Wine Tasting for Grad Students: How a $7.00 Tasting is Sometimes Better than a $7.00 Meal

9 Jul

I’ll be leaving for DC very, very soon–I’m flying out there on the evening of August 2. Thus, I’m trying to spend some quality time with SoCal friends before I do.

Jonathan L., my erstwhile LegalZoom co-worker, poet, historian, and future Columbia grad student, was in the neighborhood. We’re both fond of wine, so we decided to have a bit to drink together before we again went our separate ways.

Where else than Lou?

Now keep in mind that we’re both going to be grad students in the near future; not only that, we’re both going to be living in rather expensive metropolitan areas. Personally, I had enough money that day for wine tasting or dinner but not both. Oh well. I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.

We met up at Lou at around 7 pm. The place was dead. There were, including us, seven patrons at that time. No matter. We had a job to do.

He had the 1989 Domaine Brunet chenin blanc I wrote about in a previous post. Then he moved on to the 2006 Coturri “Albarello”, which was a field blend of a number of different old vines. I had a nice, light verdejo from the Rueda region of Spain: the 2006 Garcia-Arevalo “Tres Olmo”. Then, I sampled the 2005 Giusti Lacrima di Morro and finished off with the 2004 Puiatti cabernet franc.

As for food, we got Lou’s “fish plate”, which consisted of smoked baccala, albacore confit, smoked trout, and house-cured wild salmon gravlax. It was tasty and a pretty good foil for the wines (the fish wasn’t too fishy… it was savory, salty, and good).

Jon’s Albarello was good (ha, simple enough, right?). He insisted that the taste of the wine changed in his mouth to reflect potentially the 11 different grapes in the blend. Some post-quaffing online research on the Coturri Winery website yielded the definition of both “Albarello” and “field blend”:

Albarello is Italian for low or head pruned vines. This wine is made from a “field blend” vineyard in the southeast corner of Sonoma Valley. A field blend is a vineyard that has a number of different varietals planted at random. The idea being the wine was blended in the vineyard rather than in the winery.

What an interesting concept! The Albarello field blend consisted of nine grapes, six reds and three whites. I didn’t get too good a taste of the wine, but from what I did taste it did seem like a pleasant, well-integrated wine.

My verdejo was crisp, dry, and refreshing. It wasn’t terrible complex, but then again, verdejos aren’t supposed to be terribly complex. Nonetheless, the Tres Olmo was delicious, well-built, with bracing acidity and clean minerality. Notes of citrus. Good.

The cabernet franc was served chilled, just like beaujolais. It was very light-bodied, with a low tannin-to-high acidity ration. The nose yielded cherry, and the taste yielded berries. This cabernet franc may just give beaujolais a run for its money in my book!

I wanted to focus a bit on the Lacrima di Morro. I mean, how cool is that name? Tears of Morro (Morro being the commune of Morro d’Alba in the Italian province of Ancona, which is on the Adriatic coast).

Lacrima di Morro is a wine whose grape (Lacrima di Morro d’Alba) is of an ancient and confusing origin–so ancient and so confusing, in fact, that its precise genealogy may never be determined.

This wine blew me away because it was like no other wine I’ve ever tasted. Sure, there are other wines whose nose may approximate flowers, but the Lacrima di Morro actually SMELLS like violets. It’s unmistakable. It’s incredible. And when you take a sip, those violets morph on your tongue into petals of rose. The aftertaste is evocative of rosewater–Turkish Delights, anyone? Light body, low-to-medium tannins, and medium acidity make for a playful, idiosyncratic wine.

I was about to write it’s a nice wine for a date, but on second thought it’s not. Despite all the flowers and mention of Turkish Delight the Lacrima di Morro does not strike me as a sweet wine, though it is not dry. There is a bit of funk below the waving blossoms, as if the winemakers had deliberately left some dirt and leaves on the petals when stuffing them into the bottle. =)

Now, what did Jon and I do about dinner? After tax/tip, we paid about $27-$30 each (keep in mind the glasses were not full glasses but two-three ounce tastes). I had like ten bucks in my pocket at that point.

We went to Flaming Patty’s, a hole-in-the-wall burger joint right next door, where he got a banana shake and a grilled cheese sandwich and I got a Coke and chili cheese fries. My bill? $7.00, after tax/tip. Not exactly as high-quality as 20-year-old chenin blanc and house-cured wild salmon gravlax, but hey, grad students are grad students, right? Thank God I wasn’t on a date.

Luckily, no one coming out of Lou spotted us sitting in our booth at Flaming Patty’s!


2 Responses to “Wine Tasting for Grad Students: How a $7.00 Tasting is Sometimes Better than a $7.00 Meal”

  1. winetastingguy July 10, 2008 at 7:54 am #

    At least you have your priorities straight Joon. Allocate the $$$ on wine, and then use whatever is left over for sustenance.

    The fish plate sounds good though.

    How did they serve the 2 oz. pours? In small glasses or full sized ones?

    How was the Cab Franc? Green bell peppery?

    Sounds like a good time…


  1. Moscatel, Pinot Noir, and Lacrima di Morro, Oh My! « Vinicultured: A Wine Blog - June 13, 2009

    […] was a great one–a truly unique wine.  After having tried it at Lou on Vine, I had been looking everywhere for a bottle of a Lacrima di Morro.  I wrote about it before, so […]

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