During a recent visit to California wine country, one of the wineries that really caught my attention was Saracina, which also produces quirky, Rhone-style blends under the Atrea brand. ---
I'll devote much more ink to Saracina in an upcoming City Weekly "Drink" column. But for now, I just want to focus on one very affordable and, dare I say, magnificent red wine called Atrea Old Soul Red ($19.99).
If you ever get the chance to visit Saracina Vineyards in Mendocino County, DO IT. Especially if you have the opportunity to hang out with winemaker Alex MacGregor. He's both one of the more knowledgeable wine guys I've ever met, and also one of the most down-to-earth. Frankly, he's a hoot. John Fetzer and Patty Rock are Saracina's owners (yes, that John Fetzer), but they weren't around when I visited. Alex made me not want to leave.
As I said, I'll devote this excellent Mendocino winery a lot more attention in an upcoming Saracina/Atrea article. For now, I just want to alert you to the pleasures of Atrea Old Soul Red. Old Soul is said to be "an upstart red wine with complexity and maturity beyond its years." Amen.
This irresistible blend of Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, Syrah and Malbec (I tasted the 2007 and 2011 vintages) is remarkable for the price ... or perhaps at any price. I was a bit stunned at how great both vintages tasted: this is a wine to drink young or old. The 2011 vintage was excellent right out of the freshly corked bottle. And the 2007 is silky and smooth, subtly oaked partially in Hungarian and Burgundy barrels.
I think the 2007 Atrea Old Soul Red vintage is perfect right now. It's ripe and fruity, but not too ripe and fruity, with soft, supple tannins and an almost creamy mouthfeel. As for the current 2011 release, I tried a couple of glasses recently with a rich, fairly fatty pork/veal/beef Bolognese sauce with pasta and it knocked my socks off.
For a 20-buck wine this is so frackin' good you should run, not walk, to your wine store to scoop some up. And then, remember to share it with the fella who sent you.