WineSmith St. Laurent Carneros 2014
The addition of well-seasoned French oak in the fermenter helps extract and stabilize color and provides whiskey lactone, an aromatic lifting element. It really is like no other wine. You will find extremely dense, soft tannins supporting generous mulberry fruit which you might easily mistake for Gamay Noir except for its lingering basil aftertaste that reminds me of Carmenère. There is no better example of the postmodern winemaking principle of aromatic integration. The wine is actually full of pyrazines, yet does not smell like bell pepper, and only expresses them in the character of sort of Eastern European personality: generous and friendly but slightly cynical. As a result, the wine is more complex and intriguing than a simple picnic wine, but is certainly suitable for an outing in some summer meadow with a basket full of chicken and three-bean salad. Its tannins have no edge at all, so I wouldn't serve it with a steak, but it loves game, from venison to quail and is magic with my Swedish meatballs, doused in a morel / porcini cream sauce with a dash of Marsala.