I'm sure you know by now that creative red blends are one of my favorite categories, not only for their sipping enjoyment but even more so for their often amazing flavor and textural food compatibility, versatility and, you know, creativity.
A prime example is Hey Mambo Sultry Red vinted and bottled by the Sebastiani-related The Other Guys (TOG). I have been assessing this Guy off and on for nearly a decade, and so it was I asked for a sample of the new 2010 release. Checking my prior notes, I see that the 2005, a blend of Syrah, Barbera, Malbec, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah (did someone say creative?) scored with a variety of beef and chicken preps as well as pasta with Italian sausage and red sauce, a pastrami and Swiss panini and fresh corn on the cob. Then along came the 2006, when the Malbec was replaced by Carignane and Alicante Bouchet. Once again it was all about beef and chicken and a second thumbs-up with baked mushrooms. I only got a glimpse of the '07, but marinated tri-tip was a go.
And now we have our first peek at the 2010 ($13, 13.5 alcohol) sans Carignane and Malbec with 61percent of the grapes coming from Lodi and the remainder from Sonoma. Let me begin by acknowledging how pretty, smooth and tasty the wine was on its own and then just how well it paired up with the following: fried flour-coated chicken breast with shallots and mustard sauce, boiled carrots, a slice of ham from the refer and sharp, white cheddar. It was so-so with apple pie.
On the second night, I admired how well it got along with a spicy pork chili verde. I'm looking forward to putting this one through its paces. Oh, and by the way, the Swanky White, a blend of Viognier, Muscat Canelli, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, has paired up nicely with a rich tomato soup, cauliflower with mayo and beef and bean chili over three vintages, while the '08 worked with a peppery salmon filet. Alas, the Kinky Pink has yet to score.
As I perused the new wholesale price book, two other blends, both from Fess Parker Winery, reached the sample request list. I couldn't find the precise composition of Rhonish Hodge du Podge "Cotes du California" Blend No. 2 Your Wine du Jour ($13), but suspect it is quite similar to the Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Cinsault that comprise Blend No. 1. In spite of the 14.9percent alcohol content, which precludes any consideration of bringing it to the shelf, the wine held its own with a beef and pork enchilada slathered with cream of chicken and red sauce. And I would be remiss if I didn't share the following creative thoughts that grace the back label. "A rendezvous extraordinaire, a potpourri par excellence, a California wine with déj vu of France — half savoir-faire, half swagger." Right on.
The other bottling was the Fess Parker Frontier Red Lot 122 Barbecue Edition ($12). Once again the unexpected 14.9percent alcohol got in the way, but the assemblage of Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignane managed to get along with a ketchup, cheddar cheese, dill pickle, tomato and lettuce-adorned hamburger. Then it proved a downright delicious and rather rich combo with the apple pie finale; go figure.