07 Darien, Rioja Rosado
I've never asked, but I'd guess confidently that most of my favorite winemakers at some point in their lives fell in love with a bottle of rose. At least that's what a wine like this Darien makes me think. Its citrusy berry ripeness--something like a kumquat mixed with Meyer lemon peel, white raspberries, strawberries, and nectarine--has the power to put you in a place you've never been and make you think you always belonged. If this were my first wine, I would've dropped out of school and spent my scholarship on a vineyard. On a practical level, the balance of acid, fleur-de-sel-like minerality, and sweet, round fruit means that the Darien can go with just about everything (though particularly onions, especially dark green scallion tops, normally reserved for compost, tossed with coarse salt and ground pink peppercorns). But you read the other sites for practical. What I taste is terroir. By which I don't mean the slight spiciness of 100% tempranillo. I don't mean the ripe fullness of Rioja (at its core, from producers who limit their oak, who I admit are increasingly difficult to find). By terroir in Rioja, I mean territory. This is a wine that defends its space, confident as a pit bull backed up against a wall. I won't hurt you, but if you Google me, you'll see the many ways that I could fuck you up. And it doesn't. It's a sweet dog inside. You just know that if there were a touch more acid, lingering tannin, strange oak, an odd amount of alcohol, a confusing addition of old vine garnacha--it could clamp down on your taste buds and never let go. Darien takes the nobler route. The sensitive seduction. A tryst in some alley with a French girl behind the dirty pintxos joint in Basque country that no one will ever ask you about. (We were there on study abroad, both had an interest in Suarez.) Quick, let's finish this wine, so we can order another. There are mussels coming. And if anyone gets in our way, we'll pull out our elbows. If there's a fight tonight, it's for the greater good. Your adrenal sweat will season these langoustines. The air is heavy. I belong here. I wish I could make my own wine and give it to you. But if not, I'd like just to be something you've never brought to your lips before.