Moving beyond the label: Domaine Renucci Calvi 2005

And what it means to buy the wine enthusiast a good wine gift

renuci red wine corse-calvi sciaccarellu
When this site's Wine Label Week 1 ended last week, I had to go into overdrive at work. I neglected to post anything, but of course that would change when today my boss gifted me a bottle of wine -- Greek and white and made of grapes that I had never tried or even heard of before.

It's not obvious that a wineblogger would find it nice to be gifted wine at work.

Work is not a place I associate with wine or with winos. In my current office the closest I came to having a real wine conversion was several weeks ago with my boss who, reading about my interest in wine on the pages the Montreal Gazette, said: "I just like the wines that have those pretty crests embossed into the glass."

Luckily, my wine gift was not one with an insignia melded into the glass between the shoulders and the neck of the bottle.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. I do like plenty of those Loire and Rhône examples that my boss was referring to, but for different reasons. Regardless, it's very clear that the association between wine and its worthiness in your mind might not extend to the person you're buying for. This becomes the crucial idea in any exemplary act of gift-giving. You buy for the recipient, not for yourself. So, strange as it seems, wine has actually become the hardest of gifts for me to give.

Today's gift had none of that wine-bestowing awkwardness. And that's because I suspect my boss turned to one wino for advice on what to give to another. That's smart. I don't think any wine enthusiast wouldn't be thrilled to receive an inexpensive "discovery" bottle that's hard-to-find, unique, and from a new region and producer, which describes the Greek wine I received.

Since I haven't yet had the chance to look into my Greek bottle, I'm presenting to you here an equally unique wine that's from Corsica, which is a burgeoning wine region -- but still hard-to-find in your wine shop -- and an inexpensive way to discover new grapes (Sciaccarello!) and new producers. This is the Domaine Renucci Corse Calvi 2005 (click on the bottle shown at top for product details).

Oh, and just check out how that glass bottle upstages the wine label...

koriska brothers moorish wine
Indeed! In honour of today's gift-giver, this Domaine Renucci red wine comes with some nifty relief: an embossed band encircling the bottle and featuring the emblem of Corsica (the profile of a Moor's head, pictured above). And, what's more, turn around the bottle to find a rendering of the island of Corsica, which is just off the south of France in the Mediterranean Sea (look for the outlined island at the centre of the below photograph, which, since the wine was so inviting, I was able to shoot from the front of the emptying bottle... Dear Corsicans: sorry my reproduction ends up inverting the image of your homeland).

shape of the island of corsicaEyes: A nice bright red colour with fuschia hues.

NB: This unfiltered wine is pas collé ou filtré but you notice that more in the mouth than to the eye. Mine didn't throw a lot of sediment.

Nose: Aroma is promising, not quite feisty but suggesting both fruit and mineral, spices and leather. A bit like an effervescent cream soda.

Mouth: Tantalizes the palate with freshness and some very nice tannins in a medium-bodied wine with a strong finish. This is by all means a lively wine, brambly and fun with a lot of mouthfeel. The flavour profile at first seems quite deep -- earthy tones coalescing into a root beer notes, black cherry with cream, hitting some fleeting high notes of caramelization, then it goes typical of the regional grape varieties of Corsica and delivers grenadine. Actually with the Renucci it's practically grenadine syrup. It's extracted, but expressive and still young. It may lack in acidity, and its candy flavours, though surely developing, are not too complex at this stage, and could become cloying as a result... I can't wait to try this wine when I reopen the leftovers.

Stomach: Since it's a 2005 wine and I guess that the caramel notes that are hinted at could blossom with time, you might want to eventually serve this with something exotic like a Cornish hen with a flavourful herb stuffing that highlights cumin or other earthy spices. It is current state, I'd play it lighter: have it with roast chicken in a mild peppercorn sauce, couscous and some root vegetables.

Berard Renucci, Feliceto, Corse, France. 13.5%.

Next post: A proper wrap-up of WLW 1


RougeAndBlanc said...

3 things I learned from this article:
a) the grape type Sciaccarello - got to try it someday.
b) how to give wine as gift, especially to wino.
c) use a photo to link to another site (how clever!). I didn't even know blogspot has this feature!

I echo you feeling of giving/reciving wine. My ex boss gave me a bottle of Georgian wine as parting gift. I appreciated that not because of the content, but because the entire bottle was covered by a gorgeous velvet sleeve.

Marcus said...

Thanks RAndB,

I really like their regional grapes down there -- distinctive and fruity -- so I hope you try some soon.

What was your take on your Georgian wine? (Jancis Robinson made one "wine of the week" on Tuesday!)

Did you also learn about the Moorish man's head? I learned that myself on wikipedia when I posted this entry. I hope that's accurate... looks like it is. See more here.

Marcus said...

A second update, this one about the wine, not the bottle.

Although I said something about a lack of acid making this wine potentially cloying, upon re-tasting the same bottle on second night 72 hours later, I have to say that there there is no problem with freshness. Clearly this a fresh red wine, the opposite of cloying really. Rather something in the mid-palate seems missing, and while it might not be structural, the wine seems to have a little less impact because of it. It may lack complexity or a certain arc but it is still an impressive Corsican expression. Not every grape can be Cabernet Sauvignon.

The other thing I learned is that the brambly and dense vegetation across the island is called Maquis and the distinctive spicy fruit profile of the region's wines has come to be associated with it. I think of that profile as grenadine and cream with a bit of spruce or that root which gives root beer its raspiness. In other words, yummy and distinctive.