- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Zaca Mesa, “Z Cuvee,” Santa Ynez Valley, California, 2006, $20

This blend of grenache, syrah, mourvedre and cinsault takes its inspiration from the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape in southern France, but it displays a sunny, carefree disposition that reflects its own California origin. Richly fruited, with spicy, peppery undertones and pliant tannins, it would be a fine red wine to pour with the turkey at tomorrow’s feast.

Red blends like this can offer good value. A skilled winemaker uses different grapes to craft a wine with a multifaceted personality, one whose appeal transcends a single varietal.

Blends made with French Rhone grapes tend to have the added advantage of being supple, so versatility at the dinner table is one of their charms. That charm becomes especially important at Thanksgiving, when dinner typically is characterized by a wide range of flavors. This wine has sufficient force to stand up to the heartiest elements, yet its softness means it won’t overwhelm the more delicate ones. The 2006 is just coming into the market, but don’t hesitate to try the 2005 if you see it in your local wine shop. Much like last week’s white recommendation, WillaKenzie Estate Winery’s pinot gris from Oregon, flexibility is what makes either vintage of “Z Cuvee” a good Thanksgiving wine.

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