Don't you love it when another taster validates one of your tasting notes? I do. That's why I am excited to tell you about tasting the Château La Rame 2005 Bordeaux.
On the nose, first thing to hit me was banana and pomegranate, as well as, the ubiquitous garrigue notes. By the way, sorry if my use of "garrigue" rubs anyone the wrong way: I know how charged the topic of aroma descriptors can be. For purists it's probably too broad, and for laid-back types, it's probably too pretentious sounding. Let me just say that there are times when aroma compounds come together to become a scent unto themselves--an amalgamation of individual odors. Even though I really haven't personally smelled the scrublands around the Med, I have smelled the scrublands outside Elko Nevada when the sage is blooming in early July. I have also smelled a fair number of wines from southern France that share a certain sharp herbal note that is common to the oily foliage of woody herbs such as lavender, rosemary, and sage but that isn't any of those in particular. I suppose one could also say "herbaceous" in place of the French "garrigue" but if it's a French wine, why not use the term that sprouts from the place?
With the first sip, I found the wine to be really quite chewy, with lots of plum and pomegranate. There was also a cool sensation on the tip of my tongue. I took another whiff, and got a picture in my mind of slicing a piece of bark off a green branch. It took me a minute to track back to the memory but, then I remembered sucking on a green birch shoot which tastes like a cross between wintergreen and sarsaparilla. The finish on this wine is mildly spicy and moderately long. Firm tannins and ripe fruit make this a pretty big wine which contains 13% ABV. The moderate acidity is ample for pairing with food. I think it will be interesting to taste this wine in another two or three years.
But, I promised a story: I'd started tasting ahead of Taster A who was finishing up something on the computer. When he came over I let him start, and after a couple minutes I said "I need to talk to you about this wine when you've gotten through your evaluation." When he was ready, I said "this is weird but, I'm thinking birch bark." He looked at me, and then he pointed to his tasting sheet where he'd written "Black Birch."
So, there you have it. Independently corroborated. If you ever sucked on a Black Birch shoot as a kid, definitely try this wine, and see if you don't find the same thing we did.
Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time trying to find out what the grapes are in this blend. I have sketchy information that suggests it is a Cab/Merlot blend but, I'm not convinced. I have contacted the Mad Rose info desk and if I get an answer, I'll post the blend as an addendum.
9/5/2008 Addendum: Haven't heard from Mad Rose but we're finishing the bottle tonight, and I gotta say--it's tasting pretty cab-like.