Alamos Red Blend

Alamos

Red Blend (Malbec, Bonarda and Tempranillo)

2010

(Mendoza, Argentina)

On Bottle/Website:

* Displays deep, ripe flavors of blackberry and plum with layers of brown spice

* Vineyards lie in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, with intense sunlight and pure snowmelt water

* Embody the richness of this rugged, remote region

* 13.5% ABV

My Notes:

* Appearance:  clear, day bright, medium intensity, ruby/garnet, purple rim, medium plus viscosity

* Nose: sound, clean, medium intensity, aroma/youthful, dark berries, blackberry, brown baking spice

* Palate:  dry, medium bodied, confirms nose, medium plus alcohol, medium intensity, medium complexity, medium length

When I purchased this wine I was on my way to a friend’s house to enjoy a rigatoni dish filled with fresh garden vegetables.  I wanted to pick up a Malbec from Argentina to pair with this meal.  I recognized the Alamos bottle from a review I had recently read and struggled with the choice of the red blend or full Malbec.  Although I do not put a large amount of stock in wine ratings, as everyone’s tastes are subjective, the sign about this particular red blend getting a high rating from Wine Enthusiast did sway my decision.  It was a slightly older vintage than the Malbec, while also having Malbec as the primary grape varietal, so I thought I would take a risk.

I am glad that I purchased this bottle because we were both very pleased with the smooth, slightly spicy taste.  We had a difficult time pinpointing the actual spices, even after clearing out her spice cabinet and comparing the aroma in the wine with the smells of the different spices.  It was a great refresher in one of the tasting exercises I have completed about olfactory acuity.  Ringing in at just above ten dollars, I will certainly purchase this wine again in the near future.  It paired very well with the tomato, basil and other vegetables in our dish.

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Rigatoni with Eggplant & Pine Nut Crunch

Fresh vegetables from the garden shine in dishes during the summer months, adding a layer of depth to meals that can not be duplicated in Iowa during the winter months.  I recently enjoyed a splendid rigatoni with eggplant and pine nut crunch at my friend’s house.  She is a great source of support for me as I am learning more about wines and expanding my memory bank of wine flavors.  She generously saved the recipe from Epicurious for me, knowing that it would be useful for me to use in my blog as an accompaniment to the tasting notes I was making about the Alamos Red Blend, made primarily of Malbec grapes, we drank throughout the meal.  The spicy notes of the wine paired nicely with the hearty vegetables used in the recipe.

She even sent me off with some homemade pesto and a bunch of basil leaves to take home, as I had commented about how relaxing I find the scent of basil.  I placed them in a vase beside my bed and enjoyed the best night sleep I had encountered in awhile. Basil rivals the sleep qualities of lavender in my book any day.

Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch

non-stick vegetable oil spray

1 unpeeled large eggplant (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds), cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch squares

2 cups grape tomatoes

2 large garlic cloves, divided

1/3 cup olive oil

2 cups (firmly packed) fresh basil leaves, divided

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 pound rigatoni

1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

** I know my friend adjusted this recipe slightly, making her own homemade pesto sauce to mix in and using actual whole tomatoes versus canned.  Make any adjustments to your own taste preference. Any hearty vegetables such as zucchini and yellow squash would work beautifully in this recipe. **

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray; add  eggplant and peppers. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise; add to sheet. Using  garlic press, squeeze 1 garlic clove onto vegetables. Drizzle vegetables with  oil; toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables until tender,  stirring often, 35 to 45 minutes.

Combine 2/3 cup basil,  1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and 1 garlic clove in mini processor. Blend until  crumbly. Season topping with salt.

Blend tomatoes with  juice, cream, 1 1/3 cups basil, and 1 garlic clove in processor until smooth.  Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in pot of  boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring  occasionally; drain. Return to pot. Toss with vegetables, sauce, and 1/2 cup  Parmesan. Transfer to 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella and  pine nut topping.

Bake pasta until heated  through, 25 to 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

Makes 8 servings.