The placebo values informed by local cultural idiosyncrasies have rendered an unpardonable disservice upon the children of saints. Orwell, Huxley and Carlin all roll in their graves while a population adorned in magic underwear bask in a ludicrous testament of corporate protocol which holds such substances as Ambien, Prozac and Oxycontin beyond moral reproach while holding as objectionable, the very beverage our lord preferred over water.
No, it’s not homemade root beer ladled from a five-gallon bucket, not McDonald’s orange-flavored drink pimped out by an autoerotic clown icon, nor even the juice of the Acai berry made into a capitalist fable by all those MLM sales brochures. We’re talking about wine here people, specifically bold and powerful reds – viscous and crimson-hued as Christ’s own blood; the corked redemption of the ancients – made from grape varieties native to France’s Bordeaux region and the legendary Rhone Valley. Consider the following review – specifically tailored to the college student’s palette and budget – an amendment to the cultural lucidity pact, meant to right a long over-ripened wrong.
Mondavi Cabernet 2006-Because of the variety’s hardy resilience to climate and subsequent prominence throughout every major wine-producing region from Napa to Lebanon, it stands to reason that Cabernet-Sauvignon, known by common consent as “the king of reds,” would yield vintages that range in quality from the most common table wines to some of the most prestigious wines in the world. Likewise, it stands to reason that with such a wide range on the market, one could find inexpensive, quality cabernets in abundance. The Mondavi Family Vineyards’ Wildercreek Canyon, 2006 cabernet is a good example. Priced locally between $10 and $13 for a 700 ml. bottle, Mondavi is a very versatile table wine. It’s rich color and cherry-blackberry flavors lend themselves easily to a broad range of foods. Have it with a burger and forget about it. Sip it alongside cheese-flavored tortilla chips and your mouth becomes a concert hall; one in which the musicians are all playing the Doritos. But to find the really exceptional balance of flavors between food and beverage, pair the Mondavi with Dreyer’s natural vanilla ice cream. Trust me. Eat slow, let it melt in your mouth, take small sips and savor.
Liberty School Syrah 2006-We turn now to the Syrah family, also know in Australia, South Africa and Canada as Shiraz. The dark, almost black Syrah grapes yield rich velvety wines often bearing hints of blackberry and dark chocolate on the nose that morphs into minty, peppery flavors across the middle of the tongue and finishes with earthy, leathery, clove combinations in varying degrees. The task here is an easy one. Since one would be hard-pressed to find an unpalatable Syrah, all the discerning college student has to do is find an inexpensive one. Enter Liberty Schools 2006 Syrah. Priced at about $12 for a 350 ml. bottle and bearing all of the previously-mentioned characteristics Liberty Schools pairs well with any tomato-based pasta dish – including Spaghetti O’s – as well as spicy curry dishes. Its floral nose with hints of mandarin oranges finishes, most uniquely, with the distinctive tang that comes from sucking on a peach pit. Do enjoy this or be fated to a life of peach-pit-sucking mimicry.
Concannon Petite Syrah-Arguably the local heavyweight champion of inexpensive wines, Concannon Petite Syrah can be found on the wine lists of some of the finest restaurants in the state, despite its inexpensive price tag of $10-$12 for a 300 ml. bottle. If alcohol, tobacco and firearms had a ten-dollar baby in your mouth, you would be commanded to name it Concannon. This silky, deep violet, syrup tastes of over-ripe plums and black cherries, pencil shavings and ink with a hint of black pepper. It pairs well with red meats-especially lamb-and cheeses. I once paired a bottle of Concannon Petite Syrah with Buffalo prime rib at Buck’s Grill House in Moab. I’m a slow eater. I like to savor things. And believe me when in tell you that on that night I preferred to surrender my car keys and part company with my impatient party rather than leave that meal and that bottle unfinished. And though, that night as I kicked gravel down the two-mile stretch of highway 191 back to my hotel, I walked not on water but on asphalt, but I took comfort the knowledge that I drank good wine.