Carmen Rodriguez Carodorum “Issos” Tempranillo, 07 Spain, Toro

Yes, I know, it’s Summa-time, and this is a big, nasty Red Wine.  So uncharacteristic of me, given my long-standing obsession with pink and white wine.  But sometimes, folks, you have to break the mold, and this is one such occasion.  A wine so good, that I will still drink it when it’s 90+ degrees outside.  Okay, maybe after I cool down with a glass of Rose, but STILL; I will drink it.  Happily.

So here’s a little background on the Bodegas Carmen Rodriguez wines, per my own accord.  I occasionally buy wine on www.wtso.com (which you should check out, they’ve been known to have some cool deals), and this wine’s big (like, REAL big) sister- the Carodorum Seleccion Especial, 2006 vintage, was on WTSO for something like $35.  As I was feeling indulgent that day, and I am a sucker for a big, nasty Spanish wine, I bought three, untasted.  The box arrived at Cellar and I ripped it open unceremoniously, and even though it was the morning (let’s be honest- when has that ever stopped me?), I opened a bottle. It was one of the more memorable wine moments of my life.  I stood, somewhat dumbfounded, on the verge of comprehending that this was an incredibly special and amazing wine- but had no one to bounce my thoughts off of.  So I mostly just stood there saying “holy shit” to myself over and over.  A good customer whose palate I trust came in a while later and tried it, and agreed that it was a phenomenon.  A force to be reckoned with.

That is all well and good, but we’re still talking about the Big Sister- fast forward to NOW!  I was delighted to discover just two weeks ago that our tiny little hippie friends at Sour Grapes Wine, located in Asheville NC, carry the Carmen Rodriguez wines!  AND was even more delighted to discover that there was a baby sister, the Issos, available!  It may not sound that exciting, but this was pretty much the high point of my week that week.

This wine hails from a hot little pocket of Spain called Toro- located just west of the Portugese border:

Toro has long, hot summers (sound familiar??) and Tempranillo (aka Tinta de Toro) is the primary red grape grown there.  Reds from Toro are generally potent, dense, and pack a lot of character.  Issos is no exception!  She is rich and exotic, and delights the senses with notes of espresso, blackberry liqueur, anise, balsam/cedar, and a touch of vanilla.  The palate is not weighty; the acid really grabs hold and it finishes with a punch of dark fruit, leather and graphite.  And a little smoke.  Day-um, y’all.  I’m serious; this wine is rockin’.  If you’re used to lighter reds, it might be a bit much for you, as the tannins are fairly present- but if you’re, y’know- into that– this is right up your alley.  It’d be amazing with anything off the grill, maybe a spicy-espresso-rubbed steak?  Now you’re talkin.  Merguez sausage?  (one of my favorite things on the planet) HELLS yeah.  Bring. It. On.

I like to imagine that this is what this wine would look like, personified.  Maybe it’s just me:

*le sigh*  A girl can dream.  Until then, we have the wine.  I urge you to come sample a glass (it’s by the glass for the foreseeable future), or take a bottle home for $18.  Also- if you’re feeling muy especial– we do have exactly three bottles of the 2007 Seleccion Especial available for purchase, too, at $48. Oh, and I almost forgot- Issos got a lovely little 89 point rating from Robert Parker- Big Sis got a 92.  Happy drinkin’ peoples!  Til next time…

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Jean Francois Merieau “Le Bois Jacou” Gamay, ’10 Touraine

Anyone in need of a perfect Summer red?

I did the hard work for you, and found one!

Granted, it was not really very hard at all- in fact it was easy.  A fellow ginger wine nerd friend of mine happens to sell this wine.  And we were all like, hey, we need some new juice.  And he was all like, hey, this one’s the bomb, y’all will literally feel like a Koala bear crapped a rainbow in your brain if you try it. So we did, and we do, and that’s the story of how we came to have this wine!  *ba-dum-chhhkk*

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So I’ve visited this wine a few times in the last two weeks (visited is a word I like to use that means DRANK), and it it truly sublime.  I’ve only ever written about one other Gamay, the Verdier & Logel Cotes du Forez (see here), which really was one of my favorite wines of 2011.  And customers seemed to like it, too.  And as I said in that post, Gamay is an awesome Fall red.  The flavor profile falls in very nicely with a various sundry of Fall-flavored culinary delights; this is true.  But it begs to be mentioned that Gamay is a PERFECT Summer red, too!  And egads, do we ever need good Summer reds here in Cola.  Seeing as how it lasts almost half the year.  Most of you know me to be a huge fan of whites and pinks in the summer, but you can’t escape the need for a nice red now and then, even when it’s 95 degrees.

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So why, exactly?  Well, first of all- this wine is most delicious slightly chilled.  No need to stress about exactly how slight a chill- just stick it in the fridge for 10 or 15 minutes and you’ll be good to go.  And if you forget to do that, and you think you might rather have a root canal than wait 15 minutes for your wine to chill- take an ice cube- drop it in the glass with the wine- swirl it around for 30 seconds, and then take the ice cube out.  You should be good to go.  Some may consider that sacrilegious, but it works.

So now you have a slightly chilled glass of red wine and it’s hot out, and you desire something easy to sip, low in alcohol/high in acid, and fun to drink; since Summer is fun and all.  Cha-CHING!  This wine is all of those things.  What I like most about Gamay in general is that it is incredibly friendly and vibrant.  It gives you all it’s awesome right up front.  But not in a slutty Lindsay Lohan kind of way.  Just a quirky, glad-to-know-ya kind of way.

There are so many fun flavors and aromas to be found; it leans towards darker fruit up front (plums, a hint of black cherry) but also plenty of characteristic Gamay bright red fruit (strawberries, pomegranates, raspberries).  The nose is a bit exotic- herbal notes of sage, violets and fresh lavender, followed by a touch of grass, black pepper, and a bit of lemon that gives the finish a nice lift.  It tastes like a wine that was grown in a specific place (well- duh, all wine is).  But this one really encapsulates it’s terroir beautifully and with spunk.  It is fresh and happy to be alive.

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So that’s about all I got to say about this wine, and I highly recommend you stop in and try a glass, or take a bottle home for $15.  I’m going to keep drinking it and watching The Fugitive.  Happy Monday Funday!