We've started a new quest at the Lab. We are on a obsessive mission to drink wine made from ungrafted vines. What started innocently as a historical thought-experiment about pre-phylloxera wines has swelled into a relentless search for the Ungrafted Grail. Careful readers will have noted the occasional hints in this direction. A full-fledged Ungrafted Manifesto is forthcoming.
Thus far, our search has yielded a number of triumphs, and we will describe those in a later report. But I couldn't resist a special mention of a recent discovery.
Gaia Wines, Thalassitis, Santorini, 2007. Thalassitis is made from the Assyrtiko grape native to the Greek isle of Santorini. Gaia (say: yeah-ha) grows theirs in a vineyard of ungrafted vines more than 70 years old. A Greek wine-making tradition goes back to 4000 years. The Cult of Dionysus, that Minoan import that flourished as a Grecian Mystery Cult, might represent the world's first assemblage of wine wankers. More recently, BFC aficionados will remember the brief reign of a Greek sparkler in the Bubbledome.
I wasn't sure what to expect from a grape I've never before tasted. Assyrti who? But I wasn't expecting the smell of brand new Firestone tires. In the mouth, it's bright, energetic citric acids (lime and tangerine), rubber (I swear you can taste it, but probably just the strong olfactory suggestion) and a core of creamy apple fruit. Burnt match on the finish. Weird descriptors, I acknowledge (the petrol-y smells might result from the black, rubber stopper Gaia uses). But I find this fascinating and delicious. The mouthfeel is amazing. Like I would imagine a dollop of liquid mercury might feel (before it killed you). Or like a weird, funky blend of Riesling, Sauvingnon Blanc and Silver Surfer Spit.
(trojan horse: A project by Scott Kildall & Victoria Scott. Rights are protected under a Creative Commons license. Do not reproduce without attribution. The artists have no affiliation with the Rational Denial Lab. For more info see www.nomatter.org.)