Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Allure of Velour

We’re deep in the thick of winter now. The seersucker has been shoved to the back of the closet. Wool and other warm fabrics shelter us from the cold. And our wines? What comfort are we getting from them in these days?

I am fascinated by the use of velvety in describing a wine. That rich, deep pile mouth-feel a wine shows when it has a full flavor. And seeing as we often cuddle with cast-off fabrics of the past in this blog, why not embrace velour?

My first real brush with velour was with a 1975 Petite Sirah from Souverain. Bill Bonetti was the winemaker and he brought out a wine that even in the tumbler that it was poured into showed this thick, embracing and very seductive red wine off in a way that after thousands of wines and almost thirty years, it persists. Ya feel me?

For some reason a 1955 Biondi-Santi Brunello comes to mind. When I drank this wine we were profoundly ensconced in the 1980’s, a decade where velour was foundering. But the wine wasn’t. I remember the color as being this deep clay going towards the ripe crimson of an early morning sunrise. And the wine had some stuffing, real meat in the flavor, something you could wrap your palate around. Gorgeous, juicy, classic Sangiovese. And gift wrapped in velour.

In the heady days when California wines were styled as big immense reds, there were too many to recall on this post. I’d have to say a wine like Randy Dunn’s Howell Mountain Cabernet, in those early days, ran the plays for everybody on the valley floor. Now we have too many players on the field and those high price tags have a lot of them looking for an arena they can play in. The 4th quarter meltdown gave ‘em all a bit of a concussion.

Italy also has a Maremma full of velvety dawgs, but I’m not sure who be wanting ‘em on these corners. Yeah, they gots ‘em some bling, but the rest of us soldiers down the line, and the little people, they don’t have the cash to crack open a Bolgheri once a week.

Is there a plush red or two we can ride for the next six months or so and get on over it? Something you can get for a Jackson? Anyone reading this have any feedback? Remember the rules (Marco):the wine is lavish, rich and velutinous.

Sidebar: There is a hybrid roaming about. The cardinal aspect of this deviant has merged the feel of summer (seersucker) with winter (velour). You will find this among many winery owners especially in Bordeaux and once upon a time in Italy. They would walk around wine tastings in their winemaker’s jacket uniform. Benjamin Siegel popularized this in the last century. And we all know what happened to Bugsy, no?

The Italian stays true to his roots. Milk is milk, sugar is sugar and velvet is power. Velour is recombinant command. These two pictures illustrate.

Personally, I have been enjoying a little red from the Langhe, from Ca` Viola. The wine is Bric du Luv, 95% Barbera and 5% Nebbiolo. It’s a little spoofilato, hey we’re talking velour here, not linen. But it’s got me begging for more.

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