A Commie’s approach to wine

There’s been a good bit of talk about Communists of late, mostly buffoonish folderol from slimeball politicians. But still … it got me to thinking about the way my way better half and I often casually refer to ourselves as Commies.

No, I’m not worried that Sen. Joseph McCarthy Ted Cruz is gonna come after us. But my flippant self-characterizations aside, I started to wonder how much of my mindset actually could be painted with that brush.

Commie FlagNever mind that the terminology favored by gonzo politicos is wrongheaded, that when they cast these aspersions, they really mean “Socialist.” After all, in its worldwide iterations, Communism = Socialism + Totalitarianism. Socialism is a philosophy, totalitarianism a practice, Communism a ruling order that combines the two. But I digress.

My “Commie” tendencies came to the fore when I was reading this article about chardonnay, which is filled with what I consider good news:

Chardonnay on these shores is being made in the most varied styles ever, with many showing less toasty-oak influence (a victory for the proletariat!). Many winemakers are letting the fruit shine and reflect the terroir (way to be, Mother Nature!). And the “experts” can’t figure out where this is headed (down with the bourgeois marketers :o!)

On the other hand, the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) movement hasn’t slowed overall chard sales. Good for the grape, and a wonderful one it be, but it would have been nice to see chenin blanc or albariño or friulano make more inroads. By far my foremost wish is for consumers to have as many choices as possible, whether that take the form of sundry swell expressions of one varietal or prominence for many a grape. Preferably both.

My predilection towards unending options, and for the bold souls pushing stylistic envelopes in California, was brought home last Sunday, not with chardonnay but a couple of wildly varying 2011 reds.

BrocThe Broc Cellars Santa Lucia Highlands 13.1 Cuvee ($22) is a syrah, but we were calling it “tapenade juice.” The 13.1 represents the alcohol level, and this briny beauty had the black pepper/black olive/wild herb northern Rhone thing down, with superb berry flavors arising after some time in the glass.

Then we veered madly and deeply to a prototypical petite sirah, the Shoe Shine Golden Vineyard from Mendocino ($35). Very big but balanced, it was shot through with blueberry jam and almost jolting minerality, plus a velvety finish.

If enjoying such variegated varietals makes me a Commie, I’ll proudly wear the tag.

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