08 Quattro Mani, [toh-kai] Goriska Brda D.O.C. Exto Gredic Vineyard
First off, the name. Quattro Mani. Four hands. Which, in spirit is right. But, let's be clear. There are no four people in the world who make wine like this. This wine, a project by wine importer Domaine Select to sort of benchmark four traditional types of Italian wine, is quite clearly from only one hand. In fact, I'd say it's his fingerprint--a wine that most of you will hate, or quite quickly ignore, and the sort of thing you'll just have to trust me, or your wine merchant, or your sommelier on. It's the handiwork of Slovenian wine savant Ales Kristancic from across the northeastern border of Italy in Slovenia--if Italy's the boot, I guess that makes this the butt cheek. A few nights ago, I tasted this wine out blind to five people with tapas and only my fiancee liked it. Which tells me one thing: I make good decisions. And if I seem like someone you might love (no pressure), then you too will like this wine. I suppose that's really the point. This is a wine more of character, sense, relationships than anything else. There's a whispering beauty to it. I want, desperately, to boast of the stewed apple and golden apple skin taste. How, as it sits in the glass, it slowly picks up the flavor of coconut and cinnamon. Flavors you normally get from wood, even though this wine sees no wood aging. You could drink it slow and taste nothing, or fast with your eyes squinting and taste the world. But the truth is, I'm not so sure that's what it tastes like. I've had six bottles in the past two weeks, and I don't know what it tastes like. It's like trying to count the carbon atoms in a diamond ring. Which is to say, this wine is elemental. Fair to say, this is tocai's DNA. Not that that matters. Not that that will make your meal better. Not that it will impress your friends. But it will make me happy. Happy to know that these fresh, pure, unvarnished flavors--whatever they are--are wine at its most basic. Before all the sappy slogans, the business consultants, the goddamn writers and all their scores. Before all that, there were grapes. And, a few months later, there were rotten grapes that someone bothered to drink. His name was Ales, an old Bohemian word meaning: Defender of Mankind.