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Wine: Clos Calls

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French name, all-American wine. Apparently, I’m not alone in my fondness for California’s Clos du Bois wines. There’s an extensive selection of Clos du Bois available here and the wines tend to sell like hotcakes. I suspect that’s in part because they sound fancy—klo doo BWAH—but don’t carry fancy prices. There’s Clos du Bois to drink for every budget. n

I just popped a cork—real, not synthetic—on a bottle of Clos du Bois 2005 Sonoma Reserve Merlot Alexander Valley, which I’m sipping, not guzzling (because I’m at work), as I write. For $19, this is a lush wine. Subtle, toasty oak (it was aged in French and American oak barrels) dances with black cherry, cocoa and mocha flavors on the palate, along with a silky, soft mouthfeel that’s rare in this price range.

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These wines—the ones in the Clos du Bois Sonoma Reserve series—are very appealing. Winemaker Erik Olsen de-stems the grapes rather than crushing them, helping to tame the tannins, even in young wines. The 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($20) underwent malolactic fermentation (as did the Merlot) and was then aged in oak, lending subtle hints of vanilla to mildly earthy blackberry and red-currant flavors.

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I’ve long been a fan of Clos du Bois Sonoma Reserve Chardonnay ($16), and the 2007 vintage reminds me why. The grapes come from California’s Russian River Valley, which in this vintage produced concentrated, rich fruit, thanks, in part, to an earlier-than-usual bud break. Sur lie aging resulted in a Chardonnay with a creamy, luscious texture and almost effervescent pear and citrus flavors. There’s firm acidity here as well, making this Chardonnay food-friendly, not flabby. Try it with shellfish in cream sauce—the New Yorker’s papparedelle with Maine lobster and tomato-basil cream sauce comes to mind.

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Alexander Valley was the source for Clos du Bois 2006 Cabernet Reserve ($19), a fairly firm and chewy, rich Cabernet that’s well textured with lots of black-fruit flavors (blackberry and black cherry) and voluptuous vanilla flavors. The oak here is well integrated and this young Cab will get better over the next couple years. Right now, I think it would be great with roast beef or maybe a grilled hanger steak.

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For those of you who might have gotten a year-end bonus, Clos du Bois’ pricier proprietary wine series might be the ticket. The 25th Anniversary Clos du Bois Marlstone ($47) Bordeaux-style blend is especially alluring and if I could afford to drink 2004 Clos du Bois Briarcrest Cabernet Sauvignon ($41) on a weekly basis, I certainly would.

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Sips: On Jan. 31, in the Varsity Room of the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles stadium, Utah’s First Inaugural Wine Nite will take place. I’m told by Utah Wine Nite’s event director that this promises to be an “evening of great food, wine, dancing and mingling with Salt Lake’s professionals,” if that’s your sort of thing. Both singles and couples are invited, there will be drawings for door prizes and, most important, this is a suit and tie event, the director stresses. Those not dressed accordingly will not be allowed to enter. Presumably, suits and ties aren’t required for women. DJ Flatcracker will provide the music. Utah Wine Nite will run from 8 p.m. to midnight. The cost is $20 per person plus a bottle of wine “donation.” I’m told a capacity crowd is expected so you’ll want to RSVP in advance online at UtahWineNite.com, or call Paul at 801-530-9226. tttt

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