Monday, June 24, 2013

Big Red Wine For "Big" Daddy

A big man needs a big wine. I may not actually be a big man, but I am -- in comparison to our newborn. So I get to pretend on this very first Father's Day for our newly expanded family. I decided to be entirely cliche, and make a hearty steak dinner to celebrate. And we had just the bottle of wine to match. While a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or a Argentinian Malbec would have been the standard option, for my preference it was nice to have something different.

Given the cool climate, most red wines out of the Finger Lakes tend to be a bit less aggressive. While a good Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir can develop some interesting flavors, it's rare to find anything with big, ripe fruit flavors or anything that can stand up to much time aging in wood to give it any strong spice and leather notes. Thankfully, one winemaker has thought a bit outside the box, and created a wine with some unusual grapes suited to the cool climate of New York State. In 1980, McGregor Vineyard planted varieties from Eastern Europe, Saperavi and Sereksiya Charni. Since 1991, they have been creating blends of these two grapes, with their Black Russian Red. With deep, rich, plum flavors, these grapes have a strong flavor that is served well be over two years of aging in barrels, creating a mouthful of flavor that is entirely unique in the region.

At a grand total of 377 cases of the 2008 vintage, we've never had a chance to try this wine, but thanks to Black Russian Red's cult following, we had a good idea what to expect. We knew it should be strong enough in flavor to complement a meal of steak, but that it also had some unique, funky flavors that might be suited to other big flavors. Some grilled potatoes and a salad with blue cheese dressing rounded out the simple meal, and made the home grilling feel like a steakhouse dinner. The big, bold red worked well, bringing its own sweet, spice, and funkiness to bear against each part of the dish. The celebratory dinner was something special, and the wine went a long way to adding to that.

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