Dalliance: Everyone Wants a Taste of this Wine

Eating dinner with my family at Harwig’s in Steamboat Springs, CO, a restaurant famed for its wine list and multiple Wine Spectator awards, I asked the sommelier to suggest a bottle. “What do you like?” he replied. “We like Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel,” I answered, “but we love to try new things.”

Our sommelier darted off with, “I have just the thing for you,” and returned sporting a bottle not even on the one inch thick wine list. It was Dalliance (pronounced in the French way), a 2010 red from Lake County. An unusual blend of Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah, Tempranillo and Grenache–four out of the five varietals being a favorite of one guest at the table–this wine has something for everyone. Further, the varied varietals blend in perfect harmony, contributing individually discernible characteristics, yet the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Not needing much time to open up, the Dalliance red has berries, oak, and a hint of bacon from the Syrah on the nose. Smooth feeling, this wine is big and full on the palette: complex without being overbearing, and with a carmel finish. (Yay!) Dalliance created so much excitement at our table, we immediately crowned it our new favorite red. And that was before the food even arrived.

With every course, it was superb. We paired the Dalliance with Lobster Bisque and Beignets, Bone-in Antelope and Strawberries, and Grilled Lamb. Any game or rich, buttery shellfish would produce a winning combination. You could also try Gabriele’s Wood Fired Leg of Lamb or Saltimbocca alla Romana.

Our sommelier postulated that it was a wine made by artists, who set out with a goal in mind and were able to accomplish it. Intrigued, I decided to contact the winemaker himself, Mike Wood at Shannon Ridge Winery.

What was your vision when you set out to make this wine? 

My goal on this wine was to create something fun, easy to drink on its own and also paired well with different foods. Celebrating the fun things in life, good food, great friends and those special moments with your lover!

Why did you choose the varietals you did? What does each bring to the wine? How did you decide on the blending ratios?

I chose the varietals based on what each could bring to the party and wanting to use varieties you don’t see very often. The Zinfandel adds the ripe jammy fruit, the Barbera helps balance the acid, the Syrah bring a little back bone and earthy character, the Tempranillo brings a little spice and the Grenache brings a little fresh strawberry fruit. The blending ratio was determined by trying different percentages of each until I felt the balance and mouth feel fit the style I was looking for.

How does being aged in French and American oak add to the wine’s complexity?

The addition of oak brings another layer of flavor and richness adding soft vanilla notes and helping with the tannin structure.

Is there anything else about Dalliance that you would like to share?

We will be coming out with a white version that will be Viognier based. It will be a great summer sipper that should pair well with fresh summer salads.

Tara Thomas, Shannon Ridge winery spokesperson also had this to add about the vineyard’s sustainable farming practices:

Each vineyard block was carefully planned to fit the contours of the land and maximize ideal sun exposure. Varietals, rootstocks, clones, vine spacing and row direction were matched to the soil composition and exposures. More than 1,000 sheep patrol the property, turning cover crops and fire dangers into instant compost.

The best part about this wine? Suggested retail is under $20. But you can’t buy it online. Ask your local wine store, like Wally’s, to order it for you. I’m ordering a case myself.