The Wine Curmudgeon, despite his crusade for wine labels that look like they belong in the 21st century, was more than wary about this wine. “friends.red”? Talk about chalk on a blackboard.
Still, the wine comes from Pedroncelli, one of my favorite producers and one that has long cared about quality cheap wine, so I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt. For which anyone who buys this will be grateful, because we’re talking $10 Hall of Fame quality.
The Friends ($10, sample, 13.9%) — sorry, I can’t type it with the dot red — is a red blend with mostly merlot and syrah, the kind of wine I wish more California producers were interested in making. That means it’s not only priced correctly, but interesting, with more than syrupy fruit flavors. It’s surprisingly rich and full, probably from the barrel aging, and something that rarely happens with wine at this price. Look for red berry jamminess, soft tannins, and the correct amount of acidity for this style of wine. Plus, there’s no residual sugar, which I thought I tasted in the previous vintage.
Doing a Mother’s Day barbecue? Then this fits the bill. It will pair with almost anything, and it’s soft enough for people who might not like red wine and will still please those of us who do. Highly recommended.
The Wine Curmudgeon used to eat at a Dallas restaurant where the wine list was, to put it politely, pretty sad. This is not uncommon, of course, since too many restaurant owners tend see wine as an aggravation and not a way to please customers (and yes, I know I promised to write something about this, and it’s still on the agenda).
It was frustrating that the wine list had very little anyone would want to drink, since I liked the food and the prices were reasonable. Fortunately, the Pedroncelli rose was on the list, and I drank a lot of it. Like almost every time I ate at the restaurant.
And why not? The rose ($10, purchased) paired with the food that I ordered and it was cheap, especially for restaurant wine. Best yet, the wine was — and still is — well made, with some cranberry and currant fruit, a bit of juiciness in the middle, and even some heft. This is not a light rose, but one with body, and it’s almost as if there are tannins lurking in the back to remind you this is a dry wine and not that pinkish, sweet stuff. Pedroncelli is a fourth-generation California winemaker, and the family takes great care with what it does — quality wine at good prices. The chardonnay is worth trying, too.
Chill this (especially this summer) and drink it on its own or with any summer food — burgers and barbecued chicken come to mind. And be glad that one long ago restaurant owner had the good sense to have one quality wine on his list.