Tue 27 Oct 2009
I don’t mean that the Two Angels Divinity 2006, High Valley, is an “anti-Wine of the Week” — those do occur — but that because its production was limited to 500 cases, I couldn’t, in good conscience, make it an official Wine of the Week. I try to be nice that way and not, you know, piss off My Readers.
The Two Angels Divinity 06 is a Rhone-style blend of 52 percent syrah, 22 percent grenache, 20 percent mourvedre, all traditional grapes in France’s southern Rhone Valley, with the additional fillip of 6 percent petite sirah. I wanted to feature this wine today not only for its delectable qualities but for the part that texture plays in its compelling character.
First come aromas of lavender and licorice and leather, with hints of some beefy element, and then spiced and macerated black currants, blackberries and plums. Then — we’re still at the nose — dusty potpourri, damp slate, dried porcini, something rooty and brambly. There’s plenty here to entice and beguile. In the mouth: Black and blue fruit flavors — there’s a hint of blueberry — cushioned by moderately chewy tannins and suave oak in a package that’s more drinkable than austere. The oak regimen was a reasonable 10 months in French (70%) and American (30%) barrels, only 35 percent of which were new, so the oak component is balanced and does not deliver the toastiness and overt spiciness that can come when new wood dominates.
What I really want to mention, though, is this wine’s texture, that is, how it feels in the mouth, on the tongue and palate. It’s easy for reviewers to toss off “dense and chewy texture” — and I am guilty too — rather than explain, or try to explain, how the wine actually feels. In this case, therefore, in terms of weight, the wine is neither heavy nor obvious; its size and substance do not demand attention — it helps that the alcohol content is “only” 14.1 percent — and there’s even something fleet or deft about the texture. This quality is aided, no doubt, by the brisk acidity that lends the wine liveliness and elan. To further note, however, there’s a quality to the texture that you feel as if you could roll on your tongue, an amalgam of powdery elements as if ground in a mortar, an alchemical transubstantiation of crushed gravel, exotic barks and dried flowers into form, dimension and body. Zowie!
It will be no surprise that I thought that the Two Angels Divinity 2006 was a terrific wine. It would be great with grilled red meat, game birds — think quail or pheasant — or pork chops. We drank it with cold leftover pizza and chocolate cake, but that’s another story. Excellent. About $25 and Worth a Search.
High Valley, by the way — you expect Barbara Stanwyck to come riding down the valley to stirring music — was approved as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 2005. It’s in the eastern part of Lake County, just north of Napa County, and encompasses about 15,000 acres, of which some 700 are planted to vines. These are high-elevation vineyards, extending up the hillsides to 3,000 feet. Probably the most familiar producer in High Valley is Shannon Ridge, and indeed, the grapes for Divinity 06 come from the Shannon Ridge Vineyards.