Sunday, December 16, 2007

Last Night's Tipple

Hey! No Zinfandel last night. I had bought a bottle of 2004 Goats Do Roam In Villages red wine from Fairview Winery in South Africa probably a year or eighteen months ago, and I figured that it had sat around long enough. South Africa is classified as a "New World" wine region even though wine grapes have been cultivated there since the 17th Century. Among New World wines regions, moreover, it has been overshadowed by Australia, Chile, and the United States. Still, good wine comes out of South Africa. Due to the climate there, Mediterranean grapes and Mediterranean-style wines are more successful, which may be a big part of the reason why Charles Back's Fairview Winery has put out a line of Rhône-style wines under the Goats Do Roam label. The largest AOC in the southern Rhône is Côtes du Rhône, so the name is is play on that. Other wines on the label extend that wordplay: among others, there's the Goat-Roti, which plays on the Côte-Rôtie AOC in the northern Rhone, and Goats Do Roam In Villages, which plays on Côtes du Rhône Villages, a sub-appellation of Côtes du Rhône. Fairview's names for these wines have annoyed INAO, the French governmental agency responsible for maintaining the AOC system, but so what? There is no intent to deceive here, and anybody who mistakes a bottle of Goats Do Roam for Côtes du Rhône has problems.

Because it is made in the style of a Côtes du Rhône Villages wine, Goats Do Roam In Villages has the fruit salad of of Southern Rhône grapes that one would expect. It has Shiraz (Syrah), Cinsaut, Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Carignan, Rhône grapes all; it also has some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinotage, a distinctive South African grape that is a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. I was prepared to love this wine because I think the names are clever, because I have had and enjoyed Goats Do Roam wines before, and because this bottle is closed with a screwcap, which is much more reliable than a cork. Alas, it was not to be. The overwhelming impression that I got, both on the nose and the palate, was tar. I thought that I was sucking on a big chunk of asphalt. After a while, I got some violets, but not enough to overcome the tar. Not pleasant at all.

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