Thursday, March 29, 2007

Facing my fears — Vol. 1

So, in my short year (yes, year!) of wining, I've developed a loose set of guidelines upon which I base all of my wine purchases. Things like "don't pay more than $15 a bottle if you're just going to be drinking alone" and "skip the chardonnay." Mingling with those guidelines is my "blech" list — a mental collection of wines I've had bad experiences with and don't care to try again.

So, I'm granting myself some do-overs, specifically with shiraz/syrah, sauvignon blanc, and zinfandel — three varietals I've had icky experiences with.

An unfortunate run-in with a goopy Chilean shiraz put shiraz/syrah on my blech list last summer. The cheap wine was nothing but alcohol and grainy sediment; the pessimist in me assumed that maybe all shiraz was created like that. But I know that's not the case; I've just been reluctant to strike back out and try something different.

Which brings us to tonight's tasting: 2004 Domaine des Blagueurs Syrah.

Obviously, the first thing you notice about this wine is the wicked Ralph Steadman design on the label. But there's much more to it than that.

It's a hefty wine for its price; its nose is, at first — especially when warm — deeply alcoholic, giving way to dark, plummy fruit scents. A swig of it reveals a smoky thickness, one woven with tobacco and tannin, and black cherries. It's actually quite yummy and smooth — no sediment to be found crunching between my teeth.

If I can tackle the rest of my fears with such ease, I will enter a whole other realm of wine-drinking.

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