Broc Cellars ' Eagle Point Ranch Counoise dispelled a number of my preconceptions about the grape--and the wines that come from it. First off, the Counoise I've had were light wines. Off the top of my head all the varietal versions of this wine I've had were New World. For a wine often used as a blending grape in the Rhone. I've also only written about those varietal versions.
Usually the Counoise I've had have been light, refreshing and easy drinking. This wine isn't light. It isn't gigantic but it has surprising tannins. One of the knocks I've seen on the grape is the dearth of tannin; here it has noticeable tannins. It has this sort of grape candy/bubble gum taste that also made me think of ripe red plums. It is lively and has what I'd call robust acidity. I drank this without food and it might have benefited from combining with a meal. It is great to drink on its own but it would add something to Mediterranean fare (I confess I always think this because my blood is half hummus).
It was not the sort of easy drinking wine I anticipated right out of the bottle. It was tight and, as noted, more tannic than expected. I let it sit awhile and it calmed down relatively fast. It is a pleasant, even elegant, medium bodied wine to drink after it gets some air. It has a bit of wild spiciness too--I'd say black pepper but that is more from having a lack of something more specific in mind; it is a little more exotic.
Let's talk about the wine I drank versus the one I thought I was going to drink. I had Counoise in blends and on its own. In all of these cases the wines were light (not unlike Pineau d'Aunis). This wine shows something different. The grape can produce a wine that is more medium bodied and tannic. A wine that could stand up to even heavier and richer foods than
I mentioned above. This is also a wine that could stand some more time held in the bottle before drinking (in fact that might be advisable).
When I sniffed the cork I thought "vinegar" and expected a funky wine with lots of "VA." The initials refer to "volatile acidity" and it refers, in part, to the same process that turns wine into vinegar. I am going to explain this unartfully but "VA" can be a good or a bad thing. If you want some of that in the wine? It is good;if it runs rampant? It can be a bad thing.
This wine doesn't have any of that funky, intentional, "VA" you find in many natural wines. Broc Cellars wines ARE natural. They use natural yeasts, source the vast majority of their grapes from vineyards that do not use pesticides or herbicides and they add minimal sulphur to their wines. Yet there is something classic and traditional in many of the finished products. Their aim is to bring out the flavors and tendencies of the grape and they do that. Here the showed me that Counoise has more versatility
than I'd imagined. Don't judge a varietal by one or two versions!
Find out more about how Broc Cellars make wines HERE.