Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on Florida this morning as I try to put pen to paper to describe a wine tasting at my favorite wine shop recently that introduced me to a small but powerful winery. Oklahomans are familiar with the devastating power of nature. Out here on the plains, unencumbered by mountains or forests, God displays an array of iPhone camera worthy skies. OK, we are totally obsessed with weather, earthquakes, and all types awe-inspiring atmospheric activities. These destructive entities are basically our main source of entertainment on the prairies beside sports. And I’d say we have good reason because if the forecast calls for rain, it really means magnificent torrential, house shaking thunderstorms or tornadoes.
A few Saturdays ago, Force of Nature Wine hit Oklahoma. Produced by Rabble Wine Company from the central coast of California, the wines are as rich and luscious as the labels. Whimsical, vibrantly colored prints of mayhem wrap the bottles with no visible name brand. Mt. Vesuvius erupts in Pompeii on the Cabernet Sauvignon. A Chardonnay kraken destroys a coastal seaport. A Red Blend tornado wipes out a city. A Zinfandel firestorm decimates a village. The labels are actually public domain German woodblock prints from 15 and 16th century. Heavily textured and embossed.
If you read braille, the word ‘gullible’ is printed down the middle of the Chardonnay label. Unsettling attention grabbers from a winery whose name ‘Rabble’ means a disorderly mob; stirring the comforts of public opinion.
I have to say the labels got me excited with their evocative subject matter. I love vibrant artwork and these were intriguing. Vintners and partners Rob Murray and Andrew Nelson go for the unconventional.
2014 Chardonnay, Murmur Vineyard, Santa Barbara County
Confession: Chardonnay isn’t my usual white wine pick. The creamy oak tends to be too much for me. Second confession: I bought a second bottle yesterday. 100% Chardonnay. Pale golden, drafts of peaches and delicate flowers with a light chiffon body. The taste was green apples, peaches, and salty toasted nuts, which makes it sound like a cobbler, but in reality is a bright wine with refreshing acidity and a lingering finish. To further shake things up, the chardonnay is bottled in a dead leaf colored bordeaux bottle. I’d say its delicious with a spicy grilled kraken. $23/bottle
2014 Red Blend, Paso Robles
Dark purple with cherries, raspberries and cocoa aromas. This blended firestorm was more like a docile campfire than wicked uncontrollable wildfire. As with a fire, there was smoke, spicy cherries and a dusting of tannins. I’d say this is a good table wine but at $19 not serious enough to call out the fire department.
2014 Zinfandel, Mossfire Ranch, Paso Robles
A tornado of raspberry jam, black cherry and a hint of orange whirl out of this young bright ruby colored wine. The aroma draws you in immediately but there’s a lively ‘wow’ of dark fruit and chocolate on the palate. Crisp tannins and acidity. This isn’t a typical zin. The winemaker said it leans more to old world Primitivo than new world zin which is probably why I liked it. Maybe I’ve been in too many tornadoes, but this one was my favorite of the four tasted. $23
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mossfire Ranch, Paso Robles
Dark garnet in the glass, the Cabernet was a beautiful dark berry aroma. Loads of volcanic earth, herbs and bushels of blackberries. The berries made it a bit sweet but it had great balanced tannin. I actually liked it better the second day because the sweetness mellowed like cooled lava rock with a nice long finish. $23
By the end of afternoon, these were my favorite natural disasters. Although, Krakens don’t regularly attack coastal cities, do they? The poor little guy on the label just wants to share his chardonnay!
So keep your eye on the sky or is that wine? Whichever!
Allison from Tornado Alley
post script: Stay safe dear Florida friends! Praying the hurricane turns into a docile tropical storm.