Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Very Punny Wine.

I've been so busy lately that this blog's been relegated to the legendary back burner. So while I try to get caught up, enjoy this recycled post - and if you have tasted any of these wines, please do share your impressions! This was originally posted in February 2007.

The Rhône River Valley produces good and reasonable red wines made from grapes such as Syrah and Grenache. These are the popular Côtes du Rhône wines.

And for the last few years, they've had to tolerate a cheeky nudge from South Africa.

Vintner Charles Back created this “Rhône-style blend but with a Cape flavour” in 1999, using a blend using of Rhône varieties such as shiraz, cinsaut, carignan and mourvèdre with a dash of South African pinotage.

Back says he wasn’t trying to take a dig at the French. Fairview Winery’s “legend” recounts how some of its goats (which provide milk for Fairview’s internationally acclaimed cheeses) took advantage of an open gate and headed for the winery’s famous goat tower.

The little group happily roamed among the vineyards, and supposedly nibbled on different grape varieties that made up the blend that birthed this cheeky little wine.

Likely story!

Nonetheless, it has its fans, one who describes it thus:

“Dark ruby in color with reddish glints, it shows spicy black-plum aromas with just a hint of earthiness. Its ripe, peppery and plummy flavor is shaped by tangy, lemon-squirt acidity.”

The success led Charles Back to have a little more pun with his next wines.

France may have Côtes du Rhone Villages, but South Africa's Goats do Roam in Villages, in spite of objections.

More South African humor here, riffing on Bordeaux and Cotes d'Or:

Bored Doe and Goat Door Chardonnay.

And did these playful labels upset the French?

"You bet," writes Sandra Silfven in the Detroit News, "but not until Fairview tried to register the Goats do Roam in Villages name in the U.S. The French INAO (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine), which polices France's appellations, took legal action to block Fairview's trademark registrations and stop them from using the Goats Do Roam and Goat-Roti names. Apparently, they thought Americans were too dumb to know the wines weren't French. The tiff attracted so many yuks and headlines that the French quietly dropped the matter."

That's PUNishment, indeed.

And how about The Goatfather.

"With the rise to prominence of the Goats do Roam Family, challengers to their position have emerged on many fronts. Don Goatti, in true Sicilian tradition, fiercely protects the herd, their loyal customers and the winemaking secrets of the family. While few in the family know the final blend, The Goatfather always includes a selection of Italian varietals, maintaining their omertá over quality and consistency through the family of wines. The Goats will roam…Capisce?!"

(From the Goats do Roam website)

I raised some sheep when I lived in Oregon; they are close relatives of goats. From firsthand experience I can tell you, leave an opening, and sheep as well as goats DO roam far and wide and damn, they run FAST! You'd best not have been at the bottle if you have to chase down your goats or sheep.

Here's a link to Goats do Roam and Fairview.