Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Werewolves of Lyon | June 8, 2011

I recently drank some pretty good Roussanne. Thus, a picture of Scott Howard “wolfing out” leads.

Here we go again. Hang on… let me explain.

During a gut-busting, teeth-staining wine dinner (paid my way… take that, disclaimers) featuring the luscious vittles of Atlanta hotspot Local Three– cozied up with a fierce lineup of juice from Central Coast California producer Qupé– I decided I wanted to write about Roussanne.

Why? Because it’s the jam. And it needs some publicity (particularly Qupé’s masterpiece: a prototype of the difficult balance between fruit, acid, oak, and alcohol).

Before I go completely off the rails, here are some basics: Roussanne is a wine grape that hails from the Rhône valley of France (which basically starts south of the city of Lyon, thus, the painfully-forced title). In its most-recognizable manipulation from vine to glass, Roussanne makes aromatic, medium-to-full-bodied whites that are somewhat akin to the slightly more-popular wines from Viognier (grape). When being as recognizable as it can be, Roussanne is found in bottles from the appellations of Hermitage (region), Crozes-Hermitage (region), and Saint-Joseph (region) in the Northern Rhône, and most notably in Châteauneuf-du-Pape (region) in the Southern Rhône (where it can be used in both white and red blends labeled as Châteauneuf-du-Pape). The grape is also found in the States, often either blended with Viognier, Marsanne (grape), and/or Grenache Blanc (grape), or sparsely varietally-bottled, as in the case with Qupé.

As I tasted the rich, oaked-but-not-over-oaked nectar, featuring a reasonable alcohol of about 13.5%, and good acidity and fruit, I thought, “Chardonnay lovers would really go for this bugger.”

So, I set out on finding the perfect pop-culture metaphor. Due to Roussanne’s relative obscurity among the palates of most folks, I had to go with a “diamond in the rough” angle. Maybe a rock band that was awesome but never quite made it?

No, I needed something with more T&A (perhaps I’ve been reading too much Samantha Sans Dosage). And is there anything more (or less) deceptive than the Hollywood typecast of the weird/artsy/misunderstood/nerdy chick who is actually super-hot under all that frumpy flannel and vision correction? With that, the haphazard search began…

Velma Dinkley from Scooby-Doo? Nah. Already used her once. But worth another gander. Perhaps the hottest/nerdiest of them all.

That girl who played the lead character in She’s All That? No. Not even Roussanne is obscure enough to be compared currently to Rachel Leigh Cook. Plus, even a brief mention of the movie She’s All That would imply that I’ve seen She’s All That

…dammit. Anyway, Rachel, or Rachel Leigh, I’ll come calling when we write a post about Rhoditis or something. Damn, that’s some bad wine grape humor. Er, moving on:

What about Lisa “Boof” Marconi, from Teen Wolf? Had some potential, extraordinarily frumpy, and not exactly the popular girl. I seemed to be on the right track, but in my chaotic brainstorm, the clouds parted, and I realized my sophomoric quest for sex appeal had shrouded the clearest metaphor of all:

Roussanne is a teenage werewolf. A teenage werewolf played by actor Michael J. Fox in a hit 1985 film. And here’s why:

Roussanne is volatile: Scott Howard’s father- Harold- learned to control the wolf. Scott himself was still a little off-the-handle. Any vineyard manager with a field full of Roussanne has to have a little Harold Howard in him/her as well. The grape is known to ripen unevenly, yield irregularly, and is susceptible to the ravages of wind and powdery mildew. However, for the intrepid souls who succeed in hedging these risks and wrangling the wolf, payoff is inevitable.

This unassuming grape has some serious game: Scott Howard- the basketball player- had heart, and was an adequate court general, yet lacked size and ability. When Scott unleashed the wolf, he because a human (canine?) highlight reel. Under the proper circumstances, Roussanne can also unleash some wolf, bringing incredible aromas, power, body, and acidic balance. There’s a reason why Qupé’s varietally-bottled Roussanne sells for $40.

Roussanne has always been “in” among the “out” crowd: Boof had undying love for Scott Howard, wolf or not. Intuitive guys like me just notice these things. She was like a wine nerd, going the distance to show affection for a soul outside the realm of widespread popularity. When I get together with my fellow geeks (we’re talking some folks who have an unhealthy zeal for wine), a bottle of white Hermitage is greeted with extraordinary reverence. ‘Tis often not the case in most other crowds…

Roussanne has some really stylish friends: when blended into “Rhône-style” blends, Roussanne is found mingling with other top-notch grapes like Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Picpoul, etc. At least a few of these deserve there own posts as well. Either that, or I really wanted an excuse to feature the picture to the left. Oh Styles, we hardly knew ye.

So, the next time some friends want to get together and have some booze, seek out a bottle of Roussanne. When your friends say, “what the hell is Roussanne?,” you can reply, “Roussanne is the teenage werewolf of wines.” Then, when they look at you like you’re crazy, you can simply say, “what are you looking at, dicknose?”Get past the heated exchange, and I promise a well-made bottle will make them all happy. Even dicknose. But not happy about his nose. That seems like something that would make me pretty grumpy, too.


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