This month's theme, thanks to Joel at Wine Life Today, has been surprisingly thought provoking. For the last week, I've been wondering what makes a wine comforting. Is it a wine you want to sink your nose in after a bad day? Or a wine that sparks with nostalgia? Is it fatty and plump like a mature merlot, or is it to be lean and leggy, like a great Loire white?
Ultimately, I decided that for me, a wine that is pure comfort should be that reliable bottle that you can count on to be consistently great each time you open it. It should be round and complete with the edges artfully sanded off. Certainly, it should be a wine you are always proud to serve. And, of course, it should be just plain delicious.
As I picked though my cellar looking for something to fill the bill, I had two immediate thoughts. My first reaction was to grab a great mature zinfandel. I had a 2000 Tin Barn Jensen Vineyards in my hands. Good zinfandel was the first thing I started to collect, the first wines I bought futures in, and despite my wandering eonophilic eye --tempted by the fruit of other grapes, I still maintain a large supply of excellent zins.
But alas, WBW is a weeknight event and the thought of having leftover Tin Barn made me shudder. So I grabbed something else that fit the bill perfectly. Sonoma County Syrah.
2005 Olson Ogden Syrah, Sonoma
Tim Olson makes a quintessential American Syrah. In this case American is a euphemism for tastefully oaked. Though I do occasionally look downunder for a bit of Shiraz, most of the non-American syrah I drink is French, and the vast majority of the French syrah I drink is made in giant wood or cement foudres and rarely touches oak. The lack of oak, especially Southern Rhônes, yields the angularity I often seek out for the spark of interest, not necessarily pure comfort.
On the nose, there is a bramble character to it, --both the berry and a bit of stem, along with a controlled whiff of toasted vanilla from the 17% new French Oak treatment. The mouth feel is round with just the right balance between fruit and acid, so it avoids flabbiness. 148 cases made. Around $25.00 US.
Find this wine, buy it, drink it, and be comforted by it.
As an aside, I was thrilled to read in their new blog that they have moved their operations back to Sebastapol, near my friend Fred Scherrer's winery.