A vote for …
Is Obama a Pinot Noir or a Cab?
By Tim Protzman firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m a little ashamed of myself. I didn’t vote.
I sort of tried, but I wasn’t feeling well and there were huge lines and my kid had my car and I would have had to walk two miles there and back. Still I feel like a slacker. I rarely miss a chance to vote, but I almost never vote for the candidate that ends up winning. It’s like a curse. Some years I didn’t even try. I used the “write-in vote” space. Ford, LaRouche, Anderson, Perot, Dukakis, Kerry, Nader, Forbes and Paul all got my vote, but never got the brass ring. The only thing that makes me feel better about being an unpatriotic non-voting whiner is that so many other people turned out in droves.
Thank you citizens who care.
Now we will have a new president. I don’t know too much about him, though. The president-elect is always a mystery. But this one has an air of hope. Will he be shiny, metallically crisp with a warm inviting manner, like a well-made chardonnay? Or will he be bold, enthusiastic and brash with a refreshing truthfulness, like a Cabernet Sauvignon? He could turn out to be a self-effacing, subtle, altruistic leader with firm but gentle structure, like a Pinot Noir, or a sunny, twinkling Syrah that never fails to bring a smile and brightens the world just by being there. Secretly I hope he’s a sparkling wine, a champagne that signals celebration, peace and success. But I could get used to him as a Cabernet Franc, obscure and underestimated but capable of producing strong, delicious structure and balance, with the ability to age into wisdom and profundity.
This week my discussion of the wines I drank will be accompanied by the reason I bought them and little background on the decision process.
Last Friday I went into a liquor store. They were having a vodka tasting. The distributor was highlighting Vikingfjord Vodka. Most of the time when I see a distributor in a liquor store I stop and chat. The job they’re doing isn’t that tough, but people can be rude. Especially if it’s not a great product. They get a lot “yuck”s and “no thank you”s and even some “gross”es.
So I try to instill some confidence. What intrigued me about this was that they had this vodka and a secret vodka, a premium vodka, zipped up in a white nylon bag. I tried the Vikingfjord ($14.99 with hints of slate, kerosene and juiced parsley), a premium vodka from Norway which is made with ancient water from the Jostedals Glacier and potatoes. I persuaded the rep to let me peek in the bag. OK, I lied. I waited until the rep was talking with someone and I peeked in his plastic bin and saw that the premium vodka we were tasting Vikingfjord against was Ciroc.
Ciroc Vodka is made in France from grapes. The taste is more smoky with a hint of citrus. I throughly enjoyed both vodkas and they mixed exceptionally well with fruit juices. The Ciroc retails for $23.99 and is a little more flavorful on its own, but the Vikingfjord presents an extremely clean, traditional vodka flavor which is from the potatoes used as a mash. And the tasting was so successful that I bought a bottle of Vikingfjord, a half bottle of Ciroc and a pint of Patron Blanco Tequila to round out my appraisal.
The Patron Blanco or Silver was one of the most mixable spirits I’ve encountered. And it was unbelievably flavorful as a shot. There’s something elegant and sophistcated about white spirits, even after Labor Day.
• Fossati Barolo 1997 ($38.44) Produced by Enzo Boglietti. I bought this one because the woman in the shop was the daughter of the mean lady who called me an idiot and told me “We don’t need your kind of business.” I went back in my Halloween costume (Chewbacca) so she wouldn’t recognize me. The daughter was as prune-like as her mom. The wine was marginal — smoky, a touch of raisin and some A-1 steak sauce hints. Drank half at a Halloween party, and the other half the next night.
• Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. A little subdued. Lots of structure. A nice food wine, mellow without any showiness. Hints of blackberry, cherry and Swedish Fish. This one came in a box delivered to my door from a wine publicist. Each year they give me a beautiful calendar. Two years ago the full moon dates were off. This year there were two August 26ths. Haven’t found any flaws in the 2009 one yet.
• 1995 E. Guigal Cote Rotie ($42.99) I found this tannic and tight. Christine loved the two glasses she tasted. I found it had a sour flavor. She loved the clean structure and definition. I thought it was past its prime. She thought it would age into a subtle swirling mélange of spices — turmeric, clove, tobacco smoke, chocolate and au jus. Bottom line: I bought this wine because I didn’t want a cab or pinot noir, and while I wanted more we both agreed it was a typical Rhone style at a manageable price.
• 2004 Domaine de la Solitude Cotes du Rhone ($9.99) I bought this wine because I read about it in another wine column and I picked it up even though I’d tried it before. I kept thinking I tried the wine from a different producer, Delas Freres, but I wasn’t sure. The bottle is definitely worth getting, and even though it’s an everyday wine it has certain traits, like the violets in the bouquet and the spicy, lemon grass flavor notes, that will help those unaccustomed to Rhone wine orient their palates.
And if you’ve got the money, spring for the E. Guigal Cote Rotie from the La Turque vineyard. It’s only $348.99 for the ultimate Rhone experience.
My favorite wine came from a wine shop whose inventory is getting a bit thin. I think it’s the economy. Less credit and less money tied up in inventory. I bought it because it was the third wine the clerk suggested. (He makes me work for the suggestions and usually tries to get me to buy a nice but slow-selling wine. After I reject a couple he starts keeping it real.)
• Louis Latour Santenay 2005 ($21.99) My favorite wine of the past few weeks. Very subtle and understated. Great price. Grape, blackberry, pencil lead, dandelion greens and a touch of dried strawberry fruit notes. Not structured, but elegant with a two-step finish. Just thinking about it makes me want a glass. This is typical Burgundy.