Sunday, July 12, 2015

Issue XXVIII: Rosenblum Vintner’s Cuvée XXXVI [Zinfandel] Edition

Rosenblum Vintner’s Cuvée XXXVI [Zinfandel] 

Perhaps some definitions might be in order at this juncture for those not already familiar. “Vintner” can be taken to mean wine-maker and in this case, since this is a signature wine for the Rosenblum vineyards, it is marked with an anniversary number for the particular heritage of the grape used to make the actual wine in the bottle. This particular one is 36, of course, but if you can find other heritages, given the great care that Rosenblum takes, you can feel confident you are getting a quality wine. “Cuvée”, as you’ve no doubt already gathered, is a French word referring to vat or tank. Used here, it means a specific (and special) blend, in conjunction with the Roman numbering on the label.

Continuing on a bit from a previous discussion about the genesis of the list and the attendant sub-lists, a friend of mine who was traveling a great deal and also beginning his own sort of wine journey asked me for a list of wines to get. Now the generosity of this man, one of my very dearest friends, is both pronounced and profound and it is to my good great fortune that I have known him. I sent him some known gems, as well as some that I hadn’t gotten to yet, which looked promising, one of which was this. He very kindly bought a bottle for himself and one for me, as well. I’ve gotten wine before as gifts and the answer to the givers is always “thank you, it is/was quite good” or somesuch along those lines, as anything less would be exceedingly poor form. In this case, having had a few bottles, such a statement is actually true.

Zinfandels are one of the heavier wines and “heavier” can often be taken to mean “clunky.” In this case, however, we find a definite degree of thickness, but it is far from enough to bog anything down. It is a very full body and very notable mouth feel, but it is neither as heavy nor quite as biting as some of the other Zins out there. Zinfandel, I feel, is a very tricky grape, as it can wind up being very acidy – and indeed, plan on a good 30 minutes air time, minimum here – and unpleasant to drink, but this one displays a nice degree of roundness and smoothness along with just enough edge cutting through to keep this from the aforementioned clunkiness. It is a quite tasty wine, as well, thoroughly enjoyable. This one can also serve a dual purpose as serving as a very nice introduction to the Zinfandel grape as well as being a very drinkable all-around wine, as long as your taste runs more to the weightier side.

At around $10 or so normally, this is another I have as a Standard, at least when I want something heavier, fuller-bodied and more robust.  It is not intended to be storable, though, but is one of the better values out there.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Issue XXVII: Fantini Farnese Montepulciano D'Abruzzo Edition

Fantini Farnese Montepulciano D'Abruzzo

The Montepulciano grape (d’Abruzzo meaning “from Abruzzo” to distinguish this from another Italian wine-making area) is one of the milder ones, which means a couple things. The first is that you tend to get a very smooth, very drinkable wine. It has a very slight acidity to it, which does well to lend a little balance, but this is a very silky wine overall, more of a medium body, yet with very good mouth feel. The second is that wines of this nature tend to be consumed young, so there is not a great deal of aging going on. My personal research has found that this tends to (but not always) make the price a bit less and in this case, it is a fantastic value. This grape also blends well with others and many vineyards do so, however, that is not the case with this one. It is the straight across grape, which helps to really give you an idea of the soft flavor associated with it. It is possible to age this one, though reports are that it changes little.

This is another that I found when trolling the Italian aisles. I love this label, from the coloration and design to the intriguing dot embossing on the label itself and, as usual, have no fear of buying a wine strictly due to the label, though it also admittedly helps that this is an Italian wine, a country that currently occupies the overall favorite slot for me.

At around $12 normally, this is more of a Mixed (though it could easily be a Standard) as well as one of the better values out there. This probably would do remarkably well at a restaurant as a table wine, as it’s difficult to imagine it not having a lot of broad appeal.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Issue XXVI: Menage A Trois [Blend] Edition

Menage A Trois [Blend] 

Note: I don't usually do this, but as this is a very well-selling wine and it has been in the news recently about arsenic levels, I wanted to address this. First point would be that there is not enough arsenic in there to make anyone ill even remotely to the point of dying. Alcohol poisoning would occur long before and is the much more immediate danger. As we have seen in many, many other areas, this amounts to bad science, more specifically, bad chemistry. Arsenic is literally everywhere, including in the ground. High levels in water, which is more frequently consumed and hopefully devoid of toxic materials, would be a huge negative. Wine is consumed nowhere near as frequently, obviously and has other compounds more pressing, so applying a water standard to wine is patently absurd. The HSC, therefore, fully backs the Wine Institute and all of the producers, as well as the opinions made in these statements:

And now on to this Edition proper:
Ménage à trois means, in a literal sense from French, “household of three” and was to describe an actual living arrangement, aside from the more temporary nature of which it is probably more well known in America.  So, in that sense, with its combination of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, the name, based on the French application, is perfectly appropriate. The sexual aspect of that phrase (in which all three living together are also engaged in carnal relations) also ties in here, with all three of those winds blending and melding together into a single unity. Wine itself has long had a history of ties into romance and eroticism, referred to frequently as the drink of love, another way in which everything here ties together nicely. Still more interestingly and perhaps reinforcing the point, this has frequently been the best-selling red wine in the United States.

This is a wine I wouldn’t hesitate to call delicious and melds the grapes together very nicely. The density and heavy mouth feel of the Cab and Zin is very readily apparently, yet it never becomes clunky as the Merlot does a great job lightening things out and bringing a bit more fruitiness into the mix. This is one of the smoothest wines out there; let it air long enough and it becomes quite silky, with a gorgeous finish. There is not a great deal of astringency here and the tannin bite is very muted overall, though not gone entirely. There is little to no question in my mind about why this is the best-selling red or whether it deserves it. It does.

At a $10 spot normally, even though I’ve never seen it on SPA, this is a Standard as well as one of the better values out there, as long as you like fairly heavy wines. This should also work well for maturing, something I will probably try down the road if I ever get set up for it.