Calling all Merlot lovers—Hunter Hill has released its 2013 estate Merlot ($25)—and a superb one it is, too.
The most popular red wines found on store shelves are also those most commonly known, such as Pinot, Zinfandel and Merlot. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Pelican Ranch Winery’s Cinsault ($19), it opens up a whole new world. Cinsault is a grape that can tolerate heat, so it is found in countries with warmer climes such as Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, and France. It’s rare in California but grows well in places like Lodi—Silvaspoons Vineyard in this particular case—where it’s hot and dry. Often used as a blending grape, the silky Cinsault is just fine on its own.
As one of the judges at the Dare to Pair Food & Wine Competition held April 26 at the Surf City Vintners complex on the Westside, I had a hard time choosing a winning dish. All 12 plates of food prepared by students in the Cabrillo College Culinary Program—each paired with a compatible wine—were outstanding.
I recently got together with a group of friends at Cantine Winepub in Aptos, which accommodates groups well with its spacious interior and west-facing wooden deck (with a fire pit), which makes a sunset glass of wine all the more enjoyable. Located in the heart of Aptos Village, Cantine also offers small plates of food, such as bruschetta, marinated kale salad, a cheese tray, and other tasty morsels that are perfect for sharing.