Finch & Radley Chenin Blanc
Finch & Bradely is a wine label out of South Africa, the product of two wine makes: Pascal Schildt and Thinus Kruger. Most of their fruit is sourced from Voor-Paardeberg Mountain, an hour north of Cape Town. This area is hot and dry, and lends itself to Rhone style wines like Shiraz. Chenin Blanc thrives at higher altitudes here, where slopes provide shade in the evening and temperatures reach lower levels at night. This allows the grapes to maintain good levels of acidity.
Finch & Bradley's Chenin Blanc pours straw yellow in the glass, and gives off aromas of yellow apple, lemon curd, and pineapple. On the palate you get more yellow fruit: yellow apple and yellow raisons with tertiary notes of tarragon. This wine has moderate acidity and alcohol, making it nearly medium bodied. Food pairings for this wine? A meat-lover's pizza with honey glazed ham would be perfect. This Chenin Blanc takes the role of pizza's most controversial topping, pineapple—balancing the salty savoriness of ham with acidity and fruitiness!
Chateau Musar Jeune Rouge
If you headed in a straight line from Beirut east towards Damascus, you would eventually cross through Bekaa Valley, Lebanon's most productive wine region. It wouldn't be an easy walk, as mountains lie on both sides of Bekaa Valley, protecting it from westerly Coastal Rains and easterly desert winds. Most of the region plant French grapes, and Chateau Musar is no exceptions—during WWII a Bordeaux proprietor was stationed in Lebanon, and befriended then-Chateau Musar winemaker Gaston Hochar. Chateau Musar's white wines are made from indigenous grapes, but read like fine Sauternes. Their red wines balance Cabernet Sauvignon with spicy, aromatic grapes like Syrah and Cinsault.
Musar Jeune is their entry level red, a blend of 50% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, and 20% Cab. Opaque and ruby red in the glass, this wine smells of ripe raspberries and red cherries, with hints of graphite. These flavors persist on the palate, with the addition of blueberry and hints of orange pekoe tea. This wine has mouthwatering acidity, followed up by sneaky, fine grained tannins on the back of the palate. Strong acidity and moderate alcohol make this wine medium bodied. Savory meat dishes are a no-brainer with this wine, but it drinks wonderfully on its own. To fully appreciate this wine's structure be sure to chill it down to around 65°F.