O happy day. Detroit has another source of real wine. Why should you care? Because being broke has nothing to do with not being rich.
As any occasional visitor to Motor City Wine or Great Lakes Coffee Midtown can tell, there is a demand for wine in this town. Wine stands for fertility, well-being and genius, and a willingness to prioritize its enjoyment is psychologically nourishing. And wine’s apparent niche appeal actually crosses what might otherwise be considered disparate social groups. Especially in the city.
I must briefly draw a distinction here between real wine and the other stuff, the kind that tends to dominate store shelves. And it’s difficult because the difference is rarely made explicit. Real wine comes from farms. Farms exist in specific places on the globe and they grow grapes according to the local constraints of nature and, secondarily, custom. Anyway, custom is ideally just a deeply mediated adaptation to natural variables. These farms bottle wine and label it accordingly.
So there are farm labels, and then there are label farms. Label farms are industrial properties that use lax rules to issue a proliferation of apparently different wines which are really all the same. And that wouldn’t be a problem, except that the objective is to segment the market in support of boutique prices. Label farms are self-perpetuating, and their essence is packaging. Their substance is filler.
Here at Detroir we stand for the consumer and the farmer. We also stand against absolutism, and there are lots of interesting ways that any given wine might not clearly belong to just one of these categories. I hope to write more on that in the future.
Here’s the news: Mudgie’s now sells farm wine at reasonable prices, whether you drink one on site or take a bottle to go. Recently I had a chance to sit down and enjoy several Mudge selections.
Fontanassa is a pretty decent sized farm with 67 acres under vine. Gavi is a wine named after its town, which is located in Piedmont very near to the seaside province of Liguria. It is the proximity of great seafood destinations that supports the market for these wines. One of the things I often find lacking from the local wine trade is a supply of bottles that have advanced in maturity to the point that they are not dominated by leveling sensations of freshness. And this is for good reason. Industrial wines must never be drunk beyond the most raw state of youth, they just tire out. But a real wine will age for a year or two or more to reveal its distinction in an ever more subtle and diverse balance of flavor. That rule applies here. As a 2011 it must have been in its bottle for close to two years now. Ordinary young Gavi can be neutral, but this is thick with sensations of smashed nuts and cane. It’s almost more of a texture than a flavor – viscous, like milk infused with almond shells and chamomile.
Another 2011, this Sancerre is from a fairly steep 13-acre slope of flint soil called Les Belles Dames. There is a mineral and sulfur core to this wine that comes draped in more lyrical sensations of mace, pepper, nettle, grass, fescue and clover. I say get this with a portion of smoked salmon.
It is exceedingly uncommon in this market to find wines from the west cost, selling for under $20, that aren’t formulaic and characterless. 2011 Palmina Dolcetto from Santa Barbara is one of the exceptions. This wine is dark, tannic, and not at all fat or even full-bodied.
All of these wines deviate from the most severely strict definition of farm wine. The Sancerre is machine-harvested; the Dolcetto is sourced from various farms. But the individual lack of sameness, the potential to seep into a drinking session and produce surprise and pleasure is the “tell.”
Thanks Mudgie’s! Let’s hang out.