I’ll admit it–I like to DRINK wine. That’s not an earth shattering admission on a wine blog, I suppose, but notice the use of the word “drink”. Not “sip”, not “taste”, not “sample” or “experience”. No, I like to really drink the stuff, preferably with food, but always in quantity, with abandon. I was thinking about that the other day after reading yet another post on a wine board about a “tasting” dinner, at which 10 or 20 different wines (always of the high-end, rare “mailing list” variety) were sampled by a bunch of guys who seemed more interested in comparing tasting notes (and awarding points) than actually drinking and enjoying the stuff. Now I’ve attended a fair share of such dinners myself (and even reported on a couple for the Gang), and they can be both fun and useful. And of course a goodly amount of wine gets consumed at such events. But what’s really more satisfying to me is to open a terrific bottle at home and enjoy the whole damn thing over the course of an evening–a glass while preparing dinner, several glasses with the meal, then polishing the bottle off afterwards with that sense of satisfaction and well-being that only a good meal and (plenty of) good wine shared with my wife can provide.
Of course, the wine has to be delicious and well-balanced, interesting enough to satisfy over the course of the entire bottle without getting tiring or boring. And it doesn’t hurt if the alcohol level is moderate, as perhaps the best argument in favor of lower alcohol wines in the whole low vs. high alcohol debate is the ability to drink more of the lower-alcohol stuff. So, when I find a wine that pushes all these buttons–delicious, well-balanced, interesting flavors, moderate alcohol–and at a moderate price to boot, I get a little excited. Recently I heard about a wine that sounded like it might do the trick, and after tasting (and drinking!) it recently, it’s certainly worth reporting on here. And the name pretty much fits my idea of what a wine is for in the first place.
The wine is called Bebame, which translates from Spanish to “Drink me”. One look at the Alice in Wonderland image on the label and you’ll understand the reference, but I think the wine is really talking to true winelovers everywhere. The wine is from the 2008 vintage, and it’s made from 65% Cabernet Franc, and 35% Gamay Noir. The combination of two grapes grown in France’s Loire Valley (Gamay is better known in Beaujolais, of course), has created a wine that I suspect a lot of French importers would love to sell if they sold domestic wines. The wine is made by Steve Edmunds, better known for his terrific Edmunds St. John wines that are devoted mostly to Rhone varieties. The fruit comes from a couple of vineyards that Steve’s worked with for a while in El Dorado County in the Sierra foothills. A crisp, delicious red wine with only 13% alcohol. It’s full of crunchy fruit flavors—bing cherry, pomegranate, cranberry—crisp acids that are perfectly balanced with the pure fruit flavors, and great complexity from a note of savory herbs and dried lavender. It’s like a perfect combination of a fruit-forward Chinon and a plush but racy Cru Beaujolais, and at a price that’s less than either (around $18). Find this wine
Fans of the ESJ “Bone-Jolly” Gamay will love this one. Best served a bit cool, I suspect I’ll be drinking a lot of this over the next 6 months, as I can’t imagine a better summer red. A wine for drinkers.