American wines for Independence Day

Most members of the Algarve’s growing US expat community probably pay little attention to wine from their homeland. After all, with so much good wine produced right here offering great value for money, why should they?

But this Sunday, July 4 is Independence Day for the USA so what better time to sample a few wines from across the pond? Actually, the US wines we can buy here in the Algarve are not from across this pond but from California, on the other side of the country.

In fact, the US wine section in Apolónia is labelled “California” when all other foreign wines are listed by country as opposed to region. Apolónia do, however, have a reasonable selection of Californian wines, mostly reds. Amongst them are these two which are interesting wines in very different ways.

Let’s start with Buffalo Barrel Zinfandel, something quite unlike any wine I have ever tried but surprisingly pleasant and good value for money costing €9.95.

In typical Zinfandel style, this is a full-bodied red, but any robustness is offset by lush berry fruit on the nose and the palate with an unusual sweetness derived from ageing in used American whisky casks.

This may seem like a difficult wine to pair with food, but it makes for very easy drinking, especially when slightly chilled. So I am told, some of the most traditional dishes to serve on Independence Day are traditional hotdogs and burgers with lots of ketchup and caramelised onion, and this wine could just be the perfect match.

For something lighter and a little more sophisticated, Gnarly Head Pinot Noir costing €16.95 is a very respectable example of mid-range Californian pinot. Light to medium bodied with mature notes of cherries and leather on the nose, well-integrated oak and soft tannins with a slight sweetness to the finish.

patrick.stuart@open-media.net