Friday, October 23, 2009

Hangin' At The Usual Suspects

Karl had done me a favor while I was traveling, so I told him I'd take him out for a beer and a burger. As I recall, Elaine was just standing there minding her own business while we decided to go to The Usual Suspects, and I said "Hey, why don't you come along with us." Poor Karl. Here he's thinking he's going to go have a few IPAs and talk Jeep parts, and instead he winds up on a barstool with a wine geek on either side. Then Les comes over and tells me--for the first time!--that he's been keeping a little locker of wines for me to try.

No time like the present, so out comes a bottle of Occipinti SP68, an all-organic blend of Nero d'Avola and Frappato, IGT Sicilia 2008. It's made by Arianna Occipinti, who pulls no punches with her wines. The nose was funky, with tar, potpourri, and red berries. In the mouth, the wine was surprisingly light, with more red berries and pomegranate, and this heavy earthy note that Elaine first called volcanic ash, and later amended to "basalt." She also pointed out that the two grapes don't blend so much as they lay on top of each other. I agreed that there was a definite upstairs/downstairs feel. Karl thought it was pretty good, but I suspect he was also trying to decide whether the two of us were going to be entertainingly lunatic or pedantically boring.

Well, the wine was very good, and as so often happens, the bottle became empty, and it was time to open another one, and next in Les's line-up was a Touraine Le Tesnière Pineau d'Aunis 2007 from Thierry Puzelat. Like Ms. Occipinti, Puzelat is another wild-eyed biodynamic minimal-interventionist, who resists herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, sulfites, and probably reads by candlelight.

As the incredibly exclusive club of readers of this blog (all three of you! Don't worry, I'm not gonna name names!) know, I tend to be utilitarian in my note-taking. I have read one too many reviews by Parker that include the phrase "scorched earth," and I always want to ask him how he knows what that is. But by now I already have a couple glasses in me, and Elaine clearly has no such compunctions, so I start writing it all down:

"Resinous!"

"Pulpy!"

"Beet greens!"

"Weird acidity!"

"Roses and white peppercorns!"

"Weeds!"

and finally:

"It smells like rolling down a grassy hill in late September when some of the grass is still green and some of it has turned brown!"

There was probably more, but I didn't get it all. Oh, yeah: The tannins in this baby never backed off. If anything, they became more assertive as the evening progressed.

Karl was still there when I finally got up and called it a night.

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