Chateau L'Hermitage 2010

Every year here in New York I tend to get that stressed out feeling between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seems inevitable. Between the slate gray skies, gargantuan Christmas expenditures, stress induced bronchitis and the 21.2 minutes of daily sunlight, I can find myself at wits’ end. My solution is usually to treat myself to something special, but something that won’t break the bank; something to at once sooth my senses and boost my morale.

In this vein I picked up a bottle of 2010 Chateau L’Hermitage for $14.99, a fantastic, if unusual 50-50 blend of Mourvedre, and Syrah.

It comes from the Rhone Valley of France, where the distinctively rich clay soil and sunlight give birth to some really unique and amazing wines. I uncorked a bottle of it the other night and couldn’t help but smile, in spite of myself, as the strong aroma of dark fruits and earth greeted my nostrils. I left it to breathe for about 20 minutes as I took a warm shower and my fiancée prepared dinner.

We sat down to a meal of her signature risotto with mushrooms and leeks. The creamy, velvety and rich rice coupled perfectly with the red currant and pungent, earthy undertone of this special wine. Like walking into a warm, inviting store playing Christmas jazz on the radio on a cold, stressful shopping day, this was the cure for what was ailing me. The flavors meshed perfectly, like the notes in Louis Armstrong’s “Cool Yule.” And just like this sublime piece of music, this classy, jazzy wine, had me in a great mood in a matter of seconds.

The Mourvedre grapes in the wine create a pungent, bright cherry flavor that greets the palate, and the Syrah brings a luxuriously complex, distinctly French structure, gorgeous pepper and spice and long, lush, silky finish, which highlighted the risotto perfectly.

So after a long day of fighting crowds, cold weather, traffic and budgetary constraints brought on by a holiday featuring an overweight spendthrift from the North Pole (Yes, I’m talking about YOU, Mr Kringle), my solution is to take a short, virtual trip to the Rhone in the fall, for some TLC. What the heck, it’s cheaper than a trip to Vegas or L.A. to escape the holiday madness.