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Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: It's cooler, so everyone is ready for reds

Earlier this month, we looked at some delicious white wines offered by the Wine Society. Now, the weather's going to get colder, and Charles Saunders was planning ahead for it with a big tasting of red wines.

I know people who refuse to drink red wine during the summer, or warm weather in general, reserving it for the cooler times of year. Personally, I think a Cabernet or Zinfandel with something red on the grill is hard to surpass, whatever the temperature may be.

So let's close out October with some notes from that tasting:

2006 R. Stuart Pinot Noir, Autograph, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $24.99, 14.5% abv. An Old World Pinot Noir from the New World. Medium intensity ruby red, pronounced nose of red fruit, including ripe raspberry. Dry palate, medium acidity, medium tannin, medium body, and strong flavors of ripe raspberry, strawberry in the background, earthy notes that call out from Europe, helped along by about six months in oak before it's bottled. Good Pinot Noir structure, balance, concentration and complexity. 90 points.

2009 La Posta Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, $17.99, 13.5% abv. Medium hue, but a good dark core, medium-plus intensity nose of black fruit, blackberry predominating, dry palate, medium-plus tannin calling out for red and grilled meat, medium body, medium-plus flavor intensity of black fruit again, with blackberry and some black currant hints. A solid wine from south of the border. 88 points.

2009 Lees Fitch Zinfandel, California, $14.99, 13.9% abv. Fig jumps out of the glass in this red Zinfandel, with black fruit, good acidity, flavorful. 87 points.

2008 Three Saints Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara, Calif., $24.99, 14.7% abv. Purple wine, developing nose with good fruit, black currant, blackberry, vegetal notes in the background in this Californian fruit forward production with dry palate, medium alcohol, well-integrated robust tannin, fruit as above with some oak notes on the palate. 91 points.

There. When the cold arrives, you will be ready.

Visits from beyond

Timothy Joyce, a monk at Glastonbury Abbey in Hingham, Mass., has written about the ancient Celts in his book Celtic Christianity. He reminds us that Celtic doesn't just mean Irish.

Evidence of Celtic settlement can be found across the European continent - in northern Italy, France's Brittany, and of course, Ireland, tracing a long journey to the land we think of now as Celtic.

I mention this today because Timothy writes that the ancient Celts believed that the next life "impinged on and interacted with the present life. Spirits of ancestors and fairies were to be found in various places, particularly in those identified as 'thin spaces' or at 'thin times.'

Death and wakes were such times and occasions. A particular thin time was the annual feast of Samhain (around Nov. 1) when the space between the old year and the new year allowed spirits to move more freely in the world." Sounds a little bit like Halloween, doesn't it?

If they come close to thin space, I have a long, quirky list of people, both famous and obscure, whom I'd like to sit down with if they were ever inclined to pay me a visit at such times: Gilgamesh, Aristotle, Mary Magdalene, St. Matthew, St. Jerome, Benedict of Nursia, Rashi, Maimondes, Hildegard von Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Goethe, Martin Luther, Thomas More, Albrecht Durer, J.S. Bach, Franz Kafka, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, my Italian uncle Secundo, my Dad and more.

Who's on your list? If one of them should show up unexpectedly, here are some capsule reviews of pumpkin beers I wrote about earlier, just in case you find the need to raise a glass tonight with one of them:

Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale, 7% abv. Pumpkin nose, and a very dry palate - the pumpkin is right up front, the spice in the background, adding a little kick on the finish.

Woodstock Inn Autumn, 4.4% abv. Rich nose of caramel and spice, cinnamon standing out, and, of great interest, apple and spice along the finish.

Mayflower Autumn Wheat Ale. Wheat base, definite grain notes on the nose and the palate, with the pumpkin in a very harmonious blend.

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale. Decidedly malt nose, rich and dark, smokiness, molasses and burnt flavors, and a broad rich palate through the end.

Shipyard Pumpkin Head. Spice and pumpkin very up front from the nose, through the palate to a long finish.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale. Amber gold, with a rich nose of pumpkin spice reflected on the palate.

Pumpkin UFO. Unfiltered and wheat based, light nose, with a seriously pumpkin pie back palate and finish. This one was on the lighter end of the spectrum, suggesting an aperitif.

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin. Pumpkin right up front, followed by cinnamon and pumpkin spice and along pumpkin finish.

Sam Adams "Fat Jack" Double Pumpkin Ale. Pumpkin and spice, with cinnamon being most noticeable.

Jim Beauregard is a local wine and beer writer who can be reached at tastingnotesnh@aol.com.


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