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.