Weeknight: Chateauneuf-du-Pape has long been one of my very favorite wine regions, but in recent years the prices have gotten out of hand. But for a mere $17, the 2012 Domaine Duseigneur Lirac Odyssée delivers most everything that makes the appellation so stellar without the hefty tariff: dark and brooding fruit, great balance and a kinda sexy finish. The blue- and blackberry notes shine through on the nose and palate, where this baby lingers for a full minute or so after swallowing. This wine killed with my friend Faith’s fabulous St. Louis ribs the other night, and I can’t wait to try it with braised lamb shanks or beef short ribs. The down ‘n’ dirty but smooth vocals of Bessie Smith heighten the experience.
Occasion: Rodney Strong is one of those wineries that sometimes easy to forget about because it so solid and consistent at all price points. But the 2012 Rodney Strong Alexander Valley “Symmetry” Meritage ($51) is anything but forgettable, with cassis from the cab and plum from the merlot, and everything playing together beautifully. The finish is stout but also boasts some elegance. Based on my recent samples, this winery can do no wrong, and here it’s even giving the oft-mocked “meritage” coinage some credibility. Grill some Porterhouses or pork chops, or roast most any meat, to serve with this. The smooth stylings of Kansas City blues/jazz pioneer Jay McShann provide perfect accompaniment.