Monday, November 1, 2010

Better Med Red Than Dead

Eric Asimov's mourvèdre-themed column today reminds me not only that it's been far too long since I've drank Bandol (my 2001 and 2003 Pradeaux are resting comfortably off-site) but that I should tell you about the newly-released 2006 Mediterranean Red from Sierra Foothills producer Renaissance, which was sent to me as a press sample a few weeks ago. The Renaissance vineyard is riddled with all sorts of grapes and I had forgotten they grew mourvèdre, but grow it they do, and this is basically 50% mourvèdre, 25% syrah, and 25% grenache.

With 0.4% residual sugar — not so much to make it even remotely sweet or turn it into a stereotype of a California fruit bomb, but enough to render it tender — the Mediterranean Red is more generous and approachable than good, traditionally-minded Bandol of a similar age. I'd even say this youngster is exuberant. Nevertheless, the flavors and proportions certainly evoke good Bandol: the berry, spice, and leather elements are classic and stitched together seamlessly.

There's not the slightest hint of Brett here, and yet there is a wild note quivering in the background that totally says "mourvèdre." That wild note paired well with the gaminess of locally-farmed ground lamb from Mint Creek Farm, while the forthright acidity helped cut through the fat. That acidity should help the wine age a few years, as should its balanced structure. The Med Red isn't particularly complex at this stage of the game, so additional aging (beyond the 36 months it spent in old barrique) isn't a bad idea. Still, I really enjoyed this wine now. Sometimes good things come to those who don't wait.

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