2008 Crystal Basin Cellars Reserve Mourvedre

A couple of weeks ago we ventured east to El Dorado County with a small group of friends who had never been tasting in Gold Country before. We dropped in to a couple of our favorite wineries to taste and buy.  One of our destinations was Crystal Basin Cellars.

CBC has revised their tasting menu.  We were offered a list of a dozen wines to be tasted for a low $5 tasting fee.  The fee would be waived if we purchased any wine.  If you’re gonna charge a tasting fee, that’s the way to do it.  Even though I wasn’t driving, I could not taste a dozen wines after having tasted a half dozen at the previous winery.  So I stuck to the reds.

The had a “mini vertical” tasting of the 2008 and 2009 El Dorado County Reserve Mourvedre’s.  In the tasting room I liked both, the 2008 more.  I thought the wines were smooth and complex with a depth of flavors and enough acid to go with some not quite lean meats.  Because they were having a deal on these wines – one bottle of each for a total of $40, the normal price is $27 / bottle – I made a purchase.

Yesterday evening I opened the 2008 to accompany a lean and slightly spicy beef dish.  I thought that the light black peppery quality to the Mourvedre would complement the food.  Wow.  Was I wrong!  Instead, the food and wine combined and the spice seemed to increase exponentially!

It was a total food and wine pairing fail.  And it was my fault.  My error made the Mourvedre over power the food and overwhelm my palate with a strong, black pepper flavors.  I needed water to cool my mouth down.  Individually, neither the wine nor the meal was remotely that spicy.  But in combination it was a nuclear spice explosion on the tongue. My partner agreed, and switched to a sweeter, less complex table red to finish the meal.

Needless to say, the wine did not shine under these conditions.  I finished the meal with water as the beverage.  I had some bland crackers to clean my palate and after the meal, I had another glass of the Mourvedre.

The 2008 Reserve is a medium bodied wine with a 14.1% alcohol.  It has a lovely dark ruby color.  The 2008 has a bit of acid that would go well with a slightly fatty food, and very smooth tannins.  It is is a moderately complex wine.  As I mentioned, it does have a slight black peppery quality to it that would complement lamb or beef, or even turkey, but not foods with even a little bit of black or spicy pepper!

After the meal, and by itself, I enjoyed the wine quite a bit.  It took about 45 minutes for the wine to relax and open up before the dinner and after dinner it was very good.  I think for this wine to shine, it needs to be paired with a completely different food to really come into it’s own.  I’ll have to remember this when I’m opening up the 2009.

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About dslocicero

David is an author and architect living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He writes about wine, food and travel. His first book is Pour Me Another: An Opinionated Guide to Gold Country Wines, now one of the highest rated books about California Wines.