Two wines with soul that leave a lasting impression

These go down in the books.

It's not often that you get to taste great wine at relatively modest prices. And by great, I mean world class. And by modest, I mean less than $45.

For sure, a $45 price tag is not modest … but it is for great wine.

What does it take to be great?


A soulful wine is a very real combination of scent, flavor and texture that is seamless, multi-faceted, and unending from first sip to swallow, from first sip to last sip. There should be layers of flavor and a complexity that makes you beg for both dictionary and thesaurus so that you can both define and then delineate within the arena of nuance and subtlety.

The finish should be long-lasting. The wine should make an instant impression; it should deliver a liquid expression of self. And it should make you take notice.


The experience should be such a sensorial onslaught as to capture your complete and undivided attention.

Good wines are a delight. They are pleasurable and memorable. But great wines imprint on your very being. Like a tattoo on senses, they are impossible to erase completely.

I have two stunning examples of greatness to recommend to you this week.

Montessu Isola di Nuraghi (Sardinia), IGT 2009, $30. The wine is a wild combination of Carignan, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It is mellow, soft, smooth, texturous and very reminiscent of leather, pipe tobacco, sweet vanilla, and toffee. The wine is a cowboy in a well-worn flannel shirt. A Spaghetti Western with absolutely no rustic edges; just well-polished boots and sweet smoke. Cheroot and poncho a la Clint Eastwood without the grit. It finishes like a soft ballad, all low, sultry notes … singular and haunting.

In a word, amazing.

Aubichon Cellars Pinot Noir Reserve 2008, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $45. I tasted this Pinot Noir in a restaurant at $85 and I found it worth every penny. Like world-class Pinot Noir everywhere, there is an abundance of texture and richness, in this case, thick, thick satin.

But just like the enticing scent of violet that explodes upon the senses and then disappears, and then explodes again shortly thereafter only to disappear again in an unending sensorial tease, so is this wine. Although I mention violets, it is not overtly perfumed. There is concentrated fruit, rich and ripe. Vanilla bean. Supple tannins. But any other descriptive adjectives are elusive. They sift through the fingers like sand. The wine is a Jin in a bottle (definitely the masculine form of Jeannie/Jeanie).

Both wines, the Aubichon and the Montessu disappeared far too quickly, even though they lasted through an evening meal. When the last drops fell into the last glass, it was a sad, sad thing.

And Mother Nature sighed.

That is great wine. Pure magic, especially when you are captivated by the spell.

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