Thursday, July 2, 2009

Burying the Hatchet

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 2:04 PM

With Independence Day approaching, I figured it was finally time after 233 years to offer the olive branch of peace to our compatriots from across the pond. (I'm still not there yet with regard to yankees.)

What better way to usher in a new era of peace, love and understanding than by querying our own local British ex-pat, The Wine Chap Richard Payne for his suggestions on a few good wines to accompany our July 4th meat burning and gunpowder-based festivities?

Richard was most accommodating over the phone, completely ignoring my inference that I expected a recommendation involving a spot of tea and some arsenic with our hot dogs. Instead, he offered two excellent and affordable options, albeit from Italy and France instead of from the US of by God A. I guess those EU folks really do stick together.

It would have been irresponsible journalism for me to recommend these wines to Bites readers without experiencing them myself, so I made the jaunt down to The Wine Chap Wine and Spirits at the Hill Center in Belle Meade. His shop was nicely appointed with a clear layout arranged by geography for imported wines and by varietal for `Murican (love it or leave it!) wineries. His offerings range across the price spectrum, with an emphasis on value wines at every price point. There is also a small but complete selection of liquor at the back of the store for non-oenophiles. His staff was extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

Richard obviously understands the economic difficulties we Yanks are going through, so his suggestions were both approachable and affordable.

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The white is a 2008 Domaine du Ballade Sauvignon Blanc/Colombard blend. Crisp and clear with sweet citrusy aromas and strong fruit forward flavors of grapefruit and pear, this is a wine best served ice cold. As the Wine Chap eloquently described, "It a real pool-pounder." At a retail of $7.99 per bottle, I'm not surprised that it is flying out the door by the case.

The 2007 Sipavola Rosso di Sicilia is an interesting blend of 65% Nero d'Avola and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Nero d'Avola is a little known grape from the hottest region of Italy's football. You can taste the arid dust of Sicily in the tannins, but the dark blackberry and cherry aromas keep the wine from being too astringent. Sipavola would stand up well to any grilled meats and we particularly enjoyed it with a simple panini made with CSA tomatoes and basil,a few slices of pancetta and provolone. The toasted bread and olive oil complemented the final earthy oaky overtones of the wine, and vice versa. It's also a steal at $10.99, and would be the perfect hospitality gift at any patriotic gathering.

So enjoy your holiday, feel free to act like a Tower of London guard and be a Beefeater. And remember not to point any fireworks at anyone after you've been drinking these wines. As my mom used to always say, "A boy in Lebanon put his eye out that way!"

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