Forlorn Hope “Ost-Intrigen” St. Laurent, 13 California

So, I’ve had a total wine crush on the Forlorn Hope wines for MONTHS.

a-secret-crush

Maybe it was because (at the time) in South Carolina, they were not available. Maybe it was because they were literally all I saw on Delectable for months. Maybe it was because I went to the website to tempt myself into ordering some and most (almost all) were sold out. Maybe it was because the “another rare creature” line is so. damn. alluring. Whatever it was, I had to have one of these. I would stop at nothing.

I figured I’d come across some in Portland, because Portland is, well- Portland. And has great distribution. And just my luck- I went to a tasting on 12/12 at Storyteller Wine Co and stumbled into several Forlorn Hope options. I was very torn. I wanted them all. But I settled on the St. Laurent. I know I’ll be going back for the Picpoul at some point, if its still available.

You rare little bastard, you!

You rare little bastard, you!

So, the rarity factor with these wines is what makes them impossible to resist. At least for us wine people. When I hear that someone is producing St. Laurent in Carneros, my ears perk up. Must have. Need. So, the biggest question is; when you have a faraway crush for so long, will it live up to the hype? Certainly when these crushes are in human form, they almost never do. That’s why I’ve switched to wine crushes, FYI.

Right off the bat, I am enamored of the nose on this wine. Its bright and fun and flirty. Almost like a Pinot Noir. But there’s something far more savory at work here…

IMG_7787

 

Color & density-wise, this wine seems very varietally correct. I’ve written about St. Laurent in the past and found a few that I genuinely loved. This one is a bit leaner, more chiseled than past Austrian incarnations I’ve experienced. The nose is all sour cherry, but perhaps a cross between a raw sour cherry and a sour cherry compote. Some enigmatic red floral notes are hiding in the background, as well as deeper, earthier tones of peat moss, lavender, thyme, and sage. All of this is set off by a bright streak of citrus peel. Low alcohol (11.43%) make this a very buoyant wine, on the palate. Frisky and accessible, but with enough complexity to keep you interested. It drinks with frightening ease.

Balls of meat.

Balls of meat.

I made lamb meatballs this evening, and I think the high acid in this wine and its savory elements will be quite delightful with them. I’m about to find out.

Its fun to mention that Forlorn Hope winemaker Matthew Rorick makes the *only* 100% St. Laurent in California. The grapes are sourced from the Ricci Vineyard, owned by Dale Ricci, and originally planted as something of an experiment. Whole cluster fermented with 10 months in (old) barrels. Just 24 cases were produced in the 2012 vintage; in 2013, it jumped to 237- probably the only reason I got to have any.

For what its worth, a far more creative and brilliant individual than I, Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews, has written much about the 2012 vintage of this wine here and here. Do yourself a favor and go check them out. Speaking of crushes… I love everything Elaine does. Spend a few hours on her site and you’ll see why.

Before I sign off, MERRY CHRISTMAS to all friends near and far! My first Christmas Eve in Oregon has been wonderful. The sun came out, and I went tasting at Adelsheim….

10856631_10102783367620897_3816027009678520918_o

 

It didn’t suck at all. I dropped in on the O’Donnell’s and was treated to a dozen freshly lain eggs from the farm. Now I sit in my flannel pants listening to Vince Guaraldi while my meatballs simmer.

Quite content, I am.

 

This wine was purchased at Storyteller Wine Company for $28. 

If you go see James at Morganelli’s in Columbia SC, he may have some Forlorn Hope wines available. No promises, though.

 

Let’s get weird: Sattler St. Laurent, 2012 Austria

Let’s give the weirdos some love this week, y’all.

First of all, let’s have a round of applause for some of my favorite weird characters from various movies. If you don’t know who any of them are, I really pity you… Especially if you’ve never seen Wet Hot American Summer.

photo (21)So yes, this is a weird little grape. What’s weird about it? Well, definitely not the taste. Mostly the name. Yes, the St. Laurent is in fact the name of the grape! I can’t help but wonder, perhaps somewhat glibly, what they were thinking when they named the grape St. Laurent. From my not-terribly-extensive-Googling-okay-so-sue-me, the conclusion seems to be that it was named that after St. Lawrence Day, which is celebrated by Europeans (what a cheeky bunch they are!) on August 10th, which is when or around this grape usually ripens.

The cat finds this bottle highly suspect.

The cat finds this bottle highly suspect.

But maybe that’s just my American sensitivities that are confounded by the name of the grape. And I don’t dislike it, per say; I just think it’s odd. But, there’s a zillion grape names out there that are nothing if not odd: remember the Bukettraube? Vranec? Just to name a couple.

But onward we go to our weirdo celebration! And now that we’ve actually past the weird part, we can get to how fantastic this wine is! And that’s really the challenge with a weird grape name- encouraging people to not be scared of the unfamiliar! Sometimes that takes a while. *sigh*

I found some really colorful ways to describe St. Laurent on the good old interwebs: Terry Theise calls it “Pinot Noir with a touch of ‘sauvage'” in one of his catalogues. John Schreiner says, “it comes across as a Pinot Noir wearing hiking boots.” (source is a great article found here). The Pinot Noir comparisons are no coincidence, as it IS actually genetically related to Pinot Noir. Here’s what I think: yes to both of those quotes. Suffice to say, I would definitely recommend this wine to people that are fond of Pinot Noir. It drinks like a old-world style Pinot, but with a bit more flesh on its bones. The skin on St. Laurent is darker, and the wine definitely reflects that. A deep, pretty shade of eggplanty-purple, the nose is generous and forthcoming. Notes of creamy vanilla swirl about after some initial blue fruits, black cherry, blackberry, violets, cherry cough drops, and a touch of evergreen. The palate is richer than it’s 13% alcohol reflects and uber-smooth. It finishes with a tang of red plums and redcurrants. Really tasty.

photo (23)

St. Laurent is apparently one of the widest planted grapes in the Czech Republic and other parts of Eastern Europe. And there’s some in Canada and New Zealand, too. Are there any crazy wahoos in Oregon growing this grape? Inquiring minds want to know! It wouldn’t shock me, logistically, except that I don’t know much about what it takes to grow a new grape somewhere. Seems like that might be tricky.

So give this one a try if you’re looking for a cool new discovery this week! You’ll find it at the wine sale this Saturday, March 22nd from 12-2, if you remain unconvinced of it’s merit. If nothing else, you can commit some of this to memory and show off to a friend or two the next time you’re in a wine store or a wine bar. Like… Cellar on Greene. Since you definitely will not find this wine as a glass pour anywhere else in Columbia. Yep, we excel at the strange on our corner of Greene Street.

I should also mention that this wine sells for $17 a bottle! So try it! Get weird!