While I was seeking out backdrops and snapping photographs of last night’s wines, Carey was busy making our two favorite flatbreads for dinner with her parents—did I mention we are visiting her folks down in Florida? They were a huge success.
I picked up 3 bottles of wine earlier that day at our local Ponte Vedra ABC wine store, which is brimming with great stuff. I went by recommendation on a bottle of Rosé and a Block 512 Pinot Noir, by Vineyard Block Estate. I chose the Michael & David Earthquake Syrah after noticing that ABC carried the more common, and well-loved, Earthquake Zinfandel, as well as the Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon—so I had quakage on the mind by the time I approached the “non-French Rhône blends” (or something along those lines).
The Block 512 started somewhat homogenized—keeping its secrets tied up for a while. But it was pleasant nonetheless, and hinted of greater things. As the wine unfolded, the opulent, mouth-filling richness did not openly speak of Pinot Noir. The muddled red fruit, spice, and earthy distinctions created a beautiful, eye-widening first sip that extended into a lengthy, juicy finish imparting a food-friendly acidity and a sweet-rolling caramel, maple and cedar sexiness.
Beyond delicious—the cracked pepper dry-spiciness moderates this wine as it builds in flavoral sweetness. The perceivable tannic influence is negligible and even the acidity is more relaxed than might be expected. I would be very interested to see how true Pinot aficionados would evaluate the Block 512. I fear it might be cast as an overly robust, catch-all character out to win over the masses. But, I hope not. This wine, to date, is the best $20 Pinot Noir I have ever had. I loved the soft berry suppleness and highlights of cranberry. There was nothing tart or jammy about this wine—instead, Block 512 found a place to nest nicely in between.
Carey and I are huge fans of the wines put out by Michael & David Phillips. 7 Deadly Zins is a household name among Zinfandel lovers while 6th Sense Syrah and their Rhône blend Incognito have become our house favorites. The Earthquake wines, which include a Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, and Syrah have become Michael & David’s “accessible” line of higher-end wines.
Transitioning from the soft, juicy, mixed-berry Pinot to the brooding purple/black fruit abyss that is Earthquake took some adjusting. That was my fault thought. I was just so excited to try both these wines, I ignored potential taste bud shock—but who doesn’t like jumping from a hot tub to a pool?
Dark, opaque, squid ink in the glass—the purple foamy bubbles provided the only glimpse into the true color of Earthquake. Rich plum and vanilla lined the sinuses while rum-raisin and bitter dark chocolate flavors redefined vinous robustness.
I scribbled notes all through dinner as I tried to grasp the essences of these wines. There was a lot to take in, and with four people and some great food, it goes quick. I failed to dig up a single mention of the Block 512 online. Other than the winemakers’ notes available on ABC’s website, it was as if this wine didn’t exist.
Last night did succeed in reminding me why I love wine. There is so much more to wine than varietals and flavor profiles—wine is alive, it sits at the table with a personality, like a member of the family. Wine is about family, friends, food, and sharing one of the world’s oldest indulgences with the people you love—and having purple teeth too.
The Block wines are available in four states: Florida (ABC Fine Wine & Spirits—no out of state shipping), Texas (Specs Liquors—check shipping policy), New Jersey (Bottle King—ships to most states), and Colorado (AppleJack Wine & Spirits—ships to most states).