Wines of Modesto California, Featuring Dark Horse and Apothic Dark

The origins of Tapas comes from the small plates that accompany delicious  wines. In some parts of Spain they actually give the food away free as long as you purchase glasses of wine.

That said, one of the areas we must look at closely when we enjoy our Tapas is the wine that goes with our food. This is even better if these are to be found at a reasonable price-point, in this case under $15.00 USD.

Let me start out to loosely quote a book I read about enjoying wine… “What really matters the most is if it simply that it tastes good to you.” So, that is what I as going to share here, my opinion about the qualities of these wines.

I am very fortunate to live in a part of the US that I believe produces some of the finest wines in the world, The  Great Northwest, in particular, the Willamette Valley area. This has allowed me to savor my favorite Pino Noir readily. I tend to use them as my benchmark for comparison. I am a huge believer of the importance of the “Terroir”, the environmental factors that effect the qualities of the crops grown in these regions.

Today, we are going to sample a couple of wines from Modesto California. Modesto is located about due east of the Bay area and south of Napa and Sonoma. Situated in the Central Valley, this area has rich farmland and excellent grape weather with mild winters with and very hot, dry summers. Modesto is the home to the world’s largest winery, the  E & J Gallo Winery.

We are going to focus or efforts on two smaller wineries from Modesto.

Dark Horse WinesDark Horse Wineries is our first contender. Winemaker Beth Liston has been experimenting with different grapes and techniques to produce a “stable” of six wines. We had the pleasure of trying their 2014 Pino Noir. This Pino has a lovely fragrance with a touch of spice and cherry. The flavor has subtle sweet berry notes and a clear oak foundation.The velvety smoothness in my mouth is one of it’s strongest attributes. I often find many California Pino Noir’s to feel desiccating and harsh but this Pino Noir is flavorful and moist. This wine paired nicely with a baked eggplant with meat sauce and Contadina chopped salad, that included salami, provolone and parmesan cheeses. The nature of this wine facilitated its ability to enhance the flavor of a lighter flavored food such as a salad and not overpower it.

Apothic WinesOur next candidate is Apothic Dark. Winemaker Boyd Morrison has combined old-world winemaking traditions with new-world style. He carefully selects grapes to come up with his blended red wines. This 2014 vintage had a nice, rather floral aroma, My first impression was a very bright grape foundation with some tinges of a darker berry taste, perhaps blackberry or cherry. There is a pleasant, subtle sweetness and a slight dryness to this full bodied wine. We paired it with a spicy paella, where it worked , but it was better with a variety of cheeses and crackers. I think it had everything to do with the contrast of the sweetness of the wine and the saltiness of the cheese.

Based on our sampling, we can recommend both the Dark Horse Pino Noir 2014 and the Apothic Dark 2014 as excellent choices for your tapas celebrations. They are very predictable, quality wines within a very reasonable price range. After all, affordable wine makes it perfect for everyday tapas enjoyment!

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