Fringe Benefits

July 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been sort of blown away this month by how diverse and generally awesome the world of wine is. I have tasted so many delicious and affordable wines from kooky places made from kooky grapes, I’m having a hard time paying much attention to anything one might regard as “mainstream.” I’m hoping the customers are feeling experimental in August; my 8-months pregnant wife will not appreciate piles of unsold wine in the living room.

Things got off to a left-of-center start with the arrival of Terry Theise and his guided tasting of German and Austrian wines. You can Google Terry and learn all about him; suffice to say he is an anti-industrial wine importer of the sort that are being hunted to extinction by suits who love golf and the word “consolidation.” There were many brilliant wines, but the one I settled on was the Geil Scheurebe Kabinett because  a) it was a brilliant balance of sweetness and juicy acidity and  b) the importer described Scheurebe as “Riesling’s transvestite brother.” I had to have it. We’re pouring it by the glass.

The next wine that got my attention was this Sacra Natura Terra Alta 2007, of certified organic grapes and hailing from Spain. It’s a little wild, a little ragged maybe even, but it all hangs together, actually it totally pulls together into one majestic rock and roll red. It’s like The Replacements in a bottle. It’s Sacra-licious.

The other two crossed my glass on the same day, and they both have green labels. A Green Day, then. Falernia Pedro Ximenez 2009 is Chilean. Which didn’t stop any of us from pronouncing “Ximenez” in the Barcelonan style, since usually Pedro Ximenez is reserved for making Sherry. This entails forming a “th” sound with your tongue in place of the “z.” Like Letter Man and his Varsity Sweater. None of which has anything to do with the wine, which was refreshing like a Sauvignon Blanc, but with less overt citrus and a bit more texture. And it’s from Chile, which is odd.

Quattro Mani [toh-kai] 2008 was the second wine that day. [toh-kai] is what you get when Tokai develops a Prince fetish and introduces some symbolism into its name. This wine is from Slovenia. Isn’t that bat-shit crazy? It is to me. Biodynamically farmed Tokai spelled [toh-kai] from Slovenia for well under $15 qualifies at bat-shit crazy in my book, despite my resolution to clean up my language.

The thing is, none of these wines is hard to love. All that’s required is an open mind and an empty glass. No matter where you shop for wine, pay attention to the fringe…..you’ll likely find some very attractive wines there. And the wine buyer’s spouse will thank you.

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