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California Wine: Simple Pleasures

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Sometimes you just want a glass of wine.

You don't want to think about what to pair it with, or consider saving some of it for tomorrow. You want a wine that is ready to drink straight out of the bottle. In addition, you want a wine that won't set you back a week's pay just for an evening of intoxicative indulgence. Everyone needs wines like this, from casual drinkers to well-weathered wine professionals. So who better than a wine professional to create a line of wines that fit this profile perfectly?

Enter Chris Keller, wine consultant and, now, winemaker. Keller has long curated the lists at Santa Monica's Bar Pintxo and Joe's on Abbot Kinney. He recently put together the well-balanced wine list at Andrew Kirchner's newly-opened Tar and Roses. Keller has decided to take his love and knowledge of wine and apply it to the production of his own line of wines, Emmanuel Tres.

Inspired mostly by the wines of Spain, Chris currently produces four offerings; I had the pleasure of trying three. In his bright and boisterous Blanco, Grenache Blanc is the major player at 95% with a drop of Viognier adding just the right amount of aromatics and viscosity to this quaffable white. Next there is Tinto, a Tempranillo-dominant red with a fair dusting of Syrah to deepen the color and add some beautiful blue fruit. And finally there is his Garnacha, where, on the label, Keller references the French in calling it the Pinot Noir of the south (of France). This is a wine that is light on its feet, pretty on the nose and gone from the glass before you know it.

All three of these wines, dare I say it, do NOT need food -- they are a pure delight on their own. That is not to say that pairing them with food would be difficult. Quite the contrary. Drinking these wines with a meal would be delightful, just not necessary. So, with so many wines available that are amazing when served with the right food, it is wines that don't require food we are short on. It only makes sense that someone who's paired food and wine for years would make a line of affordable wines that stand well on their own.

The trio of Emanuel Tres wines retails for about $18-$20 a bottle.

[Photo of the the line of Emanuel Tres wines from their website.]

Los Angeles resident Michael Newsome, a wine buyer for Whole Foods and a Certified Italian Wine Specialist, joins us every Tuesday for an exploration of California wine. See his previous posts here.

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