By Tamra Bolton
I have to admit that in the past, I was a “closet wine snob”. I didn’t really know enough to actually be a wine snob, but I knew just enough to make me think I might be one. As the quote goes…”A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and when it comes to judging wine, it is certainly true. I used to think that any wine with a screw top was “beneath” my consideration, but I have tried several exceptional wines with screw tops that made me rethink my prejudice.
One in particular is a Shiraz from South Eastern Australia “Willy Willy”, a delightful red with loads of rich raspberry, blackberry and peppery spices with a hint of chocolaty finish to it. Paired with roast beef or my “famous” spaghetti, it is a delightfully smooth wine and explaining the nature of the name makes for good dinnertime conversation. The wine maker Bob Berton named his creation after local swirling dust storms the Aboriginals called “willy willy”.
While I haven’t fallen in love with all the screw top varieties I’ve tried, I have found that I do love learning about the origins of different labels and the stories behind the winemakers’ choices; it makes sharing the wine more meaningful.
Another Aussie wine grower named his dark and fruity Durif Shiraz “The Black Stump” which is an expression that means “beyond the black stump or the middle of nowhere”. A Russian River Valley winemaker, Patrick Melley views that “mouthfeel” is the most important aspect of a wine; hence the name “River Rock” is appropriate for his velvety textured Pinot Noir. Bryan Croft, an Oregon producer, named his popular Pinot Noir, “Ballard Road”, in honor of the road that winds its way through some of the finest vineyards in Oregon. Every label has a history…every winemaker has a story…and you don’t have to be a wine snob (or even pretend to be one) to enjoy that part of the wine experience.