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Under $20 Bordeaux for Memorial Day, Earthy the Way I Like It

"Fruit forward" and "fruit bomb" are descriptors commonly used to describe "big" red wines, the kind you want to break out for Memorial Day, when you're going to be grilling and smoking.

And hey, I've got nothing against fruit: Wine is made from fruit and it should taste like fruit. If it doesn't taste like fruit, then there is probably something wrong with the wine. (Remember our series last year on corkiness and how the absence of fruit aromas is an indication that a wine may have been damaged?)

As Americans, we have been raised to believe that fruit-forwardness is one of the hallmarks of a great red wine. And, no doubt, it can be (if that's your thing).

But when I drink "big" red wine, I look for a balance of fruit (tending toward sweet) and earthiness (among the savory "umami" flavors in red wine).

And when it comes to Bordeaux, flavors of tar -- what the French call goudron -- are what can really set the wine apart from the rest.

The 2009 Château Landat, a Cru Bourgeois from the Haut-Médoc in Bordeaux was recommended to me by Houston wine legend and cowboy Bear Dalton, fine wine buyer at Spec's and one of our country's leading authorities on Bordeaux.

I had asked Bear to put together a mixed case of wines that were "outside of my box" and this is one of the ones that has really impressed me: A great balance of ripe red fruit and earthy undertones of tar and menthol, classic hallmarks of Bordeaux.

Here in Texas, we don't just grill for Memorial Day. We are Texans, after all, and so we SMOKE!

And I love the way that an earthy wine like this complements the smokiness in tender brisket.

At around $16 a bottle, I won't even mind if Aunt Dianne mixes some Coke in it.


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