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The Imitation Game

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Rhinestones are imitation diamonds, and this Rhinestone’s an imitation French Loire wine. But au contraire mes amis, this could- and should- be a whole new rich, delectable gem in itself.

An American export from winemakers Bow and Arrow, this 2016 ‘Rhinestone’ is a blend of Pinot Noir (60%) and Gamay (40%) grown in the cool climate Willamette Valley in Oregon, USA. Bow and Arrow, after their self-deprecating label poking fun at making a French style wine in America(!), describe the wine as ‘Effortlessly drinkable but rewards detective work if you’re in the mood’.

And yes, I’m in the mood!

On pouring the glass, the wine was darker than expected (ooh!), although still visible to the stem. Pinot Noir and Gamay are both thin-skinned, light-bodied wines, and colour retention can sometimes be a problem because of this, but this wine had achieved a nice berry hue from its time spent aging in a mixture of concrete and old barriques- done so not to impart too much secondary flavours on the delicate grapes.

On the nose, there were Pinot Noir clues of dark cherry, beautifully blended with earthy notes of soil and dried herbs; perhaps oregano and thyme, just hiding some bright orange peel aromas.

When tasting the wine (the best part!) the layers of dark fruit opened up for tangy chocolatey and vanilla notes, with a comforting aftertaste of spiced butterscotch. The wine continued to open up like this, and it really came to life once it had been opened for a few hours and the butterscotch lingered. Soft tannins and warming flavours made this a very, very enjoyable glass of wine, and I would recommend letting it air for a few hours to truly appreciate its depth.

When writing this I kept wanting to make comparisons to the Loire style wines it was intended to mimic, but why? Comparison is the thief of joy! Oregon has been establishing itself over the last 50 years as a site of excellent quality Pinot Noir. The breakthrough turning point was when the late ‘Papa Pinot’, aka David Lett of Eyrie vineyards, entered his 1975 Pinot Noir in a 1979 tasting comparing French wines (comparisons! Again!)  to their New World emulators, and it was placed second, beating many Burgundian equivalents. Gamay, more frequently known for its light bubble-gummy carbonically macerated Beaujolais, has also seen success in Oregon.

This blend of Gamay with Pinot Noir has seemingly blurred the traditional properties of each (such a Rhinestone!). The wine was bigger than anticipated, and possessed far more quality and depth. There were no mushroom, bright strawberry, jammy or confected notes, instead it was much more complex and did I mention comforting?

After a wonderfully long summer in the UK enjoying white and rose wines, it may now be time to start stocking up on some red comfort and buy this wine, and make up your own mind on whether it should live as a Rhinestone, or take centre stage itself…

 

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Blog posted by Kirsty - Follow her on Instagram

 

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