Ambaristo has always dipped its toes in fruit bomb territory and it even took a swim in said territory so its fruitiness is as fruity as possible. This was in 2013 when we started bottling the wines. I was in my 20s and haven’t reigned in my sweet tooth just yet. As the resident winemaker of Basi del Diablo Wines, however, I knew I had to dial it back at some point. That came two years later.
I love fruity reds but boisterous reds like the Ambaristo deserve some balance. Balance is good. Balance is de rigueur but when it comes to sweet reds, one has to get it right for it to not become the Basi Maria. Their ingredients are different but there is a point in the process where it can turn into a poor copy of my very own elegant red wine. Winemaking is both an art and a science.
Of the many delightful transformations that Ambaristo has gone through, the happiest was the moment that the company decided on providing balance and nuance. Do not get me wrong, exaggerated red wines are still enjoyable and our Ambaristo still has some boisterousness left in its body. It was made to be that way to deserve its name, the name of a hero of the Basi Revolt. The shift to attaining balance was prompted by a batch of the wine that tasted jammy. It was so ripe and sweet that it struggled to hold on to its structure. I wanted it to be majestic, not tattered, not too sweet that I’d throw it in the bin or people like me would throw it in the bin.
I didn’t want the Ambaristo to be overblown but I did want it to be intense without the spiciness it has in its youth. I wanted it to be complex, silky, and fragrant. These things take time though and it does take a bit of devotion if you can call it that. Now, I can honestly say that the Ambaristo is just the way I want it to be while ensuring that it doesn’t lose itself in the brand’s quest for true blue commercial consumption. A polished wine is good but I personally do not want it to be so polished that one forgets its sugarcane content.
Ambaristo doesn’t have a following yet. Right now, while looking at sales records, I can see that Virginia Blush and Basi Maria are neck and neck. My grandmothers always had a friendly rivalry but I never expected that to translate into the wines. My maternal grandmother Virginia saw boxes of Basi Maria being prepared for delivery at Wilfred’s the other day and this somehow pushed her to ask how Virginia Blush is doing. I mention this because Ambaristo can be considered as a cross between Basi Maria and Virginia Blush. If you are torn between these two, get a bottle of Ambaristo because drinking it gives you the elegance of the Maria and the refreshing sweetness of the Virginia.
Unlike the Maria, however, the Ambaristo is not your all-purpose red. It has a certain heft and presence and a sweetness that can be paired with luscious chocolate cake. If you are adventurous enough to pair it with meat, the dish must be flavourful and it must offer a range of textures.
There is a rainy day side to Ambaristo that makes it a good pairing for traditional beef stews or chili. Beef stew, in particular, is a good pairing because of the creaminess of the eggplant mixed with the tannins of the wine. The dish also reveals the earthiness of the Ambaristo and the slight spiciness that it has successfully hidden with age.
If you are adventurous, do get a bottle of Ambaristo at Wilfred’s. You might enjoy it as much as we do.