Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Straight Jacket Wine

When I began my wine journey in 2001, I knew that this was an art not unlike many other aesthetics. You have the mainstream wine and the small, indie wines. You have the silly, but effective politics—if you like White Zinfandel, you’re a ding bat incapable of understanding the abstract subtleties of Old world wine. If you like Barolo, you’re a wine sophisticate. While I was in sommelier school, it amazed me how everything associated with American wine culture was considered big, audacious, and in some cases, sloppy and unrefined. Who were these crass red, white and blue people stomping unto our turf with their brazen ideas of making wine their way? The other day a colleague and dear friend passed me a bottle of 2010 Macchia Amorous Sangiovese from Lodi, California. When I think of Sangiovese, I think of an entry-level Chianti that’s insipid, like someone is tightening a straight jacket on your palate. I had an amazing Chianti experience at Cioppino Restaurant with Jorge Mendoza—the sommelier. And if someone didn’t thief my hand bag with my wine diary, I’d tell you about it, but as of today, Sangiovese isn’t something I’d go out of my way to find. But what do I always say? Stay open. I already knew that this wasn’t a straight jacket wine with all that lush Lodi sunshine. But I wasn’t expecting blueberry heavy cream. This wine reminded me more of Zinfandel. Blueberry and black currant jam aromas burst through a gorgeous, purple violet color. On the palate, it’s more of the same—black cherry jam and black pepper spice fold into the heavy cream body. And there are medium-high tannins. I didn’t love it. It was too big. And I guess the contradictor in me wanted even a bite of straight jacket-austerity. However, when I chilled it and served it with spicy Jamaican curry chicken, it was a perfect match. All that dark fruit sweetness and jammi-ness was made for West Indian grilled and roasted meats that have hints or hot pepper spice. So what’s my point? Lol I love that American winemakers are experimenting in the grape lab, taking us out of our comfort zone and exploring the endless possibilities. Where would we be if Hendrix didn’t put those electric guitar strings in his mouth and show us what that instrument really could do?  We’d be in straight jackets lol

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