Yes, the Winter Games are upon us, and every day we get to vicariously experience “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” – or something like that. For that, we should all be drinking something competitive…
Who doesn’t love the idea of blasting down an ice track with the false confidence that you’re in control? The Luge of all wines is Kestral 2007 Syrah, and if you make it to the bottom intact, you deserve a glass (or a magnum). This wine blasts fruit forward with blackberry and cherry jamminess. It’s smooth, face up texture is maintained with structured, fast-steering tannins that keep the sled inline while life flashes before you. Oh yah, ride on!
And if you think that’s a mind-blower, Cor Cellars, 2007 Momentum, is the Skeleton of the Olympic events. Do you think it’s called Skeleton because one wrong move lands you in a body bag? Just a thought. Pointed headfirst, facedown on the sled, say a quick prayer, before you launch into this insanity. Roaring down the track at 80mph with no breaks and no steering, this wine erupts in sporadic bursts of blueberry, black cherry, dark chocolate and floppy funk as it sends your mouth into erratic delirium. Breaking 5Gs, you may wonder why a two-by-four just hit you across your noggin. This begs the question — are you ready for a second glass?
Then there’s the Curling Canadians – ice and brooms and rocks, of my! I’m told for some, it’s as strategic as a game of chess; and for others (not naming names) it’s like watching paint dry. Yet noble nonetheless. Enter one Joie, 2005, A Noble Blend from the hosting country made from a blend of Alsatian varietals. Tropical intensity is defined by fruity spice and tangy acid. This wine is round and cool like the polished granite stone slithering down the ice for a defined and accurate finish.
Now throw on a pair of cross-country skis and grab your gun, it’s time for the Biathlon. Admittedly, for me, this ranks low as a spectator, unless of course a skier gets caught in the crossfire. But I morbidly digress. Endurance and exactitude is the name of the game, and Russell Creek, 2006, Tributary is a gold medal contender. Full of blackberry and dark fruit, this wine is targeted and swift exploding with smoky cocoa.
Speaking of swift Betz Family Winery, 2006, Syrah La Serene is dense and dark, a ski jumping favorite because this wine soars. With style and grace, it glides down the steep ramp lifted by wings of dark blackberry and plum into suspended flight. Sharp precision takes this wine the great distance it goes for a flawless finish. Firm acid and strong tannins land the jump garnering a perfect 10 from the most judge-iest of judges, who admits, it’s hard to compete with perfection.
Speaking of gravity-defying events, Matthews Estate, 2005, Lachini Vineyards, Pinot Noir catches big air in the halfpipe. A pinot through and through, this is a wine that makes it all look easy. Its structure is sturdy like a Cab, yet can turn on a dime like a Syrah. It’s a boundary-crosser and inventor of new tricks. Bold and earthy, a juicy ribbon of blackberry morphs into a ring of ripe strawberry. Elegance abounds from out of the gate, and is easily judged the favorite the longer it performs.
Fast and furious, with thighs burning, Woodward Canyon, 2002 Estate Red Wine is the freestyle skier. Its rich berry maneuvers the moguls, while cassis and vanilla fly acrobatic aerials. Black fruit and spice show restrained speed, while a spicy long nose confirms stylistic confidence. This wine is a sophisticated with a strong and generous finish. Take the top spot on the podium – I think they’re playing your anthem.
Then there’s controlled strength writhing with power, Sequel 2006, Syrah is the Apolo Ohno of wine. Slick and sexy on the short track, this wine skates through layers of spicy blackberry and bright velvet tannins. Charcoal and rose present an interesting contrast of soft speed and hard power. It’s the final lap that counts, and this wine keeps a steady pace bursting with graceful momentum in the final seconds of the race. Bear down and dig in, this wine sails smoothly across the line to a long and triumphant finish.
And what’s a competition without fierce inner-team rivalry? Remember Tonya and Nancy? Well, this isn’t that. More along the lines of pairs figure skating Kestrel 2006 Viognier and Alexandria Nicole, 2007 Merlot present a complementary contrast. Besides the obvious differences, Kestrel skates with graceful creaminess, lemony vanilla spirals and a hint of lifted effervescence. Alexandria Nicole is there for its partner, smooth and feathery with a balanced twizzle of cocoa and blackberry. Each shows single varietal style synchronized in their respective spirals and twists.
If you’re heading north, good luck. I’m watching the US (and Germany, I suppose) go for the gold from the privacy of my own big screen drinking a glass of something determined.