Oh, why the hell not? And it turned out that the Red Car Syrah 2008, Sonoma Coast, worked really well with the hearty, meaty flavors of the Bolognese sauce (or my variation) that I made a couple of nights ago.

I started with a handful of diced hog jowl, in lieu of guanciale, that I fried in a bit of olive (in a fairly large pan) and then added 1/2 pound each of ground chuck and ground pork — no veal in our house; LL does not allow such — browning the meat thoroughly. Took the meat from the pan and dropped in some finely chopped onion, carrot, celery and bell pepper, let that cook and soften, added a couple cloves of finely chopped garlic, let that saute for a minute and then poured in about 3/4s of a cup of red wine, turned up the heat and let that cook down until all the liquid had evaporated. Then back into the pan with the browned meat, dump in two cans of diced tomatoes and their juice, sprinkle on some chopped thyme and oregano, and pour in another cup of the red wine. Let it barely simmer for an hour. Purists may rage that I didn’t do this or didn’t do that or I wasn’t supposed to do whatever, but this is just how I do a Bolognese-”style” meat sauce, and I ain’t a-gonna change, because it’s damned great!

Red Car was founded in 2000 by Hollywood producer, now winemaker, Carroll Kemp and screenwriter-turned wine store salesman Mark Estrin (who was 57 when he died in 2005) to focus on Sonoma Coast pinot noir and syrah. Box Car wines are less expensive that the Red Car “Trolley” series.

These wines were samples for review, as bloggers, but not print journalists, are required to disclose by the FCC.
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Let’s start, though, with the Box Car Syrah 2008, Sonoma Coast, a pretty darned juicy, smooth and seamless, well-balanced syrah that offers blackberry, blueberry and black currant scents and flavors permeated by smoke and graphite, lavender and potpourri and a strain of clean mossy earthiness. The wine ages 10 months on French oak, 20 percent new barrels. 1,243 cases produced. 14.5 percent alcohol. Authentic and enjoyable. Very Good+ About $20.

Now, the Red Car “Trolley” Syrah 2008, Sonoma Coast that we tried with our pasta Bolognese. Ah, here are the requisite size and heft, the smoky, smoldering, meaty scents and flavors of spiced and macerated blackberries, black currants and plums, while seething below the surface are notes of lavender, licorice and potpourri, with more smoke, more spice and charcoal-and-graphite-tinged minerality galore. Oak and a plethora of fairly dense and chewy tannins still feel smooth as silk, polished and fine-grained. Real syrah character here, deep and dark and savory. 14.6 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $45.
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And just for fun, let’s do two of the winery’s pinot noirs.

The Box Car Pinot Noir 2009, Sonoma Coast, is unabashedly lovely. Aromas of black cherries, rhubarb and cola are touched with moderately spicy qualities and a wee bit of slightly smoky, earthy, mossy funkiness. A texture of pure satin — but delicate, almost weightless — enrobes ripe and clean earthy plum and black cherry flavors highlighted by winsome touches of violets and sandalwood and pinpoint acidity that keeps the package vital and vibrant. Production was 1,228 cases. 13.9 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $28.

For the additional bucks, what you get from the Red Car “Trolley” Pinot Noir 2009, Sonoma Coast, is more spice and more earthiness; this pinot is a little funkier — in a wild yet essential manner — a little denser, but also more spare and sinewy, with more of a foresty briers-and-brambles nature. Boy, though, the sweet, ripe blue and black fruit flavors really envelop your tongue and palate, though the wine retains its important leanness and keen acidity. This aged 11 months in French oak, 55 percent new barrels. Production was 572 cases. 14.1 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $45.
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