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Wine Reviews: Vicara Barbera "Cantico della Crosia" 1998 
by: Vino Joe (e-mail
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Vicara Barbera "Cantico della Crosia" 1998 is one of Vino Joe's Favorite Wines!

Let's get something straight about Beaujolais (BO-jah-lay). There are two types: one you drink, and one you don't. Interestingly, the one you don't happens to be one of the most popular wines in the USA. This is "Beaujolais Nouveau," the barely fermented grape juice that is released amidst great fanfare every year on the third Thursday of November. This highly publicized and advertised campaign was the brilliant creation of Georges DuBoeuf; though he's from France, it's no mistake that this marketing ploy coincides with the American Thanksgiving holiday and the unofficial beginning of wine-buying season (almost one-third of all wine purchases take place in November and December). Beaujolais Nouveau comes in prettily decorated bottles with flowery and colorful labels. The idea is the "Nouveau" will give you an idea of what the current vintage's other wines will be like, once they're ready (late spring/summer of the following year). This very young wine is fresh, vibrant, juicy and almost candy-like -- in the first week it's released. After that, the wine quickly loses its freshness, and is downright terrible by the end of the year; the scary thing is that many of these bottles are still on shelves, and purchased, through Easter. 

Now, the type of Beaujolais you DO drink is the "non-Nouveau," or any of the wines that have a specific appellation on the label. Some of these include Chenas, Brouilly, Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon and Moulin a Vent. Or the one we review here, Beaujolais Villages. Any of these wines are fruit-forward, have lots of bright and fun cherrylike flavors, soft tannins, good acid, and are enjoyed at room temperature or slightly chilled. Many snobs scoff at the simplicity of Beaujolais wines; however, I find them a hell of a lot of FUN! Most are under fifteen bucks, and the price plus the universal appeal (EVERYONE enjoys Beaujolais) make it a good choice for an outdoor barbecue or similar get-together.

The example here is from that marketing genius himself, Georges Duboeuf. Despite the insipid Nouveau that keeps him afloat, Duboeuf's other wines are very good -- and affordable. The Beaujolais Village has a faint nose of sour cherry, cranberry and black raspberry. Same fruits are tasted in the mouth. Good acidity, imperceptible tannins. Actually, it tastes kind of like a sour cherry pie.

This is a bright, simple red wine with a sharpness that screams for fatty or acidic food. A great match for simple, All-American fare such as cheeseburgers, pizza, tacos or a Philly cheesesteak. I enjoyed it with a beef burrito from a Tex-Mex takeout joint.

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