I've touted the qualities of Montepulciano in the past. Whether your looking for a weeknight quaffer or an elegant accompaniment to a special meal, for foolproof, food-friendly, good value red wine, nothing beats it. Though it comes in a range of styles from brooding to fruity, Montepulciano is almost always approachable, and in my experience, universally good. Seriously, I have tried hundreds of these wines over the years, and excepting corked and cooked bottles, I can't think of a single one I didn't enjoy! If you are like me and like your wines funky, undervalued and high in acid, pick a bottle at random, and I doubt you'll be disappointed. 'Course, that doesn't mean that some aren't better than others, and I want to share a real beauty I picked up last week: the Capestrano Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2007.
The wine pours a pretty dark ruby with purplish overtones. The nose is complicated and musky, with lavish notes of cinnamon, mint, cedar, and gamy meat. Lots of black cherry and sour raspberry fruit dominate the front palate of this dry, medium bodied, high-acid red. Dark chocolate and more tangy red fruit appear in the middle, along with the spicy flavors of green pepper and orange rind. More raspberry on the finish, along with the flavors of apple skins and a bit of bitter tea leaves. This is an ideal wine for grilled meats, particularly lamb, and would also match well with all sorts of red sauces. Thanks to its ample acidity, the Capestrano would also work surprisingly well with your heavier fishes, such as salmon or tuna. I picked this one up at Dixie Liquor for a mere $10.99, and have also seen it at Watergate Wine and Spirits. Though not everywhere yet, this one is distributed locally by Country Vintner — one of the bigger guys in town — so it should be easy enough for your favorite retailer to order. If you are looking for a nice drinker to get you through the winter, but also keeping an eye towards grilling season, get yourself a case of this versatile winner.
Bit of a gearshift here, but I recently found out about a potentially interesting event to you locavores out there. National Geographic has been running a series of lectures, concerts and films called National Geographic Live. Amongst their features on polygamists, primates, pirates, and more, NG will also be airing Fresh, on March 17th. A celebration of those trying to re-invent our food industry, Fresh may be taken as a positive counterpoint to last year's Food Inc, focusing on a practical vision of a sustainable future. Stick around after the 72 minute feature for a discussion with filmmaker Ana Sofia Joanes, Ann Yonkers of FRESHFARM Markets, and local food celeb Joel Salatin.