Ridge Buchignani Ranch Carignane 2004

“What is the point of Carignane?”That’s how I was originally going to begin this review. However, I then remembered that I’d already written about this wine a few months ago – and frankly, why revisit it? I said it was naff, right? A historical curiosity, nothing special, purple and childish?I am however in the habit of listening to my elders, to people that know far, far better than I; last week, I was reading through Randall Grahm’s tweets and noticed that he had this to say about carignane:Carignane is the quintessential Ugly Duckling grape, maybe the best thing grown in CA. [link]With that in mind, I’ll try to approach this wine differently this time around. So what does this wine smell like? Mineral? “Rocks and raspberries?” To me, yes, I suppose, but paying closer attention yields smells of expensively tanned leather. Leaning in further, it’s more suggestive of very mild beef jerky with something like lavender-infused caramelized sugar, a strange mix of the meaty and the floral, dusty leather bindings in a gentleman’s library with delicate French confections.Drinking some at last allows me to experience the full complexity of what’s on offer; yes, it can be drunk as a “quaffing” or “bistro” wine (as the back label suggests) – it’s rich, full, grapey, alcoholic, all of those good things you want with your steak frites on a Friday night – but is there more? Well, yes. It’s just speaking a language that doesn’t come naturally to me. There’s a softness that suggests the wine’s peaking in terms of its development; tannins are fully resolved and it’s an ethereal kiss, a sly glance from someone attractive who’s just walking out of the ballroom. Is there real minerality? Well, it’s not as in your face as a Loire red, but yes, listen carefully and you’ll sense it, speaking quietly as the Sonoma hills in Indian summer do. Although there’s that suggestion of sweetness on the nose, there isn’t really any in the wine; the roundness is from ripe fruit, yes, but it’s not porty, not overwrought. More than anything else, though, there’s a sense that it’s too easy to ignore this as something ordinary, something simple, something unexceptional… and much like that quiet girl in the back of the class who you didn’t notice at first, time spent with her, oblivious to questioning looks from your classmate, might just turn into something beautiful.Buy this, drink it, repeat until you get it. That’s the point of carignane.Ridge
Price: $24
Closure: Cork

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