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Congratulations, you made it. Not through this entire January—honestly, who in the Sam Hill reasonably expects anyone not named Lyman Beecher or Carrie “Hatchet Granny” Nation to go an entire month without drinking? No, instead you made it to day 20 of Dry January, and, really, that’s good enough.
Now, we celebrate.
Here are four wines worth checking out as you return to normalcy—at least where your alcohol consumption is concerned. Remember: if God did mean for us to drink on the regular, she wouldn’t have invented corks, wine glasses, and hands.
Lang Marechal Foch 2021
Normally, “smokey” is a word used to describe Ardbeg Ten Years Old, U.S. firefighting bears with a penchant for large hats, and (in recent years) the air quality of British Columbia every globally warmed summer. Wines? While not so much, also not unheard of, especially if you’re popping the cork on a South African pinotage or a Northern Rhône syrah. Fermented in stainless steel, Lang’s signature wine starts with Naramata bench grapes harvested from estate vines that date back to when Elvis was peeling potatoes in the army. Smokey with plenty of tobacco in a perfect starting point, with the overripe cherries, tart cranberries, cracked black pepper, and fresh-from-the-garden sage on the back end. While not the boldest wine on the shelf, Lang Vineyards Marechal Foch has enough going on to earn the description “interesting”. Sometimes that seems like a put-down. It shouldn’t.
Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Speaking of smoke, albeit more wispy than full-on, Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect for those days when your bank balance says “Forget it”, but the last thing you want to listen to is a bean counter. That’s another way of saying that ready-to-burst blackberry, shaved dark chocolate, and heady oak are all a green light to treat yourself. When you’ve got a wine that swings for the fences at a more-rr-less wallet-friendly price, it’s time to spring for the grass-fed rack of lamb at Windsor Meat on Hastings, and a Montechristo #4 at the Cigar City Emporium. Fire up the barbecue and light up the pride of Havana—this is an exceptionally smooth, big-character wine that holds its own no matter what it’s paired with.
Blasted Church Merlot 2018
It’s a tossup what to love more: the label art (think Renaissance-chic), winery name (Blasted Church is almost as great as Il Bastardo), or the marketing catch-phrase (“A heavenly wine reigns upon us”). With 95 percent hand-harvested merlot grapes rounded out malbecs from the Similkameen Valley, this front-and-centre at the party merlot arrives silky and, without coming off as overly sweet, heavy on the fruit (sun-ripened red currants, bruised Japanese plums, and Okanagan-cherry fruit leather). Adding depth is delicate undertow of toasted cloves, charred, cedar, and dark-roast coffee beans. As for the question of what to love most, it’s what’s in the bottle of course, with the origins of the name Blasted Church a close second. Google it, and then feel free to enlighten the table at your next dinner party.
The Judge 2019
What’s in a name? In the case of the rather-imposing sounding The Judge from Hester Creek, start with a hand-picked best-in-show mix of 41 percent merlot, 31 percent cabernet sauvignon and 28 percent cabernet franc, all from Hester Creek’s Golden Mile Bench. Sombre is too weird a word, so let’s go with “stately” for a wine that suggestsimported hard licorice, fresh-brushed leather, powdered cocoa, and dried tarragon—all goosed by heady-oak from French and neutral-oak barrels. Throw a double-marbled rib eye on the grill, cinnamon-dusted chocolate cherries for dessert—The Judge is imposing enough that it’s not going to be overshadowed. And that includes the guilt that comes with going “So long, dry January”, when the finish line is still a good week and a half away. Thanks God that bloody nonsense is over until 2024.
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