Take It Easy

WINE Clos du Bois Rouge 2010(2)It’s summertime and the livin’ in easy … make your everyday wine choice an easy one, too, with Clos du Bois Rouge.

This fruitful red blend offers a veritable smorgasbord of varietals — Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Tempranillo and Tannat — that harmonize on the palate and on the table, pairing with a wide range of summer meals.

The wine opens with an intense black cherry and chocolate aroma. The lush flavor of cherries, blackberries and currants dances on the tongue, accented with a dash of oak spice and some black pepper zip. There’s just a bit of tannin to give it heft in the smooth finish.

This is the house wine you’ll want to keep on hand all season long. Serve it with steaks, ribs and hamburgers off the grill. It makes a perfect pairing for casual fare at barbecues, picnics and tailgaters. Or, punch it up a bit and use Clos du Bois Rouge as a base for sangria — the winery offers its own recipe at www.closdubois.com/cocktails.

Clos du Bois founder Frank Woods established his winery in 1974 on his vineyard estate in California’s Sonoma County after a tour of France’s wine regions. His original intent to name his label Woods Winery fell by the wayside when his children, who were taking French at the time, urged him to add some continental flair to the name. The Woods children suggested clos du bois, which, loosely translated, means “enclosure in the woods.”

Woods’ vision was to marry the robust, fruit-forward qualities of California wines with the elegance of French wines. The winery sources grapes from Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Carneros and Knights Valley for an award-winning collection of 27 wines in Bordeaux and New World styles. The vineyards and winery have converted to sustainable practices such as natural pest control, composting and riparian wetlands management; the winery has installed 4 acres of solar panels to generate 85 percent of its energy needs and an ice bank to cool the barrel room.

The approachability of Clos du Bois wines has made them a popular choice for wine lovers. Last year, Clos du Bois Rouge sales growth outpaced all other wines in the super premium segment.


Blender’s Choice

Pay attention to the label when shopping for wine varietals and blends. A blend by another name could be a very different wine than what you expect.

In America, if any single grape variety makes up 75 percent or more of the wine, the bottle can be named for the predominant varietal. When shopping for red blends, look for one of these terms on the label to get an idea of the wine’s contents.

  • Bordeaux Blend: The five “noble” red grapes of Bordeaux, France, are the only varietals allowed in a Bordeaux blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Not all of the grape varieties are used in each blend. A typical blending is 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 percent Cabernet Franc and 15 percent Merlot. The Bordeaux appellation only applies to wine made from grapes grown in Bordeaux.
  • Meritage: Napa Valley winemakers came up Meritage (rhymes with “heritage”) in the 1980s to give them a proprietary name for their high-quality blended wines made from Bordeaux grape varietals grown in the United States. According to the Meritage Alliance, a red Meritage is a blend of two or more of the “noble” Bordeaux varieties — Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot — plus the rarer St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère. No single grape variety can make up more than 90 percent of the blend.
  • Claret: A generic term for red Bordeaux-style wine is claret. Used primarily in English-speaking countries, the word derives from the French clairet, which was once a dark rosé commonly exported from Bordeaux until the 18th century. Today, it appears on labels of blends and red table wine.