Monday, September 29, 2008

Ryan Patrick Rock Island Red

Ryan Patrick Vineyards
Rock Island Red
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
Columbia Valley
Rock Island, WA
$13.88 -- Whole Foods, Austin, TX

Color: Deep garnet
Nose: Violets and a lovely gaminess
Body: Full
Front: Strawberry
Middle: Chocolate, mocha
Back: Ripe cherry
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

This wine is a delightful surprise. It's an ideal tertulia wine. The Spanish have this custom, the tertulia, where on Friday afternoons you get together with a small group of friends, eat lots of stunningly good food, drink appropriate wine, and decompress from the week. The conversations range from art to politics, and usually blend the two in ways it's hard to describe. It takes a good wine, but a wine great with food, to make the tertulia happen properly, and this is one. For example, it shows a delightful mintiness with the heavily spiced pasta with tomato sauce I'm having. It stands up both to the young parmesan and the rock-hard, paprika-and-pepper laden chorizo that I don't seem to be able to put back into the fridge.

This is a new winery (first vintage 1999), but with stuff like this it's going to stay on my list. It's not very tannic, so it may not be one for the ages. One thing: it's a bordeaux-style blend, Merlot-heavy, but I wouldn't go into it thinking about that comparison. This wine is its own thing--a good thing, with layers and depths all its own. And, at least for the moment, it's a bargain.