My significant other and I have a problem. Our palates are incompatible.
I like crisp, delicate white wines. She likes reds.
I appreciate nuanced red wines. She likes big reds.
I'm wowed by unique wines with uncommon characteristics. She likes really big reds.
Can this marriage be saved?
Thanks to the 1-2, Friday-Saturday punch of Orsolani's (imported by Bonny Doon) Erbaluce and Guardian Peak SMG, I am happy to report that our palates have kissed and made out up. Marital bliss has returned. For now.
My palate's turn
It all began Friday evening. I crouched down and peered into the wine fridge, longing for a white with zing and minerality. I couldn't grab the object of my desire - a bottle of Il Circo "La Funambola" Erbaluce di Caluso (2004, $18). I knew that if the missus caught me selecting a wimpy white wine for our Friday happy hour, she would veto the decision immediately. So I got smart and created a diversion: "Hey, Honey. Isn't that a stray bottle of Staglin Cabernet over there under the coffee table?" In 0.02 seconds, I had popped the cork and poured two glasses of La Funambola. She returned to the kitchen and frowned upon seeing a glass of white wine waiting for her. Again, I went for distraction: "You know, this is a pretty interesting wine. It's an obscure white grape from Italy's Piedmont." The frown was now joined by a piercing glare. "Oooh. Look at the label. It's pretty cool - isn't it." At this point, I realized she was having none of it. We compromised. We would go with Erbaluce on Friday and a wine of her choosing on Saturday. My palate quaked in fear at the impending assault by a big fat red.
To my surprise, she enjoyed (or at least faked very well) the Erbaluce. La Funambola offers scents of lemon zest, white pear, along with intriguing herbal notes. And, of course, it possesses minerality of the 'mineral water' variety. In the mouth, this wine is fresh and crisp. Yet this youthful Erbaluce also drapes the tongue in rich flavors of Golden Delicious apple and Bartlett Pear. This was what appealed to m'lady's palate. My only regret is that I don't have a second bottle stashed away, taking a three-year snooze. I'm quite curious to see how Erbaluce would evolve over a few years.
Her palate's turn
Even though we had agreed that on Saturday night, we would drink a wine of my choosing, I already had a headache in anticipation of Beau's bellyaching about my selection. "This tastes like Hi-C. Ewww, my tongue is purple." I've heard it all before. What a wine whiner, he is. But I love the guy, so I decided to let him select a red wine that both of us might like. At least he wouldn't cry too loudly. He mumbled something along the lines of, "Oh well. I suppose this won't be too bad." To my surprise (and, believe me, the man couldn't fake it if his life depended on it), he liked the Guardian Peak SMG (2003 $13) - a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache. I enjoyed this wine because I could, you know, taste it. Guardian Peak is inky indigo in color with scents of plum, blackberry and baked blueberry. In the mouth, the wine is full-bodied, fruity and accented with flavors of cedar and vanilla. Guardian Peak's tannins, while hefty and round, aren't overpowering. It lingers on the finish and was a very pleasant accompaniment to our steak salad with arugula and blue cheese. Beau mentioned something about the wine seeming similar to Pinotage, and having scents of cigar box, yadda yadda. Quite frankly, I wasn't listening. I was enjoying this tasty South African wine.
- Made from the Erbaluce grape of Northern Italy's Piedmont region
- 12.5% alcohol
- Pale straw yellow in color
- A unique and enticing mixture of scents: herbal notes coupled to fresh pear, apple and citrus scents
- Very crisp, with high acidity balanced by fruit flavors and an unexpectedly rich finish
- A fine wine at a reasonable price. Il Circo is good-and-ready to drink now, but will more than likely evolve beautifully with 3-4 years' worth of maturation. Try it with Greek salad, pesto-based pasta dishes or pan-fried fish.
- A blend of 57% Syrah, 32% Mourvedre and 11% Grenache from South Africa's Western Cape
- 14.5% alcohol
- Dark indigo in color with a distinct bright pink rim
- Intense scents of baked blueberry, black plum and black cherry; along with notes of cedar, pepper and smoke
- Full-bodied and highly extracted in style. This wine is perhaps a bit flabby, but its spicy qualities and well integrated tannins add structure. While bold, Guardian Peak isn't unidimensional. This 3-grape blend offers a good amount of nuance and character. To handle this wine, you'll need a dish that's up to the task. Try it with a hearty grilled burger & gorgonzola aioli, pistachio-crusted beef, or good, old-fashioned BBQ.