Monday, December 27, 2010

Cascade Cliffs Goat Head Red, Columbia Valley

Too often when looking for value, wine consumers drift offshore – looking to Chile, Argentina, or Australia. You don’t need to roam so far from home! There are some great drinking domestic wines that will tickle the palate and go light on the wallet.

Cascade Cliffs is a family-owned winery in the scenic Columbia River Gorge of Washington. We’ve sampled their goods before and very much enjoyed them. I picked up a bottle of Cascade Cliffs Goat Head Red (NV) as an everyday bottle to have handy for an after-dinner drink or if company dropped in.

Goat Head Red is a winemaker’s blend. The best of the winemaker’s blends are made with traditional Bordeaux grapes and (along with conforming to some other guidelines) are sold as Meritage. I’m a Meritage fan and suggest this as a wine style to explore if you enjoy reds. But not all red blends are destined to be bottled as Meritage.

Cascade Cliffs focuses on Piedmont (Italy) grapes and so grows Dolcetto in addition to Barbera and Nebbiolo. The Goat Head Red uses equal parts of Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Cabernet Sauvignon. To me, this is very cool. Nebbiolo is the grape used in Barolo and Barbaresco, the greatest wines of Italy.

The cost is only around $12 and it is a vibrant glass of wine. It has a deep black cherry flavor and medium to full body. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks, not oak barrels, so the fruit retains its brightness. We enjoyed a Christmas meal of beef tenderloin and the Goat Head Red paired beautifully with the meat.

This wine is versatile, being enjoyable enough to sip alone but food-friendly enough to pair with beef dishes, chicken parmesan or mushroom risotto. Recommended highly.

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