.Ahlgren Vineyard Syrah 2004

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Most red wine drinkers love Syrah. It’s bold, meaty, smoky and peppery—a robust brew that pairs extremely well with meat.

The 2004 Syrah, Ventana Vineyards, Monterey—made by Ahlgren Vineyard – is a pretty good wine for around $9 (from Deer Park Wine & Spirits). Winemaker Dexter Ahlgren, who, with his wife Valerie, has operated his vineyard in Boulder Creek for more than three decades, has made a wine here that’s big and bold—and, in this case, unfined and unfiltered. The winemaker’s comments on the label say “Deep and dark, classic Syrah bouquet with bright, spicy flavors.” It’s also rich, complex, a downright bargain—and the perfect wine to take to SmoQe BBQ & Wood Fired Pizza.

When I mention to four of our friends that my husband and I are going to SmoQe for dinner, we all decide to head out there together to try this new place. It’s a Friday night at SmoQe – which has been open for only a matter of weeks—and, judging by the packed restaurant, is already extremely popular.

We open up our Syrah for everybody to taste. It goes well with our first course – a plate of cheese and some crisp apple slices. But by the time the barbecue comes, there’s not much of the Ahlgren left, and I’m wishing I had brought more of this lovely spicy wine—a very good match with our delicious pulled pork and a plate of perfect ribs. Congratulations are due to owner Aaron Duncan and his head chef Jeff Shapiro for dishing up such terrific food. I plan on going back with another bottle of Ahlgren Syrah.

Ahlgren Vineyard, 20320 Highway 9, Boulder Creek, 338-6971. Ahlgrenvineyard.com. Open Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. for wine tasting and sales.

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Wine Events

Capitola Book Café continues with its monthly wine tasting events with “The Colorful Wines of Argentina.” Jenny Moore from Classic Wines will share her knowledge and passion for all things wine. Cost is $12 with some of the edibles donated by Whole Foods Market. Friday, Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Capitola Book Café, 1475 41st Ave., Capitola, 462-4415. capitolabookcafe.com.

Big Basin Vineyards

This wonderful winery in the mountains of Boulder Creek is putting on a Barrel Tasting & Bonfire on Sunday, Feb. 28 from noon-5 p.m. If you’re interested in doing some good tasting and then watching winemaker Bradley Brown burn a couple of old barrels, then this is the fun event for you.
Big Basin Vineyards, 830 Memory Lane, Boulder Creek, 621-8028. bigbasinvineyards.com.


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