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What's new in iJamming!...
Thu, Dec 4, 2003
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured wine region 3:
SOUTHERN RHÔNE WHITES
Featured wine region 4:
SOUTHERN RHÔNE ROSÉS
This week's FEATURED WINE
Previously...
FEATURED Wines 3
FEATURED Wines 2
FEATURED Wines 1
Featured wine region 2:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES
The Geography
The Villages
Featured vine:
VIOGNIER:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.

Now with updated reviews
Featured wine region 1:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE
Featured wine web site:
HONIG
WINE AND MUSIC:
What wine fans and music devotees have in common.
Featured wino: TIMO MAAS
Featured party wine:
CLINE's Cotes d'Oakley
And how Cline does it
Featured wine web site: VIGNOBLES BRUNIER
The full iJamming! Contents
the iJammming! featured wine:
CLINE CÔTES D'OAKLEY VIN BLANC 1998/1999
(SONOMA VALLEY, $8.00)

(Read winemaker Matt Cline's ten snappy answers to my ten silly questions about this wine.)

Remember
, as a kid, how your mother would "make" meals that consisted of piling up all the previous week's leftovers onto one plate and calling it dinner? Remember too, that however much you protested and insisted it would taste vile, you actually enjoyed the competing textures so much you went back for more? If so, Cline has a wine for you. Cline is a family-run Sonoma winery that eschews the familiar Cabernets and Merlots of the American palate for 'Rhone Ranger' grapes like Carignane, Mourvedre, Roussanne and Marsanne, while its regular bottlings of Zinfandel and Syrah are some of the most reliable American reds under $10. Now, with the proprietal Cotes D'Oakley,the Clines have gathered up what can only be considered, given the bargain price of $8 a bottle, its leftover wines, thrown them in the blender and, in the case of the white wine at least (I haven't dared try the red yet) emerged with the most hilarious - yet hedonistic - bottle of blanc plonk it's been my pleasure to drink in many a year.

Most white wines consist of just one or two grapes whose qualities you have come to know and trust, allowing you to evaluate the drink according to familiar expectations. Cotes d'Oakley doesn't work like that because you've never tasted anything like it. You've never read anything like its back label either, which takes on comic proportions as it lists for ingredients almost every white grape in existence. First to be mentioned are the northern Rhone's under-appreciated Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, followed by the more familiar Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc (of Bordeaux fame) and Chardonnay (which originated in Burgundy). This combination would appear to suggest a poor man's Conundrum, that being the expensive (c.$27) white blend from the celebrated Caymus winery that utilizes four of the above-named grapes along with Muscat for some sweetness - and, oh, look, Cotes d'Oakley has added the Spanish grape Muscat Canelli for presumably the same reason. But look further and Cotes d'Oakley also has Spain's sherry grape Palomino in there. In other words, this wine is mixing half a dozen table wine grapes with ones used for both aperitif and dessert. The fact that Alsace's Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer are also featured - making for a whopping and possibly record breaking ten grapes in an eight-dollar wine - seems almost irrelevant. You wonder why they didn't just throw in a kitchen sink with every bottle.

. . .The fact that something so eminently drinkable can be constructed from so many different, apparently competing ingredients and at such a ridiculously low price is a tribute to the endless zeal for experimentation that has made 'New World' wines so popular.

And yet somehow this Frankenstein's monster works. After showing a pleasantly perfumed nose of tropical and citrus fruits, each of the most familiar grapes appears to attack the tongue in rapid succession; I thought I recognized Chardonnay, Semillon, Viognier and Sauvignon, but then again, I already knew they were in there. The combined concoction quickly takes on a sharply acidic mouthfeel and an almost bitter-sweet finish - those Spanish aperitif and dessert grapes duelling it out, no doubt. But this is nicely balanced by a decent dose of mineral, as in the Loire's Chenin Blanc (from Vouvray and co) or Melon (from Muscadet), neither of which is actually present. Musicians will know the phenomenon of 'ghost notes' whereby, in a busy composition, the mind imagines hearing something not actually being played. I put my tasting notes down to a similar phenomenon.

The fact that something so eminently drinkable can be constructed from so many different, apparently competing ingredients and at such a ridiculously low price is tribute to the endless zeal for experimentation that has made 'New World' wines so popular. At our house, we've served Cotes d'Oakley blind to several guests; the response has always been along the lines of "I don't know what it is, but I sure as hell know I like it." In fact, I would love to stick it into a blind tasting with a supposed wine expert and see how many grapes they actually recognized before they gave up trying and just swigged it back for the fun of it. Strip away the brave blending, and that's the essential bottom line: this is an action-packed value-for money party wine.

Try serving Cotes d'Oakley at your next gathering where, if its unique flavors don't enliven discussion, its 13.5% alcohol content will definitely do the job. As far as food goes, I'd restrict it to light fish (if I ate it), pasta, salads, fruits and certain cheeses; its way too tangy for heavy dishes. And as for music, a mad party wine needs a mad party album. Big beat mixes work particularly well with such a big hefty mix of grapes. From the vaults, try Fatboy Slim's On the Floor at the Boutique, the Chemical Brothers' Brothers Gonna Work It Out, both of which readily blend old funk and soul in with hip hop and techno. Portishead's DJ Andy Smith displays the same amount of balls on The Document as Cline's winemaker, mixing Joe Walsh's first band The James Gang out of The Meters and into Barry White! If you want something newer that still matches the wine's zest and variety, pick up The Essential Mix by DJ Icey. It's a winning combination.

Tony Fletcher, October 2000


(Click here for my review of DJ Icey's The Essential Mix; click on images below to read more, hear tracks or order by mail.)
(Click here for winemaker Matt Cline's ten snappy answers to my ten silly questions about this wine.)
RECOMMENDED LISTENING FOR CLINE'S COTES D'OAKLEY VIN BLANC. . .
Essential Mix

The Document

On the Floor at the Boutique

Brothers Gonna Work It Out
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