• (disclaimer: any run-on sentences in this post are intentional… others, maybe not so much, but this one yes. If you cannot handle reading run-on sentences try pinching a body part while reading this. It may help occupy the grammar pain center of your brain just enough to get you through it. I highly recommend attempting to read this regardless, because it’s fun and I wrote it damn it. Thank you for being you and for your time, and I appreciate you for who you are. No really, you are a special flower, and I imagine the world smiles just a little wider each day when they are near you.)

     

    Identifying a wine is very tricky. If it’s one of the more commonly found varietals, I can guess it about 60% of the time. Often I just look at the color, give a sniff and the varietal just lands on the tip of my tongue before the wine does. The reason this is possible for me is that I’ve tasted thousands upon thousands upon thousands of wines since my inception into the wine world.

     

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    The other day I went to a small wine tasting at a little wine shop in the neighborhood. I went with friends and chose to have a blind tasting (I had no idea what was poured into the glass).

    The first was a white wine. The moment I smelled it I shouted Sauvignon Blanc, because it smelled of grass and gooseberry. However, they provided a sheet of wines that they would choose from, and I couldn’t find any flavor profile that matched what I had experienced. I started to second guess myself. I thought hmm, well I guess it could have that or that. I changed my mind after much deliberation, but I was right the first time. I asked the pourer about the incorrect tasting profile. He said, oh those haven’t been updated; it’s just to give you an idea. Urp.

    The second white I had a good idea what it was just by the color of the wine. It had an oxidized orange-ish hue to it. I grinned maniacally as I eagerly brought the wine to my nose. Gran Reserva Blanco! I shouted even louder as I slammed my hand onto the counter.

    Side Note: I love aged Riojas, and white aged Riojas are some of my favorite wines. They are a tricky lot though. Some taste like old saddle leather that someone did unspeakable things to, but when you find a good one… angels part the clouds of heaven, and descend upon the earth with a glow that radiates outwardly, filling every breath you take with a sense of love and belonging. That love and belonging attaches to the alveoli in your lungs. This creates a chain reaction, and your sympathetic nervous system kicks in. It slaps your heart with jumper cables full of electricity, you notice the quickened pace… is that fear? anger? What’s happening to me? Goosebumps race along your arm. You see the angels encroaching upon your territory. Definitely fear, you think, but then one kisses you on the lips and stars explode from you as if you were a confetti-popper of awesome. Synapses are firing to the tune of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3, intense and overwhelming at times, but just when you can’t hold on to reality for a moment longer the ballad your mind is composing to the wine takes a lilting twist. The angel lifts you up into the clouds. Your eyes close by reflex to let the heat warm your eyelids. Resting upon the clouds, you bask in the glow as joy seeps from your pores. People turn to you, and from what seems like miles away… voices tell the pourer… I’ll have what he’s having.

     

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    I was taken to this place for a moment. I understand this style of wine so intimately that I often wonder if I have illegitimate wine babies somewhere (I know that’s not a thing). Much to my chagrin we moved on to another wine. This time I noted the color and smelled the bouquet… Pinot Noir. Then I tasted it. The wine was rampant with tannins, not grape tannins, but oak, mouth drying, popsicle stick on the tongue barbaric tannins. Someone aged their delicate flower in new oak. My mind reeled, and I thought there was no way this could be a Pinot… no one would do such a thing to their love. I decided it had to be a different wine, and so once again I challenged my instinct. I was right the first time; it was a Pinot Noir. *sigh*

    Fast forward a few weeks to today. I found myself playing golf in 80 degree weather with friends while the rest of the states are up to their roof in ice and snow. We weaved our golf carts to and fro like bees searching out flowers. The game was afoot and I hit every drive at least 150 yards. When the game was over we took a respite from the heat with a bit of wine. I immediately held my glass up to gaze through its polyphenol laced color. It was so light in color that I grasped Pinot. It was also the fact that my friend’s go to was very often Pinot. It lacked a prominent bouquet which was unlike my Pinot friends, and so I sipped the wine in an effort to uncover its secret. It tasted grapey, a kind of fresh juice sort of flavor that made me think of Dolcetto. It had a bit of spice to the finish which threw me for a loop. What could possibly be this shade of translucent purple?

    I listed varietals in my head: Grignolino and Schiava could, but I doubt my friends have even tried those Italian varietals. Nebbiolo, but the tannins were light, the flavor characteristics were all wrong, and there were no prominent aromatics. I caved and said Pinot. They said noper. I was befuddled. They gave away the cart before I bought the horse by saying it started with a G. Grenache… how, what, I… grr. That meant the winemaker had low temperatures during the growing season and they kept the juice on the skins of the grapes for only a short while (where the wine gets its color). I said to myself that’s cheating, but I enjoyed the wine and let it remind me of a lesson. Listen to yourself when you think about what you’re drinking. If something is different from what you would normally expect, ponder this. Is it possible that a winemaker used a different style? What do you know about the wine? Now use that to compare to your database of other wine varietals. If the aroma and the taste are contradicting what your eyes see, then listen to them. After all they could be right. As Freud said, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar [and not what you are making it into]”.

    Today is a day that many celebrate love. I know for some the day is gauche or heartbreaking, but whether or not you have someone… the love of wine can help.

     

     

     

     

    The Grenache that tricked me:

    Margerum 2011 Grenache, Black Oak Vineyard, Santa Barbara County

    (200 six packs produced)

     

    margerum

     

     “We have officially added another single vineyard Grenache to our impressive stable.  Our good friends Dan and Megan Reeves now have a tiny block of Grenache at their vineyard off of Alisos Canyon road in Los Alamos.  It was one of the best lots we had in the winery from harvest 2011.  We have made a decision to bottle all of the Grenaches after eleven months in large barrels to capture more freshness.  100% yummy Grenache made in our cool, low-extraction style – un-fined and unfiltered.  Good acidity and plenty of soft tannins will give pleasure near term but five years in bottle will make this perfect.”

    Note the ‘low-extraction’. That is why it was so light in color as I mentioned earlier.