Monthly Archives: September 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #37: Tasting Argiolas Costera 2005

Argiolas CosteraDrink Indigenous is this Wine Blogging Wednesday‘s theme.

Well, I’m a dumbass. I thought that the dominant varietal in this wine, Cannonau, was indiginous to Sardinia, one of the Italian islands. Wrong! It’s largely thought that Cannonau was brought to Sardinia in the 18th century from Spain — general consensus seems to be that it’s a derivative of Garnacha, or Grenache. Dissenting Italian opinions here. If a grape has been grown in a region for 4 centuries and has its own name, isn’t it indigenous by now? Probably not. But I tasted this wine up good, damn it, and so you’re going to hear about it.

Deeply purpley-red in color. Immediately in the glass, there’s a dusty-earthy nose, maybe cedar notes, with black licorice and ripe bing cherry. When it opens up, it’s got really ripe, sexy fruit. I can see why Parker gave this a 91 — it’s totally his style! And for only about $14!

On the tongue, it gives up some plum flavors (you know how the skin is a little sour? like that) and has a note of tar, mixed with a slightly minerally tone. It’s rare for me to detect minerality on the palate of a red wine (it’s much easier for me taste that flavor – like rocks in your mouth – in whites), but here it is! Happy Mouth Co-op, membership: me.

I kept thinking “boy, I bet this would be great with food, like a nice strong cheese” and so I made myself a piece of whole wheat toast with a gorgonzola cream cheese spread. Loveliness! The spicy acidity of the gorgonzola was a nice complement to the earthiness of the wine, and the fat in the cheese spread really smoothed the wine out. Those Eye-talians know how to make us some food-appropriate wine, yo. Continue reading

Out of Step

When I was in the wine business, I had lots of people that shared my interest in wine, and who were just as excited as I was about tasting something or learning something new. We would gabble to each other about the latest neat wine we’d tasted in Advanced Winespeak, referencing winemakers and varietals and sub-regions… gobbledeegook to other people, but fun times for us wine nerds.
What if your wine tastes are not the same as those of your friends? If you are an experienced wine nerd like me, your idea of a great thing to bring to a party is an exciting wine. (Actually, the very notion of an “exciting” wine might just brand you an insufferable wine nerd right out of the box.
Also if you are like me, a wine that excites you may not excite the rest of your party. You may be bringing Chablis to a party of I-only-drink-red-wine-because-it’s-the-real-shit drinkers. When invited to a fish fry, you may be dying to drink that sassy Provencal rose that you picked up for next to nothing, while everyone else is studiously ignoring what they think is your nasty imported WhiteZin. You might want to serve a pleasant chilled Beaujolais to your guests, but they’re convinced that they don’t like anything but Merlot.
I know everything teeIt’s harder for me to enjoy a bottle of wine I’ve brought to someone’s house if I’m the only one drinking it. Even if I’m hosting, I feel bad if no one enjoys the wine I’ve chosen for the night. Maybe it’s just my insufferable need to please, or my indefatigable desire to widen people’s wine horizons. Quite possibly, it’s just the lonely road of the wine “expert.” As your interest in wine grows, and thus your education about wine deepens, you very well may find that not everyone shares your enthusiasm. Shocking!
Similar is the path of the die-hard foodie. I am fascinated with cooking and new flavors. I am very lucky in that my husband is very willing to try new things, but the truth is that my interest in food far outstrips his. In fact, I’m more interested in food than nearly anyone I know. At this point in my life, I can share my passion for new cuisines and techniques but by and large I entertain only myself with my elaborate dinners and wide arrays of hors d’oeuvres at parties.
What I’ve noticed, though, is that people are much more willing to try new things in food than they are in wine. Or maybe I’m better at cooking than I am at wine recommending? Commending a wine, when you Really Know About Wine, can be a big responsibility. At least, I’m always worried that people will blame themselves if a wine I recommend to them fails to please their palate. I Know What I’m Talking About, so if I think something’s tasty I must be right, right? Wine mystique makes the question of taste, like Pepsi vs. Coke, into a question of expertise and sophistication. I bet Coke wishes it could put that much pressure on its prospective consumersAnyhow, poor old me and my elevated tastes, right? Paranoid about my queer little bottles and what the neighbors will think! I guess my real message is the same old, same old: try new things, and trust your own sense of taste.
Do you have specialized interests that leave you alone in a crowd? Please share your experiences with the entire class via your fancy comment!

Tasting Seeberger Riesling 2006

Seeberger RieslingYellow straw color. Simple yet powerful apple on the nose, with slight hints of violet. Palate echoes the green apples, good amount of sweetness here; medium acidity does not balance it out, unfortunately. There is a persistent minerality on the finish that doesn’t quite deal with the sugar, either, but it is varietally correct.

I bought this on the recommendation from the Austin Chronicle’s article on boxed wines; it was their most recommended white of all the 50 wines they tasted. It cost me $14.99 for a 3 liter box, averaging out to $3.75 per bottle. I was disappointed in it, but now that I do the math, I’m a lot happier with it! It’s sweeter than I’d like it to be (if you haven’t figured that out yet), but it is varietally correct, and I’ll just drink it with spicy food. Wines that lean toward sweetness make an excellent pairing for spicy foods — the sugar stands up to the spice and keeps it from overwhelming the palate. My friend J is coming to town for ACLFest; maybe I’ll make my favorite Thai red curry for her.  Between the two of us, we can kill this box in a few days, I’m sure!

Quit staring at my legs

One of the things I will encourage you NOT to comment on when it comes to wine is legs.  “Nice legs” is a phrase best used in private, only with your beloved partner whom you think has attractive lower limbs and wants to hear your opinion of them. 

Unfortunately, wine legs are easy to spot, and commenting on them is one of the early defaults that a wine drinker learns.  Please, please, please resist.  Legs mean one thing: alcohol content.   If the wine legs you are seeing in your glass are so outstandingly pronounced that you simply must say something about them, then just say something about the alcoholic content in the wine, like “What percent alcohol is this?” or “What is this stuff, Port?”

Tears of WineHere’s how legs work:  wine is made of water and alcohol.  Alcohol evaporates faster than water but has lower surface tension, and so the wine in your glass of wine starts climbing the sides through capillary action.  This exacerbates the quicker evaporation of the alcohol, and the resulting change in the surface tension pushes even more wine up the side.  When gravity kicks in, the wine drops back into the glass.  The tracks of the wine running up and falling down the sides of your glass are the legs, which the French call the “tears of wine.”

Alcohol is one of the things that makes a wine full-bodied, creating that sensation of expansion in your mouth, and sometimes contributing to the mouth-coating texture of a wine.  There has been a lively discussion since late June in the wine world regarding how much alcohol is in modern, high-scoring wines, and whether that’s a good thing.  Wines from Germany usually have about 8-10% alcohol.  French & Italian wines tend to be about 12%.  California wines can range as high as 16%, which winemaker extraordinaire Randy Dunn says is too much.  Tom Wark at Fermentation agrees with him, as I tend to.  Wines & Vines pleads for an appreciation of alcohol.

No matter what side of the high-alcohol fence you’re on, or if you’re dazed by the whole hullaballoo, please take this home in your pocket.  It’s uncool to talk about legs.  Not uncool in a cool way, like Napoleon Dynamite, but simply and utterly inept, like the way our president ad libs.  Don’t say it!  You’ll thank me when you’re older.