Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On Balance, A Very Good Montepulciano

Balance, according to The Oxford Companion to Wine, is achieved when a wine's "alcoholic strength, acidity, residual sugar, tannins, and fruit, complement each other so that no single one of them is obtrusive on the palate." If I lustily second this notion, I think that the term "balance" can extend beyond those characteristics, and when you find a wine that exhibits a more unusual notion of balance, while fulfilling its classic definition, well, that's when you've found something distinctive and perhaps even exciting.

Take the 2006 Moroder Aión Rosso Conero — and at $16 a bottle, I'd happily share some with each of you. The montepulciano grapes that make up the entirety of this bottling are grown organically in a national park sited in the Marche within sight of the Adriatic, and you wouldn't be wrong if you assumed that it has much in common with other such wines in this region that are unmolested by oak. For example, it's refreshing and lively, with fresh berry flavors, delicious hints of zesty citrus and spices, and a subtle element of tart cherry on the finish. And yes, it's balanced in the classic sense.

But there's something about the body and the texture that sets this wine apart. The body is plush with dark fruit and the texture is velvety, yet these characteristics are somehow svelte. It's a substantive wine that should pair well with meats, but thanks to the orangey acidity and subtle black minerality it shows an insouciance that helps it show well with lighter fare such as casual fish dishes and vegetarian pastas. In fact, I'm scratching my head wondering what this wouldn't pair well with, short of bivalves on the one side and dessert on the other. That's the balance I'm talking about.

Importer WorldWide Cellars says that "Aión" is the Italian word for "boredom" spelled backwards. Seems appropriate.

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