April 16, 2007

Weirdest Wine Ever

Years ago I was at an “offline” dinner, that is a gathering of internet wine geeks, where some brave soul brought a wine many others immediately and fairly dubbed the “weirdest wine ever.”

It was the 1998 Fox Creek JSM, an Australian blend of various red grapes intended as a lower priced sibling to their Shiraz varietals. That is, until the ’98 JSM got a huge rating from the pundits and turned into something you’d bring to an offline.

Indeed, this was weird wine with a dayglow color, a buttery oak aroma, a syrupy texture and flavors more akin to sugary breakfast cereals than anything vinous.

Now I think I’ve found something weirder still.

Wine geeks reading this might think it heresy to mention Fox Creek with something so different in character like the 2005 Conti di Buscareto Crima Marche Rosso IGT. The Buscareto Crima (crima allegedly being the grape, though I haven’t found much to support that) has a natural texture and wine-like base aroma and flavor.

But it’s now the weirdest wine I’ve ever tasted.

It starts out black as night. But take a sniff and it’s like someone’s soaked incense sticks in Italian petite sirah, maybe with hand soap in there too. A local wine store guy, who has a terrific though more than adventurous palate, suggested it’s like gewurztraminer blended into some red wine, as if it were a good thing.

I don’t know about that.

In the mouth, the Crima is taut and tangy with a simple charm, but it’s dominated by a strong floral perfume taste, leaving a less than pleasant bitterness that overlingers. One day later, the wine hardly seems different. And while I want to like it for its distinctiveness, I’m simply perplexed. It’s not flawed. It’s exactly as billed. It’s just not that pleasaurable.

What would you serve this with? How do you get past the bitterness? What am I missing here? Who drinks this and says, I want a case!

I’m always happy to try something different, and this wasn’t undrinkable in its odd way. But once was enough. Unless of course it gets a big score and I have the chance to bring it to an offline.


jo said...

An Italian Petite Sirah... Wow! Do you have the name of anyone in Italy who produces Petite Sirah? I'd love to find that wine and try it... I'm thinking you may know of one, and I've been looking for a producer. Thanks for your help. -- jo

Vincent Fritzsche said...

I don't think there's much if any petite sirah (durif) in Italy, though it wouldn't surprise me that someone's growing it. Have you ever had Lagrein? That's maybe a little like it, in a purple way.

Kevin said...

La Crima is a fantastic wine, and yes it is the grape, don't know where the confusion/doubt comes from. I wouldn't describe it as Petit Sirah though. For one, this is actually fermented/aged in stainless steel. I think it would be more aptly desrcibed as itself, a medium bodied red with strong flavors of blueberries and lavender. It does tend to be a bitter grape, but it is indeed one of the most unique grapes in production.