Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meiomi Pinot Noir

Belle Glos Wines
Pinot Noir (Meiomi)

Sonoma, Monterey, and Santa Barbara Counties
Rutherford, California, USA
$18.00 -- Costco, Austin, TX

Color: Medium purpley red
Nose: Cherry, cranberry, bread pudding
Body: Medium to light
Front: Cherry
Middle: Baking spices, cranberry
Back: Strawberry, caramel
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Screwcap

Until this had been open for half an hour, it was hot, acidic, and acetoney. So beware: it's a "cheap" pinot, but it's also not. It's been open now for six hours, and it's rich, layered, and fascinating. The mouthfeel is silky; it lunges into you like a Gerard Manley Hopkins stanza.

Most importantly, perhaps, it's good with food. I made a chicken and chorizo dish, with artichoke hearts, red onions, garlic, and red peppers. I knew I'd need something red, and a with little spice to go with it, but I wasn't sure what to pair with it and didn't feel like a syrah. So I tried a new edition of an old favorite, the 2007 Caravan (about which more in a moment) and this pinot.

At first, it was an even split. The Caravan brought out the tomato and the artichoke, which was delightful, and asserted its personality, too. But eventually, the Meiomi emerged triumphant; after it had opened up, chocolatey, bready, and cinnamony notes sang in combination with the paprika, chorizo, and caramelized elements of the dish. The management of the oak on this wine will please many, and the fruit is vibrant without getting bubble-gummy or lick-the-envelopey. Try it with pickles.

Back to the Caravan. This is one of my favorite wines. But I can't help but note a minor, yet important change to the back label. They used to credit the quotation there this way: "Adapted from Rumi"; now, it's more definitive: "The Rubiayat by Omar Khayyam." Both of these may be true, sort of.

Why sort of? Because Rumi came after Khayyam, and thus may have borrowed from him, or transformed him, or indeed, may not have, and the original attribution might have been pure fantasy. And yet, only sort of, because, fantasy or no, in this attempt to correct the "record"--an attempt which I would argue is out of touch with the Sufic mode of this ghazal--the labelists spelled "Rubaiyat" wrong. In the abstract, a wrong spelling means little. In the attempt to purify, it reminds us of the importance of imbalance over perfection: of passion and meaningfulness, over integrity. Look at the Meiomi: grapes from three different counties! But passion makes them sing harmoniously. Why credit and quote, Caravan, when you could sing it yourself?

That said, I hope that the Wappo tribe, from whose language "Meiomi" is taken, is getting some kickbacks on the profits from this wine, which I suspect to be the broad-market bottle from Belle Glos.