It’s not often that we are absolutely, completely shocked by a wine. However, this aptly named wine — The Electric — from Red Hook Winery did just that at a recent tasting. The winery is very new and this 2008 bottle is one of about 6 different wines making up their first line of commercial releases.
Before you get too excited about these new releases, we didn’t necessarily mean “shocked” in a good way. In fact, after having a few sips it really fundamentally challenged our whole approach to drinking wine, and called into question whether a wine should be made with the consumer in mind or if it should simply be made to suit the whims of the winemaker. But, before we give our opinion about whether one is better than the other, what do you think? How much should consumer taste weigh in on winemaker’s decisions? Does a “boutique wine” maker have any further license and justification to pursue strange paths of creativity than the makers of larger production wines?
Okay, so now our view…
We’d like to think that a fitting end to every wine bottle’s life is to be opened and enjoyed by someone… anyone. As a winemaker, the job is to create a pleasurable experience by putting your personality into the wine without overshadowing the natural flavors and character the environment imparts on the grapes. However, when your personality starts to blur the purity of the grapes and the pleasure of the drinking experience, when the wine becomes more of a “project”, we’d argue the winemaker has gone too far. There is a time and a place for experimenting with new techniques and blends or challenging commonly held traditions in winemaking… however, a flagship wine in its first commercial release is likely not that time.
But hey, that’s just our gut reaction to this wine. We’d love to hear what you think. Is it possible for a winemaker to ever go too far?
Anyway, at this point you might be asking “what is The Electric and what does it taste like?” Well, it’s a blend of 95% Chardonnay (unoaked) and 5% botrytized Riesling from Long Island. Botrytis is a fungus that causes the grapes to shrivel and dry, thus getting very sweet. The wine smells like apple cider vinegar with some strong aromas of honey… it’s pretty rich and round in the mouth and has a nice long finish. But truly tastes like two separate wines mixed together. The best way of describing how it tastes is probably like imagining oxidized citrus fruit zest covered in wax. We tried to think about possible things to pair with this and couldn’t come up with one thing. Is it bad? Not really. Is it interesting? Certainly.
And how much will that psychedelic rainbow in your mouth cost? A mere $42 per bottle.
Red Hook Winery 2008 The Electric| $42 at Brooklyn Wine Exchange, Brooklyn NY