Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Night Wine Blogging

Well good evening and welcome back to one of the more popular, yet long absent feature of The Pursuit of Happiness: wine blogging, in this case Saturday night wine blogging.

Allow me to set the scene for you. It is 645p.m. Saturday night. In my kitchen are 8 13 year old girls, here to celebrate PD2's 13th birthday - which was actually 2 months ago. That is another story. At any rate, I just left them with pre-maid pizza crusts, the fixin's for pizza and two hot ovens. Worried? Me? Not a chance. And the screaming that I'm hearing sounds, for the most part, like happy kind of screaming.

We'll see on that.

Any way, I am opening a very special bottle tonight. It seems that fellow commenter over at the Functional Ambivalent, Wally, is a major wine guy. Recently, he revealed a particular wine that has been fascinating him, and well, one thing led to another and Wally and I met on the streets of Chicago this past week to exchange two wine bottles. The wine of choice:

2004Three Rings Barossa Valley Shiraz Reserve. Wally tells me that the highly over rated Robert Parker has rated this baby a 96, which probably means it is a full bodied, blow the back of your head off sort of new world wine. And let me be clear, while I favor old world wines by a long stretch, I can appreciate Parker blow the back of your head off wine too. So we'll see if my expectation is correct, if Wally's recommendation is good, and if Parker still has any taste buds left!

First, the opening. This recently has become more of a disappoint for me. The 3 Rings, as with many other wines, has gone to a screw top. Let me be clear, while this is no indication of the quality of the wine, it is an abomination none-the-less. The opening of the wine, which used to require special tools, and bit of performance and style, and ultimately a satisfying pop, added to the overall experience. Unscrewing a bottle, just ain't the same my friends. Still, I persevere.

The wine has been in my "cellar" for the past three days. So it is at cellar temperature now. I plan to open it, give a sense of the wine right out of the bottle, and then also see how it pairs with dinner tonight. Since this is a shiraz, I've decided to go with a simple steak, hash browns and roasted vegetable medley pairing.

So lets see how this baby tastes.

Out of the bottle this is a strong wine. I haven't tasted it yet, but the nose is quite nice. Fruit forward, with some chocolate and mineral back tones. Mrs. P, who I should say has a minor cold is with me. "Ooh", is her comment as she takes a sniff. A little pepper on it, and earthy are her comments. I have to say, it has been in the glass for a few minutes now and it has a wonderful nose. Strong, but structured.

First taste: Not a lot of fruit. This is more old world in structure, but new world in strength. We both agree, perhaps some cherry, but more on the end. Wow! This is a challenging wine. There is a little pepper, and perhaps some tobacco, but nothing really predominates. An excellent structure. If I were to critique the wine, I'd say dial back on the power and let me appreciate the complexity a bit. Still, wow.

Ok, going to cook dinner. More later.

Well, I'm back. Lets take a taste prior to eating. The wine has been open for 70 minutes.

It is definitely deeper, and little more rich. It has taken on a bit of a silky sort of feel, the taste while not structured per se, is quite strong.

Dinner is finished now, and we're watching Clint in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. This wine is definitely the good. I would say though, that from a personal taste point of view, it is too strong. There are wonderful flavors here, but I would prefer to have to search for them a little bit. They should dance in my mouth, instead of fight for dominance! So it is hard for me to distinguish the flavors. The fruit has moved forward a bit- a kind of blueberry sort of taste, but I would still say that this wine is all about the earth. This is the characteristic of all of my favorite wines. When you drink a wine, you should be transported, and feel the land from which it came. This wine does that. It is a new world bang with an old world personality. Well done!

Lets look at what others say. Seems these folks tend to have the same sense, although, while I understand what the guy said about tannins, they really aren't predominant here in the traditional sense. Clearly the tannins are providing a backbone, but the camphor comment was more accurate in my view since this is how they seem to express themselves. I think there is some temptation to suggest that this wine will mellow over the years, and this might be true, but in all candor, I'm not sure. This is a big mutha of a wine, and it is never going to play second fiddle to anything.

So, in summary, an excellent wine. Thank you to Wally for suggesting it. I'd pair this wine with big bold foods such as the grilled steak we had tonight. I'm not sure it would work with spicy foods, since the two would end up competing with each other, to the overall demise of the meal.

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