Inferior Good: Diminishing Marginal Stupidity in Action

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

WBW #23 - 2003 Château La Vernède Coteaux du Languedoc

The theme for this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday, hosted by Vivi's Wine Journal, is wine that pairs well with grilled and/or barbequed foods. Since July 4th is (American) Independence Day, I decided to choose a wine that fits said holiday.

To me, the Fourth of July means grilled (as opposed to barbequed) red meat, especially burgers. A good Independence Day wine should a) be able to cut through rich, greasy meat, b) be easy to drink and accessible, c) complement typical grilled meat flavors (smoke, spice, pepper), and d) be reasonably priced.

I decided to go with the 2003 Chateau La Vernède Coteaux du Languedoc. Firm tannins enable this blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan to cut through red meat. This smoky wine’s sweet, dark fruit flavors complement grilled foods and are easy to enjoy. And the price is right at only $6.99.

Writing tasting notes is really hard. The above description could accurately describe hundreds of wines that really don’t taste all that much alike. I like to taste several wines at the same time, for I find that side by side comparison helps me to better understand what I'm drinking (and to enjoy a lot more of it, of course).

For comparison’s sake then, I drank the 2004 Fess Parker Frontier Red Lot #41, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan. This soft, round, medium-bodied wine tastes like Fess Parker started with the La Vernede, but then turned the style knob to obnoxious. It’s so absurdly rich and savory, it’s as if some kind of mocha fudge flavoring was added. What food would I like with this wine? What food could I even taste with this wine?

I hope my description of the Frontier Red isn’t coming across as too harsh. If you want your wine to be a meal in itself, then Fess Parker’s Frontier Red is for you. Lot's of folks (including Robert Parker) like this wine. But I prefer something a little more food friendly. I'll take the La Vernede.

2003 Château La Vernède Coteaux du Languedoc, $6.99 from Esquin Wine Merchants.

2004 Fess Parker Frontier Red Lot #41, $8.45 from Pete’s Wine Bellevue.

UPDATE: Joel Vincent's excellent round up of WBW#23 is here. Check it out for some great recipes and great wine.

Also, here's the recipe for my 4th of July burgers (actually, this is my old buddy Randy's recipe):

Mix 3 parts ground beef (not more than 80% lean) with 1 part ground, spicy breakfast sausage. Add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, paprika, cayenne, fresh minced garlic, fresh minced onion (white or red), and your favorite barbecue sauce to taste. Don’t be bashful with the seasonings, esp. the bbq sauce and the onions. Form the mix into patties (the meat will bind better if you add an egg or two). Store in fridge, preferably overnight. Bring burgers near room temperature and grill to desired doneness.


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