Thursday, June 08, 2006

Slam Dunk

Between a mini-vacation and a home improvement project, I've been AWOL from blogging for a bit. To get the juices flowing, I've spent the last couple of days trying to get caught up on some of my favorite other blogs out there.


Sure enough, Tom Wark's Fermentation got me going again with this post. This subject, power vs. finesse wines, is one that often rattles around my brain, particularly as I sip cabernets. But what really got me going was Tom's photo of a Laurel Glen Sonoma Mountain cab. This is the very same wine that often gets me thinking about the power vs. finesse thing.

I've long been a huge fan of Laurel Glen wines. They are well-crafted, well-balanced wines that show great flavors in an elegant, graceful package. What exactly does that mean? Well, it means that these Patrick Campbell wines are absolutely delicious and enjoyable but not a knockout. And, that's just fine with me.

I can remember tasting Laurel Glen wines alongside certain other cabs when I worked in a store some years ago. And, the other wines were the ones that prompted raves from some tasters because of their power. But some of us actually preferred the Laurel Glen wines, full flavored but never flashy or boisterous in demeanor.

I'm reminded of how some sports fans like nothing better than watching the sheer power of a slam dunk in basketball or the long ball in baseball. But there are others of us who enjoy watching skillful playmaking on the basketball court or scrappy small ball in baseball because of the interesting strategy at work and the element of surprise it often harbours. Laurel Glen is like that -- it won't knock you over the head with fruit but it will gradually and seductively impress.

Seems to me Laurel Glen wines don't often net scores in the mid-90s, but it's a good example of how lovely and interesting wines in the high 80s can be. It should tell us not to be overly dependent on numerical ratings, especially since high ratings are often based on simple power. There's a lot to be said for stylistic success rather than opulence, especially when you find a style that suits your palate. Odds are such wines, like Laurel Glen, will go much better with food as well. They deserve more attention.

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