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08.01.2004

2002 Borra "Fusion" Meritage, Lodi, California

I really love wine. No, I mean I REALLY love it. Because after tasting so many wines, you can taste just one more and think to yourself, "Wow, this is fantastic" and fall in love all over again. That falling in love may have to do with drinking a truly amazing wine, but it might also just be the right wine at the right time, delivering just what your tastebuds needed at that moment. That's what this little bottle from Borra Wines did for me -- delivered just what I needed at that moment, which turned out to be something lush and fruity that could do cartwheels on my tongue.

I realize I could lose what shred of credibility I have here (if any) by continuing to gush about this wine. You see it's the type of wine at which 'serious' wine drinkers can often turn their noses up in disdain. Its young, with lots of fruit, it's a crazy blend of things that most people don't think belong together (least of all the French -- it would be like mixing a Bordeaux with a Rhone -- sacre bleu!) its got very light tannic structure, etc. etc. All of this would make some people throw it in the same pile as two buck chuck.

But I am not some people. I am the guy who types here day after day telling you what I like, and what I don't like, and dammit, I like this wine. Credence Clearwater Revival has a song with the despairing refrain, "Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again..." The next time I'm stuck in Lodi, I don't think I'll have anything to complain about.

The Borra family is an Italian immigrant family who, like so many others, settled where they could in California and eked out a living as farmers and ranchers, hoping to give their children a better life than they themselves had. In the early Sixties Stephen J. Borra planted grapes on the estate just outside of Lodi, California in the foothills of the Sierras, and by 1975 they were a bonded winery making wines with Barbera and Carignane that hearkened back to their Italian roots.

Today the family still works the same estate, and is producing several wines that you might expect from that corner of California. In 2002 they decided to try something new and create a blend that captured the best of Lodi. What they ended up with was 46% Syrah, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 7% Zinfandel. Definitely unusual, definitely daring, and definitely good.

I'll go on the record saying that I'm pretty sure that in a crowd of people (if you eliminated all the wine snobs and the people who only drink white wine) EVERYONE will like this wine. There. I've said it. Now you try it.

Tasting Notes:
Bright garnet in the glass this wine has a knockout nose that explodes with boysenberries, blueberries, plums, chocolate and cedar. In the mouth it is equally awe inspiring. My wine stained, hurriedly scratched tasting notes read: "holy fruit explosion Batman." On the palate it is luscious and fruit soaked with bright flavors of plums and blackberries augmented with a touch of white pepper and a long lingering finish that ultimately has some floral characteristics as it finally dissipates in the back of your throat and leaves you wanting more.

Robert Parker wouldn't even bother rating this wine. That's why you must drink it.

Food Pairing:
This wine should be treated like a Syrah or a Zinfandel with big fruit. So I say give it some grilled sausages and sweet onions, or something equally as charred and meaty.

Overall Score: 9

How Much?: $20

I get mine through Porthos.

Comments (5)

08.02.04 at 4:10 AM

great post. $20 is very cheap, and good for the taste value rating you gave..I will check porthos now

08.02.04 at 6:58 AM

"Mixing Bordeaux and Rhone. Sacre bleu!"

Except of course that the Bordelais used to do just that. Not that long ago, I think. 100-200 years, obviously well before the current AOC rules.

It's probably a good thing they don't do it anymore, but I sometimes wonder if the AOC system is _too_ strict at times. Other people get to try interesting blends, but Bordeaux is stuck with its four grapes or whatever. Must be the Californian in me :)

Alder wrote:
08.02.04 at 11:38 AM

Interesting. I didn't know that this used to be common practice before the AOC got their hands on everything.

I personally believe the AOC and other similar institutions are too strict, or at least too inflexible to allow winemakers room to make interesting wines.

I'm all for a set of rules that ends up translating into a guidepost that consumers can use for quality and predictability, but if it squashes innovation then I don't think it's set up correctly.

Alder wrote:
08.03.04 at 9:12 AM

I got this reference from Derrick via e-mail"

From The Wine Bible
"Not long ago, Rhone wines were viewed as good, sturdy country wines--blue collar compared to aristocratic Bordeaux, plebeian compared to elegant Burgundies. The Rhone's second-class status was, however, not without a touch of irony. For centuries, the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy were given fairly hefty (usually secret) doses of Rhone wine to flesh them out, color them, and deepen their flavors"

vinofyl wrote:
01.05.05 at 12:20 PM

Next time you are in Lodi, do yourself a favor and visit St. Amant Winery.

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