Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Starry, starry wine

As time winds down to Saturday’s trans Pacific flight I thought I might post on a few wines. A few practice swigs, if you like. The wine for this post was recommended as a excellent Northern Rhone with a “weird” label and a 50% discount in recommended retail price. Half price? No weird label was going to put me off giving it a try. The label is the work of Los Angeles artist Mark Grotjahn and is supposed to represent a star burst “to help make the wines the stars that they are”. Which explains the post’s title (apologies to Van Gogh).

The wine is from Betts and Scholl, a winery founded by master sommelier Richard Betts and art collector Dennis Scholl. Wine and art, exactly what the bottle represents. Betts and Scholl was sold to spirits company Castle Brands in 2009. As far as I am aware Betts and Scholl do not own any vineyards but rather work with owners and wine makers in Australia, California and France to produce a variety of wines. The Northern Rhone is a collaboration with Jean-Louis Chave and is simply called Hermitage Rouge. Wines from the Hermitage AOC are often pure Syrah but can contain up to 15% of Marsanne and/or Roussanne.

The wine recommended to me was from the 2006 vintage. In color it’s a deep, dark cherry red with a red edge rimmed with a tinge of orange/brown. It is developing very well with a bouquet that speaks of damp earth, spice, barnyard, the ink well from an old school desk, leather, black pepper and crushed violets. There is also a dusty oak note and the aroma of tobacco as you swirl the wine in the glass. The body is medium weight and supported by juicy acidity and very firm tannins. The flavors carry well across the palate to a lengthy finish. It lacks depth on the mid palate but should fill out with a few more years. At present it’s a wine that needs food to soften its astringency. Easy to pick as a French Syrah but perhaps not as Syrah only. Is it just Syrah? Hmmmm, hard to say but its certainly great value at the price I paid.

Betts and Scholl Hermitage Rouge 2006 (14% ABV) $29.95USD
Score: 2,2,4.4,10.1 = 18.5/20 (93/100)

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