Tuesday, March 10, 2009

shiraz grenache.

x-fact ~ the razor's edge is defined as "a difficult or precarious position."

shiraz grenache mclaren vale australia 2006
paid gift!
reg. @11.99

for some time now, "economic downturn" has been at some times a four letter word and at all times a very real and very pressing concern around these parts. so imagine my delight and surprise at being gifted such a nice bottle! and right when i was hoping to get back to the wine blog, too!

with not much more than my wal-mart special (please don't ask. it's good. really. for $2.97 it's good. it's no two buck chuck, sure. but, really, let's speak of happier things right now.) i didn't feel i had much to offer you other than a depression V2.0 special. which is all fine and good. but i'm glad to make it back with something a bit livelier. thank you jane!

so the bottle isn't anything i'd ever pick up. all that gray and red nonsense reminds me of someone who is trying too hard. and two decades too late to boot.

but the magical words shiraz and grenache were on the label with a big ol' bow from the giver and a tag that boasted 91 points from Wine Spectator. (psst. that's good.)

first off it's a great color. deep. and sexy like the great nail polishes you find once before they discontinue the color.

i took a sip and it was smooth right away. admittedly there was a little "ting" at the back of the throat. not metallic, really, but close to it. i can't really put my finger on it, but it lasted about 3 or 4 sips in then went away.

in the meantime the rest of it right away was just mouthfuls of jammy and belly warming fabulousness. and it clings to the glass like a pro.

it's been some time since i've had a real sassy, full bodied, take charge kinda wine. it's so different to have a whole body reaction to a wine. your mouth is filled, your belly warmed, your extremities get the initial tingling then the all over relaxation.

it's not unlike a perfect kiss. but then again you know my love for the grenache. a date in a bottle, baby! and this bottle promises to NOT be an exception to that proclamation. furthermore, good lord but this girl could use a date in a bottle right about now!

this wine stays smooth. getting ever so more jammy with little fruit bursts here and there. juicy, and yet there's a bit of the brisk to it. right on the top. marrying with the jammy, and keeping it from going full boar into too much. you know, when your good heavy jammy wine gets that bottom of the fruit bowl taste after awhile? no? maybe it's just me.

rest assured, this wine won't do that. even if you didn't know it did it in the first place. wait? where was i? and how many times can i really use the word "jammy?"

oh, yeah, anyhow, what i really loved was how the flavors just continued to develop and even gain some complexity as i drank on. in fact, i started out with our "new" drinkaday wine glasses when i first poured this. you know the kind. the short little ones they have in your middle of the road italian joints. they aren't new, but newish. i got them a few months ago when all the "good" glasses kept getting broken (by me) and couldn't get fully clean because they don't really go in the dishwasher and they are so thin they scare me when i hand wash them.

i eliminate this issue in the summer by just putting out jelly jars for our gatherings, but the winter holidays dictate something "fancier" and we couldn't afford to replace the pricier glasses.

but, i digress.

can i say about the drinkaday glasses that i LOVE them! i do! the perfect glass in terms of size and care. each pour is just enough. and when you're on a budget and sharing your wine it's good to portion it out to make the bottle stretch. and these glasses do just that.

sigh. i did just write that? my wine soaked muses are turning over in their barrels.

anyhow, i was drinking from one of those glasses at first and then i realized i couldn't get the full scope of the smell or bouquet (fancy, right!) of this wine. which i didn't really take notice of at first. but as i continued it became more pronounced.

so i got out a "good" glass. big enough to really get my nose in there before i took a sip. and it just turned the whole thing up.

full bodied and fruity with none of the overpowering alcohol notes you sometimes get. just a really good whiff or, you know, bouquet.

this wine makes me happy. sure, yeah, the nearly 15% alcohol by volume of the wine has something to do with it, but it's more. a touch of the fabulous when things, by necessity, feel as though they have become routine and required and regimented due to forces outside of your control.

like eating an amazing meal out, wearing kick ass heels, checking into a hotel and only having to pick up the phone for anything you want at top notch personalized service. there is just something to be said for quality. finesse. attention to detail. sexiness.

