Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's not rocket science.

A friend brought this newly released wine over for Vinomaker and me to try last night. Unfortunately, the rocket shaped bottle was the most memorable feature of the wine. The colour extraction was great but that's about it; high alcohol (14.9%), heavy mouth feel, not a lot of tannins, the fruit was under ripe red plum, with a tiny amount of vanilla on the finish...but overwhelmingly acidic. This wine had most definitely been over acidulated. Yes, being an '06 it is young, but I think you can take it's youthfulness out of the's just out of balance. Thankfully, this is not John Caldwell's, (famous in these parts for his 'suitcase clones'), primary label.
The name, Rocket Science, I am assuming, is a tongue-in-cheek attempt at saying that wine making is NOT rocket science. He's right, it's not, but it can get awfully complicated. This thinly disguised rant against the phenomenon of Napa Valley cult wines, (a category in which Caldwell is not included), comes over as trite and a little some old boy's insider joke that nobody else gets. In the same vein is Clark Smith and his line of Cheapskate's a shame that teenage boys can't drink wine in the US...nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more!
I don't buy into cult worship myself. Last year I was fortunate to be able to partake in a blind tasting of the usual suspects (all '02 Cabs), Bond, Harlan, Phelps, etc., (Screaming Eagle was not included). My favourite was the David Arthur Elevation 1147. I'm a bit of an 'Emperors New Clothes' type person so I'm not easily influenced by the opinions or reactions of others. To me, it was the best of the bunch because I was using my taste buds, no one else's, and I drink what I like. I very rarely read wine reviews, they're boring. There are plenty of wines I can find out there, in the entire universe, for myself...thank you very much.
Rocket Science is great if you like a particular brand of humour paired with your wine. I was left just feeling sorry for the poor retailer who is trying to merchandise this wine, on it's side, in a bin. The angled sides of this bottle would make it rocket right out onto the floor!
To quote Colin McPhail of Larkmead Vineyards, "Less cult, more cultivation". With that being said, I'm launching myself out into the vineyard.


Vinomaker said...

Regarding the high acid component in wines, there are really two means of acheiving this, picking the fruit while it is still higher in the berry during maturation or simply adding it to the must or wine after harvest. The objective is usually to reduce the pH to improve stability but also to add to the balance of the finished wine. The lack of acid in many white wines results in a dull, flabby taste when the other components might otherwise be fine. High acid in this wine and other full bodied reds, however, does the opposite and can leave one wishing some could be removed. The amount of acid in a wine is both a stylistic and practical decision for the winemaker but for high quality wines, it should still not be out of balance.

Vinogirl said...

Vinomaker, thanks for your professional insight...I'm assuming you mean NO wine should ever be out of balance if the producer wants people to drink it...(read here, BUY it).

Thud said...

I have seen plenty of joke wines but after the initial laugh what is there?

monkey said...

A very sore head!