June 21, 2010

2007 La Gramiere rouge

Sometimes wine isn't a simple "like it" or "don't like it" proposition. Sometimes wines perplex, engage, delight, all at once, leaving you satisfied but uncertain how or why. For example, the 2007 La Gramiere rouge, one of the "natural" wines we're hearing so much about (in part thanks to Cory Cartwright's 32 Days of Natural Wine over at Saignee, now in Day 3).

This Vin de Table could be Cotes du Rhone Villages, a blend of 80% grenache, 15% syrah and 5% mourvedre from Americans Amy Lillard and David Kling, who moved to France years back and farm a vineyard in the southern Rhone valley. Their blog, La Gramiere, is a nice read with archives detailing the hard work they've endured to this point.

On the site, there's a tasting note for this wine that reads remarkably similar to my experience, mostly. Fruit driven, blackberry and boysenberry flavors, lush, with licorice and spice notes, and firm tannin that gives nice texture. This is delicious southern Rhone red, with so much energy it seems to glow an electric purple. Yet there are reductive notes, stinky vegetal aromas that come and go, never dominating but everpresent. These seem to vanish with a plate of broiled steak and steamed new potatoes, then reappear after the meal. For a while I smelled acetate (nail polish remover), then that seemed to melt into cinnamon notes, then occasionally a touch of acetate reappeared.

On balance, I really enjoyed this wine but am perplexed. This is a wine shape shifter, at once a lush crowd pleasing red, then difficult even wild, requiring patience, good food matches and intellect to seek out what the wine offers, not make snap judgements. If that sounds like a wine for you, and it most certainly does to me, have at it. Plus, I love the old world meets new wine label, especially the striking green that you see only rarely on wine bottles. Beautiful. (Note: image borrowed from La Gramiere)

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