or, being able to get exactly what you want at the grocery, not having to decide which utility to pay and which to ignore, negotiating which kid possesses the most pressing need for this that and the other and which can make do with the existing, hand me downs, and cast offs. there's something to be said for making every day decisions without stress and fear of mis-utilizing meager resources.

lately, it's been my reality to default to the ultra and then some practical part of my self. though i am generally a practical gal anyway. that hasn't changed. my ability to purchase my way out of practicality, even for an evening, has gone away.

but along with my practical, i maintain my creative. my kids will always have what they need. we will always be warm, we will always eat. further, a fine meal can be made on any budget. one must only have a bit of skill at the grocery store and the stove.

"not poor, resourceful" as my mother would say.

but the incidentals, the "extras" if you will, good wine being chief among them, hell WINE IN GENERAL, are the first to be slashed when the budget goes south and then just stops all together.

i am the queen of liking wines of all budgets. even the non existent ones. but while inexpensive, those wines do come at the expense of a great deal that a wine can potentially offer.

you don't get the same wine at $2.97 that you do at other price points. not the kind that really involves all of the senses and transports you to another place and time, real, imagined, or otherwise.

the kind that engages your body and soul and gives just enough to help you to remember it hasn't always been like this. that life was a different life at one point. even as you have chosen this life, there was another. like the kind of wine that leaves you imagining sitting across the table from someone you love sharing a bottle and an afternoon. a wine that makes you want to share it. glass by glass you are giving a gift of deliciousness and time.

that kind of wine can't be had for $2.97.

and i have to say the one thing about our personal "economic downturn,"okay, well, shit, there have been so many! but apropos of our conversation here, one of the more particular and beautiful lessons i have been left with through this whole "economic downturn" here at the big red house is that i wouldn't need to concoct fictitious lovers or imaginary friends to share this bottle with.

that there are many i could call to my table. and they exist. with their open arms and their open hearts. that i have a partner in this, i have my kids, i have so much.

that even as so much falls away, and will likely be taken away in the near future, that the love i share with so many will not.

i knew this, and then again i needed the lesson, too. a little shake up to the soul.

that's what i love about good wine. this wine. a little engaging of all the senses, some reflection, a letting go enough to let the sap flow and run free.

in vino veritas, right?

oh indeed.

i would drink this wine with a lovely and simple, but well thought out meal. sumptuous, yet not too heavy. a bit rambling even, with breaks for sipping and visiting.

a bite here and a nibble there and they all add up eventually. a late afternoon lunch on the perfect spring day. a little chilly towards the wane of the afternoon because the sun is not yet accustomed to our neediness and the demands of a change of seasons. perfect for pulling on a sweater and sitting a bit closer. maybe a fire outside later to chase the chill. giving an equally perfect excuse to open another bottle and visit longer.

what reminds you of spring? what do you eat when the weather is teasing us all with the promise of brighter sunnier days ahead?

this wine is bringing to mind the promise of brighter sunnier days ahead for me. even as the frigid temperatures outside and the rocky financial road i am on suggest otherwise.

the thing is about food, and wine too!, is that those brighter sunnier days are always attainable. sure, we can't create the menu and meal of our dreams each night, nor can we indulge in wine we can't afford each night, either.

but for a moment, a few moments strung together, we can indulge even in lean times. a table of food made with love, a bottle of wine, friends and loved ones gathered. perfection comes so simply if we just adjust our ideas of what it can be.

even more special if we can get those first california strawberries, a bunch of asparagus, some spring lamb, a few meyer lemons to juice for a tart.

a bottle of this excellent wine and an afternoon.

and indulging, even as we decidedly have positive proof that we simply cannot afford to, can be done and can make all the difference in the world. perception and optimism are everything when you are faced with very little.

the dictionary defines the razor's edge as "a difficult or precarious position."

the back label on this bottle defines the razor's edge as "the thin line representing a perfect balance between extremes."

well, i have been on the razor's edge for some time now. and seriously, the wine bottle nailed it.

again, in vino veritas, right?

so should you find yourself with your arms wide open, stretched out and maneuvering the razor's edge, know that your arms wide open are your first and best move.



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