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

Tarima Organic Monastrell 2011

Another wine post about Devotion?  But of course!  We are all answering the call set out by our fellow wine blogger SAHMmelier for the monthly wine writing challenge (MWWC).  She won the gold medal last time with her entry for the Mystery-themed challenge, so now she has the honor of choosing this month’s theme!  You can read all the posts – and those from previous challenges – over at the MWWC blog by clicking on the awesome wine stain logo.  So what is my take on Devotion?

Well, first let me say that I have been well reminded what devotion means and what it can do as I watch the Olympic athletes compete.  In sport after sport, the backstory pieces about the competitor’s lives are constant reminders and shining examples of devotion.  Take, for example, the Russian pairs figure skater Maxim Trankov.  In order to train, he left his family home at 15 and had to sleep in the basement of an ice skating rink among a bunch of soldiers who were billeted there.  In addition, he received one (evidently only one) free meal a day there.  For three years!  Mr. Trankov is now the proud owner (with his partner Tatiana Volosozhar) of an Olympic gold medal.  But he is not the only athlete with this kind of story.  I’m sure we would hear many similar and perhaps even more compelling stories from other athletes competing – most of whom will not end up with a ribbon around their neck.

As I’ve been watching these Winter Games from my comfy couch, I’ve been devoting myself to a little wine exploration.  One of my recent 2014 Winter Olympics wines was the Tarima Organic Monastrell 2011 which has it’s own story of devotion to tell.  Or perhaps, more precisely, it’s label is devoted to a particular message.  Take a quick look at the picture of the bottle  Did you notice?  This wine was made with certified organic grapes.  In case you missed it on the front, it is repeated on the back label — FIVE times.  I kid you not!  In their defense, Bodegas Volver does produce a Tarima Monastrell that isn’t made with organic grapes.

Winemaker:  Tarima by Bodegas Volver
Wine:  Tarima Made With Organic Grapes
Varietal: Monastrell
Vintage: 2011
Appellation:  Alicante DO, Spain
Price:  $9.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This Spanish Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre) was a deep dark garnet color.  The bouquet held musty earth, dark red fruit, wet leather and mothball scents.  Body on this selection was fairly light with a softly plush mouthfeel.  Tannins were moderately grippy and lingering.  Acidity was good and alcohol was at 14.5%.  On the palate I tasted violets, dark plum, and black olive with a finish of bitter wood.  And that despite the fact that it was evidently fermented in stainless steel.

Now that I’ve finished getting this post up, I’ll get back to watching athletes devoted to their sports and (at an acceptable hour) my own wine exploration.  I suppose if I were more devoted —  to either/both — I could have typed this up while sitting on the couch in front of the TV and sipping wine.  Sigh!

Addendum:  As I tasted this bottle, I wondered about the possibility of cork taint.  The bouquet was fairly unusual, to be sure.  So I decided to look around and see what others have said about this selection.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find much on this vintage of the organic Monastrell besides at the Bodegas Volver web page.  The flavor profile I tasted is certainly on the darker side than what is described by the winery.  Of course, I often don’t agree with precisely what a winery says about it’s own wines.  That being said, they do mention “toasty barrel power” which agrees with my bitter wood even though they use only stainless steel.  So …  If anyone else has tasted this wine and can share their own thoughts, I’d be very interested to read your comments.

Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Mourvèdre 2011

I gotta say, I don’t think I’ve ever had a single varietal Mourvèdre before.  I’ve had it any number of times as part of a red blend, but I can’t recall having tasted it seul, as it were.  That’s French for “alone.”  Sorry, I was just feeling the French for a second there.  Perhaps the wine gave me some Frenchspiration.  Oh!  I apologize.  I seem to be in a goofy mood.  Regathering my wits now ….

I realize that this grape is used in single varietals by several U.S. producers, including Cline, Bonny Doon, Tablas Creek, etc.  So it’s not like it would have been impossible to find one.  Until now I just wasn’t Mourvèdred to.  [Ugh!  That was really bad.  LOL]  Anyway, the good news for me was that Paso Robles is pretty much the hot spot in the U.S. for the production of good Mourvèdre wines.  Evidently, the climate and the soil are as good as anywhere for this particular varietal.  Knowing that certainly got my hopes up as I popped the cork on this typically budget-friendly TJ offering!

Winemaker: Trader Joe’s (bottled by Central Coast Wine Warehouse)
Wine: Petit Reserve Mourvèdre Paso Robles
Varietal: Mourvèdre
Vintage: 2011
Appellation:  Paso Robles, CA
Price:  $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  The wine was garnet-colored and had a big bouquet of barnyard (sous-bois?), plum, young blueberries and violets.  The body of this red from Paso Robles was quite light.  Acidity was nice and brisk, and the tannins were light on the palate.  I caught flavors of young blueberries (ripe but just, if you know what I mean), cherry, plenty of pepper and oak.  Alcohol was at 13%.  First, let me say that I really enjoyed the smell of this wine.  It was a pleasure to breathe in the fragrant earthy and fruity scents.  I won’t go so far as to say that I didn’t even need to drink it after having sniffed it’s heady aromas.  No, I definitely bought the bottle to be drunk.  So, as far as flavor was concerned, I would put this one solidly in the good category.  It wasn’t a revelation, but it was pretty darned enjoyable.