The Grape Escape: Solo or combo
A good steak requires no sauce, as my father taught me well. On the other hand, eggs only get better with bacon alongside, and even a perfect pancake gains something from a dollop of real maple syrup.
Some good things are made to fly solo, it seems, while others work and play best in combinations that add up to more than the sum of their parts.
So it is, as you might have guessed, with the great grape varieties that go into our fine wines.
Many of us have grown accustomed to calling for single-varietal wines — a Napa cabernet sauvignon, for example, or the pinot noir that makes up 100 percent of red Burgundy.
The classic single varietals earned that status because, like a steak adorned with only salt and pepper, our taste buds tell us it works well that way.
But plenty of great wines are made from a blend of grape varieties, and blending makes sense when each participant in the dance contributes a different but compatible element.
Bordeaux, for instance, comprises a winemaker’s-choice recipe involving variable amounts of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and more, while chianti consists mainly of sangiovese grapes but can blend in a handful more.
Here’s a tasty blend of two white grapes — marsanne and roussanne — traditionally grown in the south of France. I picked it up at The Wine Rack (2632 Frankfort Ave., 721-9148, www.wineshoplouisville.com).
Mas Carlot 2008 Vin de Pays d’Oc ($9.99)
Clear gold, a pale but bright hue. Interesting aromas, a complex blend of fresh figs and dates, with a hint of honey. Bone-dry and crisply acidic on the palate, mouth-watering fruit flavors that follow the nose. A good buy and an easy pairing with poultry or pork.