Ruffino Italia Chianti, 2010

A gathering approached. The risk of using some of our personal wines was nigh; some being precious and beloved, some being more of the experimental sort. Serving either one of those options to a large crowd of heavy drinkers, talkers, or beer drinkers was a disconcerting nag on the mind. To the wine (read: Utah state monopoly) store!–which is never a bad option, really, more like a solution to any of life’s probable disenchantments.

The wine buying aim, as is our social status quo, was cheap yet noteworthy. Yes, yes, I know; having to guest a sizable, fastidious grouping of philosophers and artists alike we could simply distribute tall glasses of Fish Eye, Yellow Tail, or generic guzzler from California No. 9–only geeks talk about wine at length. But what genial hosts could we possibly be with such low standards? Horrid hosts we’d be, I tell you. Not to sound too pretentious here, for all wines have their time and place (why bicker?). Besides, it’s not all about class or quality, but more about information about quality, studious wines that everyone can easily buy. Great wines deserve to be bought en mass and drunken enthusiastically…

Well, there is uncle Martin. He cares not for what alcoholic beverage sloshes down his gullet. You see, he has no taste buds–apparently loosing them one horrific incident on a Christmas evening that somehow involved Petrón, Everclear and burning flame from a Bic lighter. The details are sketchy, but that’s hardly necessary to understanding the outcome. So to Uncle Marty: sorry, but we do reserve our “best of” from you.

A notable wine blogger, Mike Steinberger, once wrote a streak of blog posts concerning ethics in the wine world. In the first “The Wine Ethicist” article, 12-7-2011, Steinberger posed the question of (is it ethical to be) harboring your best bottles away from guests during a party. More specifically, when opening one of your finest bottles should you conceal it, and open a separate, poorer quality wine for the guests that are ill acquainted with the subtleties of wine? Or should you feel obliged to split evenly with the entire group? It’s a hefty question; one that makes me feel a little ill. On my right shoulder sits the proper Aphrodite, telling me to share the wealth and leave no imbiber behind, on the other shoulder sits Ariadne, wife of Dionysus, telling me with a terse and cold ingenious lucidity to remove the “friend” factor from the equation. I’ve always been partial to Aphrodite.

Ruffino Italia Chianti, 2010 – $12
– Dark, but thinning ear the edge. Has a brown glisten.
– On the nose, a perfume of dark forest floor, old book and nondescript plum: all reminiscent of a drenched, sunny valley after a torrential rain storm. A little musty, but nice enough.
– Lightly sweet and a flutter of smoke. The forest floor comes through with an earthy under bite. A perfect balance of tannin and linger. Nothing is fantastically nuanced, nor does anything really reveal itself, but what you get is a consistent finish and static, but exhaustively pleasing, linger. An antediluvian undertone. It’s rock-steady, safe and enduring for its price.
     Overall: Worthy. It may not be indicative of the finest of Chianti, but the classic motifs are all there, without being in your face about it. Like Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” the Ruffino is  hotly entertaining, even brave and adventurous at times, while not always delivering the most sensations or compelling of thrills; it’s safe, reliable and easily recommendable.

Quote of The Evening:

Sake! Sake? Sake can’t be white. What are you trying to do? Kill me, for hell’s sake?

Bodega Navarra Correas Malbec 2009 $12

A good friend, whom I haven’t seen personally for years, is now back in town. Having an affinity for Malbec, especially the ones from Argentina, saying “I bought them once. They were good. Never had to buy anything else.” Jolly good, then. Stick with what you like; and why not? Argentina has been pumping out some of great, inexpensive wines for that exhibit varied nuances, textures and inky characteristics that are drastically different as you taste the terrior of the northern main producer, Salta, to the southern region of Rio Negro–so much to discover. Mendoza (situated nearly in the middle of the country, other main producers) happens to be the region more prolific with the volume of wine produced, exactly where our Bodega Navarra Correas originates from.

Generally speaking, it’s been said that there are very little bad vintage years for Argentinian wines, seeing as how plenty of warm sunshine are ever-present, and yet kept temperate by the regions cool air sweeping in from the ocean, always within a decent distance. You’re more likely to get a juicy red from the regions of Argentina that can leave impressions and redolence that are similar to southern Spain’s productions. A relatively new adage: You’re safer spending your money on a thirty dollar Argentinian than you are with a twenty dollar Cabernet from Napa.

Bodega Navarra Correas Malbec 2009, Mendoza Argentina – 13.9% – $12
– A light red glow. Thinning near the edge, there is some pink elongation to red, wide transition seen.
– Some dust, old oak and some light syrupy-cherry. A thin nose, all in all.
– There is that ubiquitous, cheap syrup taste going on; I won’t shy away from saying that’s present. However there is a redeeming, even balanced linger and finish. It’s pleasant, but there is really nothing worth exploring here. Pleasant, but hardly worth excogitating about.

Overall: Pass. A caveat to this: I would recommend this Vavarra Correas had I not been exposed to some finer Malbecs from the Argentina region, all your for just a few dollars more. Well worth the extra dough: The Catena 2009; and the Layer Cake, 2010 Malbec, both of which hail from Argentina for about $17.

Quote of The Evening:

Hunky Hercules! Yeah!

That wasn’t Hercules. It was a sculpture of Moses.

Oh. Well. He’ll always be Hercules to me.

Kiler Grove Petite Sirah, 2009, 14.5%

Kiler Grove is a local winery to us, to our great delight (Salt Lake City’s first winery!). We have been a fan since day one. Fermenting luscious, studiously strong wines since last spring, Kiler Grove has risen to the high ranks of our rigorous approval list. Winemaker Micheal Knight has been gracing the valley with his wineries seductive “Trebbiano,” a studious, deep and full white wine mix of 90% Trebbiano and 10% Sauvingnon Blanc; their “Interpretation,” a heady, old world, earthy and chewy/silky mélange of Grenache, Mourvédre and Petite Sirah; the ever popular “Zinergy,” a fantastic blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and rounding off with 5% Grenache, that exhibit well rounded deep cherry and abundant dark earth; the 100% “Zinfandel,” Paso Robles grapes, has always had a backed up bottle perching in our wine rack, having a finesse and elegance whilst remaining spicy and succulent near the back end; and finally their flagship “Petite Sirah,” a 90% Petite Sirah, 5% Grenache and 5% Mourvédre blend that, especially in their previous bottling, the 2007 vintage, was a sensuous, dreamy, velvety and bold wine with dark pleasantness and well rounded, fruity flair.

More recently the winery has released their 2009 “Grenache,” which we were able to try (and purchased) during a recent tasting. Although not as tight, and succulent as their other offerings, it did offer an interesting and complex motif that reminded us of wines from South America, even hints of Rioja-like terrior. With some age, or the right food pairings, this wine would be lovely to spend an evening with.

With the aforementioned tasting we also purchased their new 2009 Petite Sirah–two bottles, in fact. During the tasting we noticed right away that this was a different wine entirely from their 2007 vintage. Close enough in style, yes, but this had a deeper vibe, some unwieldy, surprising quirk. We weren’t quite sure if it was young, lavished a new experimental mix, or our expectations were through the roof. We had to find out with an expanded tasting of an entire bottle. Two bottles would suffice; one young, one for drinking somewhere down the road (knowing us, a month or two from now).

Kiler Grove Petite Sirah 2009 $26 14.5%
– Purple-plum dark; a sure-thang to darken your lips, blacken the tongue. The destitute pirate look is in now a’ days, so…
– There’s a deep floral and fruit forward wall that clamors its way into the back of your nostrils. Very potent. Pomegranate, deep cherry and cedar become clear in time. After some warmth, there was a great deal of tart, almost a candy redolence–like a sour patch kid, that lingered. Glands salivated.
– Darkness prevails; this is a young wine, for sure. The classic characteristic of Petite is all there; chunky, heady and full of alcoholic back bone. There is a great amount of sweetness present, but fear not, it is perfectly situated and kept controlled by the wines darkest recesses. This Petite is pleasant to the last drop, going down easy, but making itself known with a kick and bite on the way down. A complaint, however: it is a little too young, and because of this there is a distinct lack of rounded coalescence in the mid range. The character is just not there yet. We also noted that the linger was “very limp,” almost chubby with its alcoholic presence.
Overall: Worthy. It may be a little pricy, at $26, for a Petite Sirah experience you can get for a few bucks less from vineyards in the southern wilds of Australia or Northern California. But this wine does offer classy distinctiveness in its restraint of sweet and just-so tart that other Petites can’t quite offer. Not to mention that there are many years of ever changing elegance that this wine will soon discover. Try this: Leave a scolding note to yourself – your future self – for opening the bottle so young, and stick it on the cap for a good couple of years. That should keep you at bay.

Quote of the Evening:

Every episode [of Star Trek] should have found some way for Spock to take off his shirt.