Finish: the essence, the taste that lingers, what your pallet remembers, the final nature of the wine, the cosmic essence, the long awaited end to a run on sentence…
More complex, higher quality wines have a longer finish right? So since we finished our bottle fast and it was therefor finished longer it must have been high quality?
Ok. I promise I’m finished with all the stupid word play. But seriously, even while juggling my job in the warehouse and contributing beer & wine reviews to the local Rogue Valley Messenger, Fern and I have managed to finish some prettey great bottles of wine, and each tasting had interesting and different finishes.
One of the great things about working in the periphery of the wine business is every once and a while I get some great kickdowns. Bottles not on your normal tasting menu that I would never, ever otherwise try. For example a 2012 Öküzgözü red dry wine from Diren Wines. Imported from Turkey by Vino Rai this %15 Cabernet Sauvignon %85 Öküzgözü was an unexpected experience. The variety is called bull’s eye because of the likeness of it’s large black berries. A bold red with cherry cola aroma. Strong cherry or cassis flavor with velvety tannins and a finish of wait! What is this? Am I getting oil, tar, other sorts of liquified dinosaur remains!? Sip number two, yup, there they are. Fairly dynamic, oily tannin finish. It’s a physical experience and a little bit shocking to my Oregon boy New World understanding of wine.
So what caused this Öküzgözü to have this particular finish? It wasn’t aged in an oil barrel was it! Well no, the finish of a wine is determined by a huge number of variables in the wine making process. The brix level of the grape at harvest, how it is aged (in steel, cement, french or american oak), when you drink it, etc. etc. etc. Since this 2012 Diren Öküzgözü is steel barrel aged the tannins are kept velvety and the clear oily finnish is imparted by the unique nature of the varietal’s skins and stems. The richness of the grape is maintained in the same way that young Argentinian and Chilean fruit forward red blends use steel barrel aging to maintain their clean, simple finish. Just like one of my guilty favorite cheap quaffables Dos Copas.
Of course, any sommelier worth their industry salary would respond “But my young wine internet writer guy, a younger, simpler finish is always more approachable to an unrefined pallet”. To which I would respond “Of course that’s true! Complicated finishes are great. And we all know a long finish after a complex and dynamic ‘drinking’ session is far more satisfying (winking face).”
Don’t get me wrong, I love Malbec, Shiraz, hell even Napa Chardonnay. And not to imply that New World don’t have some great finnish but it’s hard to deny the allure of the complicated old world classics. While I swoon under the insatiable desire imparted by sturdy American oak spicing, I faint in the presence of French oak refinery. In the interest of keeping the integrity of our tasting in line with non-oaked styles we decided to see how the Old World stacks up. What splendid joys await at the bottom of that unpronounceable, tried and true? So Fern and I hit the wine bar!
Schiavenza – 13′ Dolcetto Alba, Italy. Aroma of apple cobbler. A Dynamic three part experience. It starts sour, hits the middle with fruity sweet apple pear cinnamon spice, with long poised tannin finish. Well balanced, increadably complex and wonderful experience. Like if a bottle of dry red wine was simultaneously a dessert.
Can Blau – ’12 Red Blend Montsant Spain. Dark cherry skin with pit on the nose with hint of some sort of spice. Chewy tannins to sweet acidity that ends with a bit of peppery flavored tannin bites. Long and clinging finish reminiscent of the neighbors cherry plum tree, the one that has those intense fruits that are like too much but you always eat them anyway cause you keep walking past it….. ya, that.
Well shit, that experiment fell flat on its face. Both the Old, New and obscure world really know how to throw down a finish. It comes down to what is the right finish for each particular occasion? Do you want it so long and dynamic that you will be forced to contemplate it for over a minute each time you take a hearty sip? If the answer is no, you don’t have to start drinking grape juice or even worse, Lager. There is an infinite variety of finishes in an infinite variety of bottles for each and every singular moment shared with wine. Thank you for reading my participation in #MWWC16 and the following has nothing to do with the challenge.
It’s 4/20 today and for my little share on the long road towards not only legalization, but legitimization I’m working on a multi part project that examines pairings called Weed n’ Wine. If you’re not yet sick of my voice check out my Weed n’ Wine.