As Gothamist brought the glass of Hermitage to our mouth we experienced what could only be described as the “Beggin’ Strips” moment. It was subtle but unmistakable – the aroma of bacon.
While we’ve experienced it before, somehow the smoky, meaty smell of bacon in a glass of wine always takes us by surprise. We swirled the wine around in our glass to release more of those aromas – there were blackberries, black pepper, hint of chocolate and of course our good friend bacon. We had to wonder if this was a drink or a meal – it was turning into a Willy Wonka moment.
It’s always interesting to find unusual aromas like meat or spices in wine. These aromas are caused by several factors. Many of the aromas and flavors in wine come from flavor compounds in the skin of the grape. Flavors can also be imparted from oak if the wine is aged in a barrel. The French believe (and many others) that the unique characteristics of the wine is imparted from the immediate surroundings of the vine that produced the grape – the soil, climate, the specific little nook on the hill where it was planted - a concept known as Terroir. Flavors are not added to the wine, it’s just one of those miracles of science.
So back to the bacon, the wine we had was a Hermitage made from 100% Syrah grapes from the South of France (Rhone). The 2001 Paul Jaboulet Aine “La Petite Chapelle”, $80, was complex, balanced and simply amazing. The blend of dark fruit, spices and that meaty aroma balanced with medium body and medium tannins was robust and elegant all at the same time.
Unfortunately at $80 a bottle our memory of it will have to last a very long time. The good news is there are many great wines from Northern Rhone that have that good old bacon flavor with out the filet mignon price tag. Check out wines from St. Joseph – there are some great values from this area in Northern Rhone. Now if we can just get our beer to taste like foie gras, we would be all set.