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Blends are the thing and there are plenty out there at incredibly reasonable prices.

Wine sells because of great quality, a name wine drinkers know, a nifty label, or a great story. Sometimes the great story is just an interesting one.

The story of San Permis is more of a good idea gone bad but the winery’s red blend was a big hit with wine drinkers while it was a round. I also enjoy a blend like San Permis with beef dishes that don’t quite come up to the level of a charred steak.

spSans Permis La Petite Colline Rouge is a Rhone style blend of Grenache and Syrah. On it’s first night it was rather light and fruity with very little detectible tannin on the finish. In other reviews, some wine fans say the juice varies from bottle to bottle. I liked the fruit much better on this wine, and even the finish, on night two.

It’s the story though of former Turley (known especially for it’s Zin) winemaker George Van Duzer starting the label in 2004. He wanted to make wine with minimalist intervention.  A good translater will tell you Sans Permis is French for ‘without license.” And indeed, Van Duzer made his wines without filtering or fining agents.

A year after he got started, the winery went into bankruptcy. Now, why write about a wine that’s no longer made? Well, it’s an interesting story though there isn’t much out there on the internet about the Sans Permis venture. More importantly, inventory of the red blend rouge, several Chardonnays, and a pretty decent Pinot Noir remain on the market. Most of the wines are being peddled at ridiculously low prices by the popular online flash sites.

Most of the Sans Permis was originally ticketed, and widely praised by critics, at the $25-$40 price range. These wines have consistently turned up on the internet in recent weeks at $9-$15. If you see the label – buy some!

My Beef/Bacon Pot Roast Dinner

4-6 slices of bacon
stewing beef
Beef Stock
 … whatever else is in the fridge!

Just look at those chunks of bacon on beef!

Look at those chunks of bacon on beef!

Forget quantities, it isn’t that difficult. Adjust what you need to the number you are trying to feed. Crisp up the bacon and set it aside. Brown the beef in the bacon fat. I salt/pepper the meat in advance, then sprinkle liberally with fresh or dried thyme as I brown it in the skillet.

I chop up plenty of onion and cover the bottom of a baking dish. Throw in the beef, carrots, and some beef stock and bake low and slow. I let it roast a couple of hours at less than 350 degrees.

This is something you can play with and fix differently each time. I like to keep it real moist with the broth and put it over egg noodles. Or with a little less broth I substitute fingerling potatoes for the noodles.

I like to give my version a splash of red wine vinegar about halfway through the cooking process. It adds a little brightness to dish that can be come almost too savory.

Another variation would be adding seasoned tomatoes to the mix. It’s fast and easy. I like Hunts diced tomatoes with Rosemary and Oregano!

Oh, that crispy bacon! Eat a piece or two because – well, it’s bacon. Then have at least one piece per serving to crumble over the stew. The bacon adds a wonderful crunch and bacon-y goodness.

Pop open that red blend, lock the doors, and watch your favorite guilty pleasure on the television!