Pontificis Red Blend 2012

Please forgive me, but my language geek is coming to the fore.  I see a word, and I want to know what it means.  I come by it honestly, though.  My father used to actually pack relevant volumes of our home encyclopedia when we went on trips.  I kid you not!!  This is something my sister and I would hear when we were supposedly on vacation as he pulled out a book from underneath the driver’s seat where it was very sneakily packed.  “Here you go kids.  Here’s the “A” volume.  We’ll be driving through Arizona today, so take a few minutes and read through that entry.  When you’re done, tell me about how Arizona got it’s name.”  At that point, loud mournful groans would be heard from the back seat of our station wagon.

Anyway, back to geeking out.  Pontificis is Latin and (according to my online research) the genetive – i.e. possessive – singular form of pontifex. Pontifex originally meant bridge-maker or “one who negotiates between gods and men.”  In old Rome it was a high priest or the like.  In the modern context it has come to signify the pontiff and specifically the Pope.  Thus, the vintner is suggesting this wine is “of or belonging to” the Pope.  Well, then what’s it doing on sale at my grocery store?!

Winemaker:  Badet Clement & Cie
Wine: Pontificis
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Pays d’Oc IGP, France
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This one was a deep, dark purple in the glass from which wafted scents of berries and musty earth.  Acidity was good; tannins were in the medium range; alchol was at 13.5%.  According to the label, this Pays d’Oc red is a blend of 40% Grenache grapes, 40% Syrah grapes, and 20% Mourvedre grapes.  Not surprising, then, that I found an interesting variety of flavors.  There was first and foremost quite a bit of fruit – plum, cherry and raspberry.  In addition, I found oak, touches of grass, and hints of fennel as well as coffee notes. Like many reds, the flavor profile and the tannic attack lightened as it had more time to breathe.  Overall, I was suprised by the moderate complexity of this budget blend.  This will never merit a 95 from The Wine Spectator, but it could top someone’s list of red table wines – maybe yours.

 

Advertisements

Yellow Tail Shiraz-Grenache 2012

There is a tradition that’s been going on for years now among some of my extended family around Halloween time.  It’s called the Pumpkin Patch Party.  [Gotta love the alliteration, right?]   I’ve heard about it year after year, but this was the first time I was able to attend.  What fun!

Attendees all carve pumpkins – some freehand, some using stencils, some talented folks using designs they have drawn up themselves.  As this was my first time, I chose to play it safe and do the usual triangular eyes, etc.  But I did mine freehand — no stencils for me!  One of the artists in the group drew a symbol for the Decepticons from the Transformers and his brother used it on his pumpkin.  Now that’s cool: a Decepticon jack-o-lantern!  Wish  I’d gotten a good picture of that one.

Since it was a party, I brought along some liquid refreshment for the adults to enjoy.  This is what we had (in cautious moderation, of course, since folks were wielding sharp implements) in the Pumpkin Patch.

Winemaker:  Yellow Tail by Casella Wines
Wine:  Shiraz-Grenache
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Australia
Price:  $9.49

Notes:   Color in the glass was a deep purple.  On the nose I smelled berries, barnyard and menthol.  It was light-bodied, tannins were quite light and alcohol was at 13%.  Flavors I found while sipping this inexpensive red blend from Down Under included dark raspberry and bell pepper with menthol on the finish.  It was a very simple wine yet drinkable.  By the way, I managed to snap up the bottle on sale for only $6.99.  Even so, I always quote the store’s retail price in my summary just in case folks don’t happen to run across a similar sale.

Altovinum Evodia 2011

I grabbed this Garnacha at a store near where I work.  The name of the store is Wine & Liquor.  Seriously, that’s it!  Just “Wine & Liquor.”  Much to my happy surprise it has a very large and diverse selection of wines.  Nice!

Winemaker: Altovinum Evodia (Eric Solomon Selections)
Wine: Garnacha Old Vines
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: Calatayud, Spain DDO
Price: $9.25

Notes:  Another first – my first experience with a wine made from 100% Garnacha (Grenache) grapes.  The grapes for this selection were grown near the village of Atea in the Iberian System of mountains in northeast Spain.  This light-bodied red wine was dark purple in the glass with blackberry and earthiness on the nose.  Primary flavors for me were dark cherry and blackberry with pepper notes.  There was also a fairly present bitter flavor I would describe as lichen.  Of course, I’ve never eaten lichen, so that isn’t the best comparison.  Still, it’s what I imagine lichen tasting like – a bit of chlorophyll, a bit of earthiness and an acrid bite.  No doubt that is partially due to the moderate tannins present.  Alcohol is 15%.  Acidity is OK.

In case you’re wondering why I’ve been having so many “firsts” of late, I’m going to post something soon explaining a little more of my journey on the Via Vino to date.  Not a life history, mind you.  Don’t worry!

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.