Gimme Shelter / Sympathy for the Wine Reviewer

13 Jun

This week I was making dinner and popped the cork on a rosé wine that has been in my queue waiting to taste. And I tried it and was forced to spit it out. I poured another glass, swirled it, and gave it some time to air. I tasted it again. “Mildly better,” I thought, but still the same basic feeling: “YECH!” and into the sink it went.

The Stones were on my stereo, Mick was belting about not getting what he wanted. “I can’t agree more,” I thought as I chucked what was left in the glass and poured a third attempt, leaving it to the air. I went back to my stir-fry, chopping more veggies and adding my spices to the dish. I finished cooking and reduced the heat, grabbing dishes for my family to eat. I called them to come down for dinner, as I tasted the wine a third time. This time, I could actually drink some of it, but didn’t want to. I poured first the glass, then the entire bottle down the drain.

As my family started dinner, I grabbed another bottle from my queue, popped the cork. After a quick rinse of my wine glass with a  swirl of the wine, I tossed that, poured a taste, and examined the bottle.

Peter Zemmer, Alto Adige-Süditirol 2010 Lagrein DOC. 13% ABV, $19 from Sherry-Lehmann.  Turning back to the glass: Near-black center in color, I held it to the light to see the deep purple color and the violet edging. I put my nose in the glass and inhaled the scent of rich black fruit, sharp acidity, and violets cutting through the smell of my stir-fry dinner’s ginger and sesame oil. I put a small sip in my mouth, inhaled air across it, swirled around my tongue, and swallowed.

Ahhhhh. Blackberry and boysenberry, powerful acidity, supple tannins. Some more herbal/floral notes, a touch of earth and note of slate under the old wood in the finish. This is a wine meant to enjoy with food that has a little punch.

Mick’s backup singers were fading out, and the intro for ‘Gimme Shelter’ started. I fixed myself a plate of dinner, tasted the sauce, then the wine. Then the chicken and rice, then the wine. My eldest daughter smiled at the studious look on my face and asked if she could taste my wine. “No, but you can smell it. You wouldn’t like this. Trust me, it’s very acidic.” But I had to admit, my mood had shifted with a total reversal from my earlier state of mind. I went to the cupboard and grabbed three spices, trying each one with the food against the wine to see how it fared against cutting the flavor and cleansing my palate each time. Each time, the lagrein left me with a clean and fresh palate, until I tried a hot sauce that the wine could clean the flavor but not the heat.

This is a completely European wine. It has reserve and balance, it’s not going to win any huge awards, but instead it will be enjoyed by oenophiles who know how to pair a good wine with the proper food. For me, this pairing was entirely accidental, but it’s a wine I’d like to have a case of for the right time- when a cab franc is too strong but a pinot noir is too light, this lagrein’s fruit and acidity is just right.


This wine put me in a great mood, thankfully. I don’t often get stuck with a bottle as bad as that rosé, but some days you can find shelter in a wine that will put you right.

Have you all had a legrein yet, dear readers? I hope so. If not, it’s time you take it upon yourself to find one at your local wine store and try it out when you’re feeling adventurous. It might just give YOU shelter at a time you so need it.

à votre santé




5 Responses to “Gimme Shelter / Sympathy for the Wine Reviewer”

  1. the drunken cyclist June 13, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    I have only had a few Lagreins, and I have always come away impressed. bummer about the rosé!


    • JvBUncorked (@JvBUncorked) June 13, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

      Indeed, I wish there were more lagreins in the USA- I often have to search them out. And I agree about the rosé. On the other hand, if all we ever drank were perfect wines, we might never truly appreciate them.

      à votre santé!


  2. talkavino June 13, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Lagrein is a very interesting wine, typically quite earthy. I have seen people in the restaurant sent it back as they had no idea what they were ordering. Glad you enjoyed it! But that Rosé… Outside of the corked wines, I probably remember only one wine which I ever had to put down the drain. I’m really curious what it was – can you DM me the name on Twitter? Is it possible that it was actually spoiled?


    • jimvanbergen June 13, 2014 at 10:16 am #

      The rosé may indeed have had low level TCA/cork taint as both the nose and flavors had indiscernible fruit or floral notes. I think I assumed it was a wine made to be drunk young and that I missed that window, as there was no obvious odor of TCA, as I’ve sometimes experienced with my own storage or at a restaurant. Sadly I tossed the bottle and the recycling men picked it up before your note this morning, but I’ll try and find the packing slip and shoot you a DM. Cheers!


      • talkavino June 13, 2014 at 10:19 am #

        Jim, no worries, not that important at all, especially if you suspect TCA – that can happen to any wine. TCA odor might be gone, but the corked wine typically shows very sharp and devoid of any fruit…


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