I like surprises. I don’t mean the kind where you arrive home to find your back woods in flames. I mean the other kind where you’re bumbling along and something unexpectedly good happens: Your blind date turns out to be hot, you get home five hours later than usual to find that your dog indeed has waited for you, you review your finances to find you really do have the money to take that trip to France (okay, this one hasn’t actually happened but I’m still hoping). That kind.
My most recent wine surprise happened when I got a recommendation from a wine store clerk wearing a Metallica t-shirt. Not that 80’s era rock band t-shirts necessarily disqualify someone as a knowledgeable wine critic but I was in a hurry and it’s all I had to go on.
“It’s like totally complex and everything,” he said. Hearing those words reminded me of past girlfriends where being described as “complex” was another way of saying “problematic”. Not wanting to appear as if I completely rejected his recommendation, I took the bottle. What the heck, it was only nine bucks. I brought the bottle home, placed it in my cellar next to my other cheap wines reserved for weeknights and promptly forgot about it. Weeks later when it was the only bottle left, I decided to open it in the spirit of discovery and exploration (Or desperation. It was the only one left).
“It’s like totally complex and everything,” I blurted after the first taste. After discovering Luzon, I now I know how the junior high school coach feels when he discovers he’s got a future pro hall of famer on his team who so outclasses his peers as to make them somehow appear inbred. This was simply the most complexity per dollar I could ever remember. For anyone looking for a good entry into a “European styled” wine without the need to see your banker first, this is an excellent candidate.
Luzon 2008, Jumilla ($8.99): Tasting Luzon reminded me of a group of kids in the Scared Straight program: Licorice, mint, raspberries, smoke, and all the other characters were in attendance but none of them dared take a step out of line. After a little more research, I discovered the 2007 vintage was named Wine of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine. Luzon is a great example of balance and complexity.