Over a recent dinner out with colleagues the topic invariably turned to which wine to order. Everyone has a different relationship with vino, and a quick poll demonstrated the relative disparity of what is considered a low-commitment versus a special-occasion wine.
Such was the inspiration to start featuring a few favorite bottles that I consider to be "everyday wine" - a selection of go-to wines that represents a positive price-to-pleasure ratio. My criteria are 1) enjoyable both at home or suitable to take to a gathering; 2) pleasant with or without food, and 3) guilt-free if you were to open the bottle and only drink half – as if that ever happens, but for the sake of argument...
Preamble aside, that sums up an excellent Lagrein from a producer called Athesia in Trentino, Italy. At $10.99 a bottle it's a veritable bargain for everyday enjoyment, without depleting the coffers of Nova Clutch cellars - much as I wish it were full of only the likes of Quintarelli, Bea and Gravner.
Lagrein ("la-grINE") is an obscure and wonderfully rustic varietal rumoured to be a relative of Syrah. Grown in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region, this bold, full-bodied red is berry-forward without being too fruity, and balanced so nicely with lengthy tannins. There’s a hint of violet, a touch of gravel. It’s also gorgeous in the glass, with an inky purple hue that Italians refer to as “scuro.”
Artesia’s Lagrein made an appearance the other evening, when chilly weather called for grilled skirt steak, roasted heirloom carrots and purple cauliflower mash with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Pure comfort food to mitigate the culinary dilemma now that tomatoes are no longer in season - about which Natasha and I are still in denial. At least a few glasses of this lovely Lagrein helped ease the drama.
I open this one up for commentary - what do you consider an everyday wine?
Wine: 2004 Athesia Lagrein, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italia
Varietal: 100% Lagrein
Recommended Pairings: Roasted pork chops with rosemary; roasted autumn vegetables such as Romanesco or parsnips; sautéed Swiss chard; Piave vecchio, Montasio or other hard cheeses