The Wine Drinker

This is the Dead Letter Office of my wine writing. These stories ended up not fitting on our company's Facebook page (Piedmont Wine Imports) or website,, for reasons that I think are clear once you scroll through a few posts. Less professional musings, impressions that ultimately never got past the rough prototype stage. Um... enjoy!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Here are some new and weird wines that I'd recommend-

2001 Alma 4 Sparkling Bonarda last tasted 07/04/05

An odd bird. Sparkling, meaty, dry. My Champagne flute is black, with a rim of bubbly purple kool-aid. Served chilled it still isn’t exactly refreshing, but it is persistent, drawing my thoughts back around to just what is going on in this glass of Argentine mayhem. Bubbles and tannin in tandem can be a little off-putting.

I first tasted sparkling Bonarda in the middle of Familia Zuccardi’s enormous vineyards south of Mendoza, an estate that felt like an amalgam of visitor’s center, colonial Italian villa, and once one wandered away from its manicured heart, a large dose of South American agrarian reality (I imagine a similar reality exists in the San Joaquin valley, so don’t take this statement to be judgment or hubris).

Alma 4 is an “experimental” wine, I gathered the winemakers are engaged in some sort of intern/grad student program. I begged for (and received in July 05) a few cases for my store. I wanted more. This wine is so much more intellectually engaging than Zuccardi’s competent, commercial products, which do deserve kudos for being largely organic. I’m hoping to see again someday a “project wine” hewn from the Tannat grape that we tasted on this tour. I’m patient, but it does seem that after a year of waiting, an arrival is unlikely.

Tasted at a distance of 3,000+ miles, Jose Zuccardi is probably correct: this wine isn’t a viable international commercial proposition. But standing on the red soil of Zuccardi’s land, on a warm summer afternoon surrounded by the people who brought it to life, the wine was somehow more. Most real wines are. I think it’s inevitable that wines true to their home are often diminished or lost as they travel away from it.

2001 Rubbijano Lacryma d’Morro d’Alba last tasted 7/06/05

After two glasses I’ve figured it out. This wine tastes like Geuze, a Belgian beer that essentially defines acquired taste. But Rubbijano is good, and does still taste primarily of fermented grapes. I liked the first bottle we consumed enough to buy all of these that I could find for myself, so, um, sorry. I’d love to sell you a bottle, once I track another case or two down. The down-side to developing a keen interest in this kind of crafted, distinct wine is an interminable searching, waiting, and general standing about that make up an inevitable part of their acquisition. But there are no wine emergencies. . . .

Megan says it tastes like strawberries. It is certainly aromatic, with more than a hint of wild yeast. Anyway, it worked with spice-rubbed grilled chicken breasts, mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus, and also transitioned easily into sipping on the couch and watching The Young Ones. But now we’re on to Raising Arizona (the wonders of digital cable) and I grow restless. . . .


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