Posts Tagged ‘ Cedar

One Rioja to Rule Them All

Well folks, it’s that time again.

It’s September, and Burritt’s is having its annual wine sale which means there are scores of great wines to be had and prices that even lowly college students with meager living accommodations can afford. This month’s wine to be?

The gold standard Rioja this side of the atlantic.

2007 Muga Rioja

Tempranillo and Garnacha have never been so good.

As you may well expect, this producer, being one of the more notable Rioja producers one can find in northern Michigan, has the ability to create consistently great Rioja year after year. Unofficially labeled as “the Bordeaux of Spain” Rioja does have a long-rooted (pun intended) history in the production of great red wine, including somewhat secretly (and scandalously) selling their wines to the French when it was a bad season up north. Curiously, most of the wines purchased by the French to blend into their less-superior grapes were Bordeaux.

It is precisely this reason why Rioja gets this notorious designation, and after you have your first glass, you can absolutely see why.

Deep red color, but no hints of any blue around the edges. The nose was initially very hot and loaded with cassis and inky blackberry, but after letting it settle down a bit in the glass, it had a chance to give off a slight hint of some kind of earth. Upon tasting, the tannins were very pronounced at first, but then settled down quickly and dissolved into the silky feel that continued all the way to the finish. Wine in mouth, it became easy to see those wonderful qualities of cedar and smoke which we’re all hoping to find in our structured red wines. The comparison to a Bordeaux  starts to make sense as the wine makes its way down, but with one very prominent distinction; the fruit in this wine is clearly of great importance to its producers, as the blackcurrant and blackberry stick with you all throughout the drinking experience, whereas with many Bordeaux, the fruit shies away before the finish, leaving you feeling like someone left a tongue depressor in your mouth.

After a few sips, (which eventually turned into joyful gulps) small little marks around my glass proved exactly what the tasting had shown; lots of extract and a lingering finish. It seems this wine is destined to impart flavor wherever it touches, even if that’s only touching the rim of your glass.

That’s all for today, hopefully sometime soon I will make my way back to Burritt’s to score a nice Napa cab, or a Russian River Valley pinot.

Don’t drop the soap…

Because apparently trying to bribe the handlers of greyhounds into testing out your new “vitamins” with a stipulation that they are not allowed to give said vitamins to any of the other dogs on the track that day, (while wearing a polo shirt with the words “TEAM KUJO” written in sharpie on the back) is considered “suspicious behavior”, my review of this 2008 Wanut City Wineworks pinot noir from the Willamette Valley may or may not be taking place in the local jail. How would this be possible, you might ask? Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in college, it’s how to train carrier pigeons to take notes to Malaysian children I keep locked in the basement working on my “secret project” of determining just exactly how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop.

They’re crunching numbers.

Get it?

Regardless, this little beauty is everything I could’ve hoped for in an Oregon pinot noir.

Now as many of you may know, part of Burgundy’s success with this particular grape over the centuries is due to the fact that Burgundy rests in a particular climate in France that is balanced on a knife-edge with regard to the grapes coming to their perfect ripeness. Much like any other fruit, when a grape is approaching overly ripe, it can have so much sugar that there is hardly any other distinguishable flavor present. (Imagine an extra-ripe strawberry). Oregon, it seems, has a way of mimicking this Burgundian quality of having a harvest that is almost always dangerously close to the time of year frost sets in over a vineyard, which means the grapes have a long time to sit on the vines and slowly come to maturation, but also that the entire crop could be lost to frost damage if the vineyard manager waits too long before harvesting.

Just as in Burgundy, the wines from truly great years will defy description, and can be counted among the best wines in the world, so is true of Oregon pinot noirs.

This 2008 pinot is a beautiful example of some of the classic burgundy characteristics, with its own little Oregon twist. Though a  bit more fruit-forward than your traditional AOC, the wonderful earthy qualities are by no means lost in this sinfully smooth red. Light in color, medium in body, with a touch of cedar spice and chocolate powder, this pinot is something worth living (or being incarcerated) for.

And as all great wine has a great food behind it, it’s not by any means difficult to imagine this elegant little red being poured with Oregon’s pinot-noir-food-of-choice: wild Alaskan salmon cooked over an open fire.

So ends my wine reviews for the evening.

Oh, and if you get a collect call from me, ACCEPT THE CHARGES.