Dinner was smoked turkey with lingonberry compote, risotto with Italian seasonings, and roasted yams, a menu suggestive more of fall than spring, but it's chilly here in Sacramento, or at least it seems that way after nearly three months in Mexico. I was tempted to reach for a husky white wine, chardonnay or viognier, but instead grabbed a bottle we'd bought at Costco earlier yesterday, the 2007 Pillar Box Red.
It cost $8 and comes in a screwcap bottle, so I didn't pay much attention to the verbiage on the back label until I was midway through my first glass. "This wine benefits from decanting," it said at the bottom, almost as an afterthought. That such a young and inexpensive wine should improve with decanting is unusual, but I took the suggestion to heart and poured the rest of the contents into our simple and squat decanter.
I let the decanter sit undisturbed as I finished that first glass. The wine, an Australian blend of 65 percent shiraz, 25 percent cabernet sauvignon and 10 percent merlot, is deeply colored, almost murky, smelling young but ripe, with rounded edges and a clean if elusive fruitiness. Those were my first notes.
With the second glass, this time from the decanter, the wine became more expressive, the fruit juicier, its suggestions of berries and cherries more clearly enunciated. With the third glass, we tried it with some dark chocolate. Didn't work, the wine is too dry and too light for that kind of intensity. With the turkey, risotto and yams, however, it was right on. The 2007 Pillar Box Red isn't a blockbuster wine rich with complexity and length, but it is balanced, smooth and nimble, with enough shadings to prompt diners to keep refilling their glasses until the bottle is empty. Just remember to decant it.