We spent a pleasant couple of hours at the Wine Down Bistro and Bar in Granger, Indiana. This is a tapas-style restaurant with an interesting wine list and a great selection of unusual beers, too. We tried both red and white wine flights that were offered, and found the mix to be quite interesting.
Red Wine Flight. The first was Morrow Bay Merlot 2004, which had a smoky aroma and an oaky flavor with a long, spicy finish. The St. Francis Sonoma Red 2003 had aromas of oak and spice. It had a nice structure, with balanced tannins and oak with somewhat subdued berry flavors. The Bridlewood Syrah 2003 was a repeat of a wine we first encountered last month at a wine pairing dinner. On this tasting, we found it to have smooth, ripe blackberry flavors with some acidity and not much spice; last month, we found more spice in the finish. The last selection in the flight was from Spain, Vega Del Rio Crianza 2003. Like the other choices, it wasn’t overly fruity, but had a balance of berry and oak with medium tannins. Overall, these were all interesting reds. All leaned toward the less fruity end of the spectrum, but they were all relatively complex and there wasn’t a dud in the bunch.
White Wine Flight. My notes on these are a bit more sparse, as I didn’t order them but cadged a sip of each. The St. Francis Chardonnay was light and mild with pear and a bit of citrus. The Rock Rabbit Sauvignon Blanc had a powerful nose of apple and mown grass, with the apple continuing onto the palate. The Pierre Spar Pinot Gris also had an apple nose, with a sweet pear flavor; this was the sweetest of the group. There was a fourth, but somehow that one didn’t get recorded.
Butterfield Station Merlot. The big hit of the night at our table was the Butterfield Station Merlot. This was a big, bold merlot with a rounded, plummy flavor. There was lots of spice in the finish. This is a very inexpensive wine that is widely available, but its 2003 vintage won gold medals from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the Dallas Morning News. Its fruit-forward character contrasted with the reds in the wine flight, but it retained enough complexity to be interesting.
On the beer front, we tried a Belhaven Scottish Draft. This is an amber beer that was surprisingly light with a creamy, hoppy flavor. Half the fun of this brew is watching the head form – if properly poured, waves of fine bubbles cascade upwards to form a thick, creamy head. I usually prefer a more robust beer, but this was a refreshing and enjoyable choice.