Magazine article Sunset

Christmas Red

Magazine article Sunset

Christmas Red

Article excerpt


Perfect every year: beef rib roast matched with a newly discovered Bordeaux-bred red wine. By Sara Schneider

FOR most people, multiple traditions create Christmas-the familiar cookies, the prized ornaments. But there's only one tradition in my house that's nonnegotiable: the entrée anchoring dinner on The Day. It's always a beef rib roast, slathered with garlic and green herbs (heavy on the rosemary) and served with sinus-clearing fresh horseradish sauce. (Julia Child's decadent potatoes au gratin are indispensable too.) And the wine I serve with it? I always look for something fresh and new.

The elegant tannins of well-made Cabernet Sauvignon and its Bordeaux-bred cousins (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec) make a superb match for well-marbled beef, so that's my starting point. A group of chemical compounds called methoxypyrazines (just "pyrazines" will do) that occur in this family of red varieties give these wines an herbaceous quality that's magical with the foresty combo of rosemary and fresh horseradish. (Just avoid underripe wine-pyrazines can come off as stinky green pepper if the grapes didn't get ripe enough.) Even if your entrée of choice is lamb or pork, as long as you season it well, a balanced Bordeaux-style wine will shine.

This year, I launched my search early for new producers-or new wines from old producers-that are adding to the trove of Bordeaux-style wines in the West. ("New" is relative in the leisurely life cycle of wine; a wine that hit the market within the past five years qualifies.) At right are some of my favorite finds, across a range of styles and prices-exciting bottles from Eastern Washington to Paso Robles.

Notable newcomers

Daou 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles; $28). Spiced blackberry anchors light florals, espresso, and loam In this deal from brothers Georges and Daniel Daou. …

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