The thing with Ceja’s 2005 Vino de Casa is that it’s a basic, food-friendly, delicious little red. Nothing pretentious. Even the name just means “house wine.” Who’dathunk that it would come from 62% pinot noir and 38% Syrah? It’s hard to imagine two more different grapes.
Pinot noir is, of course, the heartbreak grape. Notoriously finicky, unless conditions are perfect in the vineyard and it’s treated with the right respect in the winery, you’re going to get crap. And usually expensive crap at that. Ask us how we know. Syrah, on the other hand, is hardy and usually as a wine it’s slightly spicy – think black pepper, licorice, cloves instead of fruity character – and in your face. As delicate and rich as the best pinots are, syrah is bold and almost overripe. Blended together, the two make an intriguing combination.
With pinot noir (and since that’s the larger part of the blend, those characteristics will presumably dominate), the aromas – or nose – will generally include cherries, raspberries, violets as well as sassafras, mint, leather and mushrooms. The taste can be any of these and oak is almost always part of a winery program, as long as there isn’t too much.
In the Casa de Vino, the Syrah adds color and flavor to the blend. There’s a nose of earth and some cedar/redwood. The medium weight mouthfeel contained pomegranate, some blueberry and dry red fruit. A good long finish lingered. And it’s more food-friendly than a lot of other pinot-based wines. At 13.2% alcohol, it will go well with lighter meats like pork with a light pomegranate reduction glaze or even with a little bit of oak smoke from the grill with the glaze as a grilling sauce. Vegetarian options could be smoked tofu or a French-inspired salad of artichoke hearts, olives and tomatoes over baby greens sounds yummy especially if there’s good bread alongside.