Out of the mix: Carignane straight up
Few wine experts ever suggest looking to a “wild hog” for an inspiring vino alternative, but it does happen, especially for people with penchant for the now defunct French varietal “Carignane”. For them, it still lives on in Somona County’s Dry Creek Valley in the form of a wild hog.
There, the valley’s heat and soil coaxes all of the power and sassiness out of this grape, driving Dry Creek renditions of Carignane right back to their Rhone roots. Because of its power, the French would always mix it with other varietals and rarely bottle it “straight up”.
Of course, the French were never really big on honey barbeque ribs like we are; that in itself may explain a lot. So with a mess of ribs fresh off the grill on a sunny Phoenix afternoon, a nicely apportioned wine with a cranberry-toast bouquet and solidly acidic backbone is a treat for anyone who wants to take a little detour from the usual BBQ Zinfandel.
One good example of a Dry Creek Carignane is produced by Saini Farms’ “Wild Hog Vineyard” and is sure to peak your interest. By itself it can be a bit rash, but along with the ribs, lookout. It makes those ribs come alive with even more zip. Cutting right through the richness of the sauce like a knife, this is probably one of the better pairings around.
Wild Hog 2009 Carignane is available in limited quantities at our valley Total Wine stores for under $26 and can be found over with the “Alternative Reds”. That’s truly where all the wild hogs belong!
Serve nicely chilled at 50-55 degrees. The bouquet becomes very pleasant as it warms up to room temperature. This piggy is no wimp.