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The Essence of Wine: Plums

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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