WHAT: I know many people like to drink beer on St. Patrick’s Day, but if you’re in the mood for wine, the Concannon Crimson and Clover 2010 would be a good bet.
The wine was created as a tribute to Jim Concannon, grandson of the winery’s founder James Concannon, who was born in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day. He left Ireland at age 18 and eventually founded the California winery that now has had four generations involved in it.
It’s a bold, silky wine, sensuous and complex. The nose has a nice spiciness that leads to flavors of blackberry, cherry and plum. It has a long, soft finish.
The first bottling of this red blend was 2009. I think this vintage is even richer and lusher, probably from a healthy dose of Petite Sirah. Neither the label nor the winery specify the blend, but the previous version was half Petite Sirah blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel.
The Crimson and Clover is good with a meal or as an aperitif. Open it 30 minutes or so before drinking. The clover is the traditional Irish symbol for prosperity, and crimson pays homage to the bright, deep red color of the blend.
The bottle also is unusual, with a depiction of the winery gates embossed on it.
WINERY: Concannon Vineyard dates back to 1883, when James Concannon and his wife, Ellen, moved to the Livermore Valley and planted their first grapes. It was the first successful California winery founded by Irish immigrants.
The winery is known for Bordeaux- and Rhone-style blends. It was one of the first wineries to produce Bordeaux blends in California, and it introduced America’s first Petite Sirah in 1961. It is still the winery’s flagship wine.
The winery developed widely adopted Cabernet Sauvignon clones now found throughout Napa Valley. The family also has devoted itself to sustainable farming and green technology.
Concannon is one of the Conservancy winegrowers who have placed their land into a legal trust that protects against development forever.
GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I shared this wine with our friends Richard and Sharon when we visited them in Lexington, S.C. They were as impressed with the wine as we were. “Smooth” was the word we all kept coming back to.
It’s such a smooth, soft wine we had it before dinner, with snacks of cheese and crackers, Chex mix and olives. It was a very nice sipping wine.
I also saved some to taste with the chicken corn chowder Sharon fixed for dinner, and it was even better with the chowder. The creamy, slightly spicy chowder was a great complement for the smoothness of the wine.
This also would go well with hamburgers on the grill, Irish stew, Gorgonzola-stuffed chicken wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon, or a black pepper-crusted filet mignon.
Concannon family recipes can be found on the winery Web site at www.concannonvineyard.com. Look for the family recipes section.