Négociant Winery
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Negociant Winery

2419 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park

In 2012, Utah’s happy hour ban went into effect, adding that state to a short list of others that consider special prices on alcoholic drinks a source of great social harm. Later that year, Hurricane Sandy wrought destruction along the Eastern seaboard. No amount of legislation could prevent the property damage and loss of life at the hands of the storm. Quite possibly, no lives were saved by Utah’s teetotaling legislative action. These two things were almost certainly not connected, except in the cosmic sense.

In California, Ronda Rousey won a Strikeforce fight here in San Diego, down on Sports Arena Boulevard, and in so doing earned an invitation to fight in the UFC — which some people consider a titanic breakthrough for women’s equality in professional sports. Up north, workers harvested the grapes that would eventually become Négociant Winery’s 2012 Sangiovese.

Négociant Winery

Négociant Winery

This complex red, produced and bottled by Négociant but made from grapes grown in the Sierra Foothills, doesn’t like to give up its viticultural secrets. Particularly perplexing is the bitter, earthy, not unpleasant taste that lingers long on the finish. It’s hard to pin down, but it seems to be the flavor of unsweetened chocolate. That is intriguing, since pure chocolate is chemically complex and found in wine more rarely than many expect.

The winery claims blackberry and plum notes, but this amateur finds something like blueberry and violet coming out up front, though they vanish almost immediately. So quickly, in fact, that it’s hard to be confident they’re even there before a much more assertive licorice flavor takes hold, lingering for a while before yielding to supple, tannic black tea and then an analgesic hint of clove hot on the heels of an alcoholic burn.

This wine is not suited for the light wine-bar food at Négociant. It’s basically a domestic Brunello di Montalcino (basically, not exactly), so drink a glass there and enjoy it or buy a bottle and bring it home to open for a substantial meal from the grill.

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