Every bottle has a story

I am not a wine expert, but with each bottle I try and share with friends, I learn more. Wine is an exceptional social drink; it is the marijuana of alcoholic beverages because it must be shared. I seek to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I drink the wine in my closet, as well as my enthusiasm for the finds that come my way and the excellent values that I find. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too, so please share!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Domaine Bourdic "Zappa"

Is it an homage to Frank Zappa? Or an esoteric reference to a family member of the wine makers? A nod to someone in their lineage?

Identifying the provenance of the "Zappa" name on this blend by Domaine Bourdic is a bit like solving a mystery. Even the winery's website isn't conclusive, but it does provide hints. And so does another wine blogger.

The winemakers hail from southern France in a beautiful region commonly known as "the Midi". It is part of the appellation Languedoc-Roussillon. It's a shortened form of the Midi-Pyrénées. The estate is located near the town of Pézenas, not far from the Mediterranean coast. Its website provides a rather terse description of the wine and nothing about how it was named. However, on the homepage, winemakers Christa Vogel and Hans Hürlimann start off by saying, "We decided to come to the Midi as musicians, and then discovered ourselves as wine makers."

Hmm, musicians. A slight hint, but nothing more. They do have a Facebook page where I asked them directly whether the name was a reference to Frank Zappa.

The bloggers at Candid Wines make a musical reference when writing about the estate in general and the wine in particular: "Across the board, the Bourdic wines are a notch quieter, less burly, and more approachable to our tastes. If the Languedoc goes to 11, these wines stay at 8. (Spinal Tap anyone? Seems an appropriate reference for a winery that produces “Zappa”)."

Close, but still not a precise connection. I guess I'll just have to wait and see if I get a response on the winery's Facebook page.

What I can tell you about "Zappa" is that it is a very inexpensive red blend of 50 percent Syrah, 33 percent Grenache noir, and 17 percent Tempranillo. It's more commonly priced at $9 a bottle, but I bought mine at Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck), where I paid $13. Whole Foods always does that with the cheaper wines. It's frustrating, but often they are the only local retailer carrying these wines.

I paired it with a pan-seared lamb loin with chimichurri that was accompanied with a medley of sautéed summer squash, zucchini and red bell pepper, and baked butternut squash seasoned with nutmeg.

As expected, because of the Tempranillo, this wine was thin both on the nose and taste when first opened. This did not concern me because experience has taught me that Tempranillo often starts that way, even in blends, but given time and contact with air will develop full fruit and a fine mineral quality. In fact, when I drink Tempranillo by the glass at a restaurant, I always ask how long the bottle's been open - not because I'm concerned that it's been open too long, but not long enough.

It was an excellent pairing. Given time, the wine opened up beautifully and developed a rich nose of dense fruit. The tannins were smooth and velvety, and it wasn't a fruit bomb despite the nose. These blends are excellent and are common for that region of both southwest France and northeastern Spain. The $13 I paid is not a bad price, but should you find it for $9-$10, which is the more typical price, this wine is an excellent value.

I score it with an 8.5 using my scale at the left.

Addendum Jan. 2, 2015: I received a reply to my question posted on the Domaine Bourdic Facebook page. The wine, indeed, was named for Frank Zappa, as winemaker Hans Hürlimann is a big fan.