Friday, April 2, 2010

Argiolas Costera

Argiolas S.P.A.
Isola dei Nuraghi
Cannonau, Carmenere, Bovale Sardo
Serdiana (Sardinia), Italy
$11.98 -- Wine Library, Springfield, NJ

Color: Medium to deep garnet
Nose: Cherry, raspberry, Mint
Body: Medium to full
Front: Slim JimTM, CheerwineTM
Middle: Licorice, mussels, raspberry
Back: Bread, soft tannins
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

After a long day of travel, it's divine to come home to a splendid, but cheap bottle of wine. This is a balanced, elegant, charming one. It's got delicious fruit, a curious little seafoodyness, earthiness, and grip, without being overbearing. Only if you are addicted to massively oaked Cabernets or hot, fruit-bomby Zins would you dislike this. Even then, I bet you'd tolerate it.

One note: this wine opened rapidly, within an hour, into a lush, blooming garden of awesomeness. This suggests it won't cellar long.

A concerned reader with too much time on his hands claims I am a coward because I do not rank wines. "You don't have to give them scores," says this would-be pugilist, "but for heaven's sake tell me whether you think it's good or not!" I'll quote Mark Twain on tobacco, saying something I think applies perfectly to wine:

A congress of all the tobacco-lovers in the world could not elect a standard which would be binding upon you or me, or would even much influence us.
The next superstition is that a man has a standard of his own. He hasn't. He thinks he has, but he hasn't. He thinks he can tell what he regards as a good cigar from what he regards as a bad one--but he can't. He goes by the brand, yet imagines he goes by the flavor. One may palm off the worst counterfeit upon him; if it bears his brand he will smoke it contentedly and never suspect. (Read the rest here.)

Many famous wine critics have said something like what Twain says in the first sentence above. But few have "gone there" with him on the second. It wouldn't be in their interest to do so, I'd argue. The claim is clearly over-the-top, as Twain's so often are. Yet what he says is true of a lot of folks--and he goes on to claim that he's utterly un-picky about his cigars. "To say true," he writes, "my tastes are so catholic that I have never seen any cigars that I really could not smoke, except those that cost a dollar apiece."

So it's value for some; taste for others; the experience for a third group; all of the above for the picky few. This in part explains my cowardice. And then there's the perhaps-as-important consideration of the marketplace: ranking is a market function. If I were a wine seller, or indeed made any money from wine, I might well rank bottles. But then...well, let us simply say, one would be wise to take anything Mark Twain says about books or writing with a grain of salt...