A Fortuitous Wine Find

I recently visited a restaurant which was new to me.  The restaurant did not appear to be particularly “fancy” or “up-scale,” but was very pleasant and, reportedly, served good food.  Upon asking for a wine list, I found it not to be particularly extensive, but it did have several wines that caught my eye, including a couple with which I was completely unfamiliar.  My dining partner and I decided upon chicken marsala and beef tenderloin as our entrees and shared both with each other.  The soup of the day was a crab chowder, which we both ordered.  Thus, we were having seafood, chicken and beef.  Having chosen our food, the more challenging task was to select a wine that would be compatible with the wide variety of food.  I noticed a wine, the type of which was totally unknown to me, but the description sounded very appealing, and it appeared to be a wine that would be suitable for both entrees.  And, it was reasonably priced ($42.00).  I usually avoid experimenting with new wines in restaurants, unless highly recommended by the sommelier or wine steward, but this wine turned out to be a delightful surprise.  It was an Aglianico (a what?).  Aglianico is the type or grape varietal.  It is a red wine.

Aglianico may be of some interest to our Dancing Buckeyes, as they have connections to Greece and Italy through their spouses.  The Aglianico wine originated in Greece and is believed to have been brought to southern Italy by Greek settlers.  It is not prevalent, but is found in southern Italy, Australia and California.  This Aglianico was produced by Amador Foothills Winery, in the Shenandoah Valley, Plymouth, California.  The bottle label described the wine as “southern Italy’s most prestigious native grape” and said it “is thriving in our estate vineyard.”  It further said “this wine displays intense ruby color, spicy aromas and concentrated boysenberry flavors.”  I agree with this statement, particularly as to the color and aromas.  It further described it as “great with grilled lamb, pizza or robust and spicy Italian dishes.”  This was enough versatility for me, and it turned out to be great, also, with crab chowder, chicken marsala and beef tenderloin.  By the way, the food was excellent, as well.  Remember, a wine should not over-power the food, nor should the food over-power the wine.  In this instance, the food and wine worked very well with each other.  The wine was very easy to drink from the outset, was full-bodied (but not too powerful or overwhelming) and had a nice, graceful finish (mouth-feel).  I was very pleased to discover this wine and heartily recommend that you try it if you have the opportunity.  Of this vintage (2007), Amador only produced 203 cases (i.e. 2436 bottles), so happy hunting.  Ask your favorite wine merchant to check with distributors to see if it can be ordered or contact the winery directly.  But, as always, enjoy the adventure.

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