Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pythagoras by Pindar

Producer: Pindar
Name: Pythagoras
Varietals: Cabernet Franc; Cabernet Sauvignon; Malbec; Merlot; Petit Verdot
Region: Long Island, USA
Vintage: Unknown
Tasted: July 22, 2012
ABV: 12.5%

This is my first review, and I would like to take the occasion to honor a red wine from my native Long Island. So, first, a disclaimer about that: I am a Long Islander through and through, proud of the place in which I was born, was raised, and have lived all my life (with an interlude for college) to the point, occasionally, of parody. However, that oikophilia does not extend to the realm of blind cheerleading. I have no qualms about noting a poor wine by an LI winemaker, even if it means making my hometown appear inferior to other wine regions, for the sake of honesty, for the sake of wine, and perhaps in the hope of encouraging my paesani to do better (in that order).

That said, I recently tried the Pythagoras blend from Pindar Vineyards, and was very pleasantly surprised. I bought it on a whim of equal parts adventure and parsimony, not expecting much from these varietals, which I normally do not prefer. (Give me a tempranillo, maybe blended with garnacha, or a sangiovese, any time.) Pythagoras is precisely the type of wine that I would normally pass over in favor of a Rioja reserva or Chianti classico without a second thought. However, it really comes through quite wonderfully. It bills itself as red table wine, but I do not hesitate to place it a couple of notches above that.

Pythagoras opens with a nose as though someone soaked a tiny piece of sandalwood completely through with a pungent, fruity raspberry vinaigrette, crushed it all into a fine powder, and used that powder to coat a small almond. It has a color just slightly more scarlet than blood red. At first sip, one can taste in Pythagoras notes of vanilla extract, and somewhat stronger notes of roasted chocolate braised with berry jam. The body was a medium body, with a slight sense of smooth “puffiness” that just might be a hint of butteriness. Those first sips finished with notes of crème de cassis.

After twenty minutes of breathing, not too much changed. Indeed, usually a wine needs to breathe a while to get to the point of smoothness at which Pythagoras was right away when opened – and from which it did not weaken over the course of the evening. The nose did take on a slight note of cherry/currant/strawberry, and lose the almond, after that time, and the finish was a little spicier with just a touch of rhubarb. But the taste and the body – and the sense of refreshing deliciousness – was quite the same throughout.

I do have some qualms with Pythagoras – or rather, as it were, with Pindar. The bottle says that this blend celebrates the vineyard’s fifteenth anniversary of winemaking, but their website says that it celebrates the twentieth. That means that even if I were inclined to do some research and then some math (right away, nope) just to figure out the vintage of the darn thing, inasmuch as it is not marked on the bottle, I am denied that option. And, while Pindar does list the varietals used in the blend, it does not mention in what percentages. Perhaps an experienced sommelier could taste the wine and amuse himself by taking an educated guess (full disclosure: I look forward to the day when I can do precisely that), but most of the world would rather know what it is getting into before taking on the financial and opportunity costs of acquiring the bottle.

Fortunately, I can assure said world that my beloved Long Island, and Pindar specifically, has produced in Pythagoras a wine worth much more than a retailer will charge for it, which is not very much at all. My notes from tasting it say it all: "Inexpensive, LI, no vintage, no percentage breakdown of the varietals, I don't usually like those varietals – and yet this wine is excellent." Get yourself a bottle today, and enjoy.

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