Ringing in the New Vintage – Purple Moon 2008 Shiraz

26th February, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Wine

Like many, I’m constantly on the prowl for drinkable, affordable by normal people table wines – bottles that cost well under $10, and are not only worth drinking, but worth saying at least a few words about. There are plenty of quaffable wines, but the goal, here, is to find something that deserves just a little pondering, if only to think of a good food pairing for it.

I’m still reeling over the departure of California’s 2007s from most shelves. It’s my opinion, shared by a few of my wine maker contacts, that ‘07 was one of those vintages, especially in the Napa valley and Central Coast. “You just get out of the way, and let the grapes do their thing; the wines made themselves” is how one maker expressed it. And, his 2007s were spectacular. In the bargain of the century class, there was Rabbit Ridge’s Allure de Robles, always a nice wine, but in ‘07, a spectacular one. I would not have been disappointed had it cost five times as much.

In 2007, I tasted many wines at many price points, and found very few disappointing. It was a really good year. But, this isn’t about the 2007s. The 2008s are taking their place on the racks, and it’s time to start talking about some of the ones that warrant a few words. Today, it’s the Purple Moon Shiraz, available at Trader Joe’s for the Crazy Eddy price of $3.99/bottle.

What this one lacks in depth and complexity, it makes up for in some finesse. When the cork is first pulled, it’s a little fruit forward, but given some breathing room, a more subtle character comes out to play. The nose presents bright berries, wet stone, and just a bit of cigar box Spanish cedar. On the tongue, there’s bing cherry, raspberry, a hint of black pepper, and subtle ripe fig underones. It’s spice is restrained, which, if anything, makes it easier to pair with food. It’s not a wine to lay down, but one to enjoy in its youthful exuberance; there’s not enough structure there for it to survive more than a couple years in the bottle, unless your bat cave is much cooler than mine.

Look, this is not one of the great wines, but neither does it pretend to be. For the under $5 set, it’s an exceptional value, and it will find itself on my table many times before it’s old enough to be out of diapers. Quaff with a roasted pork loin, or a nicely expressed Bolognese, and don’t complain. Just enjoy the fact that there are still a few bargains to be found. And, of the bargain priced 2008s I’ve tasted, it’s already standing out as one of the better ones.

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