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Posted by aaron at 01:00AM, Wednesday, December 08th, 2004

A new favorite red wine: 2002 Acorn Sangiovese

We get this from "our wine guy," Win Rhoades, up at South and Vine at 261 South St in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We've been drinking it for a while, but it's only recently that it's started to open up, revealing hiterto unkown heights of California Sangiovese bliss.

This is a Russian River Valley-grown sangiovese. I tend to be conservative when it comes to varietals grown in regions where they don't have a long history: I'm okay with pinot from Oregon or syrah from California, but pretty unexcited about merlot or cabernet franc blends from anywhere in Italy. I don't mind this at all though.

It needs to open up for a while -- quite a while. This bottle is better a day or two after opening than just after the cork is popped, and even better a few days later. There's quite a bit of oak to burn off, but unlike in too many contemporary wines, the oak here isn't hiding a lack of structure from the grapes themselves. It leaves a trace of tannins, but once it's faded, the amazing fruit and earth flavors start to come forward. There's a lot of dark cherry in here, to go with the currants. There's a bit of a delicate, papery flowery note, too -- think daffodils, or perhaps even paperwhites. There's even, surprisingly, a touch of black truffle.

The finish is spectacularly long for a $22 bottle, and leaves some sweetness in your mouth. Overall this is well-balanced and structured, with a whole lot of body. Like most sangioveses, it's great with food, and can hold up to a lot more acidity than your garden-variety merlot or California cab. It's great with pasta, or grilled meat. We tend to eat it with lamb. This is a fabulous value, and, to make a bizarre comparison, easily holds its own against $50 Flowers pinots or Turley syrahs -- the types of reds I love in the summer. In fact, it can probably hold up to food a lot better, in general, than any pinot I've had. Just be sure to decant adequately before serving.
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