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The Essence of Wine: Blackberries


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

Fingers splotchy dark purple, scratched and pricked. Snags and scrapes and dirty knees. The occasional razor burn of nettles and the mad lingering itch of poison oak. These are the hazards of the blackberry patch, where the choicest bundles of shiny, dark goodness hang just out of convenient reach. So we must lean, shuffle, stretch, and occasionally tumble through briar and thorn to capture the prize. Summer blackberry picking stains the memory as easily as it does the fingers. It is easy to recall the scent of dust and dried wheat, the herbal green of trampled canes, and the flavors that were the fruits of our labors: the shuddering tart sourness of a berry picked far too soon, the minty note of a stray bit of leaf, and the deep, dark, electric sweet of the season's most perfect berry. Blackberries and their ilk — olallieberries, boysenberries, loganberries, marionberries, and black mulberries — find their way into wine's flavors thanks to Syrah, Zinfandel, and other intense dark grapes. From the thick, jammy flavors of a freshly baked pie, to the briary, tart flavors that echo those half-ripe fruits of over-eager foraging, blackberries characterize a rich segment of the wine world's flavors. Some decry the wine that too exuberantly sings of dark fruit and little else. But the best give us the same sweet and barely sour burst of lip-puckering goodness that has us still stretching to the end of our reach for just....one...more.

Torbreck "The Factor" Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Errazuriz Single Vineyard Shiraz, Aconcagua Valley, Chile
Orin Swift Cellars "The Prisoner" Red Wine, Napa, California, USA
Man O' War "Dreadnought" Syrah, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Alban "Lorraine Vineyard" Syrah, Edna Valley, Central Coast, California, USA
Bella Wines Lilly Hill Vineyard Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California, USA
Fairview "The Beacon" Shiraz, South Africa
Hartford Family Winery Highwire Vineyard Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA
Chateau de Campuget "1753" Rhone Blend, Costieres de Nimes, Rhone Valley, France
Altos las Hormigas "Vineyard Selection Reserva" Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
Bura "Dingac" Plavac Mali, Peljesac, Croatia
Sadie Family Wines "Columella" Rhone Blend, Western Cape, South Africa
Feudi di San Gregorio "Ognissole" Primitivo di Manduria, Puglia, Italy

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

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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