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July 29, 2008

06 Owen Roe, Sinister Hand

After blending some of this country's best syrah, grenache, and mourvedre, winemaker David O'Reilly siphons this wine into an old radiator, covers it in heather, and buries it deep inside a hill in Cote-Rotie. At least, that's how I see it. And if, in fact, this international radiator-maturation is not the way wine is really made, I'm content thinking that it is. I don't know how else you get so much smoke, tar, marjoram, and tobacco into a wine that still tastes natural and fruity. What's most surprising is how good this actually is. The dark wild blackberry, violets, and grape stem are an entree to earthier flavors. It's an Edenic crock pot, the dank floral turn of summer into fall, a well-seasoned forest floor. It's dessert with a nightcap--Swedish raspberry-jam tartlets with a Caol Ila neat. The finish is bitter, almost medicinal, and nearly numbing the sides and back of my tongue. It's not for everyone. It's not even really for me. But what's impressive is that the deep character David brings to his high-end Owen Roe wines, he delivers here in spades. Old, rusty spades. Spiked into freshly-fertilized soil.


Blogger Joel said...

Diesel Radiator + old tractor oil...

5:59 PM  

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July 10, 2008

05 Alain Chabanon, Coteaux du Languedoc Campredon Vendanges Manuelles

This wine should be served at every French bistro, tapas restaurant, steak house, rib joint, pulled pork stand, and chef's bathroom in the world. I'm used to good, unclassified wine from the south of France, especially near coastal Montpelier and slightly inland Nimes (where I assume the soil is made of olive pits spit over the sea from Corsica). But when they have this much texture, they reach a new level, one that reminds me of the fruity Crozes-Hermitages you drink while your other syrahs age. There's meat and herbs covered with black raspberry compote. Some unholy marriage of new life and old, dry-aged death. It's a mistake for wine like this to be bottled. To me, this is the oyster of the chicken, the shank, the tete de veaux--some either hidden or grisly secret that everyone else would just as soon throw away. Watch them eat their dinners. Oh they love their prime cuts, their perfectly aged wines, their napkins that we wash again and again. Give me the waste, the roll of paper towels, and not the hydroponic fruit, but that one giant berry pressed up against the wire fence beside the power plant. No entry. Authorized to shoot on site. That's fine. I'm not crossing the line. I just wanted to get my heart pumping.


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