The anti-flavor wine elite
Most of us probably have more practical ways to waste our time than following the political side of the world of wine on the Internet; but the latest digital tempest in a teapot, er, wine glass, is worth watching.
The Web-based wine uproar focuses on the powerful American wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr., who recently began uttering wine-related "tweets" on the Twitter service. He stirred up a storm when he wrote, "lots of top wine merchants are heavily discounting once very expensive Aussie Shirazs (sic) ... out of fashion among the anti-flavor wine elites."
Whoa! Wine elites? This bore an eerie resemblance to a vinous Teabagger. It was red meat for a lot of people, ranging from lovers of Australian Shiraz and don't think it's at all out of fashion, to those who aren't great fans of the "blockbuster" style of wine made by some - definitely not all - Australian producers.
Full of oak and loaded with simple, almost sweet fruit flavors, these so-called "fruit bomb" wines from Australia and elsewhere have long been Parker favorites. For those who prefer a more subtle, complex and restrained wine style, this was interesting stuff, even if it stung a bit to have our tastes dissed as "anti-flavor" and "elite." Some online wine geeks have actually begun labeling themselves with the tongue-in-cheek acronym, "AFWE." I like that ...
So, love the Big Name Wine Critic or disdain him, we've now got a surprisingly firm opinion to sink our teeth into. Without accepting the charge of either "anti-flavor" or "elite," I'm sticking with my preference for the more subtle and interesting "Old World" style of wine.
I'd actually like to ask Parker whether his tastes in cinema run closer to The Seventh Seal or Avatar, but that would be mean. Let's learn by example instead.
Today's tasting report features a tasty, affordable and food-friendly Old World wine from France, made to the order of importer Kermit Lynch, a charter member of the AFWE. Kermit's 2008 Côtes du Rhône is fruity for sure, and comes in at a hefty 14% alcohol - it's happening everywhere. But its neat balance of varietal fruit, acidity and tannins takes it well out of "fruit-bomb" territory and onto the table of the AFWE. I like it.
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Today's Tasting Report
Kermit Lynch 2008 Côtes du Rhône ($12.99)
Very dark purple, shading to garnet and then clear at the edge. Red-berry fruit and black pepper, makes me guess Grenache and Syrah, though I have not looked up the specs. A real mouth full of red wine, dry and tart berry fruit with tannins present but somewhat tamed by the fruit and acidity. A sturdy, rustic Côtes du Rhône that seems as if it would suffer no harm from a couple more years in the bottle. Fine now, though, with rare red beef. Made by Terres d'Avignon - Vignerons Réunis for Kermit Lynch's label. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Feb. 5, 2010)
FOOD MATCH: A wine that wants red meat, it was just fine with a locavore rib eye steak from Kentucky's Dreamcatcher Farm, pepper-crusted, pan-seared and oven-finished.
VALUE: Hard to beat for value in the lower teens. This local price matches the importer's suggested retail.
WEB LINK: Here's a discussion on the Kermit Lynch Website about his Rhône blends including the 2008 red Côtes du Rhône.
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Compare prices and find vendors for the Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône on Wine-Searcher.com.
Click here for information about buying wine direct from Kermit Lynch where the law permits.
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