1996 Melton “Nine Popes”

The name of the 1996 Nine Popes indicates the rough target, a Chateauneuf-inspired blend. Clearly not speaking with a French accent there, mate. Aussie Rhonoids start out, for me, with one strike against them in the preconception department. Despite the happy exceptions, they’re too often in a race to be Big and Hairy, plank-clad plumpies screaming loudly. Rarely is what they’re screaming of any interest.

Oh, and this Melton is one loud puppy, a raucous red. But it just seduces me on its own terms, the clever rascal. It whispers in my ear, it caresses my ego, it flicks its tongue at my… oh, yeah, right, um, “a spicy accent of artfully-applied oak and a garam-masala spiciness complement a deep, extracted, not at
all chunky red fruit core. Well-structured, complex and layered, with a nice persistance of flavor and texture on the palate. Moderate alcohol for the genre, perhaps 14%. It might be ageable, but I see no particular
benefit if you enjoy up-front fruit.”

There, that sounds more official. Served with Pizza #2, a tomato-less porcini-laced affair. And also sucked
down a few nights ago at Brix (Yountville) with a mushroom ragout topping pasta. First-rank Aussie grenache, Moe Double-Curly. ($36)