Captain Planet Month: Earth 04/11/12
Do you read any wine blogs other than this one? If so, chances are at one point or another you’ve found yourself over at Vinography, one of the longest-running, best-regarded wine resources out there. If not, may the great deity Dionysus have mercy on your wretched, wretched soul – and you should head over to Vinography now, because it’s incredibly pertinent to what I’m about to say.
You see, Alder Yarrow, the site’s founder and principal writer, began a unique series of posts a few months back, which he calls “The Essence of Wine.” In each, he highlights a different aspect of wine through a combination of imagery, florid prose, and perhaps best of all (when they’re affordable, and available) recommendations. By now he’s done a fair number of these posts, covering flavors from cured meat to green bell pepper; from exotic citrus to the most recent, albeit less exotic lime.
But the first Essence of Wine Mr. Yarrow opted to feature, way back on January 17th, was “Earth.” And when Mr. Yarrow chose to place Earth first in his series, he unwittingly planted a certain expectation in my mind, hearkening back to one of the fondest memories from my youth. I thought that maybe, just maybe, the Essence of Wine would continue adhering to the precepts of elemental etiquette presented in the eco-documentary Captain Planet, and follow Earth with a post about Fire. But alas, it was not to be.
So instead I’ve decided I’m going to do it! My answer to the Essence of Wine, Captain Planet Month, will take place right here on Convicted for Grape over the next probably-more-than-a-month-realistically-speaking! During which I’ll review wines that encapsulate each of the four classical elements. And also Heart, I guess.
I’d love to say I’m doing this to raise awareness about the environment or something noble like that, but let’s get real: we can recycle and sustain till we’re green in the face, but in the long run, humanity’s only reward for survival will be annihilation at the inconsiderate, figurative hands of the Sun. So why worry? I say we should just enjoy as much earthen goodness as possible while we still can, preferably in vinous form – which brings me to the wine of the day.
Strong. Stubborn. Brown. Earth is undoubtedly the most solid of the elements, yet often soft and yielding, as with freshly tilled soil or newly pulverized sand. Enologically speaking, earth can be controversial. I’m not talking about sediment, the gritty goodness often left in glasses during the drinking of unfiltered (read: good) wines, but rather that planetary pungency intrinsic to the wine itself that reminds us there can be more to the equation than mere fruit and oak – and indeed, should be. Some people don’t like earthy notes in wine; these people are stupid. Earth is essential. How do you think Kwame became the leader of the Planeteers?
The wine I’ll be reviewing today is actually one of Mr. Yarrow’s recommendations for earthy wine, which I picked up for $17.50 at the PA state store (yes, it was the cheapest of the four): the Quinta de Roriz “Prazo de Roriz” 2008, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Tinta Francisca from the Douro region in Portugal.
I tend not to drink many non-Port wines from Portugal, because they’re rarely made as varietals (wines from a single grape), and I’m still trying to acquaint myself with the individual characters of as many different grape varieties as possible. But sometimes, my friends, blends are simply better, and this wine was a fine example of just such a phenomenon.
Prior to pouring, I wasn’t sure how earthy this would really be, though my hopes were high. So imagine my delight when I swirled, sniffed, and very nearly sneezed – this wine was dusty, and it made no apologies. I barely detected any fruit at all until it had breathed for a couple hours, at which point a faint whisper of blackberry rang out – only to be silenced by the proverbial librarian of the bottle, poring over volume after delicious, dusty volume, and in no mood for such nonsense.
Tannins were strong, just how I like them, and the palate left me with the wonderful impression of liquid dust. In my very first review, I stated that drinking Petit Verdot was rather akin to drinking a pencil – but in the best possible way. The Prazo de Roriz, on the other hand, felt more like drinking a very old book. From 2008. So not that old, I guess.
I award this wine thumbs up, and I encourage you to seek it out if you’ve wanted to try something really earthy (or frankly, even if you haven’t). Earth is worth it.
Now stay tuned for Fire!