What you have all been waiting for. Some ranting about wine.
Yes, I will post here about wine. It’s my “thang”. My life-line. My bread and budda. My shuga-booga. Well, not really. BUT, even though I have my fancy-schmancy wine education to back up my intoxicating, wine-related ramblings;I tend to be irreverent about things, even the blessed wine. I’m sorry. I have issues with being totally studious and serious. I can’t do it. I have to fun or it’s not, FUN. Forgive me.
But c’mon it’s important to learn a little something about wine AND most importantly find something good to drink since so many wines I’ve tasted latelyhave beenuninteresting, soul-less, lacking a sense of place and just BLAH!
Scala Dei 2005 Priorat Negre $16
Soyesterday I was aimlessly strolling the wine aisle at my local grocery store.
I often do this. Don’t judge me, wine is my life, it’s not my fault.
This time I needed wine for dinner because the 300 bottles I already have at home for some unknown reason weren’t going to do. Something from Spain sounded interesting, something bold and fearless like a matador in a red cape; Oops, I’m not really sure where that little fantasy popped out of.
Then I came across this bottle…
Wow, is all I can say!
Elegant, silky, rich, deliciously medium-bodied but at the same time fresh and fruity with exceptional finesse; these were just some of my first impressions.
The wine sat opened on the table for an hour as I prepared dinner; it only got better, And Better AND BETTER! I know I’m a spaz, but it’s often rare to find a wine at this price point that is just so dang-darn enjoyable.
There was absolutely no face-contorting involved in getting this wine down my throat. Open up and pour, liquid velvet all the way, baby. Well that couldn’t sound more lame.
Now this particular producer, Scala Dei, is very well know in the Priorat (Pree-ohr-aht) region of Spain. Yes, Priorat is a region, a county really, not a grape variety.
When looking at this bottle I think most wine drinkers would say, “Hmmm, Priorat, I’ve never heard of that grape,” and put the wine back on the shelf. Clueless to the fact that this is actually grenache.
How many of you would?
European wine labels make it almost impossible for consumers to decipher what’s in the bottle; so we just don’t buy it. You need a map with towns, villages, château’s, bodegas and coinciding grape varietals to know what you’ll actually be drinking.
Some of the Old World wine regions (France, Spain and Italy) are coming around and realizing that to sell their wine to the American audience they need to list grape varietal names on the label.
It’s soooooo simple, Americans will buy it, as long as we know what the hell it is!
I call it Marketing 101.
Stop with the tradition already. PUT THE NAME OF THE GRAPE ON THE LABEL!
Can you imagine selling canned food with labels that designate, “Made in Iowa” and that’s it? Would you buy it? It could be beans, peas, asparagus or whatever; but you wouldn’t really know, it would be like grocery store Russian roulette. Open up the can at home, “Oh look honey, its pickled beets tonight.”
Even for me, someone who has studied wine, it is still a mucky, mucky, cluster-crapola, confusing, stupid, brain-hurting, exasperating experience when faced with the international wine wall at the local wine mart.
Okay, sorry about the tangent, back to the wine…
The Priorat region is unusual in that its primary grape is grenache. It really is unusual.
There is also a secondary grape used known as carignan. But it’s not so important.
This lesser known carignan has fallen out of favor in many places throughout the world. I’m assuming that the carignan in Priorat is used mostly to give structure to many of the grenache wines that are made there. However, in more recent times (the last ten years) cabernet sauvignon and syrah have also been planted to help revive the wine industry there.
Wines from this area also have a minimum alcohol requirement of 13.5% by volume and in the past have been coined as being out-of-control, massive, alcohol bombs.
The key to the success of Priorat has been its poor soils and demanding topography; in other words, TORTURE, TORTURE, TORTURE of the vines.
‘The torture of vines is the key to great wines.”
Wow, as embarrassing as it is, I really just said that.
All my viticulture training, all the studying, all the hours and hours in the vineyard; planting, pruning, suckering vines while freezing my butt off or sweating to the point of induced swamp-ass syndrome.
My whole precious learning career was just summed up in one little lame, pathetic line; as if all there is to make great wine is punishment of the grapes. (It sort of is).
I wholeheartedly apologize to my deeply beloved viticulture professors; Dr. Walker, Dr. Matthews, Dr. Williams and Dr. Smart, please, please forgive me, I know you expect so much more.
I know not of the sins I commit.
But really, do you think I should copyright that phrase? It does rhyme perfectly in a sing-songy kind of flawed-screwed up way.
Anyway…vines that work hard to ripen their crop make better wines. In Priorat, the vines biggest stress causing element is the quartz and slate that lye beneath the area, making these old, low-yielding, hillside vineyards one heck of a stressful and rocky place.
Like I said, these might sound like negative attributes but it is these meager, wretched, torturous conditions that give the wines of this region some of their best qualities.
This particular wine was no exception; intense enough to stand up to a spicy meal, but easy to drink with a very, very pleasant soft tannin finish.
This is one of those smooth, classy wines, nicely balanced but can get away from you, a sneaky wine some might say; before you know it you’ve had too much.
Its stunning purple hue, black cherry and plum aromatics and heaps of succulent, ripe, raspberry nuances are supported by fig undertones and a spiciness that is well incorporated into the wine.
All these characteristics hide this wines powerful 14.0% alcohol content.
And yes, I really do talk this way about wine (sometimes). My adjective usage makes the Wild Boar gag, laugh and point at me all at the same time. I know he’s just jealous because he can’t differentiate black cherry from raspberry in wine.
Hey, I’m allowed to babble like this, I’ve done my time in wine sensory labs.
If I want to say heaps of succulent raspberries, I’m going to say it with authority!
If I want to describe a wine using the English language tools of alliteration or onomonopia I will do that too.
The Wild Boar will still laugh but I’ll do it anyway.
Anyway, you will not be able to stop drinking this wine; it goes right down.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
It doesn’t hurt matters that this wine was also one of Wine and Spirits MagazineTop 100 Wines for 2007. So what are you waiting for? Go get it! It is an excellent and great value for the price.
You won’t be disappointed.
What are you drinking tonight or what did you drink last night? I know you had something, fess up.