Avignonesi Desiderio 2010

Avignonesi-DesiderioAs wine writers, we get many emails from PR firms with oddball pitches on why we should promote a particular wine. Often times they’re preposterous ideas that make it obvious the particular person has never read our blog, for example a wine bar opening in Los Angeles, a suggestion to mix Cabernet with pomegranate syrup, lime juice and soda (to make a refreshing cocktail!), or even wipes to clean your teeth after wine drinking.

One came across my desk recently, however, that made me laugh out loud. It was from a particular person that happens to be more knowledgeable than most, so though I knew it wasn’t coming from ignorance, that didn’t make it any less crazy, at least on the surface. The suggestion? That I drink an Italian wine to celebrate the Spanish Running of the Bulls!

There is, in fairness, a bull on the label of Avignonesi Desiderio 2010. The beautiful Chianina bull of Tuscany, in fact, in this case a real life 19th century bull named Desiderio, who, legend has it, physically dominated his meadow mates and brought great wealth to the small farm of La Capezzine, which became one of Avignonesi’s main vineyards.

So, even though I found the premise to be on the sillier side, I played along, mostly because I know Avignonesi makes serious wines and any chance to try one shouldn’t be missed.

Though the Navarre region of Spain (where Pamplona is located) is actually best known for vegetable production – piquillo peppers, asparagus, artichokes, etc. – this “bull of a wine” called for some steak, of course, a dish that’s served widely during the festival. I made a simple rub highlighting paprika to keep the regional theme going, then grilled some grass-fed rib-eyes alongside asparagus and red bell peppers.

Interestingly enough, the wine, which is primarily Merlot with just a touch (15%) of Cabernet Sauvignon, featured hints of paprika on the nose as well, matching my dish nicely, and fitting the theme perhaps better than even I expected.

Though there’s a wisp of tar in the aroma, this wine is all about fruit. One might even say bullish on fruit. Raspberries, dark cherries, plums and even blueberries all make an appearance in a pure, clean expression, followed by notes of chocolate and pepper on the extended finish.

At this point it’s just about too late to celebrate the Running of the Bulls, but that’s OK, because, if you ask me, this fresh, delicious wine will probably pair better with Tuscan-style porchetta anyway. (Sorry Maggie.)

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