This week we turn again to the wine drinker's friend Eric Solomon, the guru behind European Cellars, whose imprimatur on a label is just about as good as gold. He carries his genius for discovery of undervalued wines from off the beaten tracks in Spain and France to a higher plane with the 2009 Altovinum Evodia Garnacha (about $11 at wine shops and wine savvy markets), a cuvee of selected old vine Spanish grapes blended to his specifications.
This bright and lively wine is a perfect red for summer. It is crisp and fruit forward but also beautifully balanced and nuanced. Pair it with those summer staples steak and burgers on the grill or go a little crazy and enjoy it with braised lamb shank with a cool cucumber and yogurt salad on the side. It would go nicely with something as rich as fettucine alfredo, too, but we'll save that combo for cooler weather.
Evodia opens with a frankly grapey nose tempered by subtle dark chocolate and licorice. It delights the taste buds with swirling flavors of cherry cola, a bit of coffee and more bramble than one might expect of a garnacha. Some nice black plum kicks in at mid palate, the whole melange persisting through a satisfying but utterly uncloying finish. Especially in hot weather, we'd serve this lovely red at a cool cellar temp of about 55 degrees.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.