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The Essence of Wine: Plums


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

The tree has become so beloved that its name has become synonymous with beauty. From the grace of its slender boughs, to the spectacular burst of its blossoms in Spring, the plum has inspired some of history's greatest poets, painters, and thinkers. All that, before the delicate flowers give way to their precious fruit. Plums may well be the first tree fruit cultivated by our species, and remains one of the most cherished, playing a prominent role in many Asian cuisines, especially Japanese. With a range of flavor from frightfully tart to tangy sweet, the plum's combination of sour skin and sweet flesh echoes the same properties in wine grapes. No wonder then that these piquant flavors surface in many wines, mostly red. Merlot, in particular, boasts a plummy quality that can be quite charming, but this bright purple sweetness ranges much wider through the grapes of the world. The juicy, ripe flavors of damsons or blacks aren't the only faces of plum in wine, which can sport the intensity of prunes or the mouth-puckering sourness of umeboshi and everything wonderful in between. There's a reason that we use the name of this fruit to describe something desirable or particularly appealing. We may not remember the poems of Lin Bu, but we know a good thing when we taste it.

Pietra Santa "Sassolino" Red Blend, Cienega Valley, California, USA
Craggy Range "Te Kahu" Proprietary Red Wine, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Ferrer Bobet Red Blend, Priorat, Spain
Langtry "Tephra Ridge Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County, California, USA
Navarro Correas "Coleccion Privada" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina
Artezin "Evangelho Vineyard" Carignan, Contra Costa County, California, USA
Domaine Faively "Clos de Myglands" Mercurey Premiere Cru, Burgundy, France
Chateau Canon Red Blend, St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France
Weingut Christ "Mephisto" Red Blend, Vienna, Austria
Chateau d'Aussieres Red Blend, Corbieres, France
Domaine Skouras "St.George" Agiorgitiko Nemea, Peloponnese, Greece
Ehlers Estate Merlot, St. Helena, Napa, California, USA
Odfjell "Armador" Merlot, Maipo Valley, Chile

This is part of an ongoing series of original images and prose called The Essence of Wine

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud