Friday, May 1, 2015


Under a threatening sky, BESIEGED by rain clouds, lightening glinting in the hills, the winemaker worked alone to collect grapes destined for one of his debut wines. As he worked, the ravens cackled from above but instead of being harbingers of doom, they brought him good good fortune, becoming the totem for his winery.  The winery is Ravenswood.  And the wine.  It is Besieged.

I have to admit that the label caught my eye.  However, I do not buy wines solely on the label.  Many a bottle has stood on a shelf because I will not allow myself to be swayed by what is little more than marketing.  The one thing that led me to purchase a bottle of this wine was the blend ... Petite Sirah, Carignan, Zinfandel, Alicante Boushet, and Mourvedre.  I am a big fan of Petite Sirah, and have a great interest in both Carignan and Mourvedre.  But Alicante Boushet?  I had never heard of that varietal.  It was the prospect of having a wine made with a grape that I had never tasted.

The grape, Alicante Bouschet, is a hybrid, produced by crossing Petit Boushet and Grenache.  It was first cultivated by ... Henri Bouschet ... in 1866.  The result was a high quality grape that enticed French vineyards and winemakers throughout much of France, including Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire Valley, as well as by Portuguese vineyards in the Alentejo.  It is also a popular grape among winemakers and vineyards in California, including Joel Peterson of Ravenswood.

The Besieged pours a dark red to almost black. Something that echoes the colors of a raven's wings.  The aroma is full of fresh, ripe dark fruit, such as blackberries, black cherries and plums.  There is a slight spice or pepper in the background, but it struggles to make itself known amongst the fruit.

As for the taste, I have to say that I was truly impressed with this wine.  The elements include the fruit -- blackberry, black cherry, and plum.  The winemakers also suggest a rather peculiar spice ... cardamom.  And, I have to say, I actually picked up the cardamom in the wine.  It revealed itself for just a few moments before being wrapped in the dryness of the tannins in the wine. The finish is a little dry, but that is to be expected given the use of Zinfandel and Mourvedre.

When it comes to pairing, this wine is perfect for a grilled steak or other grilled meat, such as chicken or pork.  The fruit flavors, and the cardamom, contribute to the flavors of the grilled meat.  I paired this wine with my Green Fire Ribeye, which is a grilled steak with a rub made of green Hatch chile, coriander, cumin, onion powder and garlic powder.  Notwithstanding the use of chile powder, the wine still worked very well because the tannins are relatively tame.

I found this wine in a local grocery store.  A bottle runs from $14.99 to $16.99.


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