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Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: Three good reds and ... yes, some beer

We have, for some weeks now, been looking at but a small portion of the wines found at the recent Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular. The event, which occurs every January, is an opportunity for New Hampshire wine lovers to sample an enormous variety of wines from around the world.

Today we’ll take a look at a few more, and, just so you won’t think I’m a one-trick pony, the time has come to give the beer lovers among us a what for.

• POV 2010, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Napa, Calif., 14% ABV. The back label tells me it is made from organic grapes. That usually means organically grown grapes, as in no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. There is no mention of which grapes have gone into this blend, it simply says “red wine.” And it is definitely that. A deep purple, changing to ruby, then pink, then clear at the very rim. It has a nose of black fruit as well as cedar and just the slightest hint of pencil shavings. The palate is medium-plus bodied, with good tannin, dry, with intense black fruit profile encompassing blackberry, hints of blackcurrant, and perhaps some dried fruit, as well as some oak notes, cedar along with some smoke. Perfect for pairing with a good thick steak on a cold night. 86 points.

• Tilia 2014 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina. 13% ABV. Made from sustainably farmed grapes. This one is under screwcap, and is available in many a grocery store around here. I’ll tip my hat and say that this is one that you can often find at my house, as it is both inexpensive and good, and pairs well with many different dishes. Medium intensity red wine with the nose of both red and black fruit. It is a medium bodied wine, with good tannin, and flavors of blackberry, dark fruit in general. While the grape is native to France, it consistently makes a great showing in the southern part of the New World. 84 points.

And speaking of the New World: Catena 2013 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina. 13.5% ABV. Made from grapes grown in high-altitude vineyards in Argentina — as you know the closer you get to the equator the hotter it gets, so the solution, when it’s too hot to grow grapes in the general vicinity of sea level, is to head up into the mountains — the higher up you go the cooler it gets. So it’s not uncommon to see photos of these vineyards as vast plateaus surrounded by mountain ranges where the vineyards get the sun, but not the blistering heat that would destroy the grapes. This wine is a red with a darker core than the Tilia. It has a very different nose, black fruit yes, but also some intense spicy aroma. On the palate it is dry, with medium acidity, good tooth coating tannin, a medium flavor intensity that brings blackberry, hints of plum, and peppery flavors. Medium length finish, very smooth. 85 points

At last, beer

Now, you beer lovers may have been felt left out in the cold over the past few weeks, but we did need to give the wine lovers their due, given all that happens in January.

You’ll be happy to know, then, that Sam Adams didn’t simply curl up into a ball when surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine. They’ve recently released this year’s edition of Samuel Adams Cold Snap seasonal brew, “white ale brewed with spices and spices added,” 5.3% alcohol by volume. This is an unfiltered beer, which means it’s a little hazy in the glass. It’s made with orange peel and plum as well as coriander, producing a golden beer, hazy due to its unfiltered-ness, under a slightly off-white foamy head. The nose is bright and the spices come right out, along with hops aromas. What is evident in the nose is even more evident on the palate, which is dry, with a medium bitterness and acidity, serving as a base for the spice flavors that include orange peel, coriander as mentioned, citrus notes, and some floral notes coming to the fore toward the finish. Medium-plus length finish, by the way, pleasing and refreshing, a blast of freshness in the midst of falling snow.

One more Sam Adams to wrap up today’s presentation: Samuel Adams Session Ale, “Extra Special Bitter,” 5.0% alcohol by volume. This is a new presentation from the brewery in Boston. Extra special bitter, or ESB, is a beer that traditionally presents with earthy flavors from the use of English hops (East Kent Golding, if you want to know). Sam Adams has added some Bavarian hops as well. This is a bright golden beer under a white head, thick and lasting, and the hops jump out of the glass at you. Both earthiness and the citrus are there. This one has an intense bitterness (30 IBUs — international bitterness units) behind which come the citrus, the deeper earth tones, and an overall intense presentation right through the finish. Good quality. If bitterness is a particular favorite of yours, this one is definitely worth a try.

Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at