Size matters, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
When you go in for a mouthful; a swish-swish, a gurgle spit; well, I just like there to be some volume. Something to grip, enough to hold on to. Something big, firm and enthralling. After a swallow, I want to feel like I just swizzled out of a vice and am headed right back for more. Grabbed, twisted and snapped in half. That’s right. Dive IN!
Straight into a glass of 2010, For a Song Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has a dark swagger that feels like a black, bawdy night in Paris. It’s a knotted up bunch of opaque thirst, quenched by a meridian of berry density. A marinating rhythm of red currant and soy sauce strikes mid-tongue and bursts into a pool of roasted coffee. Structured and fine, this wine seizes the moment of breathless interjection. Convincing and clutching, this is a mouthful of memorable elation.
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Up next, a pretty glass of 2009 Patton De-Classified, Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir. This is a slow starter and takes awhile to blow off. But once unveiled a pinot of adoration occurs. Cherry earth sorts out in a smooth, decadent geniality. It feels good. With wispy raspberry simplicity, it becomes clear quickly that this is not an existential dialogue, but an interesting story involving a hookah bar and a doorknob. Hooked. Lined. Sinkered.
Appropriately. I’ll follow with a glass of Portlandia, where young people go to retire. (Yes, I’m allegedly from there.) Grabbed in a glass of 2012 Rainstorm Pinot Gris, this is a one time fee paid annually. Cloaked in a cord of linen, this wine is laced with a super spike of pineapple and candy apple; it’s both honey AND suckled. Citrus surges into a bloom of drippy acid and tart yogurt with a warm finish. The dream of the ‘90s is alive in Portland, and don’t let anyone tell you different!
Knock, knock, anything there? At first, I can’t say with confidence that the lights are on in this glass of 2011 Radius, Walla Walla, Cabernet Sauvignon – and certainly, no one appears home. But wait... there’s movement. Some creaking. A big stretch followed by an elegant yawn of blackberry and black plum unfurling into a feathery lightness of petrol and violet. Cab Sauv might have been my third guess, fooled by the noticeable bendiness and fruit-forward sweetness.
Next up, a real grabber! 2008 Stevens Winery 424 Yakima Valley Red Wine enters in grandiose splendor. Intense bursts of smoke and goodness revel in the darkness, while black plum and blackberry writhe into a cherry brightness. It’s soft and voluptuous, held together with the structure of a French corset. An undulation of diamond cut acid and tannin, this wine finishes long and luxuriously in a linger of refinement.
What? Someone got your goat? Next up is no ordinary Capricorn. Toasted Goat’s fruit hangs low and maybe wobbles to-and-fro, but tie it in a knot? I don’t think so. This 2011 unoaked chardonnay serves its fruit up in a glass of YUM. Soft, elegance like marshmallow powder, blends with peach and creamsicle. It’s smooth and lovely with the energy of orange zest and round nectarine. Quite a delight, indeed.
Hold up! We have an Austrian grabbber in the audience. A glass of 2010 Shooting Star Blue Franc is a sampling of what’s ahead on my Austrian road trip next month. (And my mom’s home court, just sayin’.) Shooting Star Blue Franc is the superhero sibling to Frankenstein (or sounds like it anyway). It’s a hiccup of Pow! Poof! Wow!! styled in a thorough and pure Blaufrankish approach. My interest is piqued by its discreetness. And yet, besides the three kinds of cherry and cardamom lite, I find it curiously quiet though unable to put it down. Not much in the spice category, so I’ll take Tang for a hundred, Alex. Oh yah? Well, I’m taking my umlaut and going home!
And home I go, with Stella afoot. With her hetro-flexible hobby, Stella shows up stellar, like a dinner guest who brought the whole meal. This 2010 Stella Fino Pinot Grigio is a carton of cooked rice and salty pretzels. It’s even smoothness lifts up a touch of orange peel and dried nectarine. Deeper layers unravel into pure honey, match flame and petrol. No one is going to accuse Stella of being shallow. She goes deep, then deeper and deepest. Sip softly; we have a long night ahead.
Grab one or grab all! These babies grip back and take names.
TERI CITTERMAN is a Seattle dweller and an eager wine enthusiast. She is the author of the latest edition of Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest and the Northwest Wine Journal. She writes An Urban Sip Wine Blog at anurbansip.com.