My Fellow Inebriates,
Even though we’ve talked about this plenty of times, my parents broke one of our rules and bought a bottle of wine with an animal on the label. The bottle was in the Staff Picks section, so they thought, what the hell.
What the hell indeed. If you decided to bring home a bottle of PORCUPINE RIDGE SYRAH (2012), it might be because you employed a similar calculus. It’s not like the bottle notes reveal much. Apparently my parents were content to read about porcupines (nocturnal, potato-eating, snuffling, etc.) rather than select a wine for its winey characteristics. I did eventually find some tasting notes written vertically on the back label (“spicy, aromatic rich-textured, French-oaked and lingering”) beside an essay about porcupines, but not before we’d downed the stuff.
Porcupines are a nuisance in South Africa, where they eat pumpkins and potatoes in a noisy, grunting manner and seemingly impart a barnyard note to grapes cultivated in certain Boekenboutskloof vineyards. If you wanted to learn more about porcupines (estrus, copulatory plugs, freaky quills) you could consult Wikipedia, but you wouldn’t be looking for wine then, would you?
We made our rule about animals on the label for good reason, MFI. Particularly antipodal animals—and not exclusively marsupials. Nevertheless, my parents were persuaded by the Staff Picks sign, and so they picked up this Syrah, paid $16.99 for it, and brought it home.
One mark in PORCUPINE RIDGE SYRAH’s favor is its 14.5 percent alcohol, a kick-ass level that had me running for the decanter. First impressions: ripe, dark fruit with smoky, spicy chocolate on the nose. Snuffling around behind these promising chords is a hint of barnyard. On the palate, PORCUPINE RIDGE is mouth-filling and lively, with pepper and oak at the forefront. Gamey and earthy, it has palate-parching tannins and a tarry, anise finish, with wild-game notes never distant. For complexity, it’s well worth the experiment, but…well. It has too many notes.
You all know I’m an idiot bear, and who’s to say these notes I would have happily subtracted from PORCUPINE RIDGE weren’t the very notes well-trained wine enthusiasts covet? But somehow…I found myself wondering what porcupines smell like, and if we need them in our house.
“They probably smell better than you, LB,” said my parents, and again began discussing a future appointment they say I have with the washing machine. So I pounded as much PORCUPINE RIDGE as I could, because I was afraid, people.