This month’s WBW assignment was brought to you by Jeff at Twisted Oak and his blog: Pick a wine or spirit to associate with a winter holiday that wasn’t one of the usual suspects. Well, we so love it when life and art are in perfect conjunction. My fellow MIT alums and I were toasting to IAP, a school holiday unique to Beaverland (I know we changed the mascot to the Engineers but people have to have a reason to keep reading, OK?) IAP, which stands for Independent Activities Period, is a six-week break from academics where you can ski, learn a language or a cuisine, read sci-fi with your friends or other enriching and fun things to satisfy your curiosity. When I was in school, I remember it being a splendid time, especially in 1978 when it ended with 28 inches of snow and no school for two weeks. OK, so I got mono but time off is time off.
Anyway, we alums gathered at Bin 604 on the Baltimore waterfront to tastes wines from “Around the World.” All retailed at the shop for less than $20. Before I get to the wines themselves, I assure that any stereotype you have of MIT grads and their cronies would have been shattered on the spot. OK, we did talk about “Avatar,” but these days that’s not necessarily a badge of nerd-dom. With cheese, crackers and bread to fortify us, we soldiered on. Eric, who was doing the pouring was personable and knowledgeable. I tagged teamed with him on some food pairing suggestions.
First, we had the Gruet Blanc de Noir NV. This New Mexican sparkler is serviceable, rich and toasty with some berry notes. You’re seeing it more and more in restaurants and I would safely say it’s one of the best value American sparklers (Eric also put in a word for Argyle in Oregon). Following that was the ’08 Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay, which was crisp and citrus-y with some organizing acid.. The ’08 Castle Rock Pinot Noir didn’t find favor among the big red fans present, but I loved the red fruit on the nose that blossomed into darker, plummy notes on the palate. A keeper at about $13.
I bought two bottles of the 2003 Rentas de Finca Crianza, a Garnacha-Tempranillo blend from Rioja in Spain. This was riven with red fruit, a mild bit of vanilla with a rich chocolate undercurrent. A very charming wine that cried out for chorizo or roasted lamb tapas. The 2007 Chateau Lauriol Cotes de Francs from Bordeaux is still knitting together. It has some velvety tannin, but it’s still clearing its throat right now. An aria will be sung with a little time in your cellar.
As is the case with any holiday, you make new friends and reconnect with old ones. I bought a half case of the 2007 Clos de la Siete, a Malbec blend helmed by drive-by wine consultant Michel Rolland. This is, as the living Robert Parker would say, fruit forward and dense. But unlike some wines whose fruit content is so overpowering you could be drinking Welch’s, this strikes a nice balance. This is a drink now or later wine. Drunk now, it’s a bit naïve and assertive. A little cellar time brings out a maturity where all the elements fall nicely into place.
I bought some of the Clos and the Rentas, and also added a Garey Ranch Pinot Noir exclusively bottled for the store. Now that’s my kind of holiday.