Casting Wine Roles

September 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

This weekend my wife and I stole away to Tigh Na Mara for our anniversary weekend. Just the two of us for a couple of days of R&R. Of course that meant some great food and great wine. I approached the wine selection much like a casting director would a film. I cast specific wines for specific roles. If they performed their roles really well they would go on to test their versatility in other roles, if they did fine, they maybe be set up for a life as a character actor, and lastly some would simply be a pretty face that was able to pull off the role in a convincing way. Let’s face it I think most people purchase their wine kind of like this. You can’t separate the quality of the wine from the experience. Only cork dorks, like myself, have the opportunity to sit down at huge tasting tables to compare wines of similar ilk and pontificate as to their quality and value… in that experience.

There were 5 wines involved in our weekend (no we didn’t finish every bottle). Corte Giara 2004 Amarone (2nd label of the famed Alleghrini winery in Veneto, Italy), King Estate 2008 Pinot Noir (Oregon), Rosemount Estate Shiraz (Southeastern Australia), Moreau 2008 Chablis (Burgundy, France), & Cassini Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir.

Rosemount Shiraz was chosen as the wine for departure. You know the night before you go somewhere when you pack, eat a light meal, bath the kids and check twice that you have everything.

Moreau 2008 Chablis was chosen to be the ‘warm up band’ wine. The wine we drank when getting ready for or preparing dinner.

King Estate 2008 Pinot Noir was chosen off the list at the Cedars to go with both of our choices of meals (Wild Mushroom Bisque, followed by a mixed Seafood Grill for Ange and a full Rack of Lamb for me).

Corte Giara 2004 Amarone or the Cassini Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir would be chosen for the dinner we prepared in our room on Saturday night. As it turns out we went with the Corte Giara as we had a meal of various cheeses, some smoked salmon, olives, bread and bruschetta. That took the pressure right off the Cassini Cellars who will live to perform in another post.

With all the wines put into their roles, the only question left was did they meet the expectations of their roles.

To my palate the wine that exceeded my expectations for the role it was given was the Rosemount Shiraz. Granted there wasn’t a lot of pressure in its role, but that’s why I decided to try it there. Rosemount Shiraz has been around for a number of years and as such has been overlooked and almost forgotten by me. For the $16 I spent it was okay if it let me down.
It is a welled balanced fruit driven wine that showed some backbone and acidity that I don’t remember in the wines from years back. This wine was to be a comfort wine and it performed brilliantly. Conclusion: Rosemount Shiraz will move on and be placed in the ever turbulent and often cutthroat scenario of the Big Family Meal.

The next wine I really enjoyed and thought fit its role nicely was the King Estate 2008 Pinot Noir from Oregon. To recap this was not a pre-planned wine as I only saw the wine list at the Cedars once I sat down to dine. The wine had to work with the earthy savory flavours of wild mushroom bisque, but also pair with the lighter bodied, slightly sweeter context of Ange’s Mixed Seafood Grill and my heavier, more savoury meal of Rosemary crusted Rack of Lamb.

The silky texture and underpinnings of ‘fall leaves’ with bright cherry did the trick. It enhanced both the flavor and subtleties of the Lamb and caressed the gentle sweetness of the Seafood Grill. Conclusion: Met the role well, however I’m not sure this would be a sipping or comfort wine, as the price is roughly $40. I would order/buy this again when in a restaurant or at home preparing a finer meal. Character actor.

The Moreau Chablis was the set up wine or ‘warm up band’. This was the wine we used to whet our pallates before a meal. Bracing acidity, zesty lime flavors along with generous minerality insured a satisfactory on its grading, however I can find and enjoy as much, wines about $10 less for the same role. Conclusion: Pretty and decent in the role, but pretty expensive for what it could do.

The Corte Giara 2004 Amarone. I was so looking forward to this as I am lover of Amarone, Valpolicella and Valpolicella Ripasso, and it is rare that I have the occasion to enjoy Amarone due to cost. The wine was completely set up to win. Simple foods with rich flavors and body, an easy going evening, some nice cool jazz playing in the background, and a great view off our deck. I saw myself curling up in the moment, alas the wine was okay but did not fit the bill. It tasted a little to angular. Although older, it’s Amarone for god sake and it should stand up and prefer some age. Instead it showed some plum, raisin and chocolate, but the finish was acidic and short. Conclusion: Did not meet the role and will not be moving on to other roles. I see informercials and voice overs for this wine.

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