine producer with a solid reputation for quality. The Renegade Red is not a vat of leftovers - it is a masterfully blended and well crafted cornucopia of El Dorado wine essence, with only the best grapes included. I found this a "friends and family" wine, and it tasted magnificent!
As my friends and family know, about three weeks ago I had a very significant life event - a heart attack. Red wine in moderation is GREAT for your cardiac health, but moderation means no more than two full glasses for a woman with one being preferred. If you sip a great wine, it is not difficult to drink in moderation. Its the bad wines you want to drink quickly so you get them over with!!! This one I enjoyed with generous sips of water in between.
Also thanks to my significant life event, I made a firm decision to spend more time doing what I love - which is writing!
Food Pairings: Like most wines that are predominantly Zinfandel, this wine IS a great pasta and pizza wine - yet it also complimented ham quite nicely. It has more softness than most Zins and a beautiful oak taste as well - I think it would go well with BBQ'ed ribs, lasagna (yeah, that is pasta too), pork tenderloin, or a rack of lamb.
Music Pairings: This is a warm and friendly wine - the kind of wine that inspires friends to gather around the piano and play 60's music while singing (maybe even a bit off key). I see it as a Beatles White Album kind of wine, or even a BB King and Diane Schuur album mash up kind of wine. Its soft yet warm and complex flavors echo the blues scale - as well as 60's rock and roll. I hear great bass too, when I sip.
Activity Pairings: A great family and friends holiday gathering wine, this would also be a good jam session wine or rock and roll concert replay wine.