Hooray for Alicante Bouschet from FairPlay! #Winophiles

Alicante Bouschet

After enjoying Alicante bouschet from Portugal, my writing partner Sue Hill has had her eyes peeled to sample some from California and hopefully compare. Camilla Mann’s prompt for this month’s #Winophiles to find and feature wines from France that crossed continents seemed like the perfect opportunity to look at Alicante Bouschet from California and Portugal except we were so overwhelmed with tasting notes for Slow Wine Guide that we didn’t even try to compare with other Alicante Bouschet from Portugal, France, California, or as the prompt on Culinary Adventures with Camilla suggests, “French grape varieties like Carignan, Cinsault and Alicante Bouschet that became important in the former French colonies of Algeria, Lebanon and Morocco or  from anywhere in the world, though French is preferable; and pairing your wine with foods from Algeria, Lebanon and Morocco would be fun” she says.

So setting aside the complicated cards about colonized and enslaved countries, their cuisine, and the wines exported from there, with a serious lack of time, none of that was on the table, and since we didn’t want to miss out completely, we added just one to the mix which we found quite delightful, and we’d go so far to say with climate change, and considering how well it shows in Portugal, this grape has unrealized potential for California, especially, I suspect, the Sierra foothills.

The biggest challenge, however, is to get more people to try less common and more unusual grapes and lesser known regions like Fair Play in El Dorado County– to step out from their comfort level. Read our description below and don’t tell me you’re not intrigued and plan to rush right out and try a bottle! 

2016 Obscurity Cellars “Alice’s Biscuits” Serendipity Hill Estate Vineyard, Fair Play, El Dorado, CA

2016 Obscurity Cellars “Alice’s Biscuits” Serendipity Hill Estate Vineyard, Fair Play, El Dorado, CA 
ABV 14.2%
SRP
Grape: Alicante Bouschet
Sue visited the winery and purchased this wine with an industry discount.

Color: Very dense and dark, ruby with a clear varying to garnet rim. 

Aroma: Cranberry and Christmas, rich musk, hedonistic, cherry cola, Sierra spice,

Palate: Ripe mulberry fruit is foremost, mouthwatering viscosity, insense and fruit linger on the back of the palate, bright fresh mulberry with herbal intensity. cocoa nibs on the finish. Earthy cocoa. 

Pairing: We paired this wine with grilled flatbreads topped with fennel salad, cured meat and cheese which you can find recipes for here and here.  There is so much lovely fruit and spice in the wine, with food all of that is enhanced. It loved the garlic and pancetta. The fennel salad enhanced the Sierra spice in the wine. I felt that I could also see this meal with bacon wrapped filet mignon. There was a depth of character in this wine equivalent to what we experienced in France. 

Let’s talk about French grapes grown outside of France with the French Winophiles group. Live Twitter Chat tomorrow (Sat 9/17) 8 am Pacific time. Join the conversation via #Winophiles. 

Discussion prompts:

  • 8:00 am Q1 Bienvenue to the #Winophiles’ “French grapes outside of France” chat. From where are you tweeting? Introduce yourself and share a link to your blog, if you have one. If you are just visiting or are a wine producer, welcome, welcome!
  • 8:05 am Q2 Do you have a favorite French wine grape? Have you ever tried that grape from elsewhere in the world? #Winophiles
  • 8:10 am Q3 What was the first French wine grape you discovered? What were your impressions, if you remember? #Winophiles
  • 8:15 am Q4 What’s the most unusual French grape you’ve discovered outside of France? Was this grape new to you? Did you source it online or in person? #Winophiles
  • 8:20 am Q5 Tell us about the French grape you are highlighting for this chat. Where is it grown? Were you surprised to find it in this location? #Winophiles 
  • 8:25 am Q6 What can you share about the producer of this French grape grown outside of France? Anything interesting about the story? #Winophiles
  • 8:30 am Q7 How does your wine compare to one produced in its French place of origin? Similarities? Differences? #Winophiles
  • 8:35 am Q8 These  chats always make me hungry. What about you? If you paired your wine, please please share some details or drop a link to your blogpost! Did you go with French food or opt for something closer to where the grape was actually grown? #Winophiles
  • 8:40 am Q9 Where else do you plan to look for French grapes outside of France? What else would you like to taste? Any recommended wine regions? #Winophiles
  • 8:45 am Q10 Is there any downside to growing native grapes outside of their homeland? Does it alter the integrity (sense of place) of the wine? #Winophiles
  • 8:50 am Q11 Do you have any final thoughts or new questions for the group? #Winophiles 
  • 8:55 am Q12 Any comments/questions from visitors? Share a thought, comment, question! #Winophiles 
  • 9:00 am Thanks to all the #Winophiles bloggers and guests for joining this exploration of French grapes outside of France. Next month we take a look at Fall in France with foods and pairings. @wendyklik is hosting. Stay tuned for more information.

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