21 Jun 2011

The Author

Amy Zavatto writes about wine, spirits, and food for a mess of different publications, including Imbibe, Edible Manhattan, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and Frommer's. She's the co-author of The Renaissance Guide to Wine & Food Pairing and the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bartending. Amy lives, eats, and drinks in NYC and cannot live without pasta.


Suck on This

Suck on This

Bloody Good Sips for True Blood’s Season 4 Premiere

Can Bill and Sookie’s star-crossed love survive? Will Tara ever find a normal boyfriend? Does Sam ever worry about getting Lyme Disease? Could Eric possibly be any hotter? We’ve been waiting for the next round of HBO’s True Blood for what seems like an eternal night, and we’re craving this new summer season like Jason Stackhouse used to need a fix of V. To quench our insatiable thirst for more, we present to you the Bon Temps-worthy, fang-tastic top 10 wines to sip for the Sunday, June 26 premiere. Gather your favorite hot and cold-blooded besties, your finest heart-stabbing, silver-tipped wine opener, and sink your, er, palatte into one of these TB-worthy wines.

Owen Roe “Sinister Hand” Columbia Valley 2008, $27.99

Just when they think everything’s going fine, something sinister always seems to be afoot in ol’ Bon Temps. But to hear the story behind the creepy label on Owen Roe’s “Sinister Hand” blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre makes it ever more amazing that something so spooky could taste so delicious: “On this label the family crest depiction of a severed left hand tells the story of a rowing competition among the O’Neill’s & the O’Reilly’s (Owen Roe was an O’Neill). Whoever touched land first after rowing across the lake was rewarded with the land he touched. Lagging behind, one of the kinsfolk grabs his sword to cleave his hand and pitches it ashore to touch land first. He won the land and eventually ruled over it as king.”

Ca’ Montini “Luna di Luna” IGT delle Venezia Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio NV, $9.99

Imagine. Only being able to live your life at night, with the light of the moon the closest thing you’ll ever see again to natural illumination (unless, of course, you drink Sookie’s blood and then you get a few bonus hours of daylight… but we digress). Lacking a Stackhouse on hand, drinking this pretty Veneto-centric blend of Chard and Pinot Grigio is almost like sipping the sunshine. In your mouth, it’s a burst of ripe apple and sunny citrus that’s so darned lovely and cheerful, even a night crawler like dearly departed Magistrate would feel all warm and happy after a swirl, sniff, and sip.

Domaine de Remizieres “Patience” Hermitage 2004, $99.97

Could you wait a hundred or even a thousand years for the right someone to come along? Vampires like Bill and Eric don’t have much of a choice. If a hemoglobin-hankering hound has any one virtue at all, it certainly must be Patience—and who could put a price on that? This deep and rich Hermitage, from a family run operation, displays smoked cherry and dark roasted coffee, iron and something even a little meaty on the nose. On the palate the wine is exceptionally chewy, with cassis, orange rind, chocolate, and bacon, with a smoky, sexy undertone that we find utterly intoxicating. Excellent acidity and density make this is well-structured Hermitage worthy of additional aging to fully reveal itself.  Decant for at least an hour before showtime.

Julien Courtois Ancestral NV, $25.99

It wouldn’t be so bad to have a werewolf around, if he came in the form of a protective beast like another one of Sookie’s suitors, Alcide Herveaux. It may have been the ancient looking block-print of a wolf on the label that caught our eye initially here, but it’s this Touraine winemaker’s way with Gamay Chaudenay and Malbec from the flinty Loire soils of his vineyards that held our attention. As wild as a beast howling at the moon, this medium-bodied red is fermented with natural yeasts, and has an earthy, romp-through-the-forest nose and bright, pure fruit on the palate the likes of summer raspberry and cherries, that gets pleasantly tart on the finish.

Retorno Garnacha, $7.49

Even the down-to-earth folks in Bon Temps would return over and over for this easy-drinking, deep red Spanish sipper with a burger at Merlotte’s. Rich, jammy, and juicy, this 100% Garnacha from Calatayud, is all cherries and strawberries on the nose and palate, with a little smoky, dark chocolate underground note that would go oh-so well with a bloody rare burger topped with melty cheddar. No fangs necessary.

Jimenez Landi “The End” 2008, $71.97

In Spanish, winemaker Daniel Jimenez Landi actually calls this “El Fin del Mundo” – the end of the world. Depending on if you fall more toward Team Tara or Team Sookie, that could sound grimly depressing or utterly romantic. To us, the name Landi just sounds lovely. This biodynamic producer from Toledo, Spain hand-harvests his old-vine Garnacha, deeply rooted into the granitic soils here, and fully encourages the mysteries of Mother Nature to have her way. Here, it comes in the form of pure, juicy red cherries and raspberries, supple, grippy tannins, and a minerally, baking-spice finish that we are dying to have with rare, seared sacrificial lamb chops.

Torres “Celeste” Ribera del Duero Crianza 2007, $17.97

Is Sookie’s new celestial-faerie life going to take her away to the stars? Or will she be forever held to terra firma by the grip of Bill (or Erik!)? We’ll find out soon enough, but in the meantime, this heavenly Crianza will tide us over. Celeste is a rich, yet refined Ribera del Duero value, brimming with ripe black fruit scents and flavors. Deep, opaque ruby/purple in color, the nose is bright with black cherry and blackberry aromas and soft oak tones. The palate is creamy and the deep core of black fruit is accented by lively hints of raspberry and classic Ribera del Duero touches of earthy game. This elegant red is a great value and will pair beautifully with roast pork, stews, lamb chops or steak.

Il Brut and the Beast Vino di Tavola 2008, $16.49

Should humans and vampires mix? Seems to be working out in Bon Temps (or, at least, in the real-life marriage of Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer). But despite how beastly relationships can be, we take solace in this sparkler from Piedmont’s lesser-known white varietals, Cortese and Favorita. If The first bottle disappeared, then the second, then the third…and, well you can see where this is going. The “Beast” is straight delicious, biodynamic goodness from some of the coolest people on the planet. Valli Unite are culinary hippies; a collection of like-minded individuals living together and producing meat, cheese, and of course, wine. The Brut is super golden in the glass and has this crazy barley apple pie thing going on. Its all natural in bottle fermentation adds a kick of bubbles that just got us giddy, and that was before we gulped the three bottles. And since this is Natural Wine, the low alcohol and minimal us of sulfur meant we felt bright eyed enough the next day to drink another three! But then we wanted to leave some for you too.

Evening land Chardonnay, $22.49

How Jessica and Hoyt are going to work out this night/day relationship is beyond us. He’s a sunny, day-loving sweetie; she’s a… well, eternally virginal, night-stuck, brooding teen. But if you’re going to be stuck in a land of eternal evenings, at least you can have a bottle of this. The nose is straight rocks dusted with lemon-zest; a style we typically associate with the Côte d’Or, and one that always gets our mouth watering. There were also light, but still lovely hints of seashells and chalk. The palate shows more of that California sunshine than crunchy Burgundy structure: Think ocean-smoothed glass rather than angles and cliffs. The finish carried through with the lemon scent we found on the nose and really sets you up for another sip.

7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel 2008, $15.47

Lustful for your favorite Bon Temps residents? Envious of your neighbor’s massive uber-flat screen upon which to watch them, but too proud to ask if you can come over and watch with him? Oh, our little slothful couch-potato, don’t be a greedy, wrathful Gus; this gorgeously luscious, full-bodied, utterly sinful, spicy Zinfandel from Lodi should satisfy all of your gluttonous cravings and them some.

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