Friday, May 15, 2015

Lodi Wine: Inkblot Tannat

The wine community in Lodi, California has a saying: "What you call crazy, we call passion." Referring to the long history of agriculture than runs through most grower families there, it may have spawned an offbeat label by Michael-David Winery, which features symbolism couched in psychiatric terminology. The label art for the Inkblot line refers to the inkblot designs used in the Rorschach test to determine one's relative mental outlook. It is billed as test #209 by "Dr. Michael-David." Crazy? Or passion? What do you think?

The good doctor is credited with the quote, "Don't complain - wine!" Look at the picture. What do you see? A bunch of grapes?

"No doctor, I see a person drinking from a wine glass."


"Is that bad?"

"Do you think it's bad?"

"I don't know what to think anymore doctor, there are so many wines out there."

"Mm hmm."

"Am I wrong to love a grape so few people even know about?"

"What do you think?"

The Tannat grape is noted for its high tannin, dark color and rich berry aromas and flavors. It is called the "national grape" of Uruguay, although it originated in southwest France. The grapes for Inkblot Tannat come from a five-acre vineyard in the southeastern part of Lodi. Red, gravelly loam soil provides great drainage for a variety that is actually rather afraid of water. Perhaps some time on the couch can ease this neurotic behavior.

The wine is 100% Tannat, aged for 16 months in new French oak. The alcohol level of 15.3% abv isn't exactly crazy, but there were initially only 400 cases around to argue the case against that opinion.

During a virtual tasting event on Twitter, @Lodi_Wine tweeted of @MDWinery Tannat, "Go big or go home." And bring a bottle for that crazy uncle who never comes out of his room. @pullthatcork commented, "Inkblot Tannat has substantially lower tannins than ones from #Uruguay I have had." I, too, thought the Lodi effort was much more drinkable than the Tannat wines from Uruguay that I have experienced. @Lodi_Wine may have been trying to give the wine a complex, citing, "The vineyard for @MDWinery Tannat is a mere 5 acres." Size isn't everything, is it doctor?

@FrugalWineSnob chimed in with, "Wow. Nearly black. Big but not a bully. Delicious French oak, tight mouthfeel. @WineHarlots called it, "a dense bottle of vanilla. Not typical, but tasty." @WineJulia loved "the smoky, earthy qualities. #yowzayummy," while @FondrenA took it step further, pointing to the wine's "nice gamey component - I could see this pairing well with duck or lamb." Kudos also came from @AmyCGross, who called Inkblot Tannat "BIG and BOLD and a great exclamation point to end an evening."

Indigo black, light does not get through this dense wine. Light tries to get through, but the tannins beat it within an inch of its existence. Light retreats in fear and develops a neurosis. The nose of this wine is immense, with explosive black fruit and truly extraordinary notes of mocha, caramel, coffee and alcohol. There's a lot of alcohol. The palate carries quite a bit of heat, too - not a surprise, considering the lofty alcohol number. I'm not a big fan of high alcohol wines, but this one makes a convincing argument for itself. Savory dark fruit is seasoned with spice and mocha while tannins stand guard, no doubt in case some light tries to sneak through. Pair it with the thickest, fattiest red meat you can find - give all that tannic structure something to do.

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