A couple months ago, we welcomed Santa Barbara winemaker Dave Potter to one of our hedonistic gatherings, where he shared with us several bottles from his nascent Municipal Winemakers label. One of the Winos’ favorite Municipal wines was a barrel sample of the not-yet-released “Bright Red” Rhone blend.
Well, after many months of waiting, le Rouge Lumineux est arrivé! Bright Red’s debut is finally upon us, and Dave was generous enough to send a few sample bottles to the LA members of the Municipal Winemakers Social Club.
The 2007 Municipal Winemakers “Bright Red” (Santa Barbara County) is a blend of three Rhone varietals: 34% Cinsaut, 33% Grenache, and 33% Syrah. Each bottle is individually labeled out of 2400; unless my elementary math fails me, that’s a total production run of only 200 cases. As with all of Dave’s bottles, the back label offers up an extremely user-friendly interface, perfect for the beginning Wino — it offers information on the vineyard, the processing (”…on skins 10-14 days and punched down 3 times daily,” etc.), the bottling date, the “peak drinking” period, and some food pairing suggestions.
The “Bright Red” defied its moniker by bearing a dark pigmentation in the glass — “almost opaque,” said Andrew. The nose beckoned us in with some early hints of smoke and charcoal. Jessica got raspberry, and plum notes were observed by several present. I picked up some vague baking spice scents; Myla claimed it was Allspice, and I thought it best not to argue. “Squid ink” became the next point of general consensus, and Jessica followed that up with “brown sugar ham.” Digging a little deeper, I picked up some serious oregano notes, which prompted surprised agreement from several present. Finally, I picked up some blueberry action, but Jessica thought it skewed closer towards “blueberry syrup.” (Again, I chose to bide my time and not make a scene.)
When we tasted the wine back in August, we all noted a lot of coffee on the nose. “There’ll be much less of that when it’s finished,” Dave had said at the time. “Once it gets racked for bottling, the air will knock a lot of that off and leave more fruit.” And although we picked up quite a smorgasbord of flavors this time around, not just fruit, Andrew deftly pointed out that Dave had been right in his prediction: try as we might, we didn’t smell any coffee at all.
The palate was supple and light-bodied, but the flavors at play were heavy ones. Various Winos pointed out “austere spice qualities,” and Jessica complimented the “good tannins on the back end.” Dylan called it a “manly wine,” and said he felt like he should be smoking cigarettes and riding a motorcycle while he drank it (those who know Dylan well won’t find this too much of a stretch). After a few sips, Myla picked up some serious black cherry notes, while I got an overall sensation of some dark, slightly unripe fruit, which had then been baked into some kind of spicy dessert situation. Jessica thought it ran a bit hot on the finish, but also offered that she thought it tasted “like a berry patch,” and called it “delightful.”
The $20 price tag seemed just about right. Dave would likely appreciate the “delightful” note, because his goal (as we understand it) has always been to produce “the most drinkable wine in the room.” With the Bright Red, he’s also proven his acumen, once again, in producing that rare beast: a thoroughly drinkable wine that simultaneously offer further rewards to those who choose to explore it.
The Young Winos of LA — edutoxicating Los Angeles since 2005.