Most Indian restaurants seem to recognize the challenge of pairing wine with their food and give up. Some present a thoughtful wine list full of great choices to complement the meal. In Los Angeles, Cardamom does it that way. Sommelier Stewart Prato's choices are decidedly Francophile, and they all seem to hit the intended target in the bullseye.
On my last trip there I had a Côtes du Rhône with my lamb and spinach dish. I usually go with a white wine at an Indian restaurant because I feel they work better with spicy food. Since this dish didn't advertise a lot of heat, I tried the red. I'm glad I did.
The 2011 Domaine de la Janasse Reserve is a Grenache-heavy blend that also includes Syrah, Carignan, Mourvedre and Cinsault. Winemaker Christophe Sabon apparently put this cuvée together especially for an importer and is available only in the U.S. It is said to better than the one he sells in France, and it costs under $20 retail.
The Janasse Reserve shows a medium-deep ruby color, and delivers aromas of bright cherry, with a touch of tar and meat. Flavors of blackberry liqueur meet earth and minerals. Tannins are low and the oak is barely noticeable, musts for an Indian food pairing.
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