Whole Foods Wine: A Tale of Surprise
I am going to venture to say that a lot of people assume that Sommeliers only drink fancy, high priced wines and only in proper wine glasses served at the exact right temperature alongside a spread of farm-to-table foods created from hours of time in the kitchen.
Truth: Sommeliers can be quite happy with an approachable wine ($) vs. a premium wine ($$$) alongside a frozen pizza or an adult lunchable (cheese, cured meats, crackers) for dinner. And, as I have joked to guests in the restaurant, even if you drink wine from a Dixie cup, as long as you're supporting the wine industry and enjoying the juice, that's all that matters!
The other day I was perusing the wine selection at the Whole Foods grocery store nearest to by place and was happily surprised at the array of wines/price tags! However, wanting something bold and lush, I took a chance on a $16 red from Australia.
Sister's Run is a producer located in South Australia - McLaren Vale, to be exact. However, for this wine in particular the grapes were harvested from the Old Testament vineyard in Coonawarra. The co-owner and winemaker, Elena Brooks, is known for keeping a pair of high heels at the ready in case of having to dash off to a wine event or receive a wine award (hint: her wines are obviously worth drinking). Thus, the boot and stilleto became the logo to signify Elena's "at the ready" mentality.
Coonawarra is an appellation within the South Australia growing region. This area is known for its limestone soils that are covered by the red, claylike soil called "terra rossa". This red soil gives Coonawarra wines its notable acidity among the flavors of ripe, lush fruits due to the hot daytime sunshine hours, though the cloud cover help to relieve the grapes from the heat. The well-drained soils, warm sunshine, and cooling breezes from the ocean make for perfect evenly ripened grapes that hold balance of tannin, acidity, alcohol, and fruit flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon is the main red grape grown here.
Reading all this you might think, "Ok, well if you know all of this about the region, why would you be apprehensive about buying the wine?". Good question. And the answer is: even as a Somm, I sometimes fall prey to the notion that supermarket wines aren't up-to-snuff. After working in a fine dining restaurant with some of the most reputable wines that some people only dream of tasting, my taste buds have come to expect nothing but the best and purchasing the wines that were brought onto the wine list aren't within my personal budget!
This wine was (on sale) $16. And I have to say, for a wine just a hair over $15 this was a GREAT VALUE!! It has a screwcap wine closure which, doesn't necessarily mean it is of cheap quality. Screwcaps are becoming more "en vogue" as they are cheaper to make than corks and there's no chance of cork taint (Trichloroanisole/TCA) from bacteria that sometimes lives inside a cork!
Color: deep purple, minimal staining on the glass, no rim variation (meaning it's a young wine...2019 to be exact!)
Aroma: medium minus intensity at first pour making it difficult to smell everything this wine has to offer. After 45 min. in the glass it increased to a medium intensity of black cherry, black berry, cedar, fresh tobacco leaf, sneaky undercurrent of menthol, blackberry stem, fresh purple flowers (a hint of lilac, violet, pansy), and dark plum.
Palate: at first this wasn't doing it for me. Tasted like it was too young, nothing to write home about and very lean. Cut to 45 min later and again, it blossomed into a lip-smacking delish wine! Medium plus intensity, full bodied, medium acidity, medium tannin (grippy but still velvety enough to not tear your gums off). Flavors include the aforementioned in "aromas" but adding on to fresh tobacco leaf, blackberry stem, menthol, licorice, and the purple flowers shining through.
Conclusion: if you want an approachable wine that develops and evolves over a short period of time after opening, this is the one!! Especially if you're feeling fancy and want to decant the entire bottle before enjoying on your own (no judgement!) or with a group of friends...while socially distanced ;)
Pairs with: Kebabs, Lasagna, Bacon Burger, Steak, Pizza, Venison