Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Amitage 2009 Red Blend, blends in general and Don Draper making you jam

The last wine I reviewed I got all upset about the label. Just a heads up, that will not be happening again. I'm not saying I don't hate labels, because cool girls hate labels, but this label is fairly unremarkable and the wine's name is just shy of being too cute. Plus, this wine tastes pretty fucking dope.

Amitage is apparently a combination of "love" and "heritage" which is all too adorable until you consider "Meritage" (pronounced like "heritage"), also a combination word (merit + heritage, hence the pronunciation). Meritage is a US wine association started in Napa that makes Bordeaux-style wines. The name serves a few purposes. First, it designates those wines as part of an elite group that meets a certain set of standards. Second, it tells the drinker what type of wine to expect. And third, rather than infringe on the Bordeaux region, which is legally protected as a name, or calling themselves Bordeaux-style which sounds a little weak, these winemakers take pride in their product. So I'm a fan of "Amitage" as a name for this Washington state wine. It's a sweet nod to the winery's own signature style.

I'm also a huge fan of this Washington state wine in general. On the nose, along with the gentle singe of high alcohol, it's full of oak, leather, spice, blackberry, tobacco... This is like if Don Draper made you jam. I have to drink this, it is so manly.

In mouth: rich, silky, with mild tannins, plum, spice, oak, blackberry, and a hint of vanilla. Oh man, it is like drinking a strong, protective, slightly arousing hug! I guess it's not really jam Don Draper is making but dried fruit, but John Hamm operating a fruit dehydrator isn't quite as sexy as him in an apron, stirring, sensually pouring in pure cane sugar to taste, feeding you spoonfuls of jam and not judging you when some seeds get stuck in your teeth and then kissing you lightly on the forehead before you both dive into your library books and a good night's sleep. End of fantasy.

This is why we shouldn't turn up our noses at blends (or Washington state wines, for that matter. Many of them are pretty tremendous). This wine has the full body, black fruit, smoke, and spice of a Cabernet, but with the silky, lower-tannin feel of a Merlot. It's got the best of both worlds. Sure, we could see "table wine" or "blend" on a label and assume the worst. Or we could trust the love + heritage in this bottle and save some money on what is a truly yummy wine.

Pair with: an episode of "Mad Men," obviously. Maybe a really nice blunt. This wine could stand up to roasted or braised meat, most cheeses, and even chocolate. It's a really well-balanced wine, with sweetness and acidity in check, plus plenty of fruit and spice to match or contrast your food. Surprisingly drinkable for such a dense, complex wine, you might need more than one bottle.

My momma. Love + heritage!

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