I was introduced to a great wine at Purdy’s Friday evening wine tasting—actually there were a few great wines, all very different. I started with an affordable Washington State chardonnay from Barnard Griffin with great acid, minerals, and a shock of expressive fruit, moved to an apple, honey, and apricot-laden Vidal Ice dessert wine from Standing Stone Vineyards from the Fingerlakes region of New York; had a moderately sweet Riesling somewhere in the middle; and finished with the lone red of the group—the Crociani Rosso di Montepulciano.
Obviously, there is no workable correlation between a great label design and the quality of the wine held within—but I can’t help thinking that a great wine deserves a strong, proud label. I loved photographing these bottles, knowing already what they held inside. Uncluttered and uncomplicated, which may just have been a bit more telling than I realized.
For me, wine tastings are only a partial indicator of what’s really in the bottle; swirling around a finger of wine in a tulip-sized wine glass that you can barely fit your nose in can leave me with more questions than answers. I try not to reach firm conclusions beyond: yes, this bottle is definitely worth getting into; or no, I don’t think there is enough about it I enjoy.
But that, of course, is the point—save some secrets for when you get home. I came away from this particular tasting with two bottles knowing that I had an unbelievable value. I kept thinking about this wine’s amazingly heavy, but unaggressive flesh and long fade-to-black finish without a single harsh note or rogue element.
Back at home with Carey, a real fire flickering between fake logs, and a hefty pour sloshing around in an oversized glass, I was back in my tasting element. Cool and peppery on the nose, this Montepulciano displays wonderful aromas of smoked meat and red berries, packed with sweet dried flowers. The first thing I noticed was how well this Sangiovese worked outside the all-important context of food. Gentle earth, perfect ripe readiness of the fruit quality, and easy acid/tannic structure, this wine could balance on the head of a pin. Starting out with unimposing fruit and an amazing fleshy heft that sits low in the sides of your mouth, I was pleasantly surprised by the brighter, juicy transformation that occurs with food.
For $15, this is an awesome wine—I think I found my Tuscan staple.