WBW – Rhone Varietals
And The Search for the Perfect Pasta
I must admit to being completely surprised last night when I realized that today was the due date for the latest installment of Lenn’s Wineblog Wednesday. Being completely unprepared, and with super chef Nancy coming over for a fresh pasta lesson, I rummaged through the cellar looking for a bottle of Rhone. Aside from some pretty racy 1999 Vieux Telegraph which I was sure would have been way too powerful with our unplanned meal (the equivalent of shooting my cat with an elephant gun), the cellar was Rhone-less.
But I did come across two Australian bottles which were Rhône varietals, both from the house of D’Arenberg so I hope that it counts. So here are the reviews against the backdrop of a pretty successful pasta meal. Thanks for doing the hostin’ Jathan.
The Kneading Wine
Rousannee 2004, The Money Spider, McLaren Vale, D’Arenberg ($23…ip...buy it)
This was my first taste of Rousanne outside of the Rhône and was quite surprised. It is named after an infestation of the Money Spider (Erigoninae for you Arachnologists out there) which ruined their first supposed vintage in 2000. Local folklore claims that kindness to these bugs brings both happiness and good fortune so the good folks at D’Arenberg decided to let the spiders have their run at the Rousanne and waited an extra year before making their first vintage. 3 years later I don’t know whether or not they are rolling in cash but the wine is quite good. Typical of the cépage, it had wonderful heady aromas of honeysuckle, chamomile with almost caramel overtures. It drank much richer than I had expected, lacking the acidity one normally associates with Roussane and had a hint of sweetness on the finish. All in all, pretty good.
The Pasta Wine
Morellino-di-Scansano 1999, Doc, Riserva, Moris Farms ($41…saq)
I had planned to follow with the D’Aremberg red but it didn’t have the earthiness needed for the mushroom filling of our Agnolotti. So I brought out the Italian to accompany our dumbo sized orecchiette with red pepper and rapini and the mushroom stuffed agnolotti. This lesser-known Tuscan winemaking region denotes itself with its use of Syrah alongside Sangiovese and Cabernet. With 90% Sangiovese, it reminded me more of a ripe Vino Nobile than Chianti, with ripe cherries and plums dominating the more typical leathery, tobacco notes and exceptional length. A neat little twist were the rosemary, red peppercorn and mushroom notes on the finish.
Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre 2004, Stump Jump, South Australia, D’Arenberg ($17…ip..buy it)
I was surprised at its unoakiness. While a little too ripe for my tastes, and lacking the earthy, brett-infused flavours that I oh so love from my fave Rhônes, it drank well on its own. Layers of blackberry, cassis and other dark fruits were intertwined with a hint of pepper and cocoa on the finish. Super pleasant.