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Hop on these great value wines for your Easter meals

April 19, 2019

Happy Easter! The long Lenten fast ends Sunday. It is time to celebrate Easter for some, while other folks continue with the Passover week. I did err last week in attributing Passover mostly to our Jewish friends. In fact, many Northern European Christians also observe Passover and the Sabbath as starting at sundown on Friday. Many Muslims observe Laylat al Bara’at, when the annual fortunes of men are decided and when Allah may forgive sinners, April 20. It is also the birthday of Muhammed El Hasan el Mahdi this year. Keep in mind, Muslims observe the lunar calendar. Gregorian calendar causes change each year. The great majority of the Earth’s population have their own variety of religious beliefs, of course. Is it coincidence that most of those observe a similar set of do’s and don’ts regarding each other and the nature of the Higher Power? I wish to repeat my recommendation to read “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” a very well-documented, holistic look at the nexus of myth, history and most of our modern-day religions. I think it adds much-needed context to many of the front-page issues dividing or connecting us.

May I suggest Gewurztraminer or Zinfandel to accompany Hasenpfeffer for the quixotic readers with no children. The spicy flavors found therein are delicious with the marinated Hase. Hase is not Bugs Bunny or the Easter Bunny, by the way, both of whom are jackrabbits, not found in Germany. Hase is German for hare. Hare and rabbit differ in that hare is any of several plant-eating animals of the family Leporidae, particularly genus Lepus, with longer ears, larger feet and larger size than rabbits. Jackrabbit is actually a North American hare of the genus Lepus. More info here: https://www.diffen.com/difference/Hare_vs_Rabbit.

As a practical matter, this explanation probably won’t work with those who believe in the Easter Bunny or Bugs Bunny. Lamb may be a better choice. For those who say baaa, perhaps beef, chicken or ham will do. Odd that the season’s favs are bunnies, peeps and lambs. I still remember killing and cleaning Sunday dinner. My, how the world has changed. Pass the mac’n’cheese and the veggie burgers, puhleese.

If you are having beef or lamb this weekend, take a look at Hess Lion Tamer Red 2016, an affordable Napa blend of Cab and 10 percent Malbec. 2016 was a great year in Napa. Lion Tamer is a bargain, 88 points around $40. If you see any 2014, snap it up. Blackberry and cherry aromas with coffee back note on the 2016. Boysenberry, mocha, a hint of smoke and barrel note flavors are supported by proper acidity/tannic frame.

Another good choice is La Crema Pinot Noir Monterey, 88 points under $18. This is a lighter-bodied red with good aromatics for chicken or turkey. Considering it is about half the price of La Crema RRV, $35, game birds, duck or goose, it is definitely a better buy. I’m not comparing the wines; these are distinctly different. This is more a QPR statement. Kendall Jackson-owned La Crema’s venture into Oregon is also beginning to pay off. Willamette PN 2016 around $21 is 89 McD points. Those looking for a $17 Napa North Coast Chardonnay can check out Hess for a buttery beauty, old-style Chard. If you prefer the drier Chablis style, their Mount Veeder Small Block 2016 is lovely. Crisp, with white peach, lychee, and back note jasmine and honeysuckle aromas. Mineral acidity, peach flavors run to a bright, clean, repeating jasmine finish. Should be findable under $25. 

Ramon Bilbao Albarino 2016, 89 McD under $15 may also be labeled Ramon Bilbao Valinas or Mar de Frades Finca Valinas. The Albarino label was attached for English speakers. Green straw-colored, stone fruit nose. Fruit palate gives this dry, full-bodied wine a sweet feel, but the finish is clean and dry. Roast chicken, halibut, flounder dishes. Their Reserva Rioja Alta DOCA 2014 won silver at the 2018 IWC. Should have done better. A great bargain, 89 points at $25. In fact, anything you find from 2008 to 2014, the most recent release, is good QPR. Goes well with lamb or dry-cured ham.