Sunday, October 18, 2009

Find Your Stallion

"What I'd like to have now is for all you high-rollin', Bordeaux-drinkin' sweathogs to keep the noise down while I take my robe off and show all you female sommeliers the sexiest wine alive. Hit the music!"

Okay, it's a stretch...not the "sexiest wine alive", but I've lately been obsessed with making
Ravishing Rick Rude references. I mean, let's cut to the core here, folks. If you were a young lady in the eighties, what wouldn't you love about The Ravishing One? The brash attitude, the nimble hips, the Hardy Wallace mustache, and the irresistable curly-fro mullet...truly, the late great Rick Rude was a stallion.

And how apropos to the subject at hand. Let it be known to all FCC operatives monitoring this site that I recently received a sample from Two Friends Imports of 2007 Bovin Vranec (pronounced vranetz), the "black wine of Macedonia". In fact, "vranec" is Macedonian for "black stallion". You see, this sloppy metaphor is finally coming together.

I opened it on Friday night, and the first taste pretty much bit my face off. Imagine a horse; a powerful, Mickey Rooney-trained black stallion, literally biting your face off. It was nothing like that. I just meant it was big and tannic, and the nose was very tight..couldn't smell much. Relax. I still have my face. But my intact face and I decided to put it in a decanter for a couple hours and see what happened.

The nose opened up a little after a spell, but it was definitely old-world, meaning more subtle and not overpowering with fruit and alcohol. I got some fruits: cranberries, blueberries, and plums, but they were hiding behind terroir smells of herbs, charcoal, tar, and black and white pepper. Since I've been on an Aussie kick lately, it was a pleasant surprise to get a subtle European nose that didn't get me drunk just by smelling it.

In the mouth, I got more cranberries, dark fruit, decent acidity, spice, and fistfuls of pepper, with a solid backbone of bitter tannin.

Baby Steps: Tannins are phenolic compounds found in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes, as well as in the oak barrels in which many wines are aged. The add bitterness to wine, as well as a tactile sensation that makes your mouth feel "fuzzy" or dry. Tannins are often purposely extracted from the grapes to add more structure to the wine, and they also can help wine age better. Some of the most tannic grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz, Nebbiolo, and Tannat.

The finish was pretty long, and the drying effect of the tannins made me want to wet my whistle again. I almost feel like this wine is a Syrah/Cabernet Franc/Merlot hybrid, but with better acidity. Hudson, who provided me the sample, said this was his "BBQ" wine, and he'd love to pair it with a whole roast lamb. I'd have to say I agree wholeheartedly.

So, if you're looking for something you've probably never had, head out and try to find some Vranec. I think it'd be a nice wine to have as the weather gets colder. At the very least, it'd be a very easy way to bring that stallion into your life at last. I'd have to say that it beats the alternative:

Ah, l'amour...I'll toast to that, and I'll do it in Macedonian: Na Zdravje!

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