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VOL. 126 | NO. 20 | Monday, January 31, 2011



Great Bistro Wine for a Solid Price

FREDRIC KOEPPEL | Special to The Memphis News

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Occasionally I try a wine and think, “This is a great little bistro wine.” By which I mean a basic, simple wine of direct appeal that would go well with typical basic, appealing food in the French bistro style. What sort of fare is that? Think of onion soup, duck and rabbit terrine, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, roasted chicken, steak frites, veal blanquette, pork rillettes. Wow, as I write those words it’s a dreary, drippy icky day in a series of dreary, drippy icky days, and that kind of food sounds pretty comforting, soul-satisfying and nap-inducing!

The wine of which I most recently made that notation is the 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend 2008, from Washington. “14 Hands” refers to how the height of horses is measured traditionally; 14 hands equal 56 inches, or just about the upper limit for a pony, measured at the withers, the bony ridge between the shoulder blades. (Count these among the Very Important Facts you learned today.)

Anyway, the wine is a blend of syrah, merlot, petit verdot and mourvèdre grapes derived from vineyards in most of Washington’s grape-growing regions. It ages a few months in neutral – that means used several times – French and American oak barrels.

For Your Very Own Bottle

Joe's Liquors
1681 Poplar Ave., $12-$13
Buster's Liquors & Wine
191 S. Highland St., $12-$13
Poplar Wine & Spirits
2136 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville,  $12-$13

14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend 2008 is immediately attractive in a bright, vivid and berryish manner. Aromas of spiced and macerated black currants, black cherries and plums are ripe and fleshy and permeated by hints of black olives, cedar, thyme and leather and, as the wine opens after a few minutes, a touch of dill. This wine is dense and chewy, replete with moderately furry and grainy tannins and lively acidity that support tasty black and blue fruit flavors. Where’s that roasted chicken when I need it?

For more about wine, check out Koeppel's blog at http://www.biggerthanyourhead.net.

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