Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Scoring The Hermit Crab

Last night I went to Wine Library TV for the first time. I'd heard this online show was entertaining but, as with all things, I was skeptical. Somehow my first hit was on a show about points, and there Gary was, decrying mindless point-chasing with charm, verve, and passion.

"I'm here to say that wine ratings are straight garbage," he says. "To make your decision based [solely] on that is a monumental mistake." To further that, uh, point, I'll add that Robert Parker didn't grab power in some shirt-staining coup. He was handed that power. If you're just dipping your toe into the wine lake, points can help you learn what you do and don't like and gauge your taste. And personally, I enjoy scoring wines in the privacy of my home because, as Gary says, it's fun. But point-chasing is just lazy.

Anyhooters, Gary's review of the 2005 d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab McLaren Vale caught my attention, not least because he praised this Viognier-Marsanne blend's balance and lack of heat. I rarely buy South Australian wines, having been burned one too many times by hot, sugary, confected monstrosities, and the McLaren Vale is one of the hottest regions of them all. But what the hell, I thought, and so I picked up the 2006 release.

I gotta give it to him, The Hermit Crab ($16) is fresh, refreshing, and balanced. Full aromas of warm pears, ripe apricots, and petrol infuse the nose without obsequiousness or undue pungency. It's both creamy and refreshing in the mouth, and the slight zing of ginger and light minerals carries through on a long finish. It conveys presence rather than heaviness, and at 13.5% abv, you could pair this with anything this side of a bivalve.

I give this wine two thumbs up!

